Valco Nordell Mk3 Review Bluetooth Speaker

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Derived from the old Norse word for north, Nordell Mk3 is Valco's portable bluetooth solution designed for outdoors and indoors. You can use it at home, in an office or even when taking a shower, thanks IPX7 water resistance. Valco Nordell Mk3 has six clicky sounding physical buttons for controlling volume, track skipping, voice assistant, incoming calls and change audio mode, as well as two status led lights for 3D sound and Bluetooth connection. The Bluetooth status led flashes blue during audio playback.

When powering on the Nordell Mk3, the speaker makes a cool jingle effect that sounds like a starting engine. The "brain" running the Nordell Mk3 speaker is the Actions ATS2819 microcontroller chip, which supports Bluetooth 5.0, SBC audio codec and up to 20 meters range when outdoors and 10 meters range indoors. The bluetooth chip provides a stable wireless signal is stable without dropouts but, it doesn't support hi-res codecs (AAC or aptX) or multipoint pairing, which means you won't be able to pair the Nordell Mk3 speaker to two different Bluetooth sources (e.g. smartphone and laptop) at the same time. The Nordell Mk3 speaker doesn't support either absolute bluetooth volume, which is useful because it lets you control the volume of the both the speaker and bluetooth audio source simultaneously.

As well as wireless audio, the Valco Nordell Mk3 speaker is capable of playing audio via auxiliary cable connection and off a memory card, thanks to a 3.5mm audio port and memory card slot, which are built-in to the rear of the speaker and they are protected by a thick rubber cover. Nordell Mk3 supports both Micro SD and TF cards (up to 64GB capacity) and, it's capable of wired audio while maintaining a bluetooth connection, which means the Nordell Mk3 speaker bluetooth connection does not disconnect when plugging in an audio cable. This means, you can literary unplug the audio cable and audio plays via bluetooth instantaneously, making it very convenient for seamless switching between wireless and wired audio without the usual re-connection delay you get with bluetooth devices.

3D mode also works in wired mode. When switching from standard audio to 3D audio, there is no audio prompt or beep but the audio decreases for a split second to let you know you have entered a different audio mode. As far as the 3D sound feature, it works better in headphones because of the sealed earcup enclosure. For 3D spatial sound to work realistically on a bluetooth speaker, it requires several speakers and/or multiple drivers (4 or more) facing different directions. The Nordell Mk3 speaker is hindered by the fact it's a stereo speaker with the drivers facing the same direction. The relative small size of the Nordell Mk3 is a also a factor for 3D audio to work. That said, two Nordell Mk3 speakers can actually be paired in sync via True Wireless Stereo (TWS) technology, which probably makes the 3D sound feature more justice.

The volume controls also work in wired mode; hence you can volume up and down when the Nordell Mk3 speaker is connected to a phone. Aside from volume, you can skip tracks and answer calls (like a speakerphone) via the built-in microphone, which delivers clear call audio. You cannot use the Nordell Mk3 speaker in wired mode or bluetooth mode while charging, which is likely a safety feature. although it's strange because the Valco VMK20 headphones can be used while charging. Being able to recharge while playing audio is definitely convenient but also advantageous for boosting the RMS volume of the speaker. Speaking of RMS, the Nordell MK3 has a 40-watt RMS rating, which is achieved via two front firing 20-watt speakers positioned side by side. The speakers are 53mm full range drivers, which do a good job at handling lows and highs with very little distortion at max volume. The bass, midrange and treble are further enhanced, thanks to MaxxAudio integration in the DSP chip.

At 750 grams, the Nordell Mk3 is a hefty beefy speaker that measures 20cm long, 6cm wide and 7.5cm high. It integrates a 5200mAh rechargeable battery, which takes 3 hours to fully charge via a 15-watt (5V/3A) charger (not included) and can provide a runtime of 10 hours at 50% volume. The Nordell Mk3 speaker is rugged too, thanks to a thick layer of rubber surrounding the centre of the speaker shell. The rubber has a smooth finish with textured groove lines, as well as symbol markings for the buttons, which are level; hence the buttons do not protrude. You can potentially place the Nordell Mk3 speaker upside down, downside up or even on its side, thanks to the rectangular shape of the speaker.

Speaking of sides, the Nordell Mk3 speaker has a 2cm long rectangular metal ring built-in to one side, which is designed to hook or clip the speaker onto a backpack. On the front and back sides, there is a metal perforated grille. The Nordell Mk3 speaker comes packaged inside a hardshell cardbox, which is internally padded and has a glittering Valco logo on top. Accessories include a charging cable and an audio cable (60cm long) both unbranded. You can buy the Nordell Mk3 speaker from Valco.

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