Hands-on review: Tronsmart Studio 30W Bluetooth speaker
Image credit: Tronsmart
Minimalist design; maximalist sound.
Unless you have a particular predilection for tracking new Chinese technology companies (a hobby that undoubtedly would keep you very busy) or are a keen follower of professional footballer (and infamous neck nibbler) Luis Suarez, who became the brand's official ambassador in 2018, there isn't any significant reason why you might have previously heard of Tronsmart.
Established in 2013, so already eight years old, Tronsmart was founded by electronic enthusiast Eric Cheng, who started out reverse engineering products he admired in order to understand how and why they worked as well as they did. Putting this knowledge to practical use, Cheng then began building his own interpretations of the devices that had inspired him, building up this practice until he was in a position to establish his own gadget brand: Tronsmart. Since then, the company has put out a rolling series of consumer audio gadgets and secured over 40 patents, including one for the impressive 'SoundPulse' technology included here.
Judging by the look, sound and feel of the Tronsmart Studio 30W SoundPulse portable Bluetooth speaker on review here, Cheng has put his apprenticeship years to good use. This doesn't feel like just another 'me too' product pumped out into the market in the hope of finding a few customers. This speaker genuinely feels like a serious, solid piece of modern hi-fi technology. Even the unboxing is a pleasing affair.
The all-metal aluminium casing of the speaker helps project a quietly authoritative sense of quality, along with metal speaker grilles front and back. There is very little plastic here, adding to the overall luxe feel and appeal. It's weighty (961g), without being stupidly heavy.
That black hardened aluminium exterior chassis has also been specifically engineered to ensure that intended vibrations can be heard from the drivers only, minimising distortion and reproducing a high-fidelity sound that is superior to plastic or wooden designs. Certainly, demoing a variety of sounds – ranging from 320kbps MP3, to 16/24 AIFF, up to 24/96 FLAC files – all we could hear was the source itself.
The black soft-touch rubber control strip on top of the speaker is another classy touch, so minimalist that until you have the necessary muscle memory down to remember what each button does, you are likely to find yourself peering closely and angling the speaker into the light in order to make out the various legends.
Essentially, the top row is play/pause (centre) with volume up and down on either side. The bottom row is functionality: power up/off (causing the Tronsmart to emit a very deep and sonorous 'bong'), Bluetooth (5.0) pairing, the unique TuneConn multi-speaker pairing mode, and the SoundPulse EQ boost-cum-Siri/Google voice assistant button.
On the back of the device (remember: this 2.1 speaker's two side tweeters and central subwoofer point forward, although things sound fine round the back, too), there is a TF card slot, so you can load music on a card and just leave it playing, an Aux line-in socket (so good to see a Bluetooth speaker company still offering this), and a USB-C charging jack.
It's a stylish, well-specified, portable-yet-powerful speaker, neatly embracing 'classic' functionality – e.g. that Aux socket – but resolutely future facing, with USB-C and Bluetooth 5.0.
How does it sound? Surprising. In a very good way. The quad passive radiators and three-driver design enable this minimalist 8in-long metal slab of Bluetooth speaker to put out a rich and solid sound, with good detail, balance, stereo spread and fine tones from treble to bass.
Listening to all types of music – from '60s jazz to '00s bangers and every kind of pop trifle and rock rage in-between – everything sounded good. The SoundPulse button is definitely essential, to our ears, and it's mildly annoying that you have to remember to turn it on every time you start the speaker up. The speaker sounds OK without it, but gets a lovely sounding presence and bass boost with it turned on. There is also an accompanying Tronsmart app, offering further EQ options for fine-tuning the sound to your personal taste. We didn't feel obliged to use it, but it's there if you want it.
A small white light above the button indicates SoundPulse status, just as a small blue light in the middle of the control panel indicates Bluetooth connection, and white dots on the left-hand side give visual feedback about charging level. We got used to giving the panel a quick glance after starting up, checking all the lights were illuminated as expected. After that, you can pretty much forget about needing to fiddle with the speaker: it appears to be blissfully reliable.
Recharging is fast due to USB-C: 3.5 hours from flat to full. Tronsmart claims 15 hours of playback, although it also makes clear that this maximum is achieved only when listening at 50 per cent volume. Crank it up (with 30 watts on tap, this speaker goes loud) and you'll drain it quicker, which is common with all such gadgets. For a party scenario, you'll want to bear this volume law in mind. Listening at your desk while you work, not so much.
You can also potentially enjoy multi-room audio with the 'TuneConn' feature, connecting anything up to 100 speakers from a single device. Obviously, we didn't have 100 Tronsmart speakers to test this function, but we have no reason to doubt that it works. It's a 'nice to have', if you feel moved to add more speakers around your house/workshop/party venue/exhibition space. It's such a cute and capable speaker, with a simplistic elegance to its industrial design, that it should fit unobtrusively into a wide variety of places. Just keep in mind that two speakers won't widen the stereo picture, per se, if that's something you're thinking of trying: each speaker individually will be in stereo.
Downsides? Nothing significant. There's no immersive waterproof rating here, just IPX4, which means it can withstand splashing water, like rain or accidental spills. This is a classy speaker for classy situations. If you want a speaker unfazed by trips to the beach, for fishing expeditions or as a poolside companion, you might want to widen your search (e.g. the Tronsmart Force 40W, with full IPX7 rating).
Other than that, as a solid companion for home and office, there is very little reason to overlook this speaker. It looks good, sounds good, and the price is right.
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