iHome iBT9 review: A solidly built waterproof and shockproof Bluetooth speaker

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iHome-iBT9-review

The iHome iBT9 is a solid, loud waterproof and shockproof speaker with a decent battery life that is great for outdoor activities, but it does lack on the bass end of the spectrum.

Bluetooth speakers come in all shapes, sizes, and price points and it’s time to take a look at yet another one here at Techaeris. Our iHome iBT9 review takes a look at a waterproof and shockproof wireless speaker that you don’t have to worry about while on the beach, swimming pool, camping, or other places.

Specifications

The iHome iBT9 Waterproof + Shockproof Wireless Stereo Speaker has the following features and specifications:

  • Bluetooth wireless audio
  • Battery level and other voice prompts via Bluetooth
  • Long-lasting rechargeable internal lithium ion battery up to 9 hours
  • Local Music Playback
  • Aux-in jack
  • Speakerphone with digital voice echo cancellation and talk/end controls
  • IP67 Waterproof and Dustproof: Provides maximum protection from moisture: up to 30 minutes in 1 meter of water and prevents any dust from entry
  • Shockproof: Shock resistant case for worry-free operation anywhere
  • USB Charging
  • 1 Amp USB port to charge most mobile devices
  • LED Power On/Charging Indicator
  • Dimensions: 8.47″ W x 4.06″ H x 2.88″ D
  • Weight: 1.5 lbs

What’s in the Box

  • iHome iBT9 wireless speaker
  • USB power adapter
  • Micro-USB to USB-A cable
  • Bottle opener/carabiner clip
  • Instruction manuals (English and French)
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What’s in the box…

Design

The iHome iBT9 is a rugged looking speaker without going overboard. The main speaker area is a black metal rectangular grille with a very small iHome nameplate in the center and a thin blue accent layer around the edge. A slightly smaller speaker grille with the same blue accent layer adorns the back side of the iBT9.

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iHome iBT9 front view.

The entire speaker is encased in a hard blue plastic shell which is then covered with a soft rubbery black outer shell. It’s a nice finish but it very easily attracts dust, dog hair, and other small dirt particles. The bottom and area around the back speaker grille have a hatch-like design, and the outer shell offers a nice grip when placed on a hard surface or when being carried. The left side of the speaker has a black nylon strap for attaching to the included carabiner clip which doubles as a bottle opener. The right side of the speaker houses the AUX-in jack, 1.oA USB out charging port to charge your smartphone on the go, the Micro-USB in charging port, and a reset button to reset the speaker to its default settings. These ports are covered by a thick waterproof cover.

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The ports are covered, creating an IP67 rated waterproof seal.

Finally, the top of the speaker is where you’ll find your playback and power controls. The buttons are split into two 3 button groups and are inset in the blue inner casing. On the left are your power, Bluetooth, and phone buttons, while on the right you’ll find your volume down, play/pause, and volume up buttons.

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iHome iBT9 top view.

When the speaker is turned on, there is a small blue light just above the iHome nameplate that flashes blue while it’s looking for a connection, and stops flashing when it’s connected to a device. Just below that are four white rectangular lights that indicate how much battery you have left. These same lights also indicate the current charging state when the speaker is being recharged.

The speaker is IP67 waterproof rated which means that you can submerge it for up to 30 minutes at a depth of 1 meter (3 feet) without damaging it. While you probably won’t be doing this, it does mean that if you are listening to it on the beach or at a swimming pool and it gets wet or falls into the pool, it’ll be just fine. The caveat, of course, being that the waterproof cover over the ports is securely fastened. The cover is a snug fit and is easy to push into place and you can feel the snug resistance when you pull the top tab back to access the ports.

As for being shockproof, we tested it by dropping it from a few different heights on a wooden deck and it survived quite nicely with the rubber outer shell, in most cases bouncing lightly once before coming to a rest on its base or the front or back side. One thing I would like to see is a bit more of an extension of the rubber outer shell past the speaker grilles so as to protect them a bit more on the chance that the speaker is dropped and lands face up or face down.

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The rubberized outer shell helps protect the speaker from drops as well.

Overall the iHome iBT9 is a very nicely designed and rugged looking speaker and has a nice bit of weight to it.

Ease of Use

The iHome iBT9 Bluetooth speaker is as simple to use as most other Bluetooth speakers. Press and hold the Bluetooth button down for about two seconds to enter pairing mode, find the speaker on your smartphone, and complete the pairing process. Once paired, skipping tracks, playing/pausing music, adjusting volume, and answering phone calls is just as easy. When skipping tracks, the iBT9 uses the Play/Pause button instead of the volume buttons like other speakers do. Pressing it once plays or pauses the current track, pressing it twice skips to the next track, while pressing the Play/Pause button three times will return to the previous track.

Sound

When I test Bluetooth speakers or headphones, I make a habit of disabling the equalizer on my smartphone to see what the unequalized sound on the speaker or headphones is. In the case of the iHome iBT9 Bluetooth speaker, there is practically no bass when the equalizer is disabled. While music is clear, crisp, and loud with negligible distortion at maximum volume, the bass simply isn’t there. Once you enable an equalizer and jack up the bass, the iBT9 sounds a little more balanced but the bass still lacks the punch that a lot of genres of music rely on.

The iBT9 also does not have independent volume controls, so when you use your phone or the speaker to control your volume you won’t be able to fine tune it like you can with speakers that do have independent volume controls.

Reception/Call Quality

As with most Bluetooth speakers, using the iHome iBT9 as a speakerphone is o.k. as long as you are sitting close to the speaker. While the other end comes through fine, the closer you are sitting to the speaker, the better the other party on the call will be able to hear you. The microphone on the iBT9 is located just above the iHome nameplate on the front of the speaker so you’ll want to be sitting near that when using the speaker as a speakerphone.

Battery Life

iHome claims 9 hours of playback time before requiring a recharge, and like all speakers, this depends on the volume you listen to your music at. When used at about 50% volume I was able to get nearly 10 hours out of this so your listening time will definitely vary if you like to listen to your music even louder.

Price/Value

With an MSRP of $99.99USD, the iHome iBT9 is an average priced Bluetooth speaker. While being able to listen to your music loud while at the beach or outdoors without having to worry about damaging the speaker by getting it wet or dropping it, if you’re a bass lover like me you probably want to pass this one over.

Wrap-up

The iHome iBT9 is a solid, loud waterproof and shockproof speaker with a decent battery life that is great for outdoor activities, albeit it lacking on the bass end of the spectrum.

iHome iBT9 wireless speaker
4.6 Out of 5
Nailed it
Solid design. Waterproof. Shockproof. Loud, clear sound. Included bottle opener/carabiner clip a nice touch.
Needs Work
Almost non-existent bass. Can be somewhat rectified with an equalizer on your smartphone but even then it's still lacking. Would be nice to see a bit more of a protective lip extend past the front and back speaker grilles.
Bottom Line
The iHome iBT9 is a solid, loud waterproof and shockproof speaker with a decent battery life that is great for outdoor activities, albeit lacking on the bass end of the spectrum.
Design5.00
Ease of Use5.00
Sound4.25
Reception/Call Quality4.25
Battery Life4.75
Price/Value4.50
*We were sent a review sample of the iHome iBT9 wireless speaker for the purposes of this review.
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