This cube-shaped speaker delivers better audio performance than you’d imagine given its size. Its price/performance ratio is off the hook.
At first glance, I didn’t think the TDK Life on Record Trek 360 portable Bluetooth speaker would fit in the backpack I wanted to transport it home in. I guess I just don’t associate 6.25-inch wide by 7-inch high cubes with portability. Weak eyesight, bad spatial judgment day, whatever. In reality, it fit quite handily, if without a lot of room to spare. The 4.4-pound heft wasn’t burdensome either.
After the failure of my initial sizing-up, it was on to the obvious upsides of the cube shape—enough air to make things sound good without resorting to psychoacoustic effects. Air is especially important for bass response, as is the acoustic port in the back of the unit. The Trek 360 sounds pretty darn good, and not just for a Bluetooth speaker. My roommate immediately wanted to trade her Bluetooth JBL for it, and I’ve heard far worse sounding units than the Jibble.
Out of the box, the 360’s mids and highs are nicely balanced, and there’s plenty of bass without it seeming overemphasized. But get this, you can actually adjust the bass and treble using a combination of a button and the main rotary control. Much as you would with many car stereos. That’s not particularly common on a wireless speaker system, and it just happens to appear on a unit that needs little adjustment. Great. I mean… Great!
The other great thing about the Trek 360, as you might guess from the name, is that it radiates sound in all directions. Yup. Omnidirectional. That means you can set it in the middle of your communal circle and everyone can dance around it without experiencing any Doppler effect. Hi-Fi Lord of the Flies. There’s plenty of volume to overcome the crackling of a fire.
The Trek 360’s controls consist of the aforementioned large rotary dial (for volume and EQ) that doubles as a secondary power switch (push), the Bluetooth connection button, and the EQ button. Lights around the edge of the power/volume rotary knob show the current volume and power/charging status.
On the back of the 360, hidden beneath a weatherproofing rubber plug, are the primary power switch, an auxiliary line-in, a full-size USB 2.0 port for charging other devices, and the AC jack. The Trek 360 sports a real AC wall wart; you don’t recharge it using a micro-USB cable as you do most. That makes for a quicker charge, but it means you can’t power it from portable sources. TDK claims six hours of run time and I saw just a hair less than that.
The Trek 360 has one feature that my personal jury is still out on—auto-starting playback on the originating device upon connection. Everyone to whom I demonstrated this feature found it mildly startling and a bit intrusive, at least initially. Of course, the next time I connected to another player I wondered why playback hadn’t started. Geez, it’s fun being human. In the end, I decided this was something I can live with but would rather do without.
The Trek 360 is one of the best-sounding wireless speakers I’ve listened to, regardless of connection technology: Bluetooth, Play-Fi, Sonos, AllPlay, etc. Audiophiles might complain that Bluetooth isn’t lossless, and you wouldn’t want to mix down your SoundCloud/YouTube masterpiece on it, but it’s sonorous enough for most users. And, while your initial impression, like ours, might be one of “bulky”, the Trek 360 isn’t really that hard to drag around.
Jon Jacobi is a musician, former x86/6800 programmer, and long-time computer enthusiast. He writes reviews on TVs, SSDs, dash cams, remote access software, Bluetooth speakers, and sundry other consumer-tech hardware and software.