Anyone who uses a smartphone, tablet, or even a laptop knows at some point you’re going to wish you had a speaker that sounds better than the wimpy little speakers that are built in to these portable devices. There’s a plethora of portable speaker options on the market, ranging from really cheap to very expensive. There are hardwired, Bluetooth, and NFC speakers, and there are tiny speakers that are hardly bigger and louder than the device’s built-in speakers, to some that are really too large to throw in your bag. The CUATRO Wireless Bluetooth Speaker from URGE Basics is small enough to be portable, moderately priced, and offers the option of Bluetooth or wired connectivity. Best of all, it sounds good! Let’s give it a look.
The CUATRO speaker is about 5.4″ long X 2.5″ tall (including rubber feet) and 1.6″ deep and weighs about 0.8 pounds. It’s small and light enough to fit in most day packs without breaking your back. It has a plastic cover with a velvety texture that’s available in green (as reviewed), black, blue, orange, or red. Every color has a black plastic grill seen through three of the four sides and on both ends.
In the above picture, you see a blue light behind the black grill. This light is on steady when the speaker is powered on and blinks when the speaker is in Bluetooth pairing mode.
- Power supply: USB 5V
- Battery: Built-in lithium-ion 3.7V
- Battery Capacity: 1000mAh
- Time to full charge: about 3 hours
- Bluetooth profiles: A2DP, AVRCP, Bluetooth 4.0
- Operation range: up to 33 feet (10 meters)
- Battery life: 8 hours play/talk time
The speaker comes with a USB-to-microUSB charging cable and a 3.5mm audio cable so you can connect non-Bluetooth devices to the speaker.
You also get a velvet carry bag that can hold the speaker and the two cables.
I charged the speaker up and then started Bluetooth pairing with my iPad. The CUATRO paired easily with both my iPad and iPhone. The CUATRO can be paired to two devices simultaneously, so you can be listening to something on your iPad without worrying that you’ll miss a phone call. I was able to have both my devices paired simultaneously, but I needed to turn Bluetooth off on my iPad while I completed the initial pairing with my iPhone. After that, I could have both paired.
The top of the speaker has the URGE Basics logo and the black grill.
Both ends of the speakers have the black grill, too. (I borrowed this image only from the URGE Basics website because I had trouble getting a well-focused image of the dark grill.)
The bottom of the speaker has another URGE Basics logo. There are some rubber feet here…
that wrap around to the bottom, so you can rest the speaker on either side.
The back of the speaker also has the power button and connectors. The top button is the power slider; turning the speaker off manually saves battery life. The miniUSB connector is for charging the speaker. There are line-out and line-in connectors for using the CUATRO with non-Bluetooth devices.
There is no remote with the CUATRO. The only controls are on the front of the speaker. It’s impossible to see the markings on the buttons in the above image, and it’s difficult to see them on the speaker itself. The top/bottom buttons adjust the volume. The output volume on the paired device determines the maximum volume for the speaker, but you can adjust the volume lower using these buttons. The left/right buttons are media playback controls. The center button can be used to start or pause playback. I was also able to start Siri when my connected device was unlocked by pressing and holding this center button.
I was impressed with the sound volume and quality produced by this small speaker. Granted, you aren’t going to get mega bass that disturbs the neighbors, but the music does have some bass presence, so that it doesn’t sound tinny. I’m not sure what the frequency range for the speaker is; there was no information online or in the included brochure. It’s obviously a subset of normal human hearing, but I don’t think it reaches the upper nor the lower limit of that range. Nevertheless, I thought it sounded good. The sound was clear, clean, and pleasing when I listened to a variety of music. The volume could be loud enough for two people in the same room to hear and enjoy the music without it sounding distorted. It was certainly louder than the built-in speakers in either my iPad or iPhone.
The CUATRO also has a built-in microphone, so you can use the speaker as a Bluetooth speakerphone. If you are listening to music when a call comes in, the speaker will pause the music. I heard my ringtone on my iPhone and from the CUATRO, too. I answered the phone by pressing the center pause/play button on the front of the speaker. My calls sounded clear and clean enough that I had no problem hearing or being heard by my caller. I did have to turn off the screamingly loud floor fan we have in our small office to have a successful call, but hey, I can hardly hear myself think over the sound of that fan anyway. I ended the call by pressing the center pause/play button.
The CUATRO Wireless Bluetooth Speaker is a nice little addition to my bedside table, so I can listen to some music or share a video on my iPad without having to drag out some headphones. It’s small enough that I can take it with me in my gear bag, too. At $80, I think it’s a good combination of features and moderate price to make URGE Basics’ CUATRO a smart purchase for many tablet and phone owners.