When choosing a portable speaker, if you’re traveling someplace with lots of water or wet weather, iHome’s Weather Tough series offers a decent lineup of rugged Bluetooth speakers for the job. The top of the line model in this series is the iBT9.
The largest of the four speakers in the series, the iBT9 weighs in at 2-pounds and, like its smaller siblings, has a powerful sound despite its compact size. The speaker has two drivers in front and a passive radiator at the back which sit behind rust-resistant metal speaker grilles. The exterior is wrapped in a dense, shock absorbent rubber that effectively protects the speaker from drops up to several feet. It also has IP67 water resistance making it dust and waterproof, capable of surviving underwater at 3 ft for up to 30 minutes. Though it’s not likely you’ll find it submerged for that long anyway, as the speaker floats.
The speaker comes with a carabiner clip for hanging that has a handy a built-in bottle opener that surprisingly works well on both accounts. On the right hand side of the speaker, a thick rubber door covers the ports to ensure water-tightness and behind it you’ll find an Aux-in port, full-sized USB output port, microUSB charging port, and pinhole reset button. A cable wasn’t provided for the Aux-in line, though we did appreciate the inclusion of a wall adapter for charging as many Bluetooth speakers these days assume you’ll be able to provide your own.
The controls along the top are pretty standard with a power, Bluetooth pairing, and call answer button as well as playback controls for play/pause and volume. We were slightly disappointed to see track navigation excluded from the controls, instead having to change tracks with the paired phone. The hands-free calling was a nice touch though and the call quality was clear and audible. The speaker’s battery lasts nearly 9 hours of play time on a full charge depending on playback volume and four LED indicators on the front let you know how much charge is left. You can also use the speaker as a power bank to charge up your devices while listening to music, albeit only at a speed of 1A.
The audio quality of the iBT9 is clear with an emphasis on the mid and low-mid ranges. Bass drum attacks were clean and tight which is surprising for a speaker this size. While the sound can easily fill a room, at the loudest volumes, we noticed the crackle of distortion and occasional sizzle in the upper ranges. Playing music at more moderate volume levels, however, resulted in a better listening experience.
Overall, the sound quality is quite good and suitable for a range of genres. Whether you’re going for a hike, headed to the beach, or just relaxing poolside, the Weather Tough iBT9 will keep pumping out the tunes, even if it rains on your parade. It is available now for $99.99 on iHome’s website and at B&H Photo and Video.