CNET First Look
TDK Life On Record A33 Wireless Weatherproof Speaker hands-onWhile the A33 has a few small shortcomings, including only average battery life at 6 hours, it delivers very good sound for its size and $150 price tag.
Hi. I'm David Carnoy here with another portable Bluetooth speaker. With so many of these guys on the market, we sometimes end up being tardy covering certain models we should have reviewed sooner. Such as the case for the TDK Life On Record A33 Wireless Weatherproof speaker, which has been on the market for a while and received mostly favorable reviews from consumers. The first thing you notice about it when you take it out of the box is that it's got some heft to it, it weighs around 2.8 pounds which makes it more of a mid-size wireless speaker than a true mini-Bluetooth speaker. If you're looking for something really portable, this isn't it, but the extra-size, at least in this case, means better sound. One has a pretty straightforward box design. I liked it. It's got clean lines and the button's on top of the unit are nicely indented and clearly labeled with LED lighting. There are volume controls on the unit, but no pause-play button or transport controls, so you'll have to control playback through smartphone, tablet, or other Bluetooth-enabled device. The speaker's equipped with two 1.5-inch drivers plus the 2.5 mid-subwoofer on the front and two rear 3-inch passive radiators on the back. It's splash-proof, has speakerphone capabilities and its ports are covered by a removable rubber door that keeps moisture and dust out. Behind that rubber cover, you'll find an audio input for non-Bluetooth devices, a USB charging port for charging your smartphone from the speaker's internal battery, a power on-off switch, and a 12-volt DC in charging port. Alas, like some of these more powerful compact speakers, you have to charge the unit with a separate AC adaptor and not with a standard micro USB cable. All of these smaller Bluetooth speakers have their sound limitations and the A33 is no different, but it did acquit itself better than a lot of other speakers in our tests, that's some punch to its face offered decent clarity, played loud for its size, and sounded fairly natural. It was able to handle most of today's simpler pop and techno music without distorting and had a pleasant enough vibe to it with relatively well-balanced sound. However, fell down a little bit with certain tunes, for instance, with Nirvana's All Apologies, there was a little background buzzing and it became apparent the speaker simply lack the dynamic range to be able to handle more nuance tracks gracefully, but as I said, the A33 fare better in our tests than many speakers in its price range and higher. In the end while it has a few small shortcomings including only average battery life at 6 hours, it delivers very good sound for its size and $150 price tag. Combine that with an elegant splash-proof design as well as speakerphone capabilities and this becomes a very solid speaker for the money. It may not be a steal, but it is a good value. I'm David Carnoy and that's the TDK Life On Record A33 Wireless Weatherproof speaker. Thanks for watching.