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This portable Bluetooth speaker from Anker is so good, I forgot how affordable it was

Anker's Soundcore Motion X500, with its spatial audio playback, is the portable Bluetooth speaker to beat for me.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
The Anker Soundcore X500 Bluetooth speaker.

The Soundcore Motion X500 is portable and powerful.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

ZDNET's key takeaways

  • The Anker Soundcore Motion X500 is available now on Amazon for $170.
  • Brilliant, on-the-go sound capable of pleasing even discerning ears, 12 hours of playtime, and an app that is simple to use for custom equalization.
  • The EQ presets aren't nearly as impressive as they could be.

It's a rare occasion that I can connect my phone to a Bluetooth device and listen to music from any room in the house. The Anker Soundcore Motion X500 makes that not only simple but also satisfying. 

The second I unpacked this hefty little beast, I connected it to my phone, launched Spotify, put on Rush's "Signals" album, moved the speaker to the central room in the house, and walked into each room to see how well the sound traveled. I only had the audio level on my phone at around 60% and was able to hear, with clarity, the music in every room, both the first and second floors.

Also: The best speakers for vinyl

That's impressive. But the goodness doesn't end there.

Of course, before I get into my experience, let's talk about specifications.

View at Amazon

The specs

  • Wireless high-resolution certification.
  • Bluetooth 5.3.
  • 40 W sound.
  • IPX7 waterproof.
  • Treble up to 49kHz.
  • Upward-firing speaker with ambient light.
  • Customizable 9-band EQ.
  • Soundcore algorithm transforms stereo sound into 3-channel spatial audio.
  • EQ button to cycle through 3 presets (Spatial Signature, Spatial Dynamic, and Bass Boost).
  • 12-hour playtime on full charge.
  • Price is $170 on Amazon.

My experience

The first impression I had with the Motion X500 was that it produced a surprisingly large amount of sound. This thing can get loud. But what about the quality of sound? Out of the box, I wasn't initially impressed with the three different presets. That, of course, has to do with me being very particular about the equalization I prefer. The good news is that all I had to do was install the Soundcore app (Android/iOS) and dive into the EQ customization so it meets my needs. Once I had that done, the X500 was just fantastic. It was deep, rich, and offered a surprisingly impressive sound stage for a Bluetooth speaker.

Also: The best sound systems

After I finished Rush's "Signals," I spun up The Tube "The Completion Backward Principle" and found it offered all the highs and lows I'd grown accustomed to when listening to the album on vinyl. No, it's not nearly as warm, but this is digital, so you'll never get the same tone as you would from vinyl. 

Next, came the incomparable Kate Bush. Lately, I've been obsessed with "And Dream of Sheep" and the X500 delivered her voice with the depth and breadth her voice deserves. I could close my eyes and feel as if she was standing right next to me singing one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful songs she ever composed.

Finally, I went a bit heavier with Spiritbox's latest EP, "The Fear of Fear" and the speaker had all the punch necessary to deliver the music as it was intended. Not one measure felt muddy (which can happen with the metalcore genre) and Courtney LaPlante's voice was beautiful when she was singing and fierce when screaming… the X500 handled both personalities of her voice with aplomb.

Also: The best portable speakers

No matter what song or genre I threw at this speaker it impressed me. And with the ease of customizing the EQ, I could make the slightest tweaks as needed. 

ZDNET's buying advice

At $170, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more impressive portable Bluetooth speaker. The Soundcore Motion X500 packs punch, depth, and soundstage-associated bookshelf speakers at twice the cost. If you need sound on the go, this might be the ideal companion.

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