BlueAnt Sonic Bluetooth Portable Speakers

By James Falconer on 30 Nov 2007 10:48 am EST
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BlueAnt Sonic Bluetooth Portable Speakers

Portable Bluetooth Speakers that Pack a Punch

The BlueAnt Sonic Bluetooth Portable Speakers utilize the latest in technology to stream music and voice from your Berry. The 'Sonic' works with all devices that support A2DP stereo audio. (I'll dig deeper into this issue in the review!)

It's a totally wireless device, allowing you freedom and ease of use no matter where you are. These speakers are especially handy for the salesman or exec that is often on the road!

The stylish and compact design is pleasing and easy to use, and for the money (available in-store for $119.95) I challenge anyone out there to find better bang for the buck.

Ok, Ok... Enough chit-chat.. Lets see what the BlueAnt Sonic Bluetooth Portable Speakers have to offer. Lets get started by opening up the box to see what's inside...

Out of the Box

I couldn't wait to get into this one. Wireless speakers that could stream music and make phone calls? Yeah lets open this up!

BlueAnt Sonic Speakers Un-boxed!
The box contents sprawled out for your viewing pleasure

Upon opening the box I found the following:

- 1 set of Sonic Bluetooth Portable Speakers
- 1 USB Bluetooth Dongle
- 1 audio lead with 3.5mm plugs
- 1 Sonic User Guide
- 1 Sonic 'quick start' Guide
- 1 AC wall charger

As I usually do I spread out the boxes contents on a table and took a good look at them. I'd recommend doing this for anyone, not only to look and see exactly what it is you have, but to make sure everything was included in the box!

First Impressions

The packaging looks great and everything fits nicely in the box. All items were stored snugly and the whole package came out of the box nicely.

The product itself is a nice looking one. Mostly black with a silver control area, the speakers themselves are sharp and clean. (In fact, BlueAnt dubs the control area and design as 'Euro' in look. I won't argue with them on that one.) The controls are simple and easy to use. You won't find row after row of buttons... Instead, all you'll need are 6 simple buttons, all clearly marked.

A Closeup of the Sonic
A Head-on view of the Sonic

The size of the speakers is also worth noting. At 7.5 inches wide by 3 inches tall, the size seems just about right to me. They aren't very large or heavy, and for portable speakers could very easily fit in your briefcase or laptop bag. I slipped them into my laptop bag along with the AC charger. No troubles here whatsoever!

The size of the speakers is also worth noting. At 7.5 inches wide by 3 inches tall, the size seems just about right to me. They aren't very large or heavy, and for portable speakers could very easily fit in your briefcase or laptop bag. I slipped them into my laptop bag along with the AC charger. No troubles here whatsoever!

In my opinion, these speakers are just about the right size. They aren't so small that they sacrifice sound quality for portability...and that was important to me. They needed to sound good or else the product was useless!

I really do think BlueAnt did their research and testing on this one. They came up with the optimal size to give maximum performance AND portability.

Claimed Functions and Features

Among the claims of note that BlueAnt makes of these wireless speakers:

- Streams high quality music from your Berry to the Sonic
- Works as a handsfree speakerphone
- 10 hours of talk time at half volume, 5 hours at full volume
- 8 hours of standby time
- Pairs with up to 8 Bluetooth devices
- High quality, stereo sound
- Digital Signal Processor (DSP) filters microphone input and speaker output
- The 3.5mm line-in jack connects to all MP3 players

So do these speakers do what they claim? I'll let you know in my 'Are the Claims True?' section near the bottom of this review... Until then lets keep going...

Charging up to Get Started

Before you can do anything, you'll need to charge up the Sonic for a few hours. The manual states it should take around 3 hours to charge, but in my case it took closer to 2.

Charging up the Sonic
Charging the Sonic on the stove. Good thing I turned that element off! 

Simply connect the AC wall charger to the device, and plug into a socket. When connected, the LED indicator light should be amber. Leave the device as-is, and in an hour or two the LED indicator light should change to green. Once the LED is green, it's charged-up and good to go! Now on to the good stuff...

Pairing the Device with Your Berry

Pairing the Sonic with your Berry is pretty gosh darn easy. I had it paired within minutes and here are the steps I followed:

1. Turned ON the Sonic
2. Held down the Play/Pause button until I heard a melody (about 6 seconds long)
3. Made sure Bluetooth was turned on (on my Berry)
4. Performed a device discovery on the Berry
5. When it picked up the Sonic, entered '1234' as the password

That was about it. Easy as pie. You can also pair the Sonic up with up to 8 Bluetooth devices... Not bad!

Special Note About A2DP

One thing to consider before buying this product; Your Berry MUST be A2DP compatible in order to stream music wirelessly from your Berry to the Speakers. If your Berry is not compatible, playing music will NOT be an option, however, using the speakers to make phone calls WILL.

I thought I'd make this point as my BlackBerry 8800 is NOT A2DP compatible, and I could therefore not seem to get my Berry to play music on the device wirelessly. I tried and tried even though I knew I was beating my head against a wall... Doesn't hurt to try, right?

Current BlackBerry Models with A2DP Compatibility:

BlackBerry Pearl: NO
BlackBerry Pearl 2: YES
BlackBerry 8800: NO
BlackBerry 8830 WE: YES
BlackBerry Curve (8300, 8310 and 8320): YES

Update: Since the time I wrote this review, there have been some major updates regarding the BlackBerry OS and A2DP. For more info click here.

Making Phone Calls

With your Berry paired to the Sonic, and Bluetooth enabled on your Berry... All it takes is one short push on the "phone" button on the Sonic for Voice Dialing to be initiated.  A short beep is heard to signal a connection has been made between the speakers and the Berry.

From there you are prompted with a short chime (different from the first beep) and voice dialing on your Berry will prompt you to say a name or number to initiate a call. If the data spoken into the Berry is recognized, you're off to the races making your first call. Alternatively you can certainly punch in a number the 'old fashioned' way on your berry and simply use the Sonic for incoming audio. Voice dialing is not a necessity.

Answering incoming calls is as easy as hitting the 'phone' button. One cool feature that I should mention too, is that if you have music playing when a call comes in, the Sonic will stop the music and allow you to answer or ignore the call. Once the call has been answered, completed or ignored the music will start up again.

In all, you can answer calls, make calls, hang up on calls, ignore calls and last number redial all from the Sonic. And all of these functions are controlled from the 'phone' button. The number and length of the button strokes on the 'phone' button will determine the function the Sonic performs. (I should mention that the Sonic comes with a handy guide to 'long' and 'short' button strokes, to help you understand what does what!)

Just push to talk!
Taking a call by pushing the 'Phone' button

You may also use the Sonic Speakers to help you with other functions for sending and receiving phone calls, like picking or hanging up a call, rejecting a phone call, or last call redialing.  It is quite simple using these functions, as there is only one button to push on the Sonic Speaker device.  Most functions operate by just pushing the "phone" button with a short push (eg. answering or hanging up a call), however rejecting a phone call is accomplished with a long push (if you did a short push the call would be answered) of "phone" button, along with switching back to the phone (the Blackberry) and turning off communication with the Sonic Speakers.  One other function to remember is the last call redialing feature, this is accomplished by pushing the "phone" button twice.  Seems straight forward, and it is... It just requires some getting used to in order to remember the 3 button commands!

Playing Music From Your Berry

Again, this really couldn't be much easier.

First off, as mentioned before, make sure your Berry is A2DP compatible. If it is, you're all good to stream music from your Berry to the Sonic.

Turning on your Sonic may automatically pick up your Berry and you're good to go.. If not, there are 2 other options...

1. Press the Play/Pause button and the Sonic will re-connect to your Berry
2. Go into your Bluetooth settings on your Berry, select 'Sonic' in your Bluetooth list and then click 'Connect'.

From there all you need to do is open the media player and start playin' the music!

Pairing the Device With Your PC

Pairing with a PC takes a bit more time, but it's worth it. You first need to install the 'Bluesoleil' (Blue Sun for those of you that are up on your French) software. This powers the connection between the Sonic and the PC.

Then, insert the USB dongle that came with the package into your PC. You're now pretty much ready to go.

Turn the Sonic on and put it in pairing mode. Click the orange sun in the middle of the screen and your PC will locate the Sonic... Once located you enter the usual password '1234' and ka-plowie you're connected.

Playing Music From Your PC

Playing music on the Sonic from your PC is easy with the Bluesoleil software.

Right click on the speakers icon in Bluesoleil, and select 'refresh services'. You should see the Sonic available to select.

Once connected, it is preferable to use Windows Media Player. You can use any media player you want, but with WMP, you have control over the track selection from the buttons on the Sonic. I found this to be useful so I stuck it out with Windows Media Player.

Connecting to Other Devices

You can connect the Sonic Speakers to an iPod or MP3 player with the included 3.5mm line-in jack. As I do have a few iPods layin' around the house I decided to connect them to the speakers.

Simply insert the jack to the headphone jack on the iPod (or MP3 player), and then connect the other end of the jack to the input on the back of the Sonic. Easy as could be. Hit the play button on the MP3 player and you'll hear the music loud and clear over the speakers!

Connecting the Sonic to my iPod
Playing tunes from your favorite MP3 player is easy.
Just connect the 3.5mm line-in jack.
 

Sound Quality

The sound quality on the Sonic is surprisingly good.

For listening to music, I MIGHT be disappointed if I was an audiophile. I'm not... So the sound quality is all good for me. If you're deep into the music and have a killer sound system, these speakers (as with most other portable and wireless speakers) will disappoint you... Wireless technology in speakers is not up to audiophile grade yet...

For taking phone calls, voice and VOIP... I was pleased! The incoming calls were clear, and outgoing audio was always clear and crisp on the other end as well. One thing to note if you're using the Sonic speakers to make calls... Do limit the background noise. Because they are in essence a speaker, they will pick up outside noises and this can cause some interference and confusion for the person on the other end. Keep background noise to a minimum and you'll be all good!

Conclusions - Are the Claims True?

All-in-all I'd have to say YES. If you scroll up to my 'claimed functions and features' section above you'll see a list of what the Sonic claimed to do.

The BlueAnt Sonic is a solid device. It combines a nice clean design with portability and good sound quality. It's a great device to have on the road, and for making and taking voice calls, it works GREAT.

The one big drawback (at least from a BlackBerry point of view) is that these speakers only accept A2DP compatible devices. And in the current BlackBerry lineup, that only includes the new Pearl 2 and Curve models. Moving forward I'm going to assume all Berry devices will be A2DP compatible as they well should be.

If you're looking for some portable speakers, or a great hands free calling solution, the Sonic would be a great fit for you.

BlueAnt Sonic Bluetooth Portable Speakers Review Summary:
BlueAnt Sonic Bluetooth Portable Speakers
Ratings

Pros:

  • Clean, Portable Design
  • Sound Quality
  • Cool Functionality

Cons:

  • Possible A2DP Issues Depending on your model of BlackBerry

Buy Now:
Purchase the BlueAnt Sonic Bluetooth Portable Speakers from the ShopCrackBerry.com Store.

James Falconer James Falconer "Community Manager, Mobile Nations" 354 (articles) 804 (forum posts)

Reader comments

BlueAnt Sonic Bluetooth Portable Speakers

4 Comments

I keep seeing posts that list the 8830WE as a non-A2DP device. This is far from true. It IS A2DP/AVRCP compatible. I stream to Bluetooth stereo headphones all the time!

can i control the volume of the speakers with the compatible devices, or do i have to control it directly with the buttons on the speakers? also, can you connect more than 1 speaker to the same device, for example, a pc?