Stuff We Use: External Speakers


stuff we use external speakers

On our never-ending quest to improve this place by listening to feedback from the B&B, we are taking a new tack with these product posts, choosing instead to focus on items we use and have deployed in our travels. After all, if we’re giving you the truth about cars, we ought to give you the truth about car accessories.

We’ll cop that the topic of the one is arguably more car adjacent than some of the other products we’ve featured in this series – but there’s no denying that gearheads generally like their tunes.

Before digging into some external or Bluetooth speakers, it’s worth surveying the landscape and mentioning a few vehicle brands which bake this technology right into some of their new models. The most obvious parallel is the unit pitched by Jeep, hiding in a dock behind the back seat of rigs like the burly Gladiator. Originally priced at approximately $300 but now a $595 option, it isn’t the cheapest way to source a few mobile tunes but it does fit snugly in its protective home and is a great party trick to haul out at yer next tailgate. We’ve used this speaker and it is decently robust with good sound, clearly designed to weather a few knocks and scrapes in typical Jeep environments whilst also able to provide a bit of juice to devices via its USB port. The battery is more than enough for an evening’s party.

stuff we use external speakers

Less portable but no less external are the Kicker systems offered by General Motors which can be baked in to the multifunction tailgates of Silverado and Sierra pickup trucks. This one, at $895, is even more expensive than the Jeep speaker but is fully weatherproof with the likes of illuminated displays. Completely independent from the truck’s main audio system, all one must do is pair their music source to the thing via Bluetooth and let fly with their favorite artists. Sound is better from this thing than the Jeep’s thanks to dint of being paired with a weatherproof amp hidden in the tailgate and simply being larger overall. USB and old-school 3.5mm jack inputs hang out here, as well.

stuff we use external speakers

Sitting in my own home is a Fender Newport Bluetooth speaker, able to belt out music with a sound much larger than its footprint implies. Yes, this dork of a writer enjoys the look of this thing, meant to evoke their ’68 Custom amplifiers, but the sound quality reliably wows everyone who hears it, even if they don’t like my choice in tunes. There’s a really good heft to this thing, like lifting a stone out of a river, and its dials along the top have a great action to them. That metal on/off switch has a satisfying click, and the unit will power itself down if you forget to manually move the toggle back to the ‘off’ position after partying. It says the rechargeable battery lasts for about 12 hours but I’ve never really gotten more than eight or nine. At roughly $300 it’s not the cheapest option – but at least there’s nothing even remotely cheap-feeling about this cool-looking beast of a speaker.

stuff we use external speakers

Also kicking around my house and generally deployed on the deck is a Soundcore Flare speaker, a great little scamp which is generally priced under a hundred bucks. That unique shape allows its drivers to be placed back-to-back to actually produce a hearty amount of audio energy. It doesn’t have the punch of the Fender, but it plays in a totally different price class so one’s expectations must be adjusted accordingly. Whilst I have not yet flung it into the pool in a fit of joyous reverie, it has been left out during rain showers and showed no ill effects. Your experience may vary, though it is IPX7 waterproof rated by some organization or another. And, yes, this extroverted author always activates the 8-color lights on its base which can bump in time with whatever tunes are being belted forth from its speakers. The updated Flare 2 has an additional set of lights atop its crown.

As planned, this series of posts will continue to focus on items we have actually used instead of randomly plucking products from the ether of Amazon. We hope you found this one helpful.

[Images © 2024 Matthew Guy/, Manufacturers]

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