Venstar Taco Bluetooth Speaker Review

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Previously we reviewed the I-Venstar S406 Bluetooth Speaker and it was a great little jam box. Venstar is at it once again, this time with the Taco. Here’s what I-Venstar (a.k.a. Venstar) has to say.

“This innovative portable speaker is the ideal solution for the user with a fashionable lifestyle. The Taco Wireless Speaker gives users the freedom to take studio mastered sound wherever they go – when entertaining at home, in the office, or hanging parties. Taco provides you not only an accoustic[sic] joy but also a similar declious[sic] “Taco” tasting pleasure.”

I’m not so certain about the delicious “Taco” tasting pleasure, but we will test the acoustic joy for sure.

Packaging

The box the Taco comes in bears a striking resemblance to the S406. It is a slightly larger box and, of course, lists the features and Specs for this model. The top of the box claims dual acoustic chambers and passive radiators, battery support for over eight hours, and an NFC function to allow for easier Bluetooth operation. The right side of the package simply states what the product is while the left side displays the two available color schemes, Black and Red or Black and White. This particular sample is Black and Red. Flipping the box over we finally get to the box’s bottom side. Listed here are the technical specs, the manufacturer website, and a QR code which links directly to their website.

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Contents

Once open we get a glimpse of why they aptly named this speaker the Taco. There is a durable Nylon carry bag with a carabiner D-ring attached by a loop of material. The dark gray material with red piping, zipper, and stitched lettering is very appealing. Never mind my camera’s lack of ability to capture true red, it is in fact red. The box’s all black interior has a small compartment containing the meter long USB charging cord and 840mm long (~33″) 3.5mm auxiliary patch cord. Also enclosed is the fold out Users Manual.

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Close up

Looking closer we can see the Taco has a black plastic outer shell on the sides which wraps around in a distinctive taco shape. The top has what appears to be a black brushed aluminum plate with the control buttons at the center and is flanked on either side by red steel speaker mesh. The controls are (from left to right) Power, Skip/Volume Up, Pause/Call/Bluetooth Search, and Previous/Volume Down. If you look really, really close you might be able to see the minute LED indicator between the power and the Skip buttons. The front of the speaker is where the NFC bar is located for quickly connecting your NFC enabled smart devices. Finally, at the bottom there is a rubber tab which is fairly difficult to remove, but once you get it open we see the 5VDC microUSB charging port and 3.5mm AUX IN jack. At the far left under the rubber tab is a Reset button (not pictured). It’s so small, and hidden under the flap, that I wasn’t even aware it was there until reading deeper into the manual.

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Specifications

Moving on to the meat of the matter. It needs to be mentioned that the specs of this sample do not match completely with the product’s website. This is likely due to this particular sample being a review sample. If you decide to purchase the Taco it would be in your best interest to verify the specs of the one you are actually receiving. With that said I have listed the specs of the review sample but you can view the product page here.

Venstar TACO
Chipset CSR Stereo Chipset
Speakers 2x 40mm, 4ohm, 3W (RMS) & 2x 45mm passive radiator
Frequency 80Hz ~ 20,000Hz
Microphone Built-in Microphone
NFC Yes
Bluetooth Bluetooth 4.0 up to 10 meters
Audio input 3.5mm Aux line-in
Power source 5VDC/500mA Micro USB charging slot
Battery 3.7V/1400mAh rechargeable
Battery life 8+ hours
Dimensions 63mm x 210mm x 65mm (HxWxD)
Weight 300g

Testing

Bluetooth

Before we begin testing we must, of course, charge the Taco. The user manual states you may begin use simply by plugging in the included USB cable. This does in fact work and is nice to be able to use this device even if the battery is fully drained. For testing purposes though, I charged the speaker over night to ensure a full charge.

Now fully charged we can begin testing the functionality. By pressing and holding the power button the Taco is turned on, there is an audible tone, and then the LED flashes blue to indicate it is in discovery mode. Setting your Bluetooth device to scan will allow them to find one another and enable them to pair. There will be another audible tone to inform you the devices are now paired and the blue LED will flash slowly. A nice feature of the Taco is each time you turn the speaker on it will automatically attempt to pair to the last device.

Once connected I opened up Pandora to test out the speaker quality, volume, and battery life. As far as speaker quality is concerned it is noticeably better than the S406 reviewed last month. This is likely due to the larger speakers and the dual passive radiators. The sound is more full with the radiators reproducing the lower bass tones better than what the S406 was capable of. The mid and high range notes sound about as good as the S406, which I find to be of good quality.

Now on to volume, this is where the Taco is lacking. It’s just not able to produce enough volume if you’re really looking to jam. To many this would be fine, but for me I like my music a little louder than the average person. To give you some idea of the max volume, having a conversation with someone, even if the Taco is sitting right next to you is not difficult.

As for the battery life, the manual states eight plus hours at max volume. I was able to get a little over ten hours at maximum volume. Something I found surprising was the lack of degredation in music quality or volume as the battery was dying. Simply an audible tone and the Taco shuts off.

The control buttons are typical of all audio devices and function as you would expect. Press and hold the + button until you reach the desired volume. An audible tone will let you know when you have reached the maximum volume. Press and hold the – button to reduce the volume. There is an audible tone when you reach the device’s minimum, but it’s so low you need to have the speaker right next to your ear to hear it. Pressing the Previous or Next buttons will switch to the previous or next track and pressing the Play/Pause button naturally toggles those functions. Pressing and holding the Play/Pause button will activate the Bluetooth discovery mode so you can pair your device if you failed to do so at initial power up. Finally, holding the Power button will power off the speaker.

There is one more function of the Taco. If you happen to be in the middle of a jamming session, and you receive a call, just press the Play/Pause button to answer the call. Unlike the S406 the Taco has a built in microphone so there is no need to switch your phone over to speaker mode. The Taco handles the whole call. While testing this function my caller stated that I sounded clear and he received no feedback from the speaker even at max volume.

Conclusion

The Taco is designed to be enjoyed while playing cards, hanging out with friends, or just lounging around. With its higher quality sound I can understand why many would chose this speaker over others. Its maximum volume is a bit lack luster and I would have liked to see a place to attach the carabiner to the speaker itself. As it is, you need to carry it in the pouch if you wish to attach it to your backpack. This of course reduces the sound quality but these are only a minor dings to an otherwise well built speaker. E-tailing at Amazon for only $26.99 it is priced better than many of its competitors giving the Taco Overclockers’ highest award.

 

Overclockers_clear_approved

Click the stamp for an explanation of what this means

-Blaylock

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