A Unique Portable Speaker for a Unique Customer – Monoprice Soundstage 3 Portable Bluetooth Speaker Review
Having a portable speaker is great. It allows you to enjoy music on the go. But sometimes you want more than just portable. Sometimes you want great sound at high volumes. Enter the Monoprice Soundstage 3 Portable Bluetooth speaker. Based on the Monoprice Soundstage 3 120, this portable version has less overall wattage but an internal battery and a handle. But is it the right speaker for you? Let’s take a closer look.
Monoprice Soundstage 3 Portable Specs
|Supported Audio Channels||2.1|
|Amplifier Type||Digital Class D Amplifier|
|Frequency Response||42Hz ~ 20kHz|
|Woofer Driver||1x 5.25″ concave aluminum cone|
|Tweeter Drivers||2x 1″ silk dome|
|Low Frequency Amplifier Power||1x 30 watts|
|High Frequency Amplifier Power||2x 10 watts|
|Inputs||3.5mm stereo analog, RCA stereo analog, digital optical S/PDIF, Bluetooth|
|Outputs||Mono analog subwoofer, USB power|
|Bluetooth Range||Up to 32 feet (10 meters)|
|Power Source||AC or internal battery|
|AC Input Power||100 ~ 240 VAC, 50/60 Hz|
|Battery Life||Up to 10 hours (50% volume)|
|USB Power Output||5 VDC, 2A|
|Dimensions (WxDxH)||13.6″ x 6.9″ x 7.3″ (345 x 176 x 185 mm)|
|Weight||10.8 lbs. (4.9 kg)|
Monoprice Soundstage 3 Overview
It’s hard for a Bluetooth speaker to stand out these days. They all look the same. Like they there meant to be put in a cupholder, strapped to the crossbar of your bike, or clipped onto your backpack. They scream “portable” and the sound quality suffers because of their small size. The Monoprice Soundstage 3 Portable, however, is different.
Housed in a large black box, the only clue that this speaker is portable is the handle on top. At 13.6″ x 6.9″ x 7.3″, the Monoprice Soundstage 3 Portable is certainly beefy. It has dual silk dome tweeters and a concave aluminum cone woofer. On the back is a slot port for additional bass.
Speaking of the back, that is where you’ll find all the connections. For digital, you have an optical port as well as RCA and 3.5mm analogue inputs. Unlike many portable speakers, the Monoprice Soundstage 3 has a subwoofer output. There is also a USB port for charging your phone or device as well as a power cord plug.
As you’d expect with a portable speaker, the main connection method is Bluetooth. The Monoprice Soundstage 3 sports a Bluetooth 4.2 connection. While the Soundstage 3 120 (the non-portable version of this speaker) lists aptX as a supported codec, we can find no such verbiage with this portable version.
Monoprice Soundstage 3 Build Quality
The Soundstage 3 Portable feels very much like a “real” speaker that just so happens to have a handle. The speaker is vinyl wrapped with the traditional slightly textured finish. The handle seems to be synthetic leather and is thinner than I’d like. It doesn’t feel like it is going to last the life of the speaker. There are controls on the top for power, pairing, volume, and input selection. The edges are nicely rounded and the fit and finish are impeccable.
I do have some design notes, however. The decision not to have some sort of grille or protective covering over the dual silk dome tweeters is baffling to me. Those tweeters, while great for sound quality, are absolute magnets for little fingers. The concave aluminum woofer is a nice touch (and nice to the touch). It allows you (and others) to push on the cone without risking damage.
Really, this was my first knock against the Monoprice Soundstage 3 Portable. The exposed tweeters confused me as did the whole “portable” aspect of the speaker. The speaker isn’t at all weatherproof. Would you really want to take this speaker outside or to the beach? This seems like a speaker you’d only want to move around a house. Even then, you’d have to be careful about bumping or damaging the tweeters.
Monoprice Soundstage 3 Portable Bluetooth Pairing and Charging
As I’ve experienced with many Monoprice products, the Soundstage 3 Portable simply shows up as a number on your Bluetooth list. This is fine if you only have one Monoprice wireless device. As I’ve reviewed quite a few, I’ve had to start remembering numbers. I still don’t understand why they can’t use the product name.
The connection (and reconnection) was easy and quick. This is important as you’ll want to unpair from the speaker often. Why? Well, it has to do with how you have to charge the Soundstange 3 Portable.
On the back of the unit, there is a power switch. If you set this switch to “off,” it not only powers down the unit, but also disconnects the battery. This means that even if you have it plugged in, it won’t charge the battery. Here we run into pairing issues.
If you’ve thought the Soundstage 3 Portable might be for you but you’d want to keep it away from prying hands, I’d agree. But away from prying hands is also away from your hands. So, if you put it out of the way, but must keep it powered on to charge, then your phone or device will always be connected to it. The only way to use your phone without the speaker is to disconnect from the Bluetooth connection. You may think that just switching to one of the other inputs would do the same. It does not. If the speaker has power, it maintains the Bluetooth connection to your phone.
Monoprice Soundstage 3 Portable Sound Quality
There are two things I was looking for out of the Soundstage 3 Portable – big volume and great sound quality. At $250 MSRP, this speaker needs to be able to deliver to justify its price point. Volume wasn’t an issue. Connecting via Bluetooth, I could easily turn up the volume to levels that drowned out any and all conversations in my open-concept living space. At max volume, the port on the back was blowing papers off the table behind the speaker! No chuffing, no distortion, just lots of bass! If you want a single speaker solution that will provide a ton of volume, the Monoprice Soundstage 3 Portable is it.
Sound quality was also very good. The speaker is spec’ed down to 42Hz. While I found that the bass really got authoritative at closer to 50Hz, this is certainly respectable performance out of a single speaker. Playing sweeps, the speaker stayed very even throughout the frequency range. There was a bit of a flutter around 400Hz, but nothing that ever showed itself during playback. If you were to ask me before this review what sound quality I’d expect out of $250 portable speaker, this would be it. Very impressed!
Soundstage 3 Portable Battery
My Monoprice Soundstage 3 Portable unit had some sort of battery issue. I tried everything I could but the battery just wouldn’t hold a charge. My representative over at Monoprice said that they’d never had a reported issue like mine. When I would plug it in, it would say it was fully charged within minutes. But as soon as I removed the power cord, the unit would shut off after a minute or less. Especially at high volume. Even leaving it plugged in and charging overnight didn’t help. I expect Monoprice’s claim of 10 hours at 50% volume is accurate, but I couldn’t test it myself.
The Monoprice Soundstage 3 Portable is an odd duck to me. It’s a portable speaker I’d probably be afraid to take outside. The Bluetooth connection weirdness means I’d have to keep disconnecting my phone from the thing. If I did want to take it places, I’d want to keep it close by, but the exposed tweeters mean I’d want to put it far out of reach of accidental bumps or pokes. For me, my money would be better spent on the Monprice Soundstage 3 120. At $130 less, you lose the portability, but I wasn’t going to use that anyway.
The perfect customer for this speaker is one that is looking for a speaker that will only connect to one device (I’m thinking something like a Google Nest Mini or Amazon Echo Dot). It will mostly live in a single spot but you want to have the ability to move it in a pinch. If this sounds like you, the Soundstage 3 Portable is a great option. If you are worried about the lower wattage over the Soundstage 3 120, just realize you are probably losing less than 3dB in exchange for the portability. That seems pretty fair to me.
If you are looking for a great-sounding, very loud, and portable Bluetooth speaker, the Monoprice Soundstage 3 Portable is an excellent choice. Just be aware of some of the limitations and eccentricities of this unique speaker.