The Anker Soundcore Motion Boom Plus ($179.99) and Tribit StormBox Blast ($199.99) appear to be part of a new category: large, powerful, and portable Bluetooth speakers that are significantly less expensive than those from market giants such as JBL and Sony. The Soundcore Motion Boom Plus has a waterproof design and supports a customizable in-app EQ, which works in its favor. Furthermore, when compared to the StormBox Blast, it produces more bass depth at high volumes, includes speakerphone functionality (which the StomBox Blast lacks), and supports a wider range of Bluetooth codecs. Given these benefits, the Soundcore Motion Boom Plus is our Editors’ Choice for outdoor speakers.
Rugged and Customizable
The Soundcore Motion Boom Plus weighs 5.3 pounds and measures 7.7 by 15.3 by 5.5 inches (HWD). Much of the exterior is made of hard plastic rather than the ruggedized, rubber-like material seen on many outdoor speakers. It has a built-in handle and a canvas strap that latches onto a loop on either end of its bulky frame.
Two 10W and two 30W woofers hidden behind the grille produce a total of 80W of stereo output. Dual passive radiators on each side improve bass response. The frequency range is listed as “up to 40kHz” by Anker, which only tells half the story—we have no idea how low these drivers go, but whatever the number is, they project a lot of bass. The Motion Boom Plus is Bluetooth 5.3 compatible and supports the AAC and SBC codecs, but not AptX.
A slew of controls spans the top front edge: The bass mode and Bluetooth pairing buttons are located on the far left; the power and PartyCast (for pairing a second speaker) buttons are located on the far right; and a multifunction button (for playback, track navigation, and call management) is located in the center, along with individual volume controls on either side.
A snap-shut cover on the back panel protects a USB-C port, a USB-A port (for charging external devices via the speaker’s battery), and a 3.5mm aux input. There is only one cable included in the box, a USB-C-to-USB-C charging cable. If that does not work with your charging configuration, you may need to purchase an adapter.
The IP67 rating of the speaker indicates that it is both dust-tight and fully waterproof. Even though Bluetooth signals don’t work well underwater, you can technically submerge it for 30 minutes at a depth of up to 1 meter (3.3 feet) (nor does sound). The speaker can be washed in a sink or tub, and the dust-proof exterior should protect the internals if you take it on a hike or to the beach. Just make sure to completely close the port cover before exposing it to the elements.
Anker estimates that the Motion Boom Plus can last about 20 hours on a single charge, but your battery life will vary depending on your typical listening volume.
The Soundcore app (available for Android and iOS) allows you to install firmware updates and configure basic control operations, such as turning off voice prompts and activating the Auto Power Off function. The app also includes an equalizer, where you can design your own eight-band EQ or choose (and tweak) one of several EQ presets.
Surprisingly Strong Sound
As previously stated, the Motion Boom Plus has a Bass mode, and in most testing scenarios, we preferred the speaker’s output with it on rather than off. It sounds good with the mode turned off, but the best sound (without tinkering with the EQ) came from combining the default Soundcore Signature EQ mode with the Bass mode turned on. This is what we tested with.
The Motion Boom Plus delivers serious bass rumble on tracks with intense sub-bass content, such as The Knife’s “Silent Shout.” The speaker is powerful enough to vibrate desktops and tabletops, which can occasionally produce a sound that could be mistaken for distortion (but the Boom Plus does not distort, even at maximum volume), so you may need to experiment with placement—a wooden desk may vibrate more than, say, a concrete countertop. It’s not quite as loud as the Tribit StormBox Blast, but at high volumes, digital signal processing takes a toll on that model. Regardless, both speakers deliver some serious low-end bass at reasonable volume levels.
The speaker’s sound signature is better revealed by Bill Callahan’s “Drover,” a track with far less deep bass in the mix. The Drum mode adds body and heft to the drums on this track, but never veers into unnatural territory. Callahan’s baritone vocals are rich in the low mids, but the high mids are crisp as well; the result is a balanced, highly sculpted sound signature that delivers bright attacks from acoustic strums and higher-register percussion just as clearly as the rich lows. Of course, the eight-band EQ allows you to make additional adjustments.
The kick drum loop on Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the Wild” receives an ideal amount of high-mid presence, allowing its attack to retain its punch. Meanwhile, the speaker amplifies the lows to give the loop’s sustain more weight. The sub-bass synth hits that punctuate the beat are slightly below the woofer’s capabilities—we hear the thump but no subwoofer-like rumble that larger systems provide. Nonetheless, the Motion Boom Plus compensates for this common shortcoming with plenty of powerful lows and low-mids. The vocals on this track are clear, but with a hint of sibilance.
Orchestral tracks, such as the first scene from John Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary, are bright and clear. When there is low-frequency content in the mix, the drivers deliver it with body. Even with bass mode on, things never sound overly bassy; the lower-register instruments anchor everything else in the mix as we would expect.
The onboard microphone works perfectly. We could understand every word from an iPhone test recording, but some minor Bluetooth artifacts muddled the audio quality. However, you shouldn’t have any call issues over a strong signal, and we’re glad to have a speakerphone option at all; many portable Bluetooth speakers in this segment are abandoning this feature.
A New Contender
The Anker Soundcore Motion Boom Plus stands out for its low price, powerful audio performance, and long-lasting design. It costs significantly less than the JBL Xtreme 3 ($349.95) and provides comparable power, as well as a better app and speakerphone. It has no trouble competing with similarly priced (but far less powerful) models from well-known brands like the JBL Charge 5 ($179.95) and the Sony SRS-XB33 ($149.99), even if those speakers may have a slight aesthetic advantage. Finally, the previously mentioned Tribit StormBox Blasts gets louder (at the expense of greater DSP involvement), but lacks speakerphone functionality. Any of these models is likely to please, but the Anker Soundcore Motion Boom Plus performs well enough to earn an Editors’ Choice award in the crowded outdoor speaker market.