Bluetooth speakers are nothing new, but GOOD Bluetooth speakers are an entirely other story. I’ve owned a number of these and it’s always been the same story. Durable, good sound, compact, reasonably-priced: pick two… sometimes, barely one. Turcom took it upon themselves to sway that expectation in the consumer’s favor, and in most ways, succeeded. Read on for our full review of the Turcom AcoustoShock 903 Bluetooth speaker.
● Bluetooth Version: 4.0
● IPX5 rated. Water-Resistant, Dust-proof, Shock-proof
● Battery: Rechargeable 8000mAh Lithium-Ion
● Package Contents: Power cord, USB(out), and auxiliary cable
● Dimensions: 10″ x 3.8″ x 4.7″
● Weight: 58.5 oz.
● Retractable handle for easy carrying
● 2.2 Channel Stereo Sound with 30 Watt output
If you have read any of my articles, you would know that I tend to lean towards a certain aesthetic when it comes to tech. Pointlessly thin, shiny and fragile is just not my thing. If it’s yours, the Turcom AcoustoShock HR/TS 903 may not be for you. It’s a very rugged speaker and it wants to make sure you never doubt its intentions. I mean look at it! It looks like some futuristic tank that should be chasing Kevin Flynn around, yelling “Death to the user!” So yes, I love the design. Durable does not mean tacky or obnoxious, and although it is clearly tough, the overall appearance was very well thought out and intentional in every way. Hidden behind a flap on the right side are three jacks for power, USB (out), and a 3.5mm aux cable. Right above that, is an LED power button/connection indicator.
On top are recessed touch buttons for Bluetooth connecting, previous track, play/pause/phone, next track, volume up, and volume down. To the left of those, is the NFC logo indicating where the chip is, if you want to tap your device to it. On the left is a button to release a useful handle that can used to hang the speaker or carry it around. The orange stripes on either side provide a nice accent to the subtle grays and blacks that cover the rest of the speaker. Those treads by the way, not only protect the unit but also provide a nice grip with whatever surface it’s on, keeping it from sliding off.
Ease Of Use
Before using any gadget, you should really read the instructions. However, beyond that whole being lazy and stubborn thing, I have convinced myself that something like this should just be intuitive right out of the box. If it’s your first Bluetooth speaker, then some reading may be in order, but after a dozen or so of these, I should just be able to start using one as soon as I wrangle it out it’s package. The 903 works exactly the way I expected. On top of that, it’s also incredibly quick to connect and react to any input so there is never a “did I do something wrong?” moment. You long-press the power button and it begins to flash; connect your phone/tablet/music player to it via their Bluetooth settings and it’s ready to go. You can also just plug your music source directly into it via the 3.5mm AUX jack.
The NFC functionality is where it gets really fun. If your player has NFC built in, just tap it to the NFC logo and it will pair automatically. You still have to approve the pairing on your phone, for example (for obvious security reasons), but as soon as you do, the speaker connects instantly, and if you recently had your music app open, will pick up the audio right where you left off. This all happens in about 1.5 seconds! If your device was previously paired, there is no need to even keep your Bluetooth on, just tap your phone/tablet to the speaker and it flips the Bluetooth on, connects and begins to play. What’s really great is that the speaker does not need to be on in either of these cases. It just turns on the moment you use the NFC function. Easy, quick and works every time.
Looks and functions are great but of course if the sound quality doesn’t hold up, the whole experience falls apart. With 2.2 Channel Dual Speaker Drivers the Turcom shines. The sound is clear and crisp with surprisingly good bass. The other surprise is how loud this thing gets. It won’t rattle trunks but using it outdoors we didn’t even come close to full volume. With certain audio though, you will get some distortion and echo once you go full blast, but if you keep it just a nudge below the stereo sound is great.
For the love of all that is holy, people, please stop using your phone’s built in speaker for phone conversations. Please. You know how you always need to ask how well the other person can hear you? It’s always terrible. Always! You are either blocked out by wind noise or screaming into their ear like a maniac. If you need to have a hands-free conversation and don’t want to hold the phone to your ear, get something like this Turcom. In fact, just like this one. That great sound quality I mentioned above applies to phone conversations as well. The other person’s voice comes through perfectly, loudly and lucidly. The AcoustoShock has a great built in mic so you can use your calm indoor voice even if you are outdoors. In every case, the other person could not tell if I was on my phone or using the speaker to talk to them.
The Turcom’s physical design is not the only element that was well thought out. With a push of a button, you can pop out a very useful handle. this can be used to attach or suspend the speaker, or just make it easier to carry around. If you were wondering what that USB out port is for, it’s to charge your other devices. Yes, the AcoustoShock can also work as an external battery and with 8000 mAh of juice, it can recharge even the biggest phones while still having enough for itself. The IPX5 rating means it’s water resistant but not waterproof. In no way am I recommending you dump the speaker into a pool and leave it there for days but in my use, Turcom may have been a bit humble and played it safe with this rating. Suffice it to say, you do not need to worry about bringing this thing into the shower or spilling some liquid on it. As far as it’s ruggedness, you will have to work really hard to put a dent in this thing. The point is, use it and abuse it. It can take it and keep going all day.
I feel that this is yet another category where Turcom was playing it safe, is making claims of an 8 hour battery life. Of course conditions and specific uses will vary but I got well over 10 hours out of my unit and it was still going after that. In fact, I can’t imagine a real use scenario where you will only get 8 hours of it. On top of that, the AcoustoShock can be used while it’s plugged in, something plenty of other speakers, surprisingly, cannot do.
At $129 MSRP this speaker is an easy recommendation considering how much it can do and how well it does it. But if you check alternate sources like Amazon, you can find this speaker for under $100. If you are shopping around for a portable bluetooth speaker, this one should make you very happy. And if you’ve been on the fence, this one should definitely get you interested in the idea of owning one.
So did Turcom check all the boxes I listed originally? No. But unicorns are mythical creatures for a reason. Sure it would be great to have a thimble-sized speakers that have stadium sound quality and cost a buck. But in reality the Turcom AcoustoShock is a fantastic piece of hardware. It’s not light nor very compact, but the fact that you can easily bring this thing anywhere, not worry about it surviving, and have it provide loud quality audio for hours and hours all for around a hundred bucks is phenomenal.
*We were sent a Turcom HR-903 for the purposes of this review.
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