aNewDomain – I love a good sound system. I’m a cord-cutting low-budget music geek, which means I’ve got my dad’s semi-ancient NAD stereo amplifier hooked up to small PA speakers in my living room and a decent pair of studio classic Sony MDR-V6 headphones sitting on my desk.
So I’ve got sound covered. Or so I thought. Then I checked out the TDK Life on Record A33 Weatherproof Speaker with Bluetooth®.
Portable wireless speakers are hyped up so much lately. Still, I had high hopes. Here’s my TDK Life on Record A33 review, below.
If you can’t wait for my bottom line conclusion and recommendation, scroll to the bottom of this story. But I promise, the punch line here will be totally worth the wait.
This type of speaker popped up a while ago, but now, as the Internet of Things has come so sharply into focus, the easily transportable, universally accessible method of blasting grooves has reached new heights.
The portable wireless speaker really is just a boombox reinvented. And people are finally beginning to get them.
Probably you’re already seeing these devices at outdoor events. They’re those nearly inconspicuous black and grey and blue boxes you see peeking out from backpacks or resting on towels. But how is the technology really? And how do they sound?
First thing I noticed was, this thing is heavy.
As soon as I pulled the A33 out of its box, the first thing I noticed is its weight. At 2.8 pounds, its heavy. Call it rugged if you want, but the fact is that you will definitely feel this guy on your back. It’s clearly not ideal for that four-mile hike for another reason, too. At 9.5 inches long, 3.7 inches high and two inches thick it’s beefy — and it will take up a good chunk of space in the backpack.
But for a quick trip to the beach, or even better, car camping, its heft and size are just fine.
The benefit of its size and weight are that its solidly constructed. The A33’s rubber bumpers give good padding and lift on the bottom. There’s even a durable kickstand that tips the speaker up. The edges are smooth and well-finished, too, and the plastic feels pretty high quality.
There’s even a nice rubber sleeve that blocks all the ports (see below), which I found closes nicely every time.
The speaker is also billed as “weatherproof,” but that’s a bit of a misnomer. It’s not possible to make a device proofed against weather without having it be waterproof, and the A33 is definitely not waterproof. But I do believe the A33 will take a beating, if you consider morning dew in the grass after a sunrise festival set. But if you think it’ll be fine if it accidentally drops into the pool, well, no. Trust me. This thing will be fried.
But the sound is clean. And I mean really, really clean.
This wireless Bluetooth speaker does actually have a subwoofer. It’s a 2.5-inch subwoofer. That’s in addition to two 1.5-inch drives and two 3.5-inch passive radiators.
All those specs add up to a deep, clean, bold sound.
I mean, the sound is really clean. The thing doesn’t break up at high volume. It doesn’t.
And I’ve never been in a situation that pushes it past the fourth volume meter — there are five total.
There’s a nice ground-shake that comes from the device when hip-hop is played, or anything with heavy bass.
And the sound does a good job of filling a space.
I am most impressed by the sound, which is the whole point of a speaker, right?
Listen: On sound, the TDK Life on Record is truly awesome.
The controls are simple and accessible, too. That’s a plus. A power button turns it on and off. Volume buttons easily let you easily adjust sound levels, but that’s no big deal. Here’s what is: Six micro-levels of volume within each large level, so there’s a ton of room to really get some really subtle control.
The A33 has buttons for Bluetooth, auxiliary input and for taking phone calls.
Now, I don’t know when would I ever use this last feature: “Hi, mom, I’m playing music at a party but you called so now I’m going to take the call over the loudspeaker!”
The Bluetooth is the primary function here — after the sound, of course — and it works well. It has dropped my phone a couple times, which is annoying. You see, I can never tell if it’s my phone’s issue or the box itself. But re-syncing is easy once you get the hang of it: Just press connect on your phone, then hold the slow-blinking Bluetooth button until it blinks quickly. You’ll hear a chime and you’re in.
The well-protected ports on this device are more than one would hope for. In addition to a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, there’s an aux input (in case that wireless speaker is no longer wireless) and a USB port for external charging.
Yes, I can charge my phone on my Bluetooth speaker.
The device holds a good charge, but due to the high-quality sound it doesn’t last forever.
Especially if you’re charging your device at the same time.
Lastly, there’s a main On/Off switch, which is a great auto-lock feature when you’re transporting the A33.
Bottom line: I love this speaker.
Let me be honest. I love this speaker. I couldn’t be happier. I don’t care how hefty it is, I don’t. You shouldn’t either.
If you’re a true music nerd you’ll be rejoicing, like me, at the superb quality of the sound that the A33 delivers. And I can take it anywhere — tunes in the shower, the bedroom, during a beach day or even just to catch up on NPR in the morning while cooking breakfast.
All that said, the original price is $249.99, which is a good chunk of change. But that’s just the SRP. I found it a lot cheaper on Woot — gotta love that site — and Amazon is currently selling it for $89.99, which is a screaming steal. Maybe that’s because TDK came out with the A34 recently and it is trying to push new products, but that shouldn’t matter to you.
Either way, be sure to check the TDK Life on Record A33. It’s worth the weight, for sure. And the sound is just incredible.
All TDK A33 images: by Daniel Zweier
Image of a guy carrying a boombox: GaryNation.blogspot.com, All Rights Reserved.