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Anker Motion Boom Bluetooth speaker review: $100 portable powerhouse

The Motion Boom packs some good punch for the money, has a convenient carrying handle and floats if it ends up in the water.

I've reviewed three $100 Anker Soundcore portable Bluetooth speakers in the last year or so and they've all been quite good for that price. The Motion Plus is arguably the best-sounding compact Bluetooth for speaker for $100 while the Rave Neo, which appears to have been replaced by the Trance Go, works well for outdoor listening. The newest of the bunch is the Motion Boom reviewed here.

8.3

Anker Soundcore Motion Boom

Like

  • Well-designed mini boombox-style Bluetooth speaker with a built-in handle
  • Very good sound for its size and price
  • Exellent battery life (up to 24 hours)
  • Charges via USB-C, can charge other devices via USB-A
  • IPX 7 water-resistance (fully waterproof)
  • Speaker floats

Don't Like

  • Sound can get a little grating at higher volumes indoors
  • Can't charge external devices via USB-C, only USB-A

The Motion Boom is what I'd call a mini boombox speaker. It's kind of a poor man's version of JBL's well-regarded Xtreme 2 speaker, which currently sells for around $200 though its list price is higher. Equipped with a handle and weighing a little over 4 pounds, the speaker reminds me of one of those giant flashlights or "floating lanterns" that were in vogue about 30 years ago. For the record, the Motion Boom actually does float and is fully waterproof with an IPX7 rating. 

Read more: Best portable Bluetooth speakers for 2021

Anker says the Motion Boom delivers "huge stereo sound" and yes, it plays pretty loud and has a decent amount of bass with reasonable clarity. (I kept the bass boost on at all times because the speaker sounds better with bass boost on.) It can't compete against bigger and more expensive speakers like JBL's Boombox 2 ($400) and Ultimate Ears' Hyperboom ($400), but it packs a lot more volume and punch than more compact Bluetooth speakers like JBL's Flip 5 that cost around the same. Like the Rave Neo and Trance Go, I do think this is tuned more for outdoor use, as its sound lacks a certain refinement, even with its titanium drivers. Indoors, I kept the volume at more moderate levels, and was overall pleased with what I heard.

anker-motion-boom-5

The speaker sounds fine indoors but it's really tuned for outdoor use.

David Carnoy/CNET

The reality is the speaker is designed to belt out a lot of audio for its size with reasonably good sound quality, but critical listeners will certainly find flaws. That said, it's still a very appealing beach, camping and tailgate speaker because it's not hard to lug around and is able to play as loudly as it does for its size.

There is a companion Soundcore app for iOS and Android. It allows you to tweak the sound profile slightly and update the firmware if an update becomes available. You can also wirelessly link two Motion Boom speakers to create a stereo pair. I didn't test this but such a pairing would deliver much better stereo separation than what you get from a single speaker with two drivers six inches apart from each other.

anker-motion-boom-ports

The charging ports are covered by a gasket.

David Carnoy/CNET

The speaker is equipped with a 10,000-mAh battery and under a gasket, you'll find two ports: the USB-C in port for charging the speaker, and a fast-charging USB-A out port for charging small devices like your smartphone or headphones.

In the final analysis, this speaker is easy to recommend, particularly if you're looking for something that can play more loudly than your typical compact Bluetooth speaker yet doesn't have the serious heft of "real" boombox speakers like those from JBL and Ultimate Ears. It doesn't sound as good as those speakers or play as loud, but it's a whole lot easier to carry around. 

If you're trying to decide between this and the Motion Plus, this does deliver bigger sound and double as a portable charger, but the Motion Plus isn't far behind and does fit more easily in a backpack.