Review: SuperTooth Disco Bluetooth Stereo Speaker

Update, 2013: I decided not do to any more of these, for anybody, because I realised I was being a silly arse. Reviewers should be paid for their reviews, not allowed to keep the things they review: otherwise you’re in the Scoring Free Stuff business, not the Telling The Truth business. For what it’s worth I reckon I told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth here, but payment-in-kit isn’t a road I’m comfortable travelling down.

Phones4U gave me a thing and said I could keep it if I blogged about it. The thing is he SuperTooth Disco Stereo Speaker, which the firm was selling for £99.

Here’s the blurb:

The stylish SuperTooth Disco can be connected wirelessly to any Bluetooth A2DP mobile phone, PDA, or Bluetooth A2DP enabled computer. Once connected, simply stream your favourite tunes through the high efficiency subwoofer system.

And here’s what it looks like.

There’s lots to like about the SuperTooth Disco. First of all, it’s loud – properly, neighbour-annoyingly loud – and when you turn off the pointless bass boost the sound is very good. It can’t quite cope with, say, the low frequency “wub” sounds of Muse’s Madness, which cause it to rattle a bit, but you can solve that by turning it down slightly. Bluetooth pairing is quick and painless, battery life is pretty good (10 hours at reasonable volume or three hours turned up; it takes three-ish hours to charge and has a standby time of 1500 hours) and while it’s not the prettiest speaker you’ll ever see it hasn’t been beaten by the ugly stick either.

There are some negatives, though. The first is that it’s really big (bigger than a grown man’s forearm) and really heavy, tipping the scales at a horrendous 1,140 grams. For me at least that rules it out as a holiday speaker – that’s a big chunk of your baggage allowance, and I wouldn’t fancy carrying it around in its fancy case for too long either – and puts it firmly in bedroom/office/barbecue territory.

The other big negative is the Bluetooth. It might just be my house, where there are stacks of gadgets in the same 2.4GHz frequency as well as next door’s Wi-Fi leaking through, but the Bluetooth Disco suffers from constant and very noticeable interference when you’re using it wirelessly. I’ve tried it with two iPads, an iPhone 4, an iPhone 4S and an iPhone 5, and it’s the same thing with each one, noticeable hissing, fizzing and fluttering in the higher frequencies. You know the way a poorly encoded MP3 sounds, with squishy guitars and drums? It’s very much like that, and if that kind of thing annoys you as much as it annoys me then you won’t be able to listen to it for very long.

I’ve read other reviews suggesting that the Disco suffers from the same problem with cabled connections, but I didn’t find that: if I hooked it up to something using the supplied 3.5mm cable, the sibilance disappeared.

It’s worth mentioning here that there is a newer (and to my eyes, much uglier) version of the Disco, the excitingly named Disco 2, which ups the Bluetooth version from 2.0 to 4.0. That may well solve the interference problem, although it’s a mono rather than a stereo device. It’s more portable, though, 552 grams instead of 1,140.

Whether you’ll like the SuperTooth Disco, then, depends on what you want it for. If it’s wireless that really matters to you, I don’t think this is the speaker for you – and if you want something for your holidays that won’t have you frantically swapping luggage around at the Ryanair check-in, the same applies. However, if you want something really loud for your flat, bedroom or barbecue and don’t mind connecting with a cable, it’s worth considering.

Five months on and I still agree with this: it’s far too heavy to take anywhere, but it’s worthwhile as a spare speaker – for example if there’s a do on at my in-laws’ house, I take the speaker and my phone rather than armfuls of CDs. It’s awfully expensive, though, even if you do shop around.