About two years ago I bought a fixer upper for my family and I. Unfortunately, I can’t afford to hire contractors; therefore, the bulk of the “fixer upping” is left to me. I rarely mind doing the work so long as I can listen to music at the same time. In the past, I would use my cell phone to listen to music; however, as smartphones continue to rise in cost, I don’t want to risk ruining it by getting paint, spackle, glue etc., on it. What I need is a Bluetooth speaker that can withstand less than ideal work environments and will continue to function if things get messy. Recently, I was given the chance to review the Omaker M4 outdoor and shower Bluetooth speaker, and was eager to test whether it fit the bill.
In The Box
- Omaker M4 Bluetooth speaker
- USB cable
- 3.5mm audio cable
- Instruction manual
- Bluetooth 4.0
- IP 54 rating – dust & splash resistant
- 1500 mAh rechargeable battery
- Dimensions – 3.2 x 3.2 x 1.8 inches
- Weight – 5.6 oz
- NFC tap to pair
The M4 comes in two colors, army green and orange. It has a rugged look to it; it’s almost exactly what I would expect an outdoor/shower speaker to look like. It has a hard plastic exterior that feels like it would survive an accidental drop.
On one side of the speaker is a protective cover concealing the charging port, auxiliary input, and reset button. The cover is designed to protect from dust and water.
The other side of the speaker contains the 4 function buttons. You have the power button, the call button, and the volume up and down buttons.
The bottom of the M4 contains the NFC tag which provides tap to pair technology. If you have an NFC capable phone, it should make pairing a cinch.
A plastic lanyard attaches to the corner of the speaker so you can use it in the shower or hang it while working.
Overall, I liked the look and design of the M4. It gives the impression it could take a beating and keep on functioning. It looks sturdy, like I could toss it in my toolbox and never have to worry about it getting damaged.
After charging the speaker, I attempted to pair it to my phone. The M4 is equipped with NFC tap and pair technology; in theory, you tap your device to the back of the speaker and it asks if you want to pair. So how does it function in reality?
Outstanding, I’ve had a harder time inserting a straw into a lid. I tapped my Nexus 6 to the speaker and was immediately asked if I wanted to pair with the M4. I clicked yes and was streaming music within seconds. Later I tried to pair the M4 with my Nexus 9 tablet and had similar results. The only “difficult” part was moving the speaker around the back of my tablet trying to find its NFC chip.
The M4 can be paired to multiple devices at once. After my devices were paired, I could use them both without having to unpair and pair them repeatedly. If both devices are powered on, the M4 will connect to whichever powered up or activated Bluetooth first; however, if one powers down or you deactivate Bluetooth, the M4 will automatically connect to the other device. The M4 was able to jump back and forth between my devices several times without issue.
Once you’ve paired your device, the phone button is used to answer and end calls or to pause and play music. The volume buttons are used to adjust the volume and skip tracks. The only issue I had with the buttons was that a quick press of the volume button skips tracks, while holding it down adjusts the volume. With other Bluetooth devices I’ve used, this was the exact opposite; consequently, I found myself skipping tracks when I tried to adjust volume and vice versa.
The M4 has an IP54 rating; this means it’s protected from dust and splashing or spraying water. To test this, I looped the lanyard around my shower head, turned on my shower, and began streaming music.
After several minutes of issue free streaming, I decided to hold the M4 directly in the water’s path. After a good soaking, the M4 continued to function.
After taking the speaker out of the shower, beads of water rested on the speaker grill. I thought eventually water may work its way into the speaker and affect performance, but the M4 continued to operate without issue.
I also tested the M4 while putting up shelves in my laundry room and installing a ceiling fixture in my kitchen. I was drilling and cutting into drywall during both projects, resulting in a significant amount of dust floating in the air. Like the water test before, the M4 continued to perform without issue.
Finally, I wanted to test the battery life of the M4. With a 1500 mAh battery, the M4 is said to have 12 hours of playback. I had intended to test battery life through a continuous playback test. Unfortunately, I didn’t complete the test because I got sick of listening to music…after fifteen and a half hours of playback! I started playing music at 8:05 A.M. and gave up trying to drain the battery at 11:39 P.M.
Before I go any further, allow me to make clear, I’m hardly an audiophile. I don’t have the expertise to break down the sound quality on a technical level; I judge sound quality on a layman’s level – bad, good, great. The M4 falls into the good category.
The sound quality while streaming music is mostly clear, but there is a hint of distortion at max volume. The only other time the sound quality decreased was when I held the speaker directly in the water stream, but even then it was reasonably clear.
Call quality wasn’t great; I could understand the person I was speaking with, but they heard a humming sound throughout the conversation. Additionally, you have to hold the speaker fairly close to your face to be understood. I wouldn’t want to have long conversations using the M4, but it should suffice during a brief phone call.
Finally, Omaker claims the M4 has a connection range of 33 feet, but I got nowhere near that. Perhaps in a perfect scenario the range is 33 feet; however, I was getting closer to 8 to 10 feet. Past 10 feet, if there is any obstruction between the M4 and your device – including yourself – the sound quality plummets or the connection drops.
I came away from my experience with the M4 very pleased. It’s a sturdy speaker that you shouldn’t have to worry about damaging. While call quality and connection range aren’t great, they should be more than enough for the M4’s target demographic. If you’re looking for a Bluetooth speaker for working around the house, singing in the shower, or lounging by the pool, the M4 is an excellent option.