Transit by Soen review: The slickest Bluetooth speaker you've never heard of

Wireless range is the typical 33 feet, though that can vary according your environment. I didn't have any problems pairing the speaker with an iPhone 5S and a Samsung Galaxy S4 and the speaker remembered my devices and automatically paired with them when I turned the speaker on (to be clear, you can only stream audio from one device at a time).

The speaker charges via Micro-USB and is rated for 8 hours of battery life at moderate volume levels. That's about average for a speaker this size, but some portable Bluetooth speakers in this price range, particularly the UE Boom, are able to exceed that number.

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The bass port on the side of the speaker along with the power switch, charging port, and audio input. Sarah Tew/CNET

Performance

For a small speaker, the Transit sounds good. Some of these speakers can end up having a harsh edge to them, but this one sounds fairly smooth and is relatively well-balanced, with reasonable clarity. It has two drivers and is described as being a stereo speaker, but as with all these supercompact Bluetooth speakers, you get little to no stereo separation.

Like most of these speakers, it does best with less complicated music and is strongest in the midrange. John Legend's ballad "All of Me" is a good example of a track that will make the Transit look good (and by look I mean sound). The vocals come across clearly and everything sounds smooth -- like you're listening to a bigger speaker. The same is true for video watching (and by watching I mean listening to soundtracks).

Hit the Transit with some techno or hip hop and it does well enough at more modest volume levels, but crank it up and the sound quality dips, fraying a bit at the edges as the speaker is pushed to its limits.

The low end holds together fairly well at higher volumes, but the speaker just doesn't have all that much kick to it. And while it plays pretty loud and filled my small office with sound, it sounded more subdued in a larger room. It's also worth mentioning that you really have to be standing directly in front of it to get the best sound -- it's pretty directional.

Ultimately, the bass performance and overall sound simply don't measure up to that of the Bose SoundLink Mini. That speaker isn't as travel-friendly as this one, but it is a notch up in terms of sound quality.

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The speaker with its magnetic cover attached. Sarah Tew/CNET

Conclusion

In all, I liked the Transit. It's a really nice little speaker that makes for a good traveling companion. The only problem is that for the same price you can pick up the equally slick and even more impressive sounding Bose SoundLink Mini, as well as the UE Boom, which offers even bigger sound and a water-resistant design. It's hard to give this speaker the nod over those models, but as I said, it's well-designed and worth considering, particularly if you're a frequent traveler.

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Amplification Type active
  • Connectivity Technology wireless