Bluetooth speakers today are a dime a dozen, and submersible speakers are no different. Remember all of those waterproof speakers shown off in the Sharper Image and in-plane catalogs? But like with speakers in general, finding a good submersible speaker isn’t easy. So how does the NYNE Aqua, a submersible speaker that isn’t exactly cheap, hold up?
You’ll notice that I will be referencing the G-Project G-DROP in this review, as it’s the only other submersible speaker I’ve had experience with. They’re in two different price ranges, but each has its own strengths.
Battery: 10 hours
Connectivity: Bluetooth 3.0, 3.5mm aux
Extras: Speakerphone capability with mic, IPX7 waterproof
Dimensions: 9.26″ x 5.21″ x 2″
What’s in the box: Speaker, 3.5mm aux cable, micro USB charging cable, silicon strap
The NYNE Aqua is obviously dedicated to the submersible theme. I’m told that the inspiration for the design is a catamaran, which is pretty clever. Unfortunately, I can’t say I’m a fan of the aesthetics myself. The blue accents make it look a bit cheap, as do the holes in the middle (though they do serve an important purpose).
Included in the box is a silicon strap, which hooks into those holes. It’s part of the waterproof nature of the speaker, allowing you to hang it in showers and other places without the strap absorbing water. Also included in the box is an auxiliary cable and a microUSB cable. These cables are red, and they’re beautiful. The ends are molded slim but nice-looking, screaming quality. Yes, I took notice of the awesome red cables.
The front has speaker grilles along with the buttons. You get a power button, a multifunction button (play, pause, answer call, end call), an EQ button, and volume buttons. But the function of these buttons is a bit odd.
To turn the speaker on, you have to hold the power button for three seconds. To pair, you have to make sure a device isn’t paired to the speaker and wait 30 seconds for it to enter pairing mode. That’s an odd decision, and not very intuitive. To adjust volume, you repeatedly press the volume buttons. Holding them skips tracks, which I like. Adjusting volume is too slow, though, and you have to press the buttons too many times. But that’s nitpicking. The inclusion of skipping tracks is a fantastic one.
On the back is a rubber flap with the 3.5mm aux jack, a micro USB port for charging, and a reset button.
While the design might not look premium, the build quality sure is. The construction is extremely solid and sturdy, with absolutely no creaks or give in the plastic. The rubber coating feels great, very premium and grippy. The buttons have a good feel, making a solid click. Even the silicon strap is thick, and it feels like it won’t split or tear.
The only complaint I have is the rubber flat on the back, designed to keep water out of the ports. It works well, but it feels a little cheap. The locking door on the waterproof G-DROP felt more solid, and was just a cool feature in general.
Here is where the speaker simply doesn’t match up to its price. Don’t get me wrong, the audio quality is by no means bad. In fact, it’s pretty good. The mids and highs are very clear up to the top of the volume range, with little distortion at full volume. The problem is that full volume isn’t very loud.
Yes, the $50 G-DROP is significantly louder than the $130 NYNE Aqua. Is the audio as clear? No, not at all. But it gets louder, which I think is important when you’re outdoors. I do like that the audio is clear, though, because that’s important as well.
This speaker also lacks bass. It’s not tinny sounding, but the bass just isn’t there. I wouldn’t expect thumping bass, but you hear almost nothing at all. The low end is still audible, there’s just no real strength.
There are four equalizer settings as well, three custom and one normal. I have to say, all three sound pretty awful with the many styles of music I tried. And they all sound similar, while being a huge departure from the flat setting. I’m not a fan of EQs in general, but these are extra useless. Thankfully, you can just never use them, nothing was lost.
The advertised battery life is 10 hours, and that’s accurate. I’ve been using it daily for 15-25 minutes a day, and it hasn’t died on me in weeks. Ten hours of battery life is nice for a Bluetooth speaker, especially one that isn’t very large. Most average six, so it’s nice to see companies pushing for higher figures. And when you do need to recharge, it’s quick and easy with the microUSB cable.
This speaker’s main draw is that it is IPX7 waterproof, meaning it can survive at a depth of three feet for 30 minutes. However, you won’t be facing that problem, because the speaker floats. That’s kinda important for actually hearing the sound, no? The catamaran shape really does work, keeping it afloat with ease.
I’ve attacked this thing with water from all angles, whether it’s shower spray or straight up submersion and movement under water (movement means pressure, which stresses the seals). No issues have occurred, which is a good sign.
One thing I really like about this speaker is that it plays audio even when significant amounts of water are hitting the speaker grills. Yeah, full submersion will make the audio disappear, and filling the grills with water will muffle the audio to near silence, but that’s expected. A measure of how well it stands up to water is how much water it can take before getting muffled.
Surprisingly, it can take a lot. The G-DROP got muffled much more quickly, requiring a quick shake to get some water out of the front. The Aqua kept playing without filling up for a long time. That means it’s a great submersible speaker.
As a speaker, the NYNE Aqua is pretty mediocre. The most important part of a speaker is sound quality, and the NYNE Aqua didn’t quite impress. At least, it’s not with the $130 price tag. As a speaker aimed at use in the shower, pool, or general moist area, though it’s a good value. It floats, is hard to sink, hard to muffle with water spray, and has a long-lasting battery. All of these things trump sound quality for its use case.
If you’re in the market for a speaker that happens to be waterproof, I’d recommend something like the G-Project G-DROP because it’s a better all-around speaker. But for use in wet situations, the NYNE Aqua excels and is the better choice. It’s a specialized speaker for a specific user base, but it’s one that functions well.