I love Bluetooth accessories. The Bluetooth standard is used in far different than it was originally developed for, but the result has been an array of mobile accessories that many of us would never have dreamed up a decade ago. Smart watches, alarms, headphones, earbuds, fitness trackers, speakers… All have been adopted into our daily lives. The search has turned from trying to find an accessory we can afford to finding the best accessory for our money. These accessories are so pervasive, where do you start your search?
Well, Soundcast recently sent over the VG1, a heavy-duty IP-rated Bluetooth speaker for us to take a look at in hopes we may agree its worth the $150 price tag.
When I took it out of the box, I was initially very impressed with the build quality of the speaker. It’s pretty heavy, but there’s a good reason for that. The body is made out of heavy-duty materials that will resist most falls.
The rubber body of the VG1 seems to be your standard hard, black rubber we’ve seen on many speakers that are designed to be used outdoors. The metallic looking grill is actually a hard plastic and I was pretty disappointed how the grill held up to my drop test. A drop from about five feet onto the corner of a wooden table left a pretty significant dent in the grill but did not damage the internals. Higher quality materials might have made the speaker a little heavier, but would pay off in the longer term health of the speaker.
Disappointment over the grill aside, I did like the inclusion of a carabiner bar on the right side of the device. This allows you to easily hook your speaker onto your bag or your belt if you happen to be climbing and the solid construction of the bar means it’s going nowhere.
Another smart decision on the part of Soundcast is the inclusion of an IP rating on the VG1. The speaker is rated at IP67 which means the speaker is protected from harmful dust (6) and immersion in water up to 1 meter deep (about 3 feet) for up to 30 minutes. If you’re running to catch the bus while it’s pouring rain, you’re good, though I wouldn’t take it deep sea diving.
One of the biggest things that the VG1 has going in its favor is the small and angular design of its body. The speaker is just big enough to hold in one hand comfortably while the rubber body provides some decent grip. Soundcast is quick to point out that while the speaker is angular, it is important to keep the speaker on its feet. If you tip it back then the speaker “won’t produce the optimal listening experience”. The quality of the audio does drop when the speaker is put at an angle but nothing to write home about.
Speaking of audio quality, I was pretty pleased with what the Soundcast VG1 was able to produced based on the small body it’s housed in. Bass is about on par with other decently expensive speakers. It won’t blow you away and rattle your windows, but it does offer some really nice bass will make rock, rap, and EDM a pleasure. At higher volumes, the bass really kicks in and you can feel the backward-firing passive bass radiator really notch up and provide some awesome bass.
Where the VG1 really shines is in its clarity. The lows don’t step all over the mids, and the mids and highs are very well represented. Spoken word and instrumental shine here with this being the perfect speaker to listen to comedy albums or podcasts. I was really pleased that at higher volumes that the mids and especially the highs, maintained their integrity.
The VG1 has the ability to deliver that high audio quality partly due to high-quality parts, but also support for AAC and aptX codecs, but if you want true stereo audio, you can pair two VG1’s together. Now, that’s going to cost you about $300 and at that price, you may want to look at other options, but the ability to pair two speakers together is pretty enticing. Unfortunately, Soundcast only sent one speaker so I wasn’t able to try out this functionality.
All-in-all, I think the Soundcast VG1 is really an excellent speaker for the money you’re spending. It has all of the speakers you’d expect including Siri support (sorry, no Google Voice Search support), water resistance, and speaker phone, with the added ability to pair an extra speaker which most devices can’t do.
I would like to see the build quality be just slightly better to avoid those dented grills, but I can’t complain too much. My drop test is supposed to simulate the worst of what would be a “normal” drop and it survived up until that point. Still, I can’t get that dent out and it’s really bothering me.
Is the Soundcast VG1 worth your money? Yeah, I think it is. There are definitely other contenders out there that offer pretty enticing alternatives, but they generally cost anywhere between $50 to $150 more.