Most portable all-weather speakers are small enough to be hand held, and while that’s maximally convenient, it limits the amount of power that can be produced. ION Audio, however, has come up with the interesting idea of a larger “suitecase” style all-weather speakers that are much closer to a traditional wired box speaker but still portable.
Speaker type: powered, wireless
Nominal power handling: 30 watts (approximated*)
Peak power handling: 100 watts
Sensitivity: not specified by manufacturer
Frequency response range: 60 – 17,000 Hz (+/- 3dB)
Unit weight: 32 lbs
Unit dimensions: 10.9 x 18.1 x 18.0 inches (depth x width x height)
Battery Life: Up to 100 hours
Signal Range: Up to 100 feet
Warranty: 90 days (Does apply to purchase from Amazon.com)
User manual and spec sheet: click here
*When nominal/RMS power isn’t specified by manufacturer, we use an approximation of ~30% of the specified peak/dynamic power for comparison purposes.
Review and Discussion
We really like this and ION’s other portable “suitecase” speakers because they’re a portable option that’s actually quite close to what you can get with a wired box speaker, as opposed to a significantly less powerful hand held unit. No, you’re not going to get the massive power of a high end outdoor speaker like, say, Klipsch’s aw 650s, but the Pathfinder II’s ~30/100 watt rms/peak power specs are actually on par with many lower/budget tier wired outdoor speakers that we like and have reviewed here. It can also pair with additional ION “suitecase” speakers for stereo capabilities.
The trade-off for this power is that is going to be a little harder to lug around. The unit is 32 pounds, which is honestly heavier than a lot of bigger wired outdoor speakers, but a really neat feature to address this is it’s retractable handle and wheels so you can roll it like a carry-on bag.
Adding then the sheer list of features the Pathfinder II has and it becomes an ideal option for many: Bluetooth, standard aux/usb connections, an am/fm radio tuner with presets, a hand-held microphone for PA capabilites, and yes, even two cup holders on top of it.
The Pathfinder has official IPX5 weatherproof certification, meaning it can safely endure just about everything short of water immersion, so just don’t leave it in a puddle or let it fall into the pool and you’re good.
Also impressive is the long up to 100 hour battery life. It sounds too good to be true, but multiple users have reported getting many tens of hours out of a single charge. Charge length might vary depending on the conditions and do note it takes 12 hours to fully charge.
Ion’s 90 day warranty is comparatively short. Most outdoor speakers on the market are covered for 1-2 years or more. So, coverage is pretty bare bones, limited to blatant manufacturers defects.
The pathfinder II is considerably more expense than most portable outdoor speakers at (approximately) $175, but, this is a fair deal considering what you get power and feature wise. While it’s true that comparably powered passive/wired outdoor speakers will be significantly cheaper, you’d still have to worry about buying speaker wire, a receiver, and any other ancillaries to make the whole set up work.
The pathfinder II is a great option that fills a seemingly prior gap: outdoor speakers that were portable/wireless and also close-to-par with wired/permanent outdoor speaker power wise just didn’t exist. For that reason alone we like and recommend it. This speaker has a pretty clear niche and most people will know right away if it applies to them.