Portable Bluetooth speakers are no longer just speakers. At least if they want to capture consumer consideration. These days, a compact speaker needs to offer a little something more, befitting of our mobile lifestyles. One latest feature, that appears to be gaining in popularity, is the ability to charge other gadgets.
People love music. External battery packs are ubiquitous. So why not combine both? Perfect. Keep a short cable handy, such as the Nomad ChargeKey, and you’ve got an easy-carry setup to last all day long. I recently acquired the Naztech Koncert Bluetooth speaker, which fits the bill for portable and affordable. How does it hold up? Read on.
Design & Connectivity
At first blush, the Naztech Koncert N52 Bluetooth speaker seems like any other ordinary Bluetooth speaker. But after taking it out of the (neat looking) package and handling it for a bit, it has some unique deviations. The speaker includes a USB cable, audio cable, and also a case to keep everything in.
The overall shape of the Naztech Koncert is ever so slightly trapezoidal. Beats out a simple brick, yes? The exterior is a smooth, matte rubber with a matching grille. Buttons are located on the top for volume and track control, while the power switch and ports are off on the right side. What’s different about the Koncert is that it has these nubby little feet on the back and bottom. Users can stand it up like a standard speaker, or lie it flat to have it facing up. It makes a small change in how you hear the music.
For the size, the Naztech Koncert is very lightweight. The feet don’t provide much traction at all either. Good thing the output power fits the size, otherwise the speaker will dance all over the table while playing some thumping tunes. Although light, the Koncert is really sturdy. Even the mesh doesn’t deform when you press against it with your thumb.
The buttons on top lie flush with the surface, and they deliver a good click when pressed. Unlike most speakers that have these buttons adjust volume with a single click, the Koncert navigates tracks. It takes a press-hold to slide the volume levels up and down.
Although the connections on the side should be self-explanatory, they’re labeled for those who like to double-check. I like having a power switch instead of a power button; it’s a personal preference thing. The Naztech Koncert plays friendly with non-Bluetooth devices, and if they happen to be USB-powered they can snag a charge from the speaker at the same time. It’s quite handy, especially if you bring your music and speaker out and about.
The Naztech Koncert performs as well as other speakers in the same price/size category. Having such a portable speaker results in compromised aspects of music. Despite having two tweeters, there isn’t much of a soundstage. Lateral imaging is difficult to detect, at best, and most of the music comes out sounding flatter than not. One exception with the Koncert is that the mids develop a decent level of depth versus the highs and lows.
But this speaker is not meant to blast and fill vast areas. I’ve found that the best sound comes from low to moderate volume levels, which is fantastic for nearby listening. If you’re sitting at a desk, cooking in the kitchen, or kicking back in a dorm room, then the Koncert can hit its stride. With the speaker sitting upright, the sound comes out strong and focused. You can opt to lie it flat on its back, which makes the music sound more open, but slightly paler.
It’s rare to find a speaker that can handle extreme volumes without distorting, and the Naztech Koncert is no different. With the speaker’s volume at max, the sound starts to distort when the connected device’s volume reaches around 75 percent (and up). Not surprising. But what is surprising is how the Koncert sounds above that level. While most other speakers turn shrill and/or flat at the top, the Koncert maintains like a champ. I’ll turn the Koncert down because I don’t like distortion; I turn the other speakers down because I don’t like that while having my ears hurt.
The highs, mids, and lows are pretty balanced, which is definitely a plus. I’m drawn to the mids and respectfully nod at the lows. The highs are the weakest of the three. Tinny is the sum of it. Hi-hats tend to sound like the tapping of Bic pens on a school desk. Sometimes cymbals sound like dropping quarters on the kitchen stove, although there are times when it’s not that bad. Either way, they get an accompanying sizzle with each hit.
The Naztech Koncert does well with simple electronic or synth sounds in the highs, but complex sections turn frizzy or as if they’re coming through a hallway. The pluck of stringed instruments don’t sound half bad. Guitars, ukulele, and piano are quite pleasing to listen to. However, some instruments develop this warm halo/reverb sort of sound. The decay of notes are not as quick as the attack, leading some to linger and bump into the next ones coming out. It contributes to the slight blurring.
All this with the highs is actually pretty standard with speakers of the same size as the Naztech Koncert. Some may fare better than others, but the Koncert fits right in average. Despite how instruments may sound in the upper registers, vocals persist and sound really great.
In fact, the vocals are the strongest and most consistent aspect of the music that comes from the Naztech Koncert. They’re crisp, surprisingly rich, and lean outward a bit toward the listener. Songs with a lot of midrange vocals attain this energy you can plainly hear. It also helps that the mids are represented better than the highs and lows, but they’re still the driving force behind this speaker.
Guitars come as second-best to the vocals. They have a good tone and rhythm. But those same guitars can sound a little fuzzy around the edges sometimes. Half of all the songs I listened to across six White Stripes albums experienced fuzzy. The rest sounded perfectly fine. Go figure. Even with that touch of fuzz, it’s not enough to distract from listening and enjoying.
When it comes to the lows, the Naztech Koncert has got the formula right. At first, I wasn’t terribly impressed. But as I listened more, I grew to appreciate how the lows deliver just the right amount of power to complement the mids and highs. It’s easy for a speaker to push lows that overdo it and get messy. But not here. The Koncert’s lows give body and definition to the music without being obvious about it.
The Naztech Koncert is only able to skim the top of low-end hits. Of course, one can’t expect more than that, because of the physical limitations of the speaker. You won’t hear anything deep, but that’s totally OK for the size. I’d rather have the lows be a bit low-key and not stand out like a sore thumb (sort of like how the highs tend to).
So far, the Naztech Koncert speaker performs well and sounds great. But there is one problem that is of the serious kind; I can hear electric buzzing coming from within. Without checking more of this same model, there’s no way for me to determine if the buzzing is constant or if I have a lemon (of sorts).
This electronic buzzing sound is almost imperceptible at times, as it sits right behind the music. The level of the buzzing is in direct proportion to the overall volume, rising and falling as the music does. I can hear this buzzing best during quieter parts of a track, especially when it’s about to transition to loud. It also appears more when there are a lot of different vocals/instruments going on at the same time. It is sometimes accompanied by a touch of static or crackle.
It’s not always easy to catch. But after I heard the buzzing the first time, I had my suspicions and couldn’t stop listening for it. Then you get that ‘gotcha’ moment when you hear it for sure, replaying that same 10 second loop to prove it. From then on, you know it’s always there right underneath the music. Thankfully, it doesn’t come out too frequently to ruin enjoyment. But just like a jack-in-the-box, you know it’s simply a matter of time before it pops.
Bluetooth & Battery
When it comes to Bluetooth wireless connectivity, the Naztech Koncert can teach other speakers how to do it right. The range and connection quality is very impressive. I can walk my device up to 30 feet away from the Koncert and maintain a signal; 28 feet if it has to pass through a wall or body. The music remains solid up until the last inch, where it’ll simply cut out. With so many other speakers in the same size/price class, I’m lucky to get 15 feet or so.
The range is only half of how the Koncert has done the Bluetooth right. It was during the last week of testing/listening that I realized I hadn’t registered any skips, pops, or stutters. These wireless-related noise artifacts bug me to no end, and it can happen more than you think. Even to this day, I don’t think it has even happened. But lets say it has a few times, but that I missed it. That’s still some really good Bluetooth wireless anyway.
The 2500mAh internal battery has lasted me more than 18 hours as stated on the box. I’ve enjoyed closer to 24 hours of music, likely because I kept the volume at moderate levels. Marathon listening? Yes indeed. The Koncert is likely to outlast your smartphone battery for music entertainment.
The other really neat feature about the Naztech Koncert speaker is the USB port for charging up other devices. It’s only the standard 5V/1A, which is suitable for most gadgets out there. Ideally, one would charge up the device that’s supplying the music. Evaluating the Koncert’s battery efficiency is tricky, because the speaker has to be on while doing so. Even standby mode consumes energy, especially since the speaker keeps seeking an active Bluetooth connection.
With a fully-charged speaker, I’ve been able to bring an Apple iPhone 5 from one percent to full, followed by 10 hours of nonstop wireless audio streaming via Pandora. That’s a remarkable amount of charge and playtime, all within the fairly compact size of the Koncert.
When it all comes down to it, the Naztech Koncert N52 Bluetooth speaker is not a bad choice for casual listening, indoors or out. As long as you’re close enough to hear without turning the volume up to distortion levels, it’s enjoyable. The Koncert excels with rock, pop, and music that has more focus on the mids and lows. Songs with simple highs work well; it’s complexity or intensity that the speaker can’t replicate so well.
Yes, there is the issue of the electronic buzzing. It’s something that I can’t un-hear once I did, but hopefully this aspect affects only my Koncert and not others. If they all share this defect, the good news that it’s not always immediately apparent, depending on the music itself. Fingers crossed for everyone.
Buzzing aside, the Naztech Koncert has fantastic Bluetooth range and connection quality. It beats many other speakers out there. When you add in the durable exterior, internal battery for charging gadgets, and the ability to take hands-free calls, the Koncert comes out pretty well-rounded. Couple all that with a price right around the $50 mark on Amazon, and you’ve got a speaker that makes a great, easy gift to give or receive.