I jumped at the chance to review the Zamkol Bluetooth speaker set because of its unique features. It has basic waterproofing and a two-in-one design that provides stereo music. On these points, the design delivers. You get extremely loud stereo sound and easy pairing without an app.
Unfortunately, the rest of the features leave a bit to be desired. The waterproofing is fine (I couldn’t drown it during my testing), but the sound is fairly tinny. The bass is severely lacking for such a big, heavy speaker. The reversible left-right nature is neat, but there’s no easy way to select a left or right channel, and the included strap thing is more awkward than useful.
This set is fine if you need something durable and want multiple points of sound without going over a C-note. Otherwise, there are better Bluetooth speakers out there.
Put together, the speakers are about 8.5 inches long, 3.5 inches wide, and a bit over three inches tall. That’s pretty hefty for a Bluetooth speaker that claims to be portable, and that’s not even counting the weight (over three pounds). This speaker has a secret weapon, though. You can break it apart in the middle like a Kit Kat bar and get perfectly symmetrical satellite speakers.
The physical connection between the two is a cool series of angled plastic grooves. These are mirrored, so it doesn’t matter which speaker is on the left or the right. Zamkol even says you can stick an iPad in the grooves as a makeshift stand.
The rubberized plastic casing gives them just enough grip to stick to each other without any kind of locking mechanism. A good knock causes them to start pulling apart, though. You should (probably) be able to keep the two sides stuck together.
To help alleviate that anxiety, the package includes a strap…case…thing. It’s supposed to fit around the grooves and act as a faux leather handle, but it’s hard to slip the thing on and off. It also doesn’t feel nearly as tough as the speakers.
Elsewhere in the package is a Y-shaped MicroUSB cable that charges both speakers at once (a nice touch, even if I would have preferred USB-C), along with a standard headphone cable.
Pair Up with Ease
Combining multiple Bluetooth speakers for stereo sound is a trick I’ve seen before, but it usually requires a branded mobile app. It gets tricky if you want to use the speakers for something like a Windows laptop or Chromebook, or if the app sucks (which it often does).
To pair the left and right Zamkol speakers, you just press a button. I’m told this isn’t the first speaker set to use this method, but it’s much appreciated.
First, turn on both speakers, and then press the link button (the one shaped like an hourglass) on one of them. After a few seconds, they connect to each other—no app required. They’ll continue playing music, but one speaker will take the left channel, and the other will take the right. The master speaker (the one you pressed the button on) plays the left sound channel, but there’s no visual indicator of this once they’re paired.
The other buttons are fairly straightforward: Volume, Play/Pause, and Power. They’re all embedded in the rubbery tops of the cuboid speakers, and they work well enough. I might prefer more tactility, but water-resistance (see below) is a good trade-off.
Dunk Your Music
Zamkol claims these speakers are IPX7 “waterproof” (we generally call electronics “water-resistant”). This means you can immerse it in up to one meter of water for half an hour with no problems.
My bathtub test seemed to bear out the spec sheet. You’ll want to keep the rubberized protectors over the power and audio ports tightly closed, but with a long eight to 10 hours of battery life, that won’t be difficult.
Zamkol doesn’t make any claims about impact-resistance or protection from things like sand or dirt. (The “X” IP rating, instead of 0, indicates that it wasn’t tested for particulate ingress.) However, based on the hefty, rubberized body of the speakers, I tend to think they will survive much more punishment than the typical Bluetooth speaker—even those that have similar water-resistant features.
Not About That Bass
How do they sound? Heavy on the treble and light on the bass. Which is odd, because these things are crazy loud—almost as loud as the much bigger bookshelf speakers on my desk. The sound output is impressive for the size and the 66mm drivers, but I’d trade it in a minute for better bass and mid-tones.
Maybe the water-resistance has something to do with the sound quality. Even so, the massive, passive radiators on the rear of each unit would have indicated much better bass performance than this. It’s a disappointment, to be sure, to be sure. (One for each speaker, you see.)
Takes a Beating and Keeps on Bleating
If you want a speaker that’s built like a brick, breaks apart, and pairs easily, this is it. I can see it being useful for someone who’s constantly at the pool, possibly with accident-prone kids in tow. It’s a pretty good value at around $70 (at this writing).
If you want good sound quality or a better fit-and-finish, though, there are much better choices in this price range. Skip this set if you don’t need a tank of a Bluetooth speaker that neatly breaks apart in the middle.
Here’s What We Like
- Neat "Kit Kat" stereo function
- Extremely loud
- Tough, waterproof case
And What We Don't
- Tinny sound lacks bass
- Body doesn't quite "stick" together
- Flimsy strap