Minimalist design; maximalist sound.
Unless you have a penchant for following new Chinese tech companies (a hobby that would no doubt keep you very busy) or an avid follower of professional footballer (and infamous neck nibbler) Luis Suarez, who became the brand’s official ambassador in 2018, There is no major reason why you may have heard of Tronsmart before.
Founded in 2013, so already eight years old, Tronsmart was founded by electronic enthusiast Eric Cheng, who started with reverse engineering products he admired to understand how and why they worked as well as they did. Putting this knowledge into practice, Cheng then began to create his own interpretations of the devices that inspired him, building on this practice until he was able to found his own gadget brand: Tronsmart. Since then, the company has released a rolling line of consumer audio gadgets and secured more than 40 patents, including one for the impressive ‘SoundPulse’ technology incorporated here.
Judging by the look, sound, and feel of the Tronsmart Studio 30W SoundPulse Portable Bluetooth Speaker reviewed here, Cheng has put his apprenticeship to good use. This doesn’t feel like another ‘me too’ product being pumped into the market in hopes of finding a few customers. This speaker really feels like a serious, solid piece of modern hi-fi technology. Even unpacking is a pleasant affair.
The speaker’s all-metal aluminum enclosure contributes to a quiet, authoritative sense of quality, along with front and rear metal speaker grilles. There’s very little plastic here, adding to the overall luxurious feel and appeal. It’s heavy (961 g), without being stupidly overweight.
That black, hardened aluminum chassis on the outside has also been specially designed to ensure that the intended vibrations can only be heard by the drivers, minimizing distortion and reproducing hi-fi sound superior to plastic or wooden designs. Sure, demonstrating a variety of sounds — ranging from 320 kbps MP3, to 16/24 AIFF, 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 stylish touch, so minimalistic that until you have the muscle memory necessary to remember what each button does, you’ll probably find yourself peering up close and looking at the speaker in the light to select the various buttons. distinguish legends.
Essentially the top row is play/pause (center) with volume up and down on either side. The bottom row is functionality: power on and off (which gives the Tronsmart a very deep and sonorous ‘bong’), Bluetooth (5.0) pairing, the unique TuneConn pairing mode for multiple speakers, and the SoundPulse EQ boost-cum-Siri /Google voice assistant button.
On the back of the unit (remember: this 2.1 speaker’s two side tweeters and center subwoofer face forward, although the rear sounds good too), there’s a TF card slot so you can load music onto a card and just leave it playing, an Aux line-in jack (so good to see a Bluetooth speaker company still offer this), and a USB-C charging jack.
It is a stylish, well-specified, portable yet powerful loudspeaker, which neatly embraces ‘classic’ functionality – e.g. that Aux connection – but resolutely forward-looking, with USB-C and Bluetooth 5.0.
How does it sound? Surprisingly. In a really good way. Thanks to its four passive radiators and three-driver design, this minimalist 8-inch long metal slab Bluetooth speaker can produce a rich and solid sound, with good detail, balance, stereo dispersion, and fine tones from highs to lows.
Listening to all kinds of music – from 60s jazz to 00s bangers and all kinds of pop trifle and rock craze in between – everything sounded good. The SoundPulse button is absolutely essential for our ears, and it’s a little annoying having to remember to turn it on every time you power up the speaker. The speaker sounds fine without it, but gets a great-sounding presence and bass boost when it’s turned on. There is also a companion Tronsmart app, which offers further EQ options to fine-tune the sound to your personal taste. We didn’t feel obligated to use it, but it’s there if you want it.
A small white light above the button indicates SoundPulse status, much like a small blue light in the center of the control panel indicates Bluetooth connection, and white dots on the left provide visual feedback on the charge level. We got used to giving the panel a quick glance after booting and checking that all the lights were on as expected. After that you can almost forget that you have to play with the speaker: it seems to be blissfully reliable.
Charging is fast thanks to USB-C: 3.5 hours from empty to full. Tronsmart claims 15 hours of playback time, although it also makes it clear that this maximum is only reached when listening at 50 percent volume. Turn it up (with 30 watts on tap, this speaker gets loud) and you’ll drain it faster, which is common with all such gadgets. For a party scenario, keep this volume law in mind. Listening at your desk while you work, not so much.
You may also be able to enjoy multi-room audio with the ‘TuneConn’ feature, which lets you connect anything up to 100 speakers from one device. Obviously, we didn’t have 100 Tronsmart speakers to test this feature, but we have no reason to doubt that it works. It’s a nice to have if you feel moved to add more speakers in your home/workshop/party location/exhibition space. It’s such a cute and capable speaker, with a simplistic elegance in its industrial design, that it should fit unobtrusively in a wide variety of places. Keep in mind that two speakers won’t necessarily widen the stereo image if that’s something you’re considering trying: each speaker individually will be in stereo.
cons? Nothing important. There’s no immersive waterproofing here, just IPX4, meaning it can withstand splashes like rain or accidental spills. This is a stylish speaker for stylish situations. If you want a speaker that’s unimpressed with trips to the beach, fishing expeditions, or as a poolside companion, you might want to expand your search (e.g. the Tronsmart Force 40W, with a full IPX7 rating).
Other than that, as a solid companion for the home and office, there’s little reason to overlook this speaker. It looks good, sounds good and the price is right.