Unwrapping the X0i
BlueAnt appears to have delivered quite the power-packed pint-size speaker for an almost stocking filler price. Our friends out of Melbourne are no strangers to packing cleverly engineered technology into small packages, and the BlueAnt X0i seems to be no exception. They tell me it’s got a neat little party trick up its sleeve, too.
I’ve been putting it through its paces for the past week to see how it fairs. Does it deliver great value for money and, most importantly, fit for purpose?
A Blue-print of the X0i Specifications
BlueAnt has struck a pretty good balance of performance, functionality, and durability, especially when considering the RRP of $69. Under the IP56-rated splash and dust-resistant case is a battery that’s good for approximately 13 hours of playtime at 50% volume (according to BlueAnt). I managed to get about 10 hours out of a full charge (with volume at about 70% and about 6 hours while in dual mode with the volume at about 80%.
Regarding audio specifications, BlueAnt doesn’t detail what kind of driver is under the hood. Still, it is rated for 6 watts and has some clever engineering, such as dynamics compensation (to prevent distortion at high volumes) and dynamics sound range, which is intended to create a sound stage intended that betrays its size.
Blue Notes- how the X0i Measures Up in Sound Quality
For testing, I’m using a streaming service at 320kbps, a track called “I don’t wanna wait” by the War on Drugs and “You give me something” by Jamiroquai- both tracks deliver qualities that I bring out different properties in the X0i speakers. Sound is relatively neutral in its presentation, so not too heavy on the treble or bass, but given the size, the sound stage is quite good in a single-speaker configuration. I found the vocals to be clear and somewhat forward from the music, with a surprising amount of separation between instruments. I prefer a bit of warmth and bass in my sound, which is missing from these speakers, but it’s not a deal breaker. With the volume cranked to the max, there is no distortion. None. The audio stays clear, although the bass appears to go missing at those levels.
Now comes the X0i’s party trick. When the dual mode engages with another X0i, it creates this expansive stereo sound stage limited by its Bluetooth range. I liken it to invoking Super-Saiyan mode – the X0i goes from being good to great. At this price point, there isn’t much that can really compete with the X0i’s versatility, not without doubling or tripling your investment, while anything in its price range or cheaper doesn’t have a reputable name stamped on it like BlueAnt’s. The great thing about the dual mode is that it’s not just trumpeting the same sound from each speaker; they’re working together in a full stereo mode with different instruments piping through each X0i speaker.
The BlueAnt X0i thrives in an outdoor space. When I had two of the X0i out in the yard while working, allowing me to cover my whole space with sound. It’s quite a satisfying experience to move across a large yard and be immersed in your music. These speakers would be right at home in any number of outdoor or indoor scenarios making space-filling music the soundtrack to your experiences anywhere.
Blue-tifully Practical – How the X0i fairs for daily use
BlueAnt has nailed the brief for a portable speaker like the X0i. It’s nicely weighted; the plastic casing has a slight rubber tactility which feels durable and grippy, and it also features a thick little carry rope that can be hooked on your finger or a carabiner clip. The patented “Shimmerweave” fabric mesh that covers the speaker is firmly affixed, and I had a hard time dragging the fabric around with my thumb pressed against it. It was also easy to clean when dirt was caked on it while working in the yard. The USB-C charging socket is also covered with a rubber lid tethered to the case, meaning it will not go missing. However, I struggled to lift the lid off with my freshly trimmed fingernails. Over time, however, I anticipate it will become easier to remove. Adjusting the volume can be done from your music streaming device, the speaker, or both speakers in duo mode, with three buttons clearly visible from the side of the X0i for Volume (+/-) and playback. Additionally, when you switch one off in duo mode, it automatically switches off both. Handy! If there is one minor criticism I have, it’s that It took me a couple of attempts to get duo mode working. The instructions are fairly straightforward; there are just a couple of steps, but they must be done at the right time and in the correct sequence. Duh!
BlueAnt gets extra points for versatility because it can be used with your laptop or any other device that allows Bluetooth pairing. It can make for a handy wireless stereo desktop speaker solution in a pinch, particularly if you’re remote working. It has a built-in microphone too, which could be used as an alternative to your laptop’s speaker.
An Insect-tresting conclusion: My final thoughts on the X0i Portable Speaker.
Now, for the all-important question: would I buy one? No.
I’d buy two! BlueAnt’s X0i speaker has genuinely impressed me.
For the price, not much comes close. Duo mode really punctuates its value proposition, and I’d happily buy two over one to unlock the X0i’s full potential.
My Aunt was visiting while I was in the yard working with the X0i’s cranked and was so impressed with the sound-to-size and price ratio that she whipped out her phone and began looking for where she could order one!
In 2023 (and what’s left of 2022), the BlueAnt X0i should be on your shortlist if you’re in the market for portable speakers in this price range. With it’s duo mode functionality, there is next to no competition that offers this flexibility.