iLive ISB408 review: A wireless tailgate speaker with mic and FM radio

Audio / Audio Hardware Reviews / Reviews
iLive ISB408 Wireless Tailgate Speaker

While the iLIVE ISB408 doesn’t have the greatest battery life, it does have some cool features and a great price.

8.6/10 rating

These days, there are literally hundreds of different Bluetooth speakers to choose from. From smaller ones small rooms to huge ones that last days on a single charge, there’s definitely a speaker for every occasion. Our iLive ISB408 review takes a look at a relatively light Bluetooth speaker being marketed as a “wireless tailgate speaker” with plenty of fun features. Read on for our full review!

Specifications

The iLive ISB408 Wireless Tailgate Speaker has the following features and specifications:

  • Bluetooth wireless
  • Supports profile A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile)
  • Wireless range: 60 feet
  • Built-in 5.25″ woofer
  • Digital FM radio (PLL)
  • Station memory presets (30 FM)
  • Aux in (3.5mm audio input)
  • Microphone input
  • USB port: supports MP3 file format
  • SD memory card reader: supports MP3
  • LED light effects
  • Red LED display
  • Carry handle
  • Pairing indicator
  • Charge indicator
  • Low battery indicator
  • Micro-USB port for battery recharge
  • Built-in FM wire antenna
  • Play/pause/stop/pairing button
  • Skip forward/skip back/tuning buttons
  • Microphone volume control
  • Volume/on/off control
  • DC battery power: built-in rechargeable battery
  • Battery life: ~3 hours
  • Dimensions: 6.45 x 6.3 x 13.98
  • Weight: 5.4 lbs

What’s in the box

  • 3.5mm audio cable
  • Micro-USB to USB cable
  • Warranty

Design

The iLive ISB408 Wireless Tailgate Speaker is a nice size. Roughly 6 1/2-inches wide, it’s just over 6-inches deep and almost 14-inches in height. Even though it weighs nearly 5 1/2 pounds, it’s surprisingly light given its size. One issue I encountered with the weight and size is that it would sometimes fall over if it was windy enough. While not a huge issue, if it is windy, you’ll want to keep that in mind when deciding where to place it so it doesn’t blow over.

iLive ISB408 Wireless Tailgate Speaker
The iLive ISB408 Wireless Tailgate Speaker.

As for the actual design, the outer shell of the ISB408 Bluetooth speaker reminds me a lot of your typical cooler. Black in colour, the plastic shell is pretty rigid and has the same mottled texture as a many coolers do. The sides and back feature a cutout/ridged design. The speaker also has a formed handle at the top which allows for easy transportation.

Just below the handle is an angled control panel with four screws, one in each corner. Two knobs are located on the upper left and upper right corners with an LED display centered between the two. The left knob controls volume, while the right knob control microphone volume.

Underneath the knobs are your other controls. From left to right you have your Micro-USB charging input, the Source, previous track, play/pause/BT pairing, and next track buttons, AUX IN port, USB and SD Card ports, and finally your MIC IN input port.

The iLive ISB408 Wireless Tailgate Speaker has a handle and a handy control panel
The iLive ISB408 Wireless Tailgate Speaker has a handle and a handy control panel.

Below the panel, centered in the main region of the front of the unit is a 6″ speaker grille. The grille has plenty of angled cutouts in it, as well as eight larger angled cutouts paired off in each corner. The iLive logo is printed in white in the center of the grille. When turned on, there is a flashing LED light which changes colours and frequency, sometimes pulsing, sometimes flashing. Unfortunately, the light cannot be turned off. That being said, it does add a fun effect to the speaker.

Finally, the bottom of the speaker has four rubber pads near each corner for some added grip and sturdiness while set on the ground or elsewhere.

At the end of the day, the ISB408 has a sturdy, rugged design which should definitely stand up to tailgate party use. While we didn’t use it at an actual tailgate party, we did mostly use it outside and it did survive a few tip overs and falls with no visible damage encountered.

Ease of Use

Regardless of how you want to listen to your music, the iLive ISB408 is super easy to use.

Bluetooth is probably the most popular option for listening to music on this speaker. Once the source is set to ‘bt’ as indicated on the display, press and hold the play/pause/Bluetooth button to start the pairing process. ISB408 should show up on your device under Bluetooth settings, select this and you should be good to go.

To select FM radio, tap the source button until ‘tu’ appears on the screen. When first setting up the FM stations, or in a new area, simply press and hold the play/pause button to scan and save available stations to the 30 presets on the speaker. Once assigned, you can use the next button to skip to the next one or press and hold the previous/next buttons for manual tuning. Once you’ve set your stations, the next time you switch the source to FM, it will display the station code, i.e. 102.9 FM.

SD Card and USB stick modes are straightforward as well. Simply plug in a USB stick or insert an SD Card and the speaker will automatically switch to the appropriate source. AUX In is self-explanatory as well, and like the previous two modes will auto-switch to that source when detected.

Finally, using a microphone is as easy as plugging in a compatible microphone and adjusting the microphone volume levels with the right dial.

Even though there are a few sources with this speaker, all are straightforward and easy to use and set up.

Performance

This is a bit of an odd section to include here but because the iLive ISB408 Wireless Tailgate Speaker has a few features not found on a lot of other Bluetooth speakers. Sure, some have one or two of these, but this one packs an FM radio tuner, microphone input, auxiliary input, Micro-SD card slot, and a USB-A port.

The The iLive ISB408 Wireless Tailgate Speaker has LED Lights behind the speaker grille
LED lights behind the speaker grille add some extra fun to the speaker.

As far as the Micro-SD card slot and USB-A port, both these accept the appropriate media types and will play your MP3s. While there’s no way to randomize your stream, both sources do indeed play MP3s just fine which can cut down on your data charges if you’re streaming or don’t have music saved to your smartphone.

The FM tuner works fine as well, obviously, it depends on where you are.

The microphone is a fun feature as well, especially if you’re out at an actual tailgate party getting ready for the big game. Note, you will need a microphone with a 1/4-inch plug or an adapter if you have one with a 3.5mm plug. We tried a couple different relatively cheap ($20) microphones with the speaker and they sounded fine as the audio quality is determined by the speaker anyhow. On that note, you do have a separate volume control so you can adjust the microphone volume relative to the music volume for that perfect voice over for ramping up other fans for your favourite team or jamming out in an impromptu karaoke session.

Sound Quality

As far as volume is concerned, the iLive ISB408 features independent volume controls. When adjusting the volume from your phone, the speaker display will show U01-U15 depending on your volume. For the most part, I maxed out the volume on my smartphone then used the volume knob on the speaker to control the music volume. Interestingly enough, the volume knob sits at about 7 o’clock when off but the volume doesn’t actually kick in until about the 10 o’clock position with maximum volume at the 5 o’clock position.

The actual sound quality of the speaker isn’t going to blow you away but it does get quite loud. While it is pretty crisp, it is a little muddied, especially the louder you go. If you’re outside, especially in a noisier environment like a parking lot outside a stadium pre-game, you’re not going to notice all that much. Interestingly enough, the speaker does have decent bass but you can only really hear and “feel” it if you are super close to the speaker.

Side view of the iLive ISB408 Wireless Tailgate Speaker
Side view of the iLive ISB408 Wireless Tailgate Speaker.

Battery Life

Bluetooth speakers run the gamut when it comes to battery life but the stated 3 hour battery life on this speaker is almost unheard of for a larger Bluetooth speaker. Even smaller, portable speakers last much longer.

At any rate, the iLive ISB408 definitely gets between 3-6 hours on a single charge depending on volume and source. Fully cranked will get you about 3 hours while listening at a more reasonable volume while relaxing can take you to about 6 hours or so. When the display starts flashing “LO”, you’ll know that the speaker needs to be plugged in and recharged.

Given it is marketed as a tailgate speaker, 3 hours should be plenty enough, just don’t plan on using it for the after game party unless you’ve got a power source you can plug it in to. On that note, the speaker will play while plugged in so you can simply use a car adapter and a USB to Micro-USB cable to run it off a powered source like your vehicle.

Once dead, the speaker does take about 3 hours to recharge which is nearly as long as the listening time you get out of it.

That all being said, given the size of the speaker, I’d pay more for a bigger, longer lasting battery for sure.

Price/Value

With an MSRP of US$59.99, the iLive ISB408 definitely isn’t going to break the bank. With sound that is pretty decent even at loud volumes and a very durable design, the iLive ISB408 should easily get you through most tailgate parties or shorter backyard gatherings.

Bottom view of the iLive ISB408 Wireless Tailgate Speaker.
Side view of the iLive ISB408 Wireless Tailgate Speaker.

Even better? The same speaker is currently selling under iLive’s parent brand — DPI — for $49.99 on Amazon, a price that definitely allows you to overlook its shortcomings.

Wrap-up

While the iLIVE ISB408 doesn’t have the greatest battery life, it does have some cool features like a microphone input, FM radio support, SD card/USB stick support, and flashing LED lights at a great price.

*We were sent a sample of the iLive ISB408 Wireless Tailgate Speaker for the purposes of this review. In some of our articles and especially in our reviews, you will find Amazon or other affiliate links. Running a website does take money, along with time. Any purchases you make through these links often result in a small amount being earned for the site and/or our writers.

iLive IB408 Wireless Tailgate Speaker

US$59.99
8.6

Design

9.0/10

Ease of Use

9.5/10

Performance

9.5/10

Sound Quality

8.5/10

Battery Life

6.0/10

Price/Value

9.0/10

Nailed it

  • Durable, rugged design
  • Plenty of input sources
  • FM radio tuner
  • Microphone input
  • LED light show feature

Needs work

  • Light, blows over easy in the wind
  • Not a lot of bass comes through depending on distance/volume
  • Battery life is pretty lacking

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