Many thanks to Mike (KE8PTX) who shares the following:
The search for the best portable speaker for ham radio.
Welcome to the end of my exhausting search for what maybe the best speaker for portable ham radio.
My list of requirements was short: it had to be small, amplified, and have an internal battery.
But most importantly, it had to have a AUX input.
The last requirement shortened the list very quickly. Most speakers today that have any quality of build are lacking in the old fashion AUX connection.
I tried a minimum of six speaker and even tried making one of my own. Rich sound quality was not most important factor to me. Let’s face it: we are not listening to the Beatles.
Now we are going to focus in the two that made the cut. On the bigger side was the JBL Charge 4. Rugged? Yes. Battery life? Great. Size and weight? OK. Take it from the car to the picnic table ok? Yes. Throwing in the pack for a SOTA or a long hike? Not the best choice.
Now to my #1 choice…
The Anker Soundcore Mini
- Size is 67mm tall and 67mm dia.
- Weight is 7.2oz
- Case is made of aluminum all-around including the speaker grill.
- External features are:
- power switch,
- USB charging port,
- micro SD card slot,
- and the must-have AUX port for connecting to my KX3.
- It also has external rubberized volume control.
- For those that may need bluetooth it has that also.
All in all, it is super rugged unit with great battery life and small for my QRP go kit. The only thing that comes in the box is the speaker and usb charging cord.
I hope my findings help others in search of a portable speaker.
Check out the Anker Soundcore on Amazon ($24.99) affiliate link
Thank you for sharing this, Mike. I’m often asked about the portable speaker I use in the field. It’s a Sony SRS-XB12, but the only good source of them is eBay because they’ve been discontinued for so long.
This Anker speaker seems to be the same size and sport the same features of the Sony, at a slightly lower cost. I’ve also had very good luck with Anker products in the past (I’ve had some of their ear buds and several of their battery banks). In fact, I’ve just ordered this speaker because the battery life is also much better than that of my Sony speakers. I’ll plan to take this to the field and include it in my activation videos–I’ve give the Sony speakers to my daughters.
Thanks for sharing, Mike!
15 thoughts on “POTA Audio: Mike’s search for the best field-portable amplified speaker”
I’ve had a similar problem searching for good speakers. One I had sounded great, but it had the habit of flipping over to a power save mode if it didn’t detect audio. This would happen whenever I’d transmit in SSB, and so I’d always miss the first few seconds after un-keying as the speaker had to detect that audio was in fact coming from the radio.
Now that I’m more of a CW op, audio lag is the big problem. Even on many wired speakers, they must include some form of audio processing that introduces a lag, which can throw off CW sending quite a bit.
I’ve also been using a separate, discrete headphone DAC/amp which can help as well.
It would be interesting to try to measure audio lag, maybe with an oscilloscope connected to a CW key, and the other input being a microphone or something nearby.
My Sony speakers have no discernible lag using the AUX input. I will definitely notice if the Anker does because I will be using it in CW. I will check this out! 🙂
I guess I am lucky. My field radio is the IC-705 and it has a pretty good sounding front facing speaker.. Or a least, I like the sound of it.
But this will come in handy down the road if I get a second smaller QRP radio.
Oh heck yeah. If you use an IC-705, there’s no need at all for an external speaker. It sports one of the best speakers in the world of field radios.
I use external speakers for my KX3, KX1, and smaller QRP radios that lack an internal speaker mainly for purposes of recording field videos.
Thanks for the very helpful reference. I like Anker products and will try this one.
I bought the Sony SRS-XB12 a number of years ago when we needed a portable speaker to play Holiday Music on our golf cart. I was happy to discover it had an analog input and it works great on my Penntek TR-35 which has no internal speaker of its own.
What I haven’t tried yet is which settings I will need to put my digital voice recorder inline. I am building a series of Tuna can transceivers and separate transmitters & receivers so will test them out with my Sony speaker when I get the 200Hz audio filters also built. Life is short, build, build, build!!! Cheers, Davey – KU9L pS – Check out my Tuna Can vacuum tube RF Monitor for transmitters that have no side-tone, lol. It is just for fun, but it is functional for QRPppp.
Most small external speakers are strictly bluetooth. Finding a good, chargeable, small, speaker with an Aux cable, is proving more difficult.
I own some older models which work fine. But for field work, I use either corded earbuds or a simple & cheap ear piece I found on eBay. Here’s a link, I highly recommend these… 2 for $10!
Thanks for your report Mike!
I’ve used several Anker Products for audio and bluetooth remote speakers and they are reliable and have great features. Built to withstand a beating too! Enjoy!
Another option is the Oontz Angle Solo. $19.99 on eBay in multiple colors. Lasts a long time on a charge. Waterproof. 3.5mm aux input. What’s not to love!
I use an amplified speaker kit from KANGA KITS in the UK.
The speaker faces downward, and that seems to reduce some of the highs and background hiss. If I want louder or more treble, I turn it upward. Has volume control.
Works with my MTR4Bv2 and my TR-35 CW radios. No dodgy chinajunk from Amazon, Ali, etc. Well documented, and the Kanga owner answers questions and provides support.
Reading the specs: “Speakers Nominal Output Power: 5 Watts”
Should one be using a speaker with more output power than their transceiver?
One issue is these speakers require power, cannot just plug into the rig. I have found the speakers from the older 2-way radios like the GE Mastr IIs and Motorola Micor are very efficient and work very well. And no ext power needed. Otherwise a good set of head phones is hard to beat. 73, ron, n9ee
I’ll put this on the list. Good find! I’ve been using the JBL Go2. It has an aux port, small and is USB rechargeable (not USB C). Only downside I’ve seen is only lasts for around 4 or 5 hours. I wish I could get at least 3 or 4 activations before recharging. I don’t think the latest version of the JBL Go series has the aux port, only the version 2 which is a few versions old now.
YMMV – I have had one of these for a few years, used largely for Bluetooth and the built in FM radio, and the battery no longer holds much of a charge.
I looked into replacing the battery, but it seems to be glued in, so I didn’t bother proceeding.
I now use it only when it can be plugged into a USB charger or battery pack.
About five years ago, in the dollar store, I found a round amplified speaker powered by two aaa batteries with sterio jacks. Eureka! Just what I needed. I also have ten tec (u kits)
Qrp xmtr but mine is the 4030. These rigs have no built in speaker, lf u don’t like phones u r SOL. I have gone back dozens of times looking for more but no luck. It was in the isle
That displays the power cords and air buds for I pads and droids. I wanted to include a picture but for some reason I can’t
In this format. It’s very much like the ones showed above. GL