The Beacon Audio Phoenix 2 is the followup to their hit original (at least in terms of the now massive bluetooth speaker market). The first Phoenix was a sturdy and reliable kit with a handsome but unassuming exterior. This followup product brings over the best features of its older sibling and adds some nifty new ones.
The nitty-gritty: The Phoenix weighs in at a light 3.6oz in a 3 inch tapered cube and comes in four colors; red, white, blue, and black. Playback and bluetooth control sit at the top and uses a dpad-like control scheme with the usual suspects: volume up and down are right and left respectively while doubling as the forward and back controls. Down is the play/pause button, and up is the function button. The back of the device has a 3.5mm auxiliary-in port, micro USB charging port, and an on/off slider. The sides have speaker grilles, while the front is pretty simple with just a logo and mic holes. The bottom of the device is built as a pedestal for the bass driver to aim downwards. The Phoenix 2 is priced at $59.99 retail.
Connection via bluetooth is very straightforward: turn the device on and press and the up button on the top until there’s a beep and the LED light flashes to indicate pairing mode. Then you just find “Phoenix 2 by Beacon” in your bluetooth devices list. I am appreciative when device makers properly name their bluetooth devices. I hate having to search through indecipherable gibberish device names hoping to pick the right one. With The Phoenix 2, the name on the box is the name it goes by. I was able to connect via bluetooth with zero issues. The speaker uses Bluetooth 2.1, which is unfortunate; the 4.0 spec uses significantly less battery on both ends and seems generally more reliable.
Playback controls are contained on a directional single button at the top of the device, and have a satisfying click that can be felt and heard. Volume, scrubbing, and play/pause work as expected, but I was left wanting with the function button. The button, which shows the company logo, essentially functions only to pair the device. I would have liked to see this button also open Siri or OK Google functionality and answer phone calls.
The build quality is quite nice, especially for the price point. The exterior is plastic with a soft touch rubber coating for nice grip. The indicator LEDs are built into a bezel around the control button which makes for a subtle appearance. Unlike most bluetooth speakers, the speaker grilles use a pleasant cross pattern cutout and uniform black packing for a nice change of pace. The cube-shaped box will fit in with pretty much any decor (unless you’re in a Victorian mansion). Our review unit had a minor gap between the top section and the rest of the housing, but you have to be looking at the unit from directly above.The combination forward/back and volume up/down sometimes get confusing: skipping forward or back is a single click, while holding adjusts the volume. If you’re used to turning your speakers or phone up by a single click, you’ll be in for a bit of a surprise when you try that here.
The sound out of the device is better than expected, but with the compact size of the device, don’t expect to see a hair trick. Sound is delivered via three drivers, two 40mm drivers out the sides and a 50mm bass driver that is just above the built-in platform at the bottom for optimal acoustics. You can turn the speakers up to fill a medium-sized room, but maxing out these small drivers will inevitably bring with it some distortion and the lows and mids tend to get muddy.
At middle volumes, this speaker performs well across the frequency range with audible mids, highs that don’t get tinny, and lows that are surprisingly full from such a small package. As you can expect, The Phoenix 2 sounds great when faced with vocal and acoustic performances, but struggles slightly with low headroom pieces that span the frequency range.
Battery time is reported at 8-10 hours of playback time, and while we haven’t put that claim completely to the test, we have run the device at 50% volume for most of the workday without any signs of stopping. Despite the longevity of battery life, we would liked to have seen some kind of battery indicator.
The Phoenix 2 is a respectable piece of kit with clear intentions: a wireless speaker that will move around with you, mostly at work or at home, but isn’t really intended for being constantly on the move. The speaker sounds great and is easy to use, and is priced competitively for the specs it offers.
Check out The Phoenix 2 on Beacon Audio’s website.