Mpow Soundhot R9 Review PartyCast TWS Bluetooth Speaker

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

These days, many of us have masses of music stored on our phones and tablets, which is great when listening to headphones. But, if you want to listen whilst taking a shower, sitting in the garden or just relaxing at home that’s where bluetooth speakers come into their own!
The Mpow Soundhot R9 not only looks absolutely cool, it is capable of blasting out sound far louder than you would ever expect it to! The Mpow R9 speaker has a hard plastic frame construction with a thick woven fabric mesh grille enveloping the speaker housing. The bottom edges of the Mpow R9 speaker are made of hard plastic and have a jagged-like design so, the speaker can be placed vertically upright securely on a flat surface.
The Mpow R9 speaker can also be laid flat horizontally without rolling, thanks to the raised edge on the side, which acts as a stopper preventing the speaker from rolling like a pen off a table. The raised edge on the side of the R9 speaker is also made of hard plastic and integrates a lanyard loophole and a thick rubber grommet, which protects and seals the charging port and auxiliary port from water ingress.
The speaker cone enclosure of the passive radiators is also sealed so, nothing can get into the speaker from the sides. The front part of the passive radiators seems to be made of aluminium with circular grooves similar to a vinyl record. 
There is no touch controls; instead, the Mpow R9 speaker uses mechanical switch buttons to control functions. The buttons have large rubber symbols, which are raised and glued to the fabric outer layer. The buttons are nicely spaced out too so, they are easy to distinguish without looking down. The buttons require a solid hard press to actuate, which is actually a good thing so, the speaker doesn't accidentally power on while kept inside a backpack. 

Button functions include full audio playback and call handling so, you can skip tracks, control volume, accept/reject calls. The Mpow R9 Bluetooth 5.0 chip supports multipoint-connection,meaning you can have the R9 speaker connected to two devices at the same time, which is really useful if you want to listen to music and and handle calls separately. In Multipoint mode, the Bluetooth range is capped at 1 meter range, while the Bluetooth range via a single device connection is up to 10 meters. Speaking of range, the Mpow R9 speaker bluetooth audio range is up to 30 meters in direct line of sight.

The R9 speaker supports the basic Bluetooth protocol (A2DP); hence no aptX, SBC or AAC support, which improves the audio quality over bluetooth and minimizes audio lag when watching videos. Depending on the use, not having aptX or AAC support on a speaker is not necessarily a deal breaker. If you plan to mostly use the Mpow Soundhot R9 speaker for streaming audio outdoors, basic Bluetooth transmission will do just fine and, in fact, be better since basic bluetooth consumes less power than advanced bluetooth codecs such as AAC or aptX.
The Mpow R9 speaker is beefed up with a 3.7V 4400mAh battery that can accept up to 5V/2A maximum input charge, which translates to 3.5 hours charging time when using a 10-watt power adapter. An AC wall adapter is not included but if you have a phone, you can use the AC adapter that comes with it to charge the R9 speaker. You can also charge the Mpow R9 speaker via the USB port of a computer, although charging time will take considerably longer since USB ports can only output between 0.5A (USB 2.0) and 0.9A (USB 3.0).
During charge, the led light up solid red and turns off when full charge is complete.You can stream Bluetooth audio while the Mpow R9 speaker is charging; hence pass-through audio while charging, which is something not all speakers can do. Another neat feature about the R9 speaker is the seamless transition from Bluetooth mode to wired mode and viceversa. You can wire the R9 speaker to the same bluetooth device it is connected without disconnecting the Bluetooth connection. The R9 speaker will then automatically resume Bluetooth audio playback when the audio cable is removed from the phone, which is super convenient.
The Mpow R9 speaker has an IPX7 rating so, it can handle immersion in water for 30 minutes up to 1 metre in static water. With an IPX7 rating, the Mpow R9 speaker is safe for taking into a shower or dropped in a body of water like a swimming pool. When dropped in water, the R9 speaker will remain afloat. While the R9 speaker can be submerged, IPX7 is not suitable for diving. If you do plan to take the R9 speaker to the beach or out in the woods hiking, be aware the speaker has no dust protection.
Being a stereo speaker, the Mpow R9 has a dual speaker and passive radiator setup, consisting of two passive radiators and two 8-watt speakers, which deliver a total of 16 watts of power. The Mpow R9 speaker has a tall cylindrical shape similar to an alkaline battery with the passive radiators positioned at either end. The Mpow R9 speaker weighs 500 grams, measures 18cm tall and has a 65mm diameter.
Both speaker drivers are front firing; hence the Mpow R9 disperses sound directly in one direction. Speakers of this compact size tend to be front-firing, although they can also have a 360-degree setup by having the speaker drivers back to back to distribute sound all-around the unit. The larger the speaker unit, the better the 360-degree sound effect you get. Having multiple drivers with a decent amount of power (over 30 watts) also helps to get a more immersive sound.
While the Mpow R9 speaker by itself is not capable of 360 degree sound, the Mpow R9 does feature two nifty modes: TWS mode and PartyCast mode, both of which require having additional speakers so, you can essentially daisy-chain the speakers. TWS mode, or True Wireless Stereo, only lets you connect a second speaker, while PartyCast mode lets you connect up one hundred R9 speakers, which is pretty phenomenal. 
Without having that amount of speakers, it's impossible to tell how well PartyCast mode works with 100 speakers connected and whether there is any syncing issues or not. One thing for sure about PartyCasting is that it does not support automatic re-connection (like TWS mode does); hence once you disconnect the speakers from PartyCast mode you would have to manually re-connect each speaker. Both TWS and PartyCast is "open" technology so, it's not exclusive to a specific manufacturer. That said, the Mpow R9 seems to be one of the few PartyCast speakers that supports both TWS and PartyCast. Also, similar to TWS mode, PartyCast doesn't currently offer multi-product compatibility; hence you can only connect the same speaker model.
The Soundhot R9 speaker also integrates an omnidirectional microphone, which is embedded within the woven fabric. The microphone has a similar performance to a speakerphone so, it can pick up your voice from different sides without being close to the unit. The microphone uses a noise filtering algorithm to filter as much background noise without compromising the audio quality which is good for a clear conversation. Speaking of the microphone, during an incoming call you will hear a Mandarin voice prompt, followed by the standard incoming call ringtone. The addition of this voice prompt seems a bit odd, especially since it's non-English.

As far as sound, the Mpow R9 dual speakers have very high sensitivity so, they deliver superb audio dynamics, allowing you to really (really) crank up the volume. The sound signature is fairly neutral at 50% volume but as you increase volume level, the treble particularly becomes more prominent than the bass. At about 60%, you can get good bass level with clear vocal midrange. Battery life is also good at around 16 hours runtime at 50% volume and 9 hours runtime at 90% volume. You may notice some distortion at 100% max volume.In all, the R9 speaker is a good all-rounder although it doesn't feature a powerbank option, which for its size, it probably should since a smaller audio solution like the M30 Plus charging case has a power-out function for charging external devices. The only accessory included is an unbranded USB-C to USB-A cable. You can buy the Mpow Soundhot R9 from Amazon. 

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