ION Audio Block Rocker (iPA76A) Portable Bluetooth Speaker Review

Ion audio is a lesser known and newer niche company that caught our eye because they produce larger portable all-weather speakers that are more on par with traditional box speakers, while most wireless outdoor speakers on the market are much more compact and intended to be easily carried in a hand bag or whatnot. The iPA76A is a flagship outdoor speaker of theirs, and it’s unique specs and features definitely make it something that would appeal to a lot of people where not too many other similar competing products exist.

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It’s a standalone unit that can actually be wheeled like a suitcase

Specs

Speaker type: Active/Wireless

Nominal power handling: Not specified by manufacturer

Peak power handling: 50 watts

Impedance: N/A

Sensitivity: not specified by manufacturer

Frequency response range: 65 – 20,000 Hz (+/- 3dB)

Unit weight: 23.25 lbs

Unit dimensions: 11.0 x 15.0 x 17.25 inches (depth x width x height)

Battery Life: Up to 50 hours

Signal Type/Range: Bluetooth, up to 100 ft

Warranty: 90 days (does apply to purchase from Amazon.com – full info here)

User manual and spec sheet: click here

Review and Discussion

The “Block Rocker” is distinctly unique product in the outdoor audio market because it’s a seeming step-up from your run of the mill wireless all weather speaker, which is generally smaller, hand-held, and less powerful.

The iPA76A boasts a 50W power handling, but, this is slightly misleading since in the actual manual it clarifies this is the peak operating power. The metric that primarily matters is the continuous/nominal operating power, which is what loudspeakers can actually perform at over the long run, whereas peak power handling is the absolute maximum, only intended for short intermittent bursts. Reputable audio companies will typically specify both, but sometimes they don’t – a general rule of thumb is it’s safe to assume that a speakers nominal operating power will typically run at about 30% of it’s peak power handling.

Having said that, 15W of continuous power is still very good for an outdoor speaker with wireless capabilities – most such hand-held units top out in the single digits, as a speaker’s power is generally limited by it’s physical size. The response range is decent, but not stellar – you won’t get quite such a strong bass like you would from a powered outdoor speaker, but, that’s an unfeasible task anyhow.

How does it look – kind of like a guitar amp? Decent enough, but we’re not personally huge sticklers for aesthetics.

Though it’s not quite so convenient as a hand-held speaker that can be put in a hand bag, it does have a built in wheel-set and handle to make moving it around easy enough. It’s a bit on the heavy side, at around 25 pounds, so do take note. That’s the inevitable trade-off for getting more power.

Ion portable speakers only come with a 90 day warranty, which is definitely on the short side (5+ years is fairly standard for higher end powered speakers), so you’ll just have to hope it stays intact. Speaking of which, though this is technically an outdoor unit, there’s no available information regarding weather resistance, so, be careful with exposing it to any elements.

The unit comes with a rechargeable battery that the company claims can last up to 50 hours, which is extremely good comparatively speaking. It can also pair via bluetooth, usb, or standard aux.

Worth mentioning are some unique features: In addition to the wheel-set and carry handle, this unit comes with a built in radio, usb drive, and even a microphone. One of the reasons we like it so much is that it’s a great choice to anyone giving an address outdoors (hence the “PA” in the model title, we figure) – obviously that’s a market need, but one someone might not think of right away. The low three figure price-tag makes this look pretty darn good considering everything it comes with.

Our Take

Bottom line: we really like this product, mostly because it’s one of a kind – a bigger, more powerful portable speaker that has wireless capabilities and an included microphone for those who need a speaker to give addresses outdoors. There’s not too many other products like it that we’ve seen. The battery life is also fantastic, which we know people will care about and like. It also all comes at a very reasonable price – cheaper then a lot of higher end hand-held portable speakers.

If you’re looking for something to wheel to a tailgate, beach party, or whatnot, and you don’t mind lugging a little bit, this product seems like a great choice.

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