Beach Season 2018 is quite some time away yet, but I’m still looking ahead to brighter days. And when those days get here, I’ll be taking the next product to hit our review desk along with me. Next up, we’ve got the Sbode M400 Multi-Function Wireless Speaker ($59.99). At its price point, it’s a suitable and inexpensive option if you’re looking for a new Bluetooth speaker to play your audio on-the-go.
Let’s take a look at it, shall we?
The Sbode M400 looks and feels similar to a “tallboy” – those oversized 24-ounce cans of beer. It’s covered with a woven mesh-like material that feels quite nice in the hand. The device has a rubberized housing with bumpers on either end for added durability. Each end of the device also has a bass radiator, which is a pretty nifty and unique addition that gives the bass an extra bit of oomph.
Down the back of the device runs a strip of buttons, also encased in the rubber housing. These include the power, call, play/pause, next/previous and true wireless buttons. Just below that is a rubber cover that pulls out to reveal an Auxiliary input, Micro USB charging slot, and there’s a Micro SD card slot in there, as well.
Additionally, there are four orange LED lights that indicate the speakers’ battery level. This is a nice touch because you can see when you’re running low on juice and gives you an idea of how long you have until you need to recharge.
Overall, I’m impressed by the look and feel of the speaker. It’s lightweight and, for the most part, pretty compact. It also has a carrying strap attached to it, which you can put on your wrist when carrying the speaker, or simply use to hang it from something when you’re not.
I use this speaker most as a Bluetooth receiver that broadcasts audio from my phone. (I have a Google Pixel 2, for those curious.) Pairing the M400 with my device was as simple as it gets. Simply hold the power button in until you hear the device say, “Power on. Bluetooth mode.” The blue LED power button light blinks to indicate the speaker is in pairing mode.
On your device, in the Bluetooth settings section, select “add new device”, which will make the broadcasting device scan for other devices in pairing mode. Select the Sbode M400 from the list, and you’ll hear the speaker say, “Device paired,” and setup is complete.
My Pixel 2 actually displays the M400’s battery level in Bluetooth settings, so that’s a nice touch. It’s always good to be able to see how much juice you have so you know when it’s time to recharge.
A quick press of the power button switches the device from Bluetooth to FM radio mode. This is the first portable speaker I’ve reviewed that has this functionality, so that’s kinda nice, but it does come with at least one caveat.
There’s no LCD display for stations, so good luck if you’re wanting to listen to something specific. It’s basically scanning around blindly until you find something that sounds good. If you’re like me and only listen to one station, it’s best to set it and forget it.
True Wireless Stereo
Sadly, I didn’t get to test one of the M400’s most intriguing features, called True Wireless Stereo (TWS). The bottom button, shaped like a bow-tie, allows you to sync two of these speakers together, mimicking the effect of an actual stereo system by delivering dual-channel (right and left) audio.
I’m very curious as to how well this works. As one would have to assume, it must be pretty awesome. If it syncs perfectly, two identical speakers are always better than one, right? Of course, that’s a big if, and I didn’t have the opportunity to test, so there’s that.
Personally, I’m not one for talking on the phone. I’d much rather send an SMS or an instant message, get to the point, and get back to what I’m doing. But, in the event that I absolutely must take a call, the M400 comes in handy there, too.
With the device paired with a phone, a quick press of the phone button (right below the power button) allows you to receive a call. A long press, on the contrary, rejects the call and sends it to voicemail. For the sake of testing, the calls I did use the speaker for were suitable. I had no issues hearing the caller on the line, and they could hear me just fine, too.
The Sbode M400’s rubberized housing and IPX6 rating make it a great option for trips to the beach, singing in the shower, or basically any situation where you’ll be exposed to the elements. Just be sure to close the rubber covering that protects the charging port, Micro SD card slot, and AUX jack when you’re around water.
The speaker is also rugged enough to handle minor drops and rough handling, thanks to the same rubber body that keeps it safe from dust, sand, and water. If it gets dirty, a simple rinse in the sink or spray with a garden hose cleans it right off – just don’t fully submerge the speaker, as it’s not rated safe for submersion.
The M400 has a 22,000mAh battery, which lasts anywhere from 6-8 hours on a single charge. It takes about an hour and a half, maybe two hours, to charge from empty to full. For my needs, everything is perfectly fine in the battery department. I can’t see myself in too many situations where I’ll be needing more than 8 hours of continuous use – and if I do, I have a backup. (Muahahahah!)
It is worth noting that colder temperatures seem to shorten battery life just a bit. I took the speaker out with me on one of my photo walks in the woods recently, and I managed to get about 5 good hours before it finally powered down. Luckily, I don’t find myself out in the cold for extended periods all that often, but this is something you may want to keep in mind if you’re an ice fisherman.
Above and beyond all, the sound quality is the most important aspect when it comes to a speaker. And I’m sure by now, you’ve got to be wondering if all of the aforementioned goodies the Sbode M400 offers come at the sacrifice of good sound. Luckily, that isn’t the case.
Although the speaker could probably stand to be just a bit louder, it sounds great for a device of its kind in the sub-$100 range. Vocals and instrumentals are well-balanced, and there’s no distortion, even at full volume. The device’s design and dual bass radiators provide some extra depth to the sound, although it’s still not going to rattle any bookshelves. All-in-all the sound quality is as impressive as the device’s design and functionality.
Wrap-up & final rating
Like I said at the beginning of this review, the Sbode M400 is an option I highly recommend if you’re looking to add a speaker to your shower, or if you just need something that’s small and easy to carry, yet still sounds good. At $59.99 plus free shipping and Amazon Prime eligibility, you won’t suffer any buyer’s remorse with this one.
You can pick up the Sbode M400 from Amazon using this link. If you do, be sure to stop back and let me know what you think down in the comment thread.