iLive Bluetooth Tailgate Speaker is ideal for having a movie night in the backyard thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. And as the vaccines start to roll in you can use the speaker for tailgate parties in the parking lot or even emcee a small event.
iLive Electronics has been in the audio equipment business for 45 years. For 2020 which has seen alternative entertainment being the norm thanks to COVID-19 they have introduced a new Bluetooth speaker (ISB380B) for movie nights in the backyard instead of going to the theater. Or having a socially distant backyard party with a small group instead of rubbing shoulders with hundreds of others while tailgating at a sports arena. And lest we forget people love to blast music through speakers even in the age of smartphones.
Quick Unboxing Experience
The box has the speaker, a one page manual and a micro USB cable. All in a frustration free package.
Design and Build Quality Impressions
The speaker which looks like a modified mid-size toolbox from the back is black plastic with a textured matte surface. Overall fit and finish are decent for the price. The speaker is on wheels and has a retractable handle making it easy to set up.
A color-changing LED at the center of the speaker provides the ambiance and pop factor. There are four open slits which are a bit concerning as you could potentially damage the speaker through those openings. There is also a red-colored faceplate which is purely for show – it lacks any illumination.
Front of the speaker has a metal faceplate with various controls and ports. Speaking of controls, there are knobs for adjusting volume, echo, and mic level. And from a port perspective, there are four of them – one for line in, one for mic-in, and one for SD card and USB port each. As far as the playback controls are concerned they only work when the speaker is connected via Bluetooth to a smartphone. For the radio aficionados, FM radio is also available via a built-in antenna.
For a speaker that is relatively decent is size, the weight of the speaker is quite low and is very easy to carry, transport, or set up. Furthermore, the retractable handle and the wheels help in portability as well.
Tech Specs of iLive Bluetooth Tailgate Speaker
The speaker connects via Bluetooth 5.0 with your smartphone and has a range of up to 60 feet. Although it is a single speaker it seems to have enough clarity to deliver a full range of sound from bass to vocals. FM radio support is built-in and besides BT you can also play music via 3.5mm aux-in along with a micro SD card slot and USB port.
Microphone input with dials to adjust echo and mic level means you can emcee a small event or perhaps give karaoke a try as well. Rechargeable battery has about 6-hour playback time at 50% volume. Charging is feasible via micro-USB to USB cable in the box. Speaking of charging, the battery charging time is 4 hours which is a bit slow.
Other small items including voice prompts for speaker functions in BT mode and color-changing LED with light effects. Last few details include playback controls, rotary knobs for mic and volume functions, and LED indicator for charging.
Connecting the iLive Bluetooth Tailgate Speaker
Once I took the speaker out of the box, I let it charge via a 10W charging brick overnight. Once the speaker was charged it was time to start using it. First up was pairing it with a few different gadgets. The speaker shows up correctly as an audio accessory – IS 380 with headphone symbol – in the Bluetooth devices settings. As long as the pairing device was within 3 feet per the instructions guide, pairing was quick and easy. You get visual and audible notifications that pairing is successful.
Using the controls on the connected device is the easiest to start listening to music or a podcast. Once the audio starts playing, the control for pause/play or volume adjustment is feasible via speaker or connected device.
So how good is the audio quality?
2020 has been the year of figuring out lots of alternatives to regular events thanks to COVID-19. So we decided to do a little family backyard camping a few days ago. And for entertainment, we took the iLive Bluetooth speaker to provide background music while smores were being prepped. The retractable handle and wheels made the trip from the living room to the backyard easy for our kiddo.
Audio quality was surprisingly quite decent even though there is only one speaker and no separate tweeter or mid-range units in the review device. In addition, the audio output is also quite loud. Most of the time 50% volume level was good enough without disturbing the neighbors.
For bass lovers, there is plenty of booming bass just like you want it. It isn't too overpowering though which is a bonus. As a party speaker, this should work out quite nicely. We placed this about 30 feet away and the sound was still quite loud and clear. In fact, I would say that the speaker sounds a lot nicer when you are about 5-10 feet away from it. Vocals are quite decent as well – we tried out Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga, Ed Sheeran, and Coldplay to verify this observation. The mid-range is not as accurate but for the price and a single speaker, the audio quality is more than satisfactory. The color-changing LED provides for some decent entertainment on a dark night in the backyard.
As far as battery life goes, we didn't have any issues on a 4 hour stretch of music streaming via Spotify and YouTube Music. There was still about a third of charge left when we turned in for the night in our tent.
No microphone was available during testing so your mileage may vary about results for using it to emcee small events.
Final verdict on the iLive Bluetooth Tailgate Speaker
I like the size, portability, and convenience of Bluetooth audio streaming with the iLive Tailgate speaker. The audio quality is quite reasonable, the battery life is almost 6 hours and it has a plethora of input options. These things along with useful features like FM radio and input for microphone (with echo and mic level controls) make it a good choice to enjoy backyard parties while we try and get through the pandemic. For the price, it provides good value for the money and is available widely from multiple big-name retailers.