Gadget Review: World's first high-fidelity, portable speakers

Anker’s new Soundcore Motion X600 sets the class benchmark, offering sound quality that will please even the staunchest of audio purists

By Anirban Bagchi

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Published: Sun 7 Jan 2024, 4:26 PM

The world’s first portable high-fidelity speaker. That’s a tall claim, especially with portable speakers crowding the market these days, but Anker makes it anyway when describing the new Soundcore Motion X600. And it more than justifies that claim with this new Bluetooth speaker on the block.

Portable speakers are among the few beneficiaries of the digitalisation of music. Their popularity stands on the ashes of obsolete component hi-fi systems, where separate amplifiers received the signal from dedicated output devices - such as CD players, turntables and decks - which they then fed to tower speakers, those large, heavy wooden boxes that stood on floors and belted out beautiful, rich, vibrant and full-throated sound through twin stereophonic channels.

The idea was to recreate live performances at home, adhering to how the music was performed – hence the term ‘high fidelity’ or hi-fi, with fidelity describing the aim of remaining as true to the source as possible.

But digitalisation spelt the doom of this practice. Now music is an accessible digital file that you listen to through headphones anywhere and at any time. The ritual of consuming music has undergone a sea change, with even speakers playing those same digital files and increasingly become small and portable.

But there are still some finicky music fanatics called audiophiles who are satisfied with nothing less than the best-sounding audio set-up, even in this portable digital age. And finally, there is a speaker that answers to their needs.

The Anker Soundcore Motion X600 stands out as a virtuoso performer, offering a harmonious blend of style, functionality and, most importantly, sound quality that beats almost everything comparable in the market by a country mile.

The X600 is well finished, encased in a durable, water-resistant metal shell and, overall, boasts a solid, sturdy build that will last. The metal grilles help protect the drivers inside and the handle is made of aluminium. It comes with an IPX7 water-proof rating, good enough to handle splashes and rain. The USB-C charging and Aux-in ports at the rear have a waterproof cover providing a good protective seal.

The top panel sports its tactile controls. A power button lights up to show the charging progress and the Bluetooth button glows to show when a device is paired. Other controls include a Spatial Audio button, a bass-boost button, and volume up and down buttons. The Play/Pause button controls both music and calls; press once to play or pause music or answer a call, twice to skip to the next track and three times to return to the previous track.

Weighing around 2kg, the speaker Bluetooth 5.3 and Anker claims 12 hours of playtime on a full charge of the battery. We got a bit less, though, especially when it was used at high volumes.

Speaking of high volumes brings us to the speaker’s sound. The device is only 12 inches across, but it paints a wide soundstage that is so realistic it seems like you’re at the concert and the music is coming from all around you. There is clear spatial channel separation, with each instrument detailed and clear. And neither does the bass overwhelm nor is the treble jarringly tinny.

This was exemplified by the Eagles’ Hotel California, our favourite test track. Played through the X600, we got a deep yet taut thump of the drums and the cymbals shone. The famous guitar riffs of Don Felder and Joe Walsh sparkled like we had never thought possible on such a small speaker, and the uniqueness of Don Henley’s gravelly yet shrill voice filled the room with a detail that rivalled expensive high-end hi-fi systems. Our ears could discern the separation between the instruments so well that it seemed as if you were in front of a wide concert stage. Close your eyes and you could pinpoint where each musician was on it.

We don’t know what technical wizardry Anker did, but their claim of this being the world’s first portable high-fidelity speaker is not marketing spiel. And at Dh899 – less at some online retailers – the Anker Soundcore Motion X600 is such a steal that we are compelled to give it a 5-star rating.

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