Click to EnlargeYou might think a company based in the south of France would be more interested in producing a robust Cabernet Sauvignon than a well-dressed Bluetooth speaker, but Supertooth believes it has a special vintage with the Disco Twin. As the name suggests, the Disco Twin ($199, $175 on Amazon), has two freestanding Bluetooth speakers, which you can place around a room as you see fit. But does twice the speaker equal twice the sound quality?
The Disco Twin speakers stand 7.2 inches tall, with a svelte silhouette that tapers in the middle. The mini-towers are black with a gray base, and weigh 1.2 pounds apiece. That's light enough for the Twins to move easily around your desktop, or from the living room to the kitchen, or even outdoors to a barbeque.
Six light-up buttons rest on the top of each speaker: power, volume up, volume down, fast forward, rewind and play/pause. Ports for the AC adapter are around back, and each Twin comes with its own adapter. In case Bluetooth pairing isn't an option, there's also an audio-in port for connecting the speakers via a 3.5mm cord (included). Lastly, Supertooth throws in two soft-touch canvas bags to keep the speakers scratch-free when you toss them in a car or backpack.
Click to EnlargeJust like real twins, these speakers share a constant connection. In fact, they come paired together right out of the box, so you only need to pair your source device with the master speaker (the left one).
To enter Bluetooth pairing mode, hold down the power button for five seconds. Once the play button flashes red, you're ready to connect a smartphone, tablet, laptop or media player. When your tunes are spinning, you can play, stop, move forward or backward through tracks, and tweak the sound through your connected device or the buttons on top of either Twin.
There is also one cool hidden feature: the Disco Twins can talk. When you turn on one speaker, it says "Hello" in a Siri-esque voice. Turn on the second speaker, and both Twins say "Hello," followed by individual announcements for "Left" and "Right." And the Twins call out with an AOL-style "Goodbye" when they power down.
Click to EnlargeThe Twins' two-channel output gave music tracks recorded in stereo a more detailed, immersive surround-sound feel. The speakers' sweet spot is mid-range audio such as jazz and mellow rock tracks played at low or medium volume. "Californication" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers was well-balanced, with equal parts bass and treble throughout. The Twins were also effective for deciphering whip-fast dialogue in an episode of "Newsroom" and for focusing on the somber voices of an early morning news podcast.
The Disco Twins don't have a built-in subwoofer, so in tracks with big bass, the softer bits of the audio were lost. On Kanye West's "Blood on the Leaves," the beat steamrolled the rapper's vocals, and we had a harder time hearing punch lines through the guitar and drums on Tenacious D's "Rize of the Fenix."
At high volume, things were far worse. The Twins shook, rattled and rolled -- and not in a good way -- under the bass-heavy force of Jay-Z's "Picasso Baby." The end result was noise and scratchiness on any bass-intensive track. The issue was less noticeable during calmer songs and with audio-from-video content set at full volume, but it was still audible -- and distracting. Most listeners won't need to play songs at 90 to 100 percent volume, but head bangers might lament the opportunity to rock out full blast.
By comparison, the $199 Pure Jongo S3, which packs four multi-directional speakers and a subwoofer into one, compact package, delivered cleaner, more nuanced sound. The drums and vocals in Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" were better balanced and easier to hear across all volume levels. Not to mention, the heavy bassline didn't distract from the falsetto vocals, unlike what happened to the same song with the Disco Twins.
Bluetooth Performance and Range
Equipped with Bluetooth 3.0 technology, the Disco Twins have certainly got range. During testing, we didn't notice any drops in playback until our smartphone was about 65 feet away from the speakers. That's almost double Supertooth's suggested maximum distance of 33 feet. The connection waned at about 45 feet when there was a wall between the speakers and the source device.
In our apartment, the Bluetooth connection remained consistent even as we kept the right speaker in our bedroom and moved its counterpart all over the place: outside to the balcony (about 20 feet away), to the kitchen (15 feet away) and even into the building hallway (about 20 feet away). Music playback began to skip a beat when we placed the smartphone, the left speaker and the right speaker in three separate rooms, though. Our advice: don't create too much distance between the three components.
Speaking of distance, the Disco Twins' excellent Bluetooth range makes the set a lot of fun for listening to audio in two different rooms. For instance, you could listen through one speaker in the kitchen and with the other speaker out on the patio, simultaneously.
There is one caveat to spreading out the sound, however. The Disco Twins have two-channel stereo sound; that means audio elements are filtered to the left or right speaker independently. For instance, in the opening to Queens of the Stone Age's "Better Living Through Chemistry," bongos played only on the right speaker, while bass guitar shredded exclusively on the left. That's no problem for mono-sound sources such as podcasts, but it is awkward to hear only half of a song when a track is in stereo.
SuperTooth estimates the Disco Twins' rechargeable batteries will last through 10 hours of medium-volume playback and 3 to 4 hours of high-volume listening. During our tests, the speakers survived 4 hours of standby time and 5 hours of medium-to-high audio playback from music and video tracks. The towers were charged and ready to go in a little less than 90 minutes.
Click to EnlargeFor $199, the Disco Twin speakers will boost your audio experience with Bluetooth-enabled portability. Though the sound quality is decent for a majority of music genres, tracks with deep bass will sound ratchety at full blast. For more dependable sound, we recommend the Jongo S3 speaker. For $199, that unit includes four speakers in one, as well as a subwoofer for better low-end kick. Still, if you like your music mellow and mild and want a true stereo experience, the Disco Twins will get you groovin'.