These light-up party speakers subdued the aesthetics, but not the sound quality.
I am very excited about this emerging area of consumer technology: the light-up party speaker. They’re bigger and louder than basic Bluetooth speakers and have lights that pulse in time with the music.
Panasonic’s versions – the SC-UA90GS-K and SC-UA30GS-K – are a little more subdued than Sony’s Muteki system that we trialled last year, but that might be a good thing.
Where other systems have gone for rainbow lighting and strobes, Panasonic has employed only a subtle blue light in the centre of the system. This is described by Panasonic as “chilled out ambience and a cool aesthetic”. I thought it was also a tad underwhelming. On the flipside, these speakers are more likely to fit in with your home décor than a giant stack of subwoofers blasting out disco lights.
But these speakers are less about how they look, than how they sound – and they sound very good. Both versions got up to very loud volumes without distortion.
The 30GS was a nice size for my lounge. Not too big, but loud enough to fill the entire house when I cranked it up. The 90GS was really loud and easily filled the Consumer office with sound. The bass had a good thump and was helped by two subwoofers pointing in opposite directions: forwards and backwards.
In terms of functions the two models are quite similar. Both are primarily Bluetooth speakers, but you can also plug in a USB device with tracks on it, use an analogue audio line or listen to the radio. The larger 90GS also has a CD/DVD drive.
I had connection issues with my Android phone over Bluetooth. The audio would play with random gaps, but this effect disappeared when I used my iPad. I’m not sure what caused the issue, or if it was specific to that phone.
Importantly, for those who throw parties, both speakers have karaoke functions. I used my old SingStar microphones (from a PlayStation game) and they worked fine. There was initially a lot of feedback, but I countered this by playing with the settings until I could stand in front of the speakers and belt out tunes.
The 90GS has a few more “fun” features when it comes to karaoke. You can alter the tempo and add in voice effects.
In general these speakers ticked most of the boxes, but they really feel like party speakers, but for a “serious” party – loud but without the ridiculous fun of a lightshow. They lack that goofy charm of other similar speakers. That said, they’d suit consumers looking for something that will fade into the background of their entertainment spaces rather than be a brightly lit, garish feature.
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These speakers were loaned to the writer by Panasonic.