TDK Life on Record Wireless Weatherproof Speaker A33 Review

Updated February 28, 2014
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TDK Life on Record Wireless Weatherproof Speaker A33
Bottom Line

The TDK Life on Record Wireless Weatherproof Speaker A33 is a portable Bluetooth speaker with a rugged design. It can't match the sound performance of top-rated Bluetooth speakers designed for home use, but what it lacks in sound quality it makes up for in portability and toughness. It also has nice features like a speakerphone function and a USB charging port. Its two biggest flaws are mediocre battery life and occasional problems with Bluetooth streaming.

Performance

Satisfying sound. Most reviewers are satisfied with but not wowed by the A33's sound quality. The Wirecutter describes it as one of the few ruggedly built speakers that offers decent bass performance, thanks to a 2.5-inch mini "subwoofer" in the back. Other reviewers agree that there's plenty of bass but think that it can be a bit "boomy" and poorly defined. CNET says that while the A33 offers decent clarity and good volume for its size, it lacks the dynamic range to "handle more nuanced/complicated tracks gracefully." Professional reviewers are also unimpressed with the speaker's six-hour battery life, but most users have no complaints about it.

ProsGood sound, Rugged design, Easy to transport, Speakerphone functionConsSo-so battery life, Some problems with streaming

Ease of use

Not the smoothest streaming. The A33 includes a few nice features. It has a speakerphone function (though some user reviews say the voice quality isn't great) and a USB port for charging phones or tablets -- though the speaker itself must be charged with an AC adapter. Reviewers also find the controls intuitive and easy to use. However, we read mixed reviews about the Bluetooth performance. While all professional reviews, and many user reviews, say Bluetooth pairing is easy, we also saw many complaints from users that the signal abruptly cuts out and the music stops playing.

Design

Sturdy and splashproof. The main advantage of the A33 is its rugged, water-resistant design. CNET notes that it's only "splashproof," not truly waterproof, but it includes other protective features as well, like a removable rubber door that protects its ports from dust and moisture. There are also rubberized feet on the bottom to keep it from shifting around when played at high volume. At 3 pounds, the A33 is heavier than some waterproof speakers, but it's certainly compact enough to carry to the beach and tough enough to withstand sand and water.

Our Sources

1. CNET

TDK Life on Record A33 Wireless Weatherproof Speaker Review: An Impressive, Modestly Priced Bluetooth Speaker, David Carnoy, Jan. 24, 2014

CNET awards the TDK Life on Record Wireless Weatherproof Speaker A33 4 stars out of a possible 5. Carnoy says it's a good overall value, with decent sound, a sturdy design and useful features. The battery life is a bit lacking, though.

2. ConsumerReports.org

Wi-Fi & Bluetooth Speaker Systems, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, January 2014

ConsumerReports.org tests over 40 wireless and Bluetooth speakers, including the TDK Life on Record Wireless Weatherproof Speaker A33. Each speaker is evaluated for sound quality, ease of use and features.

3. TheWirecutter.com

Best Rugged Bluetooth Speaker, Stan Horaczek, June 17, 2013

Horaczek calls the TDK Life on Record Wireless Weatherproof Speaker A33 the exception to the rule that outdoor speakers are weak on the bass. However, he notes that it also has twice the weight and half the battery life of his favorite rugged speaker, the Ultimate Ears Boom (Est. $200).

4. Amazon.com

TDK Life on Record A33 Wireless Weatherproof Speaker, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of March 2014

We found more than 500 reviews for the TDK Life on Record Wireless Weatherproof Speaker A33 at Amazon.com. Owners give it 4.5 stars out of 5 overall, praising its clean, powerful sound and compact design. They report some problems with Bluetooth streaming, however.

5. BestBuy.com

TDK Life on Record - Wireless Weatherproof Speaker - Black, Contributors to BestBuy.com, As of March 2014

We found about 35 reviews here for the TDK Life on Record Wireless Weatherproof Speaker A33. It earns 4.8 stars out of 5 overall, and 97 percent of users recommend it. Users say it's a great value, with good sound for its size; easy setup; and a sturdy, weatherproof design.