When it comes to reviewing Bluetooth speakers we find that there are often a few distinguishing characteristics to set them apart from one another. There’s no such thing as the perfect device; however, there may be something that’s perfect for you.
It goes without saying, but we all have different needs. Moreover, we all have different budgets to work with, too. Sometimes we end up at the crossroads of right product and right price. Sometimes we end up with a product that ticks off the right boxes and doesn’t break the bank in the process. The latest speaker we’ve reviewed, the Hercules WAE Outdoor 04Plus FM, hopes to fit that bill.
Priced roughly $80, the WAE Outdoor 04Plus FM is a portable speaker that’s designed to go just about anywhere you would. This means pretty much any weather condition and terrain. It’s IP67-certified meaning it can handle immersion in water for up to 30 minutes and can also withstand dust, sand, and snow. Taking things a little further, it also has reinforced rubber end-pieces so it handles bumps, too.
In terms of size and design, the speaker is almost the exact dimensions of a 16-ounce can of soda or energy drink. It features a triangular profile that delivers sound out of one of the sides. Underneath you’ll find a threaded screw thread (1/4-inch) for bike mounts, tripods, suction cup mounts, and more.
There are only a few visible buttons to mess with on the speaker: volume up, volume down, and power. But, just above the power button on the end is a spot labeled FM. Press here and you’ll find it does have a little tactile feedback. As you might have guessed, this is your button to toggle the FM tuner.
Staying on this end of the speaker we also find a rubber protective housing to hide the charging port (microUSB) and 3.5mm auxiliary input. Flipping the speaker on its head, the other end is void of any functionality or features.
Pairing the speaker was really easy in that you simply long press the power button. A normal power on plays a chime while the long press adds in a second one to indicate that it’s seeking a connection. There’s also a blue indicator light just above the power button that flashes when looking for a device.
The volume buttons can also double for track advance and previous track. Switched on to FM mode and they can be used to seek the next available station. These options are done via long pressing on the + and – symbols.
Although it’s not very big, the WAE Outdoor 04Plus FM delivers a nice, even sound that fills smaller and medium-sized rooms. Put this on a bike mount and face the speaker toward you and there’s way more than enough power to enjoy music on a ride. Or, use the included wrist strap to hang it from a backpack or canopy on your weekend getaway.
The FM tuner is a nice touch and not one we find in many Bluetooth speakers. The first time you turn that on, it will seek out channels on its own. Additionally, the FM tuner can be used all by itself. So, feel free to leave the phone in the house and take the WAE Outdoor 04Plus FM outside. Or, keep your handset in the bag while at the beach. The radio will work by itself and the speaker doesn’t mind the sand.
Volume and Sound
I found that I’d get the volume to about halfway up before I would get anxious. Any louder and I feared the other office tenants might complain. If I’m riding a bike, I don’t suspect I would get near that level in a public setting. Doing so would make me feel like an idiot as my music would announce my arrival far ahead of my physical one. It’s much louder than you might expect.
As you know, volume doesn’t necessarily equate to sound quality. I’d like to say that the WAE Outdoor 04Plus FM delivers a robust listening experience at all levels, but that’s simply not true. I found that, on average, I could get the volume to around 60-70 percent before it would distort. Given the size, this is better than I anticipated.
Keeping this in mind, you won’t turn to this one to provide a soundtrack to a full-on family reunion at the park. A family picnic, though? Sure! Set it on the hood of your car and it can pump out the tunes while you practice your jump shot in the driveway.
- Bluetooth 3.0 A2DP wireless technology
- Total output power: 10 W peak power
- Single-unit 2.0 speaker + passive decompression driver
- Frequency response: 130 Hz – 20,000 Hz
- Built-in rechargeable 3.7 V 1500 mAh Li-ion (lithium-ion) battery
- Battery life: 10 hours
- 3.5 mm mini-jack auxiliary line input
Although you don’t need it, I definitely recommend installing the app. Not only does it give you better control over the radio stations, but it also lets users configure various equalizer settings. Switching from EDM to more traditional rock? Dial things up and down to get a better experience.
The app also lets you remotely power on and set the speaker to standby, create alarms, and set up sleep timers. You’ll also find at-a-glance indication of battery life so you know ahead of time if you should charge up before leaving the house.
Battery life is rated at 10 hours for normal music listening; we found that to be rather accurate, if not low. Volume levels always play a factor, of course, but can’t imagine having to charge this one up all that often. If you’re listening to the FM tuner on its own, the WAE Outdoor 04Plus FM promises up to 18 hours. Charging takes anywhere from a few minutes up to about four hours.
I am always reluctant to name something the best you can buy, particularly because of price. A soft rule in life tells us that if you throw more money at something, you can get more out of the end result. Speakers are entirely different topics, though — especially portable, Bluetooth device.
With that in mind, I feel very confident in recommending the WAE Outdoor 04Plus FM at its price. You can very easily spend more money and still come away with fewer features.
The sound is not as robust at high levels as I might like, but it’s not all that often that I need it that loud. I’ve already got speakers for those scenarios and I don’t need to replace them yet. But, I am always on the lookout for something portable that offers a nice range of features. This is one that can go into a backpack or carry-on without eating up precious space. The next time I pack for a long weekend or trip to the beach, the WAE Outdoor 04Plus FM is probably the first one I will grab.
Where to Buy
You learn more about the WAE Outdoor 04Plus FM at the Hercules website. From there you can also find various retailers based on your country and whether you’re looking for retail or online outlets. The US site doesn’t list a price, but the UK variant does: £69.99. Head to Amazon and you’ll see it selling for $79.99 as of today.