James Stanbury

See other accessory reviews written by James Stanbury

If you're thinking of paying a premium price to get better sound from a Bluetooth speaker, first read our expert's verdict on the Denon Envaya Mini DSB-100

Overview

Do you enjoy playing music in your motorhome on tour, filling it with your favourite sounds from cab to rear? Turning the volume up from the cab sound system isn't the best idea, so it's worth investing in a good sound system for the habitation area.

Now that there are so many different music players and storage devices available for your music you can take a huge number of tracks on holiday with you, wherever you go. Nothing new there, you might be thinking, we've seen portable cassette players, the Sony Walkman and portable CD players, then MP3-players fill this need. Now, however, we're more likely to buy music as digital downloads, then store it on our mobile phones, laptops and tablets. What all these portable music-playing devices have in common is that as soon as we unplug the headphones to share the music with other people we realise we need proper speakers! 

That thin, tinny sound coming from the phone or laptop is nothing like what we hear via headphones, so to avoid a disappointing holiday, it's well worth looking at the latest portable Bluetooth speakers to enhance the sound.

As a bonus, they're small and light enough to take with you everywhere. What will you choose as the soundtrack to your holiday? From the beach picnic in a remote little cove to the barbecue on a cliff as the sun goes down, from a bike ride rest stop to an awe-inspiring mountain walk, good music just makes everything so much better. 

We've been testing portable Bluetooth speakers on the Practical Motorhome test bench to find out why there's such a variation in prices and which are the best products to buy. Our main priority has of course been sound quality, but we also looked at compatibility with a range of devices. We liked the Bluetooth speakers that offered the option of using an auxiliary lead for the music input as well as wireless Bluetooth technology. The ones that also had an SD card slot were great because this enabled us to play music without having to charge up a second device.

Some had controls on the speaker itself, some had a remote control, while others could only be controlled by the music-playing device itself. Of the speakers with their own volume, skip and play buttons, some of them would stubbornly ignore all instructions from the smartphone/tablet/laptop or MP3-player's inbuilt controls. 

We collected 12 products to compare and you can read a selection of our Bluetooth speaker reviews here. For instance we tested the Edifier Bric Connect at £79.99, the Creative Woof 3 at £39.99, the Denon Envaya Mini DSB-100 at £79.99, the Speedlink Portajoy at £64.99, the Edifier MP211 at £39.99 and the Edifier Prisma Encore at £129.99. 

In this review we put the Denon Envaya Mini DSB-100 to the test. Denon has long been a favourite brand of audio buffs, so we expected a lot from this speaker at the outset – and, mostly, we haven’t been disappointed. It looks the part, it’s beautifully made and finished, and even the packaging is more in line with expensive jewellery than audio products.

But how does it sound? Like so many here, the Denon Envaya Mini DSB-100 sounds fantastic – until you put it next to something better. Its sound is just as rounded and full as a rival compact, Pure’s Voca (£79.95), can produce, but somehow, the Voca provides a slightly cleaner sound.

At this price, the Denon could be expected to sound better or to allow volume control via a remote device. Input is via Bluetooth or auxilary cable and a charge lasts up to 10 hours.

Technical specs

ColoursBlack with blue cloth or white with peach cloth
Pairs withNFC Bluetooth devices
Audio qualityDual 40mm Full Range Drivers plus 40 x 83mm passive radiator
MicrophoneFor hands-free phone calls
StorageCarrying bag included
Widened 3D audio imageFor spacious music, movie and gaming soundtracks
Pocket sizedUse it vertically or horizontally

Verdict

The Denon Envaya Mini DSB-100 is one of the more expensive Bluetooth speakers that we've tested and it's certainly a quality product. Unfortunately others in this price range offer more features and sound a little better. For this reason we've given it a two-and-a-half star rating.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Lasts 10 hours between charges
  • Well made and packaged
  • Sounds pretty good
  • Input via Bluetooth or auxiliary cable

Cons

  • You can't control the volume from your phone/tablet/laptop/MP3
  • For this price we'd expect a cleaner sound
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