Speakers come in all shapes, sizes, and designs. On one end of the spectrum are small, extremely portable ones that work well for picnics and backyard playlists. On the other end are large products for more demanding situations. Take for instance, a tailgate party.
While we’re not quite able to get out and gather in large parties in summer 2020, families can still get together around a campfire or in a boat for a lazy day at the lake.
There are a number of Bluetooth speaker options designed for such a festivity. The iLive Bluetooth Tailgate Party Speaker is one of those, and we’ve recently spent some time with one. Here’s our review.
My very first impression of the iLive Bluetooth Tailgate Party Speaker is that it is extremely light for the size of the box. The speaker itself measures: 9.92 x 7.44 x 22.09″. I was shocked when I picked up the sizable speaker box with little effort.
The speaker is designed to resemble the enclosures you’d see at a wedding reception in front of the DJ booth. Spicing up the party speaker is a pair of color changing LED lights that reflect off of the metallic speaker cone centers, one LED per 8” speaker.
The cabinet features false horn tweeters to complete the “professional” look; but those add aesthetics and nothing more. The speaker casing is plastic while the speaker grill is made of painted metal. The rear of the speaker features a cut-out microphone holster (microphone not included), integrated carrying handle and speaker control buttons and knobs.
A small LED display provides battery and volume level, as well as connection status. Small push buttons allow for the following combined controls
- Source selection/LED lights on-off
- Skip track or tune radio up
- Play/pause, stereo pairing or Bluetooth pairing mode
- Back track or tune radio down
There are ports for microSD card, 3.5mm aux input, USB media port, and ¼” microphone input. Charging is done through a micro-USB port. The speaker bottom has a tripod mount in the event you feel compelled t,o in fact, use this as part of a DJ set-up. Spoiler alert, Don’t!
The speaker itself is aesthetically pleasing. It resembles professional audio gear but is where any resemblance begins and ends once you pick it up and turn it on.
Upon opening the box, I was surprised to find my sense of smell stimulated. The speaker wreaked of mold or mildew. Perhaps it sat in a damp warehouse at one point on its journey? Aside from that, the speaker is well packaged and secured with a combination of foam and cardboard packing material.
Also included is a double-sided instruction and specification sheet, lengthy micro-USB charging cable and a small “enter to win” registration card to activate the 90-day limited warranty. Nothing about this experience is memorable beyond the smell.
Setup & Usage
Having skipped opening the baggie containing the instruction sheet, I simply rotated the Power/Volume knob clockwise and was greeted with a rather loud and hollow voice prompt that stated, “Power on. Bluetooth.”
Connecting my phone to the iLive Bluetooth Tailgate Party Speaker was a simple affair. I opened Bluetooth settings on my phone, found the available Bluetooth device (ISB310) and connected. The voice prompt announced that it was connected and we’re ready to go.
I noted earlier in my unboxing that the box prominently advertises its bass capabilities. What better to “Bring the Bass” than with Public Enemy’s “Apocalypse 91…The Enemy Strikes Black?”
As “Lost at Birth” began playing through the speaker, I was immediately underwhelmed. How could something so large have less dynamic range than the speakers on my phone? Flat, hollow and sometimes tinny is how I would describe the frequency response. The bass hits were muffled and strained. The sound was displeasing enough that I had to pick more suitable music to continue listening to the speaker.
Queue up Ed Shareen’s “Perfect.” The sound was more acoustically pleasing but still relatively flat. Vocals came through clearly and the speaker’s hollowness added a hint of reverb which worked well during the acoustic and instrumental portions of the song.
Overall, I rate the sound and performance of the iLive Party Tailgate speaker below average. Listening outside on my deck required me to turn the speaker to almost max volume.
The volume adjustment is not very linear as 50% volume is very low while turning the dial slightly towards max, gives much larger actual volume adjustments. Given the battery life is rated at 5-6 hours at 50% volume, I’m guessing you wouldn’t get much more than 2-3 hours if in fact you were to use this speaker in an outdoor BBQ party setting.
The LED lighting does add some “party” appeal to the speaker as it randomly fades and blinks while alternating colors. I couldn’t definitively say whether the lights adjusted to the tempo of music or if they were random. Either way, they didn’t seem to be out-of-sync.
FM Radio – tested briefly as I found the tuning to be cumbersome. When locked in to a radio station, it sounded passable
USB/MicroSD card input – Untested. This allows the speaker to play supported media files from a USB drive or MicroSD card directly. However, I was not able to find any documented “supported” media types. I assume MP3, WAV, etc.
Microphone/Aux Input – Untested
The iLive Bluetooth Tailgate Party speaker sells for $79.99 direct from the iLive Electronics website. It was listed as unavailable at the time of this review. I was unable to find it offered at any other online or local retail location. Best Buy, for its part, lists it but does not have it in new condition at this time.
WARNING! iLive.com is not an electronics retailer and is instead an adult oriented website.
I would not personally recommend this speaker based on its price versus performance value. There are better performing speakers in terms of sound quality and volume with much better pricing.
For similar pricing, the Oontz Angle 3 Ultra features better sound and volume in a much more portable package. If you really want to host a tailgate party; I would recommend either the UE Megaboom 3 or JBL Charge 4 speakers. These units feature up to 20 hours of playtime, the ability to link over 100 similar speakers and IPX7 waterproofing.