Divoom Bluetune Bean review

The Divoom Bluetune Bean is a $30 portable Bluetooth speaker that performs about as well as you'd expect, but maybe that's all you need.

At $29.99 (direct), it would be ridiculous to have great expectations for the Divoom Bluetune Bean portable Bluetooth speaker. Basically, as long as it turns on, pairs, and emits some form of listenable audio, it’s doing its job. On tracks that don’t have deep bass, it does indeed deliver decent, if very treble-heavy, audio. On tracks with beefy bass parts, it distorts big-time when we venture higher than moderate volume levels, but this is to be expected from such a low-priced speaker. The built-in speakerphone functionality is a plus, and the easily portable, wearable design make the Bean a solid outdoor companion for the budget-minded.

Design
Offered in red, black, white or pastel blue, yellow, or pink, the oval-shaped Bean sits flat on a countertop and projects sound upward through its speaker grille. The 3.6-by-1.7-by-2.7-inch (HWD) speaker is lightweight (3.7 ounces) and made for easy portability—the included carabiner attaches to its metallic loop. While the Bean is not waterproof, its rubberized shell is ideal for outdoor use.

Along the left-side panel, there’s a Power button and a Telephone button, and in between them a minuscule status LED. The Power button doubles as the Bluetooth pairing button, and the pairing process was straightforward and quick with our iPhone 5s. A USB charging cable is included, and connects to a covered port along the edge of the device. There’s no volume control on the speaker, so you’ll need to control everything on your Bluetooth paired device itself.

Charging time is roughly 2 hours, and Divoom estimates a battery life of approximately 6 hours per full charge.

Performance
As one might predict upon first glance, the Bean is a distortion factory on tracks with serious sub-bass content, like The Knife’s “Silent Shout.” The distortion creeps in at moderate volumes, and at high volumes completely overtakes the speaker—but this is what we’d expect from a tiny, $30 device.

On tracks without booming low-end, like Bill Callahan’s “Drover,” there’s no distortion, even at top volumes, and we get a clear idea of the Bean’s sound signature: It’s almost all treble. This can be good in a certain sense, as the vocals are always crisp through the Bean, and guitar strumming has a nice edge to it, but the mids and lows are almost nowhere to be found—even much of the baritone of Callahan’s vocals seems M.I.A. Classical tracks are all treble as well—I could hardly make out the lower register strings when playing John Adams’ “The Chairman Dances.”

Basically, the Bean doesn’t really offer you a great sonic experience—it offers you the ability to take your music with you and listen to it outdoors. The speaker also tends to chop off the very first second of each track that you navigate to—a common issue with cheaper Bluetooth speakers. And if you place your phone too close to the speaker, you can get some static/GSM interference strong enough to compete with the music. This was common years ago, but most speakers these days do a far better job of shielding themselves from this type of interference.

The Bean is fine for what it is—at $30, you’re not going to get much in the way of solid audio performance. If you need to stay in this price range, the 808 Audio Canz Wireless Speaker offers a slightly fuller sound, but neither speaker is going to knock your socks off. For better Bluetooth audio, you need to spend more money—consider the Panasonic SC-NT10 or the Skullcandy Air Raid—neither of these is flawless either, as they are more or less budget options, as well, but they bring a little more power to the table. If you have plenty of room in your budget, the Bose SoundLink Mini will not disappoint. The Divoom Bluetune Bean, at $30, is more tool than speaker—answer your calls, listen to audio at a higher volume than your phone or small laptop can muster, but don’t expect greatness.

Specifications
Channels 2
Wireless Remote Control No
Separate subwoofer No
AirPlay No
RF No
Type iPod, Wireless, Portable, iPad, iPhone, Android
Physical Dock No
Bluetooth Yes

Verdict
The Divoom Bluetune Bean is a $30 portable Bluetooth speaker that performs about as well as you'd expect, but maybe that's all you need.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc