Soundcore’s new Bluetooth speaker promises portable and affordable spatial audio

Anker Soundcore’s new Bluetooth speaker, the Motion X500, is attention-grabbing for anyone interested in the new world of spatial audio. It includes three full-range drivers (two at the front for left and right channels, and one up-firing) for the brand’s virtual ‘3DSound’ mode, supported by Bluetooth 5.3 with LDAC support, a maximum 40 watts of power output, and all for a price of $170 / £170.       

Among the best Bluetooth speakers available to buy, it can be hard to stand out from the crowd but Anker Soundcore is familiar to us for offering seriously good value. We gave the company’s Motion+ portable Bluetooth speaker four stars in our review, and also rate its headphones highly, giving them the same score in our Space One review and Life Q20 review.  

The Motion X500 looks like an impressive addition to the line-up, promising something akin to the spatial audio of the Sonos Era 300 in a mobile, cheaper package. But there are a few catches to be aware of about the specs promised to be on offer here, particularly the likely efficacy of the spatial audio, and the claimed Hi-Res Audio support.

Anker Soundcore Motion X500: key features 

(Image credit: Soundcore )

The price tag is the instant pull for the Anker Soundcore Motion X500. At $170 / £170, it certainly isn’t cheap when you can get portable speakers from around $30 / £25. But this quickly starts to be put into perspective when you look closer at what you’re getting for your money. At the value end, the Tribit Stormbox Micro 2, which costs just $60 / £60, is packed with extra features like the ability to charge your phone, but lacks the power to create a loud sound with just 10 watts – the Motion X500 has 40 watts from its three speaker drivers, and advanced processing to take advantage of them.

However, with the Soundcore Motion X500, we have a few questions around some of the specs on offer here, which we’ll investigate when we can get our hands on it. First and foremost is the claim of Hi-Res Audio, which it’s certified for, and theoretically enables it to handle music files that are higher-quality than CD. The issue is that its only high-quality wireless tech is LDAC, which isn’t really hi-res. It can do CD quality, but not better – so even if the X500’s hardware is capable of Hi-Res Audio, its wireless tech doesn’t appear to be. (And LDAC is only supported on Android, iPhone fans.)

And then there’s the headline-grabbing spatial audio feature. It’s saying here that you’ll get immersive sound with its “3D Sound algorithm”, but we’re not sure how well this will work from just three speaker drivers, two of which are close together and more or less facing forward, according to Soundcore’s diagrams. The Sonos Era 300 has speakers fully facing left and right as well as up, to get its spatial audio effect. It’s worth noting that there’s the ability to pair two Motion 500X Bluetooth speakers, using them as a left and right channel, which would probably enhance things a lot.

The 12-hour battery life is also a bit low, but there are plenty of positives here. The LDAC codec support should mean high-quality audio (regardless of whether it’s really Hi-Res or not), the Soundcore app’s Pro EQ of nine adjustable bands can help you customize the sound, and IPX7 waterproof rating makes it a rugged build. And even if it doesn’t live up to its overall claims, we expect it to sound good, and expansive.

We’ve already seen Anker take aim at the Apple HomePod 2 with a cheaper spatial audio Bluetooth speaker and it has increasingly made higher-quality sound available in Soundcore’s new Bluetooth speakers, so it’s got a good range going. The Motion X500 is available to preorder for a discounted price of $130 in the US and £130 in the UK and Europe (no Australian release has yet been confirmed) on October 25 2023, and will launch on November 9 2023. 

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