Bayan Audio SoundScene Speaker Review
A portable speaker for the British climate?
Hi-Fi reviewSRP: £179.99
What is the Bayan Audio SoundSceneA bit of a back story first, if you’ll allow. We, well I, have had a pair of these in my possession for far longer than would usually be necessary. The plan was to use them as intended by the manufacturer, so one was duly taken away on holiday – only for it to have an issue – and the backup plan where the other was carted to a ‘festival’ was thwarted by a surprisingly draconian policy on playing music on the campsite – i.e. you weren’t allowed. So, that brings us to what the SoundScenes are, and that is a wireless, portable and weather-resistant speaker system for those that like to take the party outdoors – note the weather resistant part, we are in the UK! They are available online (October 2015) at £179.99.
Design & ConnectionsAs one would expect, the SoundScene speakers feature a rugged design; the base and top are made from rubberised silicon whilst the grille, in between, is a tight-meshed metal in silver. There’s a leather carrying strap affixed to the rear and a set of rubberised buttons at the top - somewhat reminiscent of a ZX Spectrum for those old enough to remember.
The physical connections are housed under a pull out flap, on the base, and include a 3.5mm jack, the power input and a USB port which can be used to charge devices but it can’t be used for playback. The NFC (Near Field Communication) tag, which can be used to initiate an immediate Bluetooth connection with your phone or tablet, is located with the rest of the button set at the top.
Features & SpecsWhilst it’s not quite a traditional multi-room audio arrangement, the SoundScene speakers are designed to be both a transmitter and a receiver; so one speaker can be used to listen to music in one location and then linked wirelessly in another. Unlike some systems, there is no app involved, you simply press the ‘Link’ buttons and away you go. Once joined together, the SoundScene speakers can be moved up to 30 metres (100 feet) apart, without any volume loss or distortion, but the furthest we could test was about 15m and it worked as reported at that.
To provide a more spatial sound, the speakers are designed to produce a 270 degree field. There’s a total output of 20W via a speaker array comprising 2 x 2-inch and 1 x 2-inch drivers and 2 x 2-inch passive bass radiators to pump up the low end. Slightly regrettably, although given the use-case probably not a huge loss, the SoundScene is Version 3.0 Bluetooth and not aptX equipped, although that doesn’t seem to have had a great deal of effect on battery life; we got around seven and a half hours from a full charge.
SetUpSince it’s primarily designed to be used wirelessly, the bulk of testing was done over Bluetooth using iPad 4, Hudl 2, Nexus 7 and Windows 10 PC. Streamed content included lossless from the TIDAL Android app, lossy from Spotify, plus just general tablet and PC use. We managed to successfully pair the Nexus using NFC very easily, so that feature can be ticked off as working and general Bluetooth performance was good, aside from the odd momentary drop-out. For those without NFC capable devices, Bluetooth pairing is initiated by holding down the symbol on that top until it starts blinking furiously; you get an audible message when it’s done. The SoundScene can be placed vertically or horizontally as the drivers are firing out from three sides but we found outdoor listening better from the stand-up position. To create a link with another SoundScene is just a matter of choosing which is to be the transmitter and which the receiver(s) and then choosing either the ‘T’ or ‘R’ button, on top of the speaker, correspondingly, we have to say this feature worked very well.
Audio QualityAs we were denied our outdoor opportunities in the summer, it was left down to a couple of late season barbeques for us to get the opportunity to properly take the SoundScene through its paces. With locally stored content downloaded through TIDAL, we streamed a number of albums over Bluetooth from a distance of approximately three metres and the connection remained largely robust. Certainly the SoundScene has enough power output to make itself heard over 10-15 rowdy guests when placed vertically but it would get lost in the noise in the other orientation with everyone stood up.
We couldn’t say the SoundScene produced a refined performance, in fact – like its appearance – it is fairly rugged and a touch aggressive but that does mean it’s quite well suited to listening outdoors where ambient noise can be troublesome. The sound-field is also quite narrow, making it easy to place where the speaker is and there’s virtually zero suggestion of there being any stereo separation. Due to the lack of app integration, there’s also no way to have two SoundScenes act as a stereo pair – just a pair of monos – but that feature is very effective in the party environment when you want audio in multiple locations.
We didn’t find the SoundScenes quite so impressive when we took them indoors, however, where the lack of refinement was far more noticeable. If that’s how to intend to use your portable speaker, there are innumerate alternatives in and around this price-point which would serve you better; Bayan, themselves, produce such a product and we don’t think they’d argue that is has a more tonally balanced output than the SoundScene. It is pretty good with the spoken word, so podcasts and radio shows are perfectly adequate but we wouldn’t want these as our primary speakers for music listening.
- Sturdy, attractive design
- Can be hooked up with other up to 100ft away
- Solid with dialogue
- Audio lacks refinement
Bayan Audio SoundScene Speaker Review
Should I buy the Bayan Audio SoundScene speaker?If you’re in the market for a portable, wireless speaker that’s safe to use outdoors, the Bayan Audio SoundScene speakers will serve you well. They are robust, yet attractively designed, and feature a solid Bluetooth receiver that will allow you to stream your music from just about any phone or tablet. There’s also a 3.5mm, all-purpose, stereo jack and a USB port for charging your mobile device. The SoundScene has another useful trick up its sleeve with the ability to hook up eight of them together to form a multi-speaker/multi-room system with a range up to 30 metres, which is impressive. Like they look, the SoundScene also sound robust with a decent volume output that’s aggressive enough to cope with most noises the outdoors brings. We wouldn’t choose them as our main indoors music source but they definitely deliver for those that like to take the party outdoors.
What Else Could I Buy?In this price category, and if the multi-speaker thing is something you like the sound of, you could look at buying a singular LG H5, which is part of their Music Flow System or, the very similar, Samsung M5 which are certainly more musical than the SoundScene, if not weather-proof. There’s also the Sony SRS-X7, which we think is the most refined of the bunch. If outdoor use is a priority then we can definitely urge you to take a look at the Spaced 360 although it isn’t as rugged, or waterproof, as the Bayan.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £179.99
Value For Money6
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