Bluetooth speakers are a hot commodity in 2021 and there are too many products to even consider reviewing. When we add Wi-Fi speakers to the list of products available — it’s a full-time job for one person just to cover it all. Sonos are the top dog in the category and we’re starting to understand why a lot of consumers have taken the plunge. The Sonos One SL that we just reviewed proved to be a huge surprise; both in terms of its performance but also the quality of the Sonos S2 app. Throw in support for Qobuz and there is a lot to like. A stereo pair will run you $358. If that’s not in the budget — the OC Acoustic Newport Plug-in Bluetooth speakers are an interesting alternative.
The $69.95 OC Acoustic Newport is a single bluetooth loudspeaker that can placed in “party” mode and synced to other Newport speakers throughout your home. Unlike other Bluetooth speakers, the OC Acoustic Newport doesn’t need to be charged (there is no charging cable to lose) and its operation only requires being plugged into a power receptacle.
The industrial design features a squared off enclosure so that it doesn’t block the other power receptacle when being used.
OC Acoustic have also included a USB Type-A input for charging phones and tablets.
The color options for the speaker grille and enclosure are pretty basic but we really like the orange/black and grey/black combinations. The speaker is only 3.64″W x 3.35″H x 2.48″D but feels rather solid in your hand.
Each speaker features a 2-inch full-range driver with a quoted frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz — a spec that you should totally ignore.
I can believe 80 or 100Hz to 20kHz but there’s very little low end information below that.
The OC Acoustic Newport supports Bluetooth 5.1 and does utilize its own control app; you can stream from any music streaming platform. I experimented with Tidal, Qobuz, Spotify, and Apple Music and there was no issue with any of them.
I do have a gripe with the “party” mode setting because the included instructions are not very comprehensive. Until I did some digging, I was unable to get it to work properly.
How to Add Speakers in Party Mode
- Make sure one of the speakers is connected via Bluetooth. This speaker will be the [main speaker]. The other speaker you want to add to the main speaker does not need to be connected via Bluetooth, but make sure that its power is on.
- Press the “Power icon” button for 3 – 5 seconds on the [main speaker] until you hear a voice prompt that says “Broadcast Mode is enabled”. The speaker’s indicator flashes blue color every 5 seconds.
- Then, press the “ADD” button for 3 – 5 seconds on [another speaker] until you hear a voice prompt that says “Broadcast Audio is enabled”. The speaker’s indicator turns a solid orange color. This speaker now has become a [secondary speaker] that is connected with the main speaker.
- Two speakers play the same source of music as a Party mode.
- Unless you manually disable the Party mode, two speakers will remain in Party mode.
One of the things that I really like about the OC Acoustic Newport is that they can placed almost anywhere; I did try them outside on our deck because I have two sets of weatherized power receptacles about 10′ apart along the wall and while that placed them only 6″ above the surface of the deck — it worked rather well during dinner outside.
I used my iPhone, iPad Pro, and MacBook Pro to stream music from about 10 feet away and I never suffered any dropouts. When I walked inside with my phone, I could stand close to 20 feet away without losing the signal.
The OC Acoustic Newport are not waterproof so do not leave them outside in the rain. I can see them working well outside by a swimming pool if you have any power receptacles nearby. You can put more than a dozen in “party” mode at the same time so a relatively affordable way to have music outdoors at a party if you have the power receptacles.
We also tried them in the kitchen on different walls on either side of the counter and they filled the room with sound quite easily. There wasn’t a lot of bass information but the midrange was relatively clear sounding and the treble didn’t start to sound hard unless I really pushed the volume level too high.
I’m not sure that you need to go higher than 50% on the volume dial if your room is 20′ x 16′ x 9′ or smaller. I found myself turning it down with most albums.
I rather liked the OC Acoustic Newport with jazz; Bill Evans, Ike Quebec, and Kenny Dorham all came across quite clear with solid pacing and ample detail. If you’re looking for a warm sounding speaker — the Newport are a tad on the cooler side and that applies to almost every genre of music.
The midrange was on the neutral side but it never sounded too sterile with vocals.
Lucy Dacus’ “Hot & Heavy” illustrated that the OC Acoustic Newport can sound quite transparent with vocals but that once the mix becomes too busy, it can trip over itself and sound somewhat congested if the volume is set too loud.
This is definitely a speaker that sounds quite good at lower volume levels and rather hard if you push the volume past a particular point. It has a 2-inch driver so don’t expect miracles.
The OC Acoustic Newport definitely sounds better with classical, folk, country, jazz, and pop than metal or electronica; the absence of low end information can make certain albums sounds quite anemic versus the Sonos One SL that delivers a far more authoritative punch in the midbass and below.
The Newport can sound quite spacious depending on how you set them up; I moved them around the kitchen trying them on opposite walls and on either side of our kitchen table where they did not sound limited to the space between them.
Just for fun, we set them up on our second floor landing which is open to the front foyer below and almost 30 feet across. Nobody complained when I left them on low controlled by an iPad and played chamber music until almost 2 in the morning.
Before turning in for the night, I stood in the front hallway and listened to the music floating above my head and rather enjoyed the effect.
The $69 OC Acoustic Newport Plug-in Bluetooth loudspeakers have some definite limitations in the bass and become less than transparent when the volume is pushed too high. But when used in a sensible manner at low to medium volume levels and given some space to fill the room — sound remarkably good for the money. They work exceptionally well outside and in those weird spots at home where you want music but can’t install a permanent pair of loudspeakers.
The value is strong with these and I plan on getting another set for outside use.
For more information: ocacoustic.com
Where to buy: $69.95 at Amazon