REVIEW – When people discuss portable speakers today, most imagine a small Bluetooth speaker that you can clip to your backpack that you can enjoy at the beach, set your drink on top of, or maybe even accidentally knock it into the pool without damage. That is not this speaker, which is a refreshing change. Imagine a great-sounding speaker with multiple input options that look good on a bookshelf providing room-filling sound, but that you can grab and gently take into the backyard in good weather. That is the Monoprice Soundstage 3 Portable Speaker. It occupies a unique niche in portable speakers, but one I’m glad to have filled.
What is it?
The Monoprice Soundstage 3 is a portable speaker, but more speaker than portable. There are many input choices and really good sound, but none of the normal “portable speaker” stuff like grills over the speaker elements or water resistance.
What’s in the box?
- Monoprice Soundstage 3 speaker
- Power cable
- 3.5mm to 3.5mm (headphone jack) connection cable
- Supported Audio Channels: 2.1
- Amplifier Type: Digital Class D Amplifier
- Frequency Response: 42Hz ~ 20kHz
- Crossover Frequency: 3.0kHz
- Woofer Driver: 1x 5.25″ concave aluminum cone
- Tweeter Drivers: 2x 1″ silk dome
- Low Frequency Amplifier Power: 1x 30 watts
- High Frequency Amplifier Power: 2x 10 watts
- Inputs: 3.5mm stereo analog, RCA stereo analog, digital optical S/PDIF, Bluetooth
- Outputs: Mono analog subwoofer, USB power
- Bluetooth Version: 4.2
- Bluetooth Range: Up to 32 feet (10 meters)
- Bluetooth Operating Frequency: 2402 ~ 2480 MHz
- Bluetooth Maximum RF Power: 0.82dBm
- Power Source: AC or internal battery
- AC Input Power: 100 ~ 240 VAC, 50/60 Hz
- Battery Type: Lithium‑ion
- Battery Capacity: 8800mAh
- Battery Life: Up to 10 hours (50% volume)
- USB Power Output: 5 VDC, 2A
- Dimensions (WxDxH): 13.6″ x 6.9″ x 7.3″ (345 x 176 x 185 mm)
- Weight: 10.8 lbs. (4.9 kg)
Design and features
Most portable Bluetooth speakers are pretty gaudy – bright colors, chunky features, and huge branding. The Monoprice Soundstage 3 Portable speaker is the opposite. It’s black, graceful, and has no branding anywhere. In fact, the only place you can even find the brand Monoprice is on a small sticker on the back. The elegant design features an exposed woofer and two exposed tweeters on the front, handle and controls on the top, and on the back are all the connections and a bass port, as well as a master power switch.
The input selection is perhaps one of the best features. You can choose between Bluetooth, RCA inputs, 3.5mm (headphone jack), and (a first for portable speakers that I’ve seen!) digital optical S/PDIF. This would be great if you wanted to use this with a DVD player or other home theater components. Outputs on the back include an output for a powered subwoofer in case the built-in bass is not enough, and a USB-A port for charging your portable devices.
The controls on the top are simple and intuitive. Power/standby, volume, pairing, and an input selector. There are LEDs above the power button to indicate battery charge, and another set of LEDs above the indicator selector to let you know which input you’re using. One nice feature is when using Bluetooth, the volume buttons still work. Most portable speakers either disable the volume buttons or switch functionality, forcing you to adjust the volume on your phone. Phone volume still works, but it works “inside” of the total amplifier volume controlled by the buttons on the top. The bottom has four rubber feet to keep the speaker from dancing across your table.
The Monoprice Soundstage 3’s handle is my only complaint. I wish it was removable. It looks out of place on top of an elegant speaker. Beyond that, I don’t have confidence that the faux leather is strong enough to really hold the almost-11 pound speaker.
The Monoprice Soundstage 3 speaker sounds good! It’s not earth shattering, as it’s only 50w and the woofer is only 5 ¼ inches, but it sounds better than most portable speakers I’ve heard. I’d say it’s on par with my Bose Portable Home Speaker, which is more than twice the price, with only one input (Bluetooth). And it’s loud – but not distorted. In fact, I could only really begin to detect distortion at the absolute highest volume. At normal volumes, the bass is punchy but not floor-shaking. The speaker definitely has a mid-bass frequency response on the woofer, and outside of that range, bass can sound a little empty. Perhaps that’s why the included sub output (which is full-frequency without a crossover, so check your sub for compatibility). Putting this baby in a corner definitely helps with the bass. Highs are adequately crisp without sizzling. Battery life is adequate for a speaker designed to spend most of its life plugged into a wall outlet. Specs say up to 10 hours, but that is at a really low volume. I could get around 5 hours at a satisfying volume. A nice touch is that the battery is replaceable and easily accessed from the bottom.
What I like
- Great sound
- Elegant design
- Portable, with a focus on sound
- Simple functional controls
- Lots of input choices
What I’d change
- Make the handle removable, or make it fold up so you can’t see it.
- Add a USB-C in addition to the USB-A charging port, to future-proof.
Throughout my house, I have a few different audio solutions. Component systems, smart speakers, dumb speakers, etc. I’ve been looking for one simple solution that might replace all of that, given that almost all my music comes from my phone now (although I could plug my turntable into the RCA ports of this speaker too!). The Monoprice Soundstage 3 Portable speaker might just be that speaker!