Soundcore’s new Motion X600 Hi-Res Bluetooth Speaker is a keeper if you’re after a fantastic-looking portable speaker with convincing-enough spatial audio.
It starts shipping May 9, and if you pay just $1 for an early-bird coupon Monday — before the preorder promotion ends early Tuesday morning — you get the X600 for $149 instead of $199 at launch. That’s a fantastic value for anyone unsure they want to pony up twice as much for a second-gen HomePod.
Soundcore Motion X600 review
The little speaker looked promising then, and I’m happy to say it doesn’t disappoint in person. It’s gorgeous out of the box. It’s available in a handsome and solid-feeling aluminum and plastic casing in gray, green or blue colors.
It has a reassuring heft to it, but not so much so you would hesitate to take it poolside (it’s waterproof, with an IPX7 rating, but not dust-proof, so the beach might not be a great idea). The speaker is no HomePod 2 killer, but it’s a great portable speaker that can really fill a room with sound.
Setting up the speaker couldn’t be much easier. Just top off the battery with the included USB-C cable, download the Soundcore app to your device and get acquainted with the simple onboard controls.
Under the solid metal handle, on either side of the circular grill for the upward-firing driver, you have illuminated buttons for power, Bluetooth pairing, spatial audio, BassUp (or off), play/pause and volume up/down.
On the back of the device, a little silicone panel opens to allow you to plug in a USB-C cable from a power source and a 3.5mm aux cable from an audio source other than Bluetooth. Speaking of which, it would be wonderful if the device supported lossless Wi-Fi playback in addition to Bluetooth, but you can’t have everything for just $199.
Using the app
The Soundcore app helps you tweak the sounds you hear. And with this speaker, it’s best to take advantage of the options. But your first item of business will probably be accepting the latest firmware update and installing it with just a couple of taps.
On the main page of the app, you get a play/pause/skip tracks button, a basic volume bar and an equalizer button that you can click to choose either presets or custom (manual) equalizer settings.
Presets are Soundcore Signature (excellent for a lot of tunes), Voice, Treble Boost and Balanced. Custom is a nine-band, expandable equalizer that offers quite a lot of room for experimentation if you need a hobby.
And you’ll also find the Bass Up button, which is a simple on/off to accentuate the bass or keep it mellow. It’s great to have that choice, depending on the music selection, and it’s handy that it’s also a button on the speaker itself.
Excellent sound quality (with the right settings)
Though I’m not one to always crank the bass, I appreciated the fullness of sound BassUp provided with the X600 Soundcore sent me to test out. The audio can actually sound a little thin without it.
And even on recordings featuring acoustic/upright bass, like Taj Mahal’s new album of jazz standards, Savoy, upping the bass didn’t take away much if any nuance. I felt like I could just about hear the guy’s fingernails on the fretboard.
For that matter, the second I turned on the X600, even the startup trilling sounds made me say “whoah.” One is a bass note that really gets your attention, making you wonder how a small speaker can be so forceful when you haven’t even started a tune yet.
And that clarity of sound was only made more interesting by the spatial audio feature. The little speaker uses five drivers, including two woofers, two tweeters and one upward-firing driver to help throw sound around a room, bouncing it off the ceiling. The speaker’s three amps generate 50 watts — left at 20W, right at 20W and “Sky Channel” at 10W.
Pounding bass and spatial audio
Together, BassUp and Spatial Audio really bring out the speaker’s best. It’s not actually compatible with spatial audio formats like Dolby Atmos, and its sound may not achieve the 3D effect of a pricier HomePod 2 or Sonos speaker, but the X600 does create an immersive effect.
The speaker array, combined with Soundcore’s audio algorithm and digital signal processor, “helps create a wide (and tall) soundstage for listening to any type of music, whether at home or on the go,” Soundcore said when it announced the upcoming release.
I can’t tell you firsthand exactly how the X600’s spatial audio and overall sound quality compare to HomePod 2 because I don’t have one Apple’s smart speakers. However, I can tell you the X600 sounds great. I was immediately impressed by its articulation and ability to fill a room (much more so than my M1 MacBook Pro with spatial audio, for what that’s worth).
And unlike HomePod 2, X600 gives you wireless portability, aux in for playback from devices like turntables and MP3 players, plus the ability to play from any Bluetooth device, not just Apple gear.
LDAC and hi-res streaming certification
By the way, the X600 supports Sony’s proprietary LDAC codec for certified hi-res streaming, which is great for those running Android devices equipped with LDAC.
And for a fuller stereo sound, you could pair a couple of X600s. That would be quite a nice stereo system for an apartment or small house. And you could always take one to go. (If you need more raw power, try Soundcore’s excellent 180-watt Motion Boom Plus, which is more of a boom box).
OK battery life and other notes
When it comes to battery life, Soundcore’s stated 12 hours for the Motion X600 on a charge is good — but only applies to playback at half volume with the outstanding BassUp and spatial audio features turned off. Playback at louder volumes with the features turned on can cut that time roughly in half, which amounts to relatively short battery life for a portable Bluetooth speaker.
A few other features found in some Bluetooth speakers aren’t present in the X600, in case those concern you. It doesn’t charge other devices, it’s not a smart speaker with voice-assistant capabilities and you can’t link a whole bunch of the devices for a wall of sound.
That said, though, you can get great sound out of it through BassUp, spatial audio and equalizer tweaks. It’s waterproof and portable. And it’s gorgeous. If you manage to score the $50-off early-bird promo — or even if you pay the full $200 — you should be happy with it.
Note that most Soundcore products are available on Amazon, but this one wasn’t as of May 8.
Price: $149 (early bird) or $199 as a regular price
Where to buy: Soundcore
Correction: This review initially stated the X600 contains no microphone, but it does.