STEREO GUIDE verdict
+ well-balanced sound
+ dry, precise bass, relatively deep
+ superb imaging/ambience given the concept
- playse loud, but then tends to sharpness
- with light effect hardly any battery life
- Sometimes intricate operation
Sound: Tonal Balance / Transparency6.8
Sound: Bass / Dynamics6.8
Ease-of-use / Connectivity8.6
While other models of the brand have followed rather familiar concepts of Bluetooth speakers so far. But the Tronsmart T7 is something completely new. This column-shaped outdoor speaker, which can be used both in vertical or horizontal position, comes with an active 2.1 speaker concept.
That´s not everything: A coloured LED enables a decent lightshow, the app comes with an EQ and the driver positioning is promising somewhat of a “360-degree surround sound”. And if you are more into classy traditional hi-fi vibes: watch the nice large, smooth-running volume control knob!
Three drivers, 30 watts
However, what is promised to be a 360-degree surround sound is rather a stereo arrangement consisting of two tweeters pointing into opposite directions. Contrary to most of similarly-shaped speakers, these two are positioned on both sides of the column. In terms of speaker placement, this means that you get the best spatiality by pointing the system´s LED ring and volume knob at the listener. Rather unusual. Or just place it vertically with the control panel facing towards the listener
The bass driver on the other end of the column makes some kind of a downfire subwoofer. I.e. benefits from acoustic help by the groundplane, may it be a table or the floor. This works due to a very trickily formed base stand. Whether it’s stable on sand or uneven ground leaves to be open.
In addition to the active bass driver, two passive compound drivers, each next to one tweeters are supposed to reinforce the low-frequencies. All in all, a total of 30 watts is driving the 3 active drivers. This might help to understand why a fully charged battery only lasts up to 12 hours. However, this is true only only with lightshow being deactivated, with LED ring on just 4 hours are left. And even that is rather on the optimistic side.
Lots of features, lots of potential fails
Besides Bluetooth version 5.3, the Tronsmart T7 plays music from a MicroSD memory card inserted into the dedicated slot. The system appears to be aiming at a younger target group because the icons on the rubber keys are hardly recognizable for older generations just for the fact that are only black.
The off/on button is also responsible for switching between these 2 sources as well activating the lightshow. Stereo pairing with another identical device also works purely via key combination. A dedicated button is provided only for switching EQ modes.
Operating the Tronsmart T7 means learning all these hidden tricks: Behind the Play button 5 different codes are setting 5 different features in action, from a short click to double click, longer one or holding it down for at least 8 seconds. The manual is really detailed regarding this matter, but this is necessary. Some almost satirical translation errors are giving in inside view into Chinese technical terms, so be ready for “host” and “deputy speaker” being called to “marquee on”.
For more features and more translation fails, check out different language versions of the Tronsmart app for iOS and Android. Especially the EQ bands and presets are subject to a secret language. Why the developers cut bass and treble for rock music, of all things, remains another secret. You can save most of the presets anyway. “Standard” and “HiFi” do the best job for most applications.
Listening test full of surprises
This happens rarely, but given the size and concept of the new Tronsmart T7, we were really totally amazed from the very beginning. This Bluetooth speaker sounds amazing for its pricepoint. Although still with the back facing the listeners, it sounded tonally balanced all the way to the treble region which is commonly sensitive to listening from different angles. When going ´round the system, the tonal balance hardly changed. That is really great. Voices, for example of Caleb Followill, lead singer to the Kings of Leon, sounded clear and expressive. Wow, it’s really rare in this price range that voices are reproduced in such a natural way while the sound image is well detached from the speaker creating some kind of ambience.
These virtues are completed by a very dry bass with astonishing power. Its dynamical capabilities are also convincing given the size; music sounded anything but pressed in our listening test. Transparency is not quite audiophile but is more than adequate. At the beginning of “Closer” you can clearly hear the guitar amp´s humming like on the stage of a live gig. Combined with a great sense of rhythm that´s way more than to expect from a system just costing 60 bucks.
A lot of light, a bit of shade
However, Tronsmart can’t do magic. It is true that the T7 plays quite loud. However, especially rough voices like those of Kings of Leon get some certain characteristics of aggression while the bass is somewhat slower than midrange and treble. However, impulses and max SPL are impressive. You don’t get such fast, crisp impulses every day, even with more expensive Bluetooth speakers. Accordingly, we skipped the cheap competitors at all and got the JBL Flip 6, which is more than twice as expensive given its retail price.
The 6th generation Flip, which has matured over the years, was able to keep up very well in terms of tonal balance and impulses despite its more compact dimensions. But it definitely used a little trick in the bass: upper bass seemd to be a bit emphasized and thus letting the electric bass on Thomas Dolby’s “Budapest By Blimp” appear to be richer and more impressive. However, the slightly lower frequencies of the more voluminous Tronsmart T7 generally had a positive effect on feeling the substantial boom of drums. In addition, the T7 was way ahead regarding larger soundstage and ambience. We should highlight that this does not come with a diffuse and phasy touch being experienced with many 360-degree concepts. The JBL was able to counter this by maintaining its balance even at higher SPL, whereas the Tronsmart tends to a certain harshness.
Tronsmart T7: Conclusion and alternatives
Together with the Tronsmart Studio, the Tronsmart T7 is without any doubt one of the best Bluetooth speakers in the 60 dollars class. In addition, it is designed for outdoor use, has a practical strap and a classy volume knob. However, it is also a bit bigger and heavier than most competitors. If you want a more refined sound or cleaner voices at max SPL, you have to pay considerably more.