Today I’ll be taking a look at a budget speaker from Betron. The NR200 will set you back around £25, but will it be one of those hidden gems or just another budget Bluetooth speaker?
Design and Build
In terms of its look I have to say I’m not a fan, it looks a little unattractive to my eyes. Yes I understand that its cheap but I’ve seen cheaper speakers that look nicer, the Gear 4 speaker on Amazon is only £16 and is just one of many samples of this, so that can’t be used as an excuse.
The front has a wrap around grille that protects the twin drivers, this is metal and feels quite durable. So if you accidentally drop it the speakers should be fine. Above the grille there is some subtle branding that is nicely done. By that I mean it doesn’t stand out too much.
On top there is a floating style touch sensitive area which is used to control the varies aspects of the speaker. I do quite like this feature and its not purely aesthetic either as under it sits a passive radiator. Not the ideal place for it, but its a interesting concept at least.
Onto the top section now and this has all your controls. On here there is the volume control, phone call indicator, charging indicator, SD card indicator, Bluetooth pairing indicator, skip track and finally play/pause control. So it has a lot of controls that are supposed to make it easier to control, but more on that later. This top section also has a Blue illumination which glows when pressed and also highlights different controls when in use. This top section is made from plastic and it feels decent, there isn’t too much flex in it, but it would probably break if dropped.
Round the back is where all the ports are. Here there is a Micro USB charging port, SD card reader (for phone free listening), an aux port, the power switch and a reset button.
The underside has two large feet which do a decent job of stopping the speaker from moving around on slippery surfaces. There is also a cover that can be removed by unscrewing it. This gives you access to the internals of the speaker. Something I did have to do.
The main body is plastic and coated with a soft touch smooth texture, it feels nice, a touch slippery and it does attract finger print marks quite easily.
Now to my other issue and why the speaker needed a tear down. Upon arrival I noticed that the speaker rattled, it sounded like the battery had come loose and was moving freely inside the speaker. So I took it apart and found what was a metal bar that had come loose. This, I found was to add extra weight to the speaker to prevent it from rattling at higher volumes. Its not ideal to have in a speaker, but its an affordable solution to the vibration and rattling issue that can plague some speakers.
To fix this I simply glued the bar back into place and let it set for around 30 minutes and it was fine after that. It appears that the adhesive used to stick it in place was not great, so some stronger was needed. If this happens to you, its a very easy fix and didn’t take long at all.
In the box and Specs
In the box you get a 3.5mm cable, a Micro USB charging cable and the documentation.
- Bluetooth 3.0
- Twin 40mm drivers and passive radiator
- 4.5W x 2
- SNR 80dBA
- Frequency response 100 – 18,000Hz
- 2500mAh battery
Using this speaker is issue ridden. Initial setup is simple enough and pretty much like every other Bluetooth speaker, its after pairing where you get the issues and more specifically the controls and notification noises.
The controls are awkward to say the least. Now the skip track and play/pause are fine, its the volume controls that area pain. You can only go up or down one step at a time and it takes a while to actually adjust the volume after pressing. You then have to wait before you can turn it up or down again. You also get a quite annoying tone every time you press the buttons. Its very irritating. Then after you’ve adjusted the volume there is no way to tell if the speaker is at full volume, so you have to keep pressing it until it doesn’t get any louder. Now this would be the case where the audio feedback would be appreciated and not every time you press the control.
One more really annoying thing about this speaker is the tone it emits when its about to run out of battery. Normally this is a useful feature, when done right. This is so abrupt it cuts your music off, emits the tone and then resumes. Okay doesn’t sound too bad, well apart from the fact it does it every 30 or so seconds.
The rest of the noises are another big issue too, yes these ones are more needed but they are so unnecessarily loud. For example these happen when you turn the speaker on or off, when its in pairing mode and when its paired. Even turning the volume down didn’t fix it and no matter how loud you have it, the noises are obtrusive.
This is a big redeeming feature of this speaker. Quoted time is anywhere between 4 to 8 hours, I managed to achieve 27 hours and 24 minutes at around 50% volume. This to me is highly impressive. But I have a feeling that they’ve undersold the battery life so that when you do come to listening to it you’re even more impressed. They could have been a bit more forthcoming at gave it a higher quoted time as that would have been a bigger seller point. But that’s just my opinion on that. Charge time is stated at between 1.5 to 2 hours, this again is not what I experienced at it actually took 4 hours 35 minutes via the Anker powerport 5 hub I use. But keep in mind both battery life and charging times vary between the volume you’re listening to it and of course your mains output.
One handy thing when charging is the charge indicator on top the speaker. This glows red when charging and turns off when its done, its pretty handy to let you know when its finished.
Now with its 9W of peak output it can go pretty loud, but I would advise against that as things quickly become a screech fest after around 60%. If you keep it under that, it still provides enough volume to fill a small sized room. I have seen some reviews on Amazon claiming this speaker is amazing and can fill a larger room with high quality sound, but that is not the case. So I’ll break it down. Keep in mind this is via Bluetooth.
- Bass is too easily drowned out by the super loud mids, highs and vocals. Its lacking punch, depth and pretty much anything that resembles bass. However I’ve found that placing it my mouse mat improves the bass slightly, just slightly. It produces more of a rumble and vibration than actual bass, but it does add a little emphasis to it. Its still not great, nor does it match what some Amazon reviews say.
- Mids are too thin, lacking detail and if there is a strong vocal in the track they pretty much no longer exist. If you keep the volume low, then they are passable at best. It might sound like I’m being overly critical but its really not good.
- Vocals usually can redeem things and again if you keep the volume low enough, they are okay. As soon as you turn it up, wow. They become really shouty and screechy and to be honest make for a real uncomfortable listening experience.
- Highs are sharp, brittle and very grating. Can be a touch assertive too. But again if you keep the volume low enough, then they calm down a little.
Overall this is one of the worst sounding speakers I’ve ever heard (if you have it on loud) in my 5 plus years of reviewing products. If, like I said keep the volume low then its okay, but if you like listening to loud music then I’d avoid this as it distorts too much, is brash and lacking quality. Yes I know its only £25 but again I’ve tested better. Just check out my YouTube channel and you’ll probably find a few.
So I have been a little critical of this speaker and well to be honest, its not good. The only redeeming feature is the great battery life. Other than that its a little awkward to use, is lacking in the looks department, sounds just not good and has some of the most infuriating notification sounds I’ve ever experienced. This one I must say, you should avoid buying and look elsewhere.
PS. So as I can’t recommend you buy this, here are a few similarly priced options that are much better in my opinion.
Pick them up via Amazon UK
AVIOX Bluetooth Speaker with FM Radio Portable Wireless Speaker, Black and Silver – 20 WATTS