- Loud, good quality sound
- Handsome minimalist design
- Minimal stereo separation
- No published IP code for protection from weather or particulate matter (cannot be exposed to moisture)
The Soundstage3 Portable Bluetooth speaker is loud and thumpy, yet delivers a generally accurate sonic signature. It would be even better with dual woofers, but it still vies for best of the single-woofer breed.
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If you’re looking for a portable Bluetooth speaker that brings the gusto, then Monoprice’s Soundstage3 Portable fits the bill. This is no dainty, wallflower of a speaker: A 50-watt Class D amp drives a large 5.25-inch woofer and a pair of tweeters and will supply a decent size gathering with suitably loud tunes.
More than that, it’s got punch and thump. If you’ve ever tried to get a party started with a bass-challenged audio device, you know how important oomph is.
Soundstage3 Portable’s design and specs
When I say no wallflower, I mean that the Soundstage3 Portable measures 7.3 x 13.6 x 6.9 inches (HxWxD) and weighs in at a hefty 10.8 pounds. Though that may not please some 98-pounders, heft in speakers is generally a sonically good thing. It makes for deeper resonance and better acoustic coupling with the surfaces they sit on (the speaker, that is, not 98-pounders).
In some cases, of course, audiophiles and studios go to great lengths to eliminate acoustic coupling. But that’s an accuracy thing, not a normal listening/dancing thing.
I found myself quite partial to the Soundstage3 Portable’s minimalist, basic-black looks. The lack of a dome on the main speaker gives the unit a distinct look and enhances its sense of minimalism. The rounded edges add to the appeal in my book, not to mention making it less dangerous when it’s swung about in transit. Tastes vary.
The most obvious feature on the top of the Soundstage3 Portable is the carrying handle. It’s soft, very pliable, and easy on the hands. How durable it will be, I can’t say, but I like it. Also on top are the button controls: on/standby, Bluetooth pair (version 4.2), volume up and down, and source select.
I was just a tad surprised at the lack of a 1/4-inch or XLR inputs on the Soundstage3 Portable. At its size and with 50 watts of amplification, this speaker could easily serve as a lightweight PA. It still can, you’ll just need to bring a mixer along. The stereo RCA, optical S/PDIF, and 3.5mm auxiliary inputs will handle said mixer and just about any other source. If you are looking for a Bluetooth speaker/PA combo, take a look at our Mackie Freeplay Live review.
There’s also a Type-A USB port on the back for charging phones, etc. Charging external devices will of course be to the detriment of the Soundstage3 Portable’s run time.
The Soundstage3 Portable features the aforementioned 5.25-inch full-range aluminum cone woofer and two 1-inch silk dome tweeters. It’s difficult for humans to distinguish stereo in the bass registers, so leaving that to the tweeters is a common design compromise. It allows for a beefier woofer.
By the way, those plentiful 50 watts are divvied up 30 watts to the woofer, and 10 watts apiece to the tweeters. Run time from the 8800mAh battery is said to be 10 hours at half volume.
The back of the Soundstage3 Portable is also home to a subwoofer output, the two-prong power jack, a beefy on/off switch, and the acoustic bass port.
Soundstage3 Portable’s sound
The Soundstage3 Portable’s most salient sonic strength is its generous volume and lower register reproduction, aka thump. Sub-bass is apparent. That said, the mid-range is reasonably well-defined, and highs are also well-represented. Even better, the unit maintains its pleasant musicality even at high volume. With most material, it’s vying for the best-sounding single-woofer/dual-tweeter box I’ve heard.
As is the case with nearly all single-woofer/dual-tweeter speakers I’ve tested, however, there are occasional phase cancellation issues causing some sounds to be rendered far more quietly than they should be, or the overall audio sounding thinner then it should.
What happens is that the L/R stereo signals cancel or degrade each other in the mono woofer, but are still audible from the stereo tweeters. With the crossover for the tweeters at 3kHz, this was more noticeable on those rare occasions with the Soundstage3 Portable.
Stereo separation from the Soundstage3 Portable also isn’t what it would be if it had dual full-range woofers angled outward. Instead, it’s more what I’d consider a strong hint. But that’s only an issue with fine listening. Dancing around with the tunes pumping, you’ll likely never care about stereo separation.
Battery run time was at four hours with half a charge left, so I’m guessing Monoprice’s claim of 10 hours at half volume is largely accurate. Note that the Soundstage3 Portable is not weatherproof, so if you take it outdoors, you’ll need to be careful. Water and sand are not its friends.
The Soundstage3 Portable delivers volume and thump
In its intended role as a loud, thumpy, sonorous speaker, the Soundstage3 Portable provides good service the vast majority of the time. It’s also a particularly handsome unit in my book. I do wish Monoprice had opted for dual woofers, but I wish that about every speaker that settles for one.