There are more portable Bluetooth speakers for the iPhone (and iPad) then you can shake a stick at, but a few of them have caught my attention over the years because of their features, design and good reviews. One such speaker is the DISCO 2 from SuperTooth. Jeremy Horwitz, a former IP attorney who is now the Editor-in-Chief of iLounge, called the DISCO 2 "one of the best $100 wireless speaker systems we’ve tested" when he reviewed it in August of 2012. Thus, I was interested when SuperTooth offered to send me a free review unit last month and I've been using it extensively for the last four weeks. I'm very impressed with this product, and if you are looking for a portable Bluetooth speaker, I think you would be very happy with this product.
One of the best features of the DISCO 2 is the design. The base of the unit is almost 4.5" x 2.5" which is pretty close to the height and width of an iPhone, so just set your iPhone down on a table and you can see about how much space this speaker occupies on a desk, mantle, or wherever else you put it. But the unit is tall, just over 7". (The official technical specs say 108 mm wide, 70 mm deep, and 182 mm tall.) Put it all together and you get a product that takes up very little space on a table so you can place it just about anywhere, but it is tall enough to have some substance to it. The unit weighs just over a pound, so it is very light to carry around. It is a great design, and a big improvement over the first generation DISCO which was long and boring.
The top of the speaker contains six useful buttons, making it very easy to operate the unit. The first row contains volume up and down buttons around a power button. (You also hold down the power button for 6 seconds to pair with your iPhone, something you only need to do once.) The second row contains back and forward buttons, which you can tap once to skip tracks or you can hold down to scrub forward or backwards through a song. In the middle of the second row is a play/pause button. That play/pause button also serves as an indicator light: it blinks red in pairing mode and it triple-blinks red when the battery needs to be recharged.
The buttons are back-lit making them easy to see even in a dark room.
Of course, you don't have to use the buttons on the speaker. I often keep my iPhone in my shirt pocket when I am using the DISCO 2, and you can use all of the normal iPhone controls. But if your iPhone is on one side of the room and you are standing on the other side of the room next to the DISCO 2, it is nice to be able to control everything from the speaker.
The unit I tested is black, which is the color I would probably pick for myself, but SuperTooth also offers red, white, blue, pink and green.
I'm no audiophile, but the DISCO 2 sounds great to my ears. Music sounds really nice and podcasts sound rich. The speaker gets loud enough to be too loud in a room. And this past weekend, I had the DISCO 2 sitting outside on a table while cooking some burgers on the BBQ and I couldn't turn the volume all the way up for fear that I would annoy the neighbors. If you want a truly loud speaker for a large party, this won't be enough, but if you just want to hear some nice sound coming from your iPhone or iPad, the 16 watts put out by the DISCO 2 will be more than sufficient. Bass sounds good for listening to normal music, podcasts, audiobooks, etc., but if you are looking for a speaker with a loud, thumping bass that will shake the room, you're not going to find it in a unit this small.
The manufacturer's website says that the DISCO 2 contains two speakers on the front and one bass reflex system on the back. Note, however, that you do not hear stereo separation on this device.
If you want to hear left and right channels coming at you from opposite sides of the room, I see that SuperTooth makes a similar product called the DISCO TWIN which looks like two DISCO 2 units where one provides the left channel and one provides the right channel. I frankly prefer having one small unit that is easy to move around, but if stereo separation is important to you and you don't mind having to deal with two different units, the DISCO TWIN might be what you are looking for.
The DISCO 2 uses the latest Bluetooth 4 technology. I had no trouble pairing the unit with both my iPhone 5 and my wife's iPhone 4. Obviously, you cannot pair with both devices at the same time, but the speaker can remember both profiles so you don't have to go through a long re-pairing process each time.
The manufacturer says that the operating range is 10 meters. I could move my iPhone even farther than that without losing a connection, but obviously that will depend upon you environment.
I've seen about 8 hours or so of battery life before getting an indication that I should recharge. The manufacturer says that you can get up to 10 hours on medium volume or 3-4 hours on maximum value. It takes about 2 hours to recharge the unit.
The DISCO 2 comes with a simple black bag that covers the speaker for travel, a wall charger and a 3.5 audio cable if you want to connect to something that doesn't have Bluetooth.
I'm very impressed by the SuperTooth DISCO 2. It sounds great, it is easy to use, it has a long battery life, and I really like the design. Sound produced by an iPhone or iPad sounds much, much better coming out of the DISCO 2. And it is light enough to make it easy to move around any part of the room, take it outside or pack it for travel. The DISCO 2 costs $99 from the manufacturer, but I see you can currently get it for cheaper on Amazon.