Aukey is a maker of many things. If you spend much time on Amazon you may have come across many of their mobile accessories, cables, even camera lens attachments. Today, I’m looking at the Aukey SK-M12 Bluetooth speaker – a portable speaker meant to entertain you both indoors and outdoors.

Specs

The Aukey SK-M12 boasts the following specifications

  • Dual 5W drivers
  • Bluetooth 4.1 with up to 33 ft. range
  • Up to 30-hour playtime or talk time
  • Aux cable input
  • Audio playback and call controls with a built-in microphone and two sound profiles with thicker and thinner profiles
  • Built-in 1/4"-20 standard tripod screw mount
  • 24 month warranty

Aukey also claims the SK-M12 is waterproof and can be attached to numerous items using its hard rubberized grip on the side of the speaker.

Design

The SK-M12 has a look that immediately makes me think this speaker is designed for punishment. That's all thanks to it being wrapped in a rubber shell to help absorb shocks. Though the speaker could probably handle a drop or two of a few feet and survive, the rubber shell seems to be geared more towards preventing outside elements from getting into the device. The speaker grill is covered in a grey plastic. It's nothing fancy and is probably the least durable part of the speaker. It's hard to tell where the drivers are behind the grill, probably due to there being some kind of film layer that protects each speaker without dampening the sound too much.

On top of the speaker is where you’ll find the device’s controls. There's a volume up/down, a call button, a power and a “M” button which adjusts the EQ between low-bass or high-bass (just in case the speaker gets overdriven). If you want to charge the speaker, connect an audio source via a 1/8” cable or factory reset the device, you’ll find all of those ports/buttons hidden beneath a red rubber tab. That rubber tab, while great for blocking everything, is hard to peel away from the device in the event you need to access any of those ports. This is something Aukey should seriously consider addressing if the company intends to make a version 2 of this device. The only way for me to get it open is by using what looks like a SIM card key that comes with the device. If I had longer nails I might be able to pry it open, but that is not the case.

Performance

Aukey's SK-M12 speaker gets loud. That bodes well for outdoors, as you lose the acoustics that help amplify sound in smaller rooms. To figure out how loud it gets compared to a few competing speakers, I pulled out my first generation Beats Pill and Taotronics Boom X and did a quick volume face off.

Using my Samsung Galaxy Note 7 and the Sound Meter app, I placed each speaker on a wooden desk 2’ away from the phone and played Skillet’s “The Resistance” with volumes maxed on each speaker for 1 min and 13 seconds, enough to cover the first verse and first chorus of the song. The results are as follows:

Speaker

Min Volume (dB)

Max Volume (dB)

Average Volume (dB)

Beats Pill (V1)

84

95

88

Taotronics Boom X

84

113

91

Aukey BT Speaker

86

115

94

As you can see, the Aukey Bluetooth Speaker owns the loudness competition outright. The Beats Pill, which is currently $150 on Amazon, was destroyed by both the Boom X ($60) and Aukey's SK-M12 - both of which are significantly cheaper. The Pill also pales in comparison to the Boom X and the SK-M12 speakers in sound quality, as both of those speakers provided a much fuller sound across the board. Aukey’s speaker, at one-third the cost of a Beats Pill, sounded pretty good even at high volumes. Aukey did a good job of limiting bass output to prevent damage from overdriven speakers so, while the bass is there, it's not as expansive as the Boom X or higher-end offerings from company's like Bose. You won't get shimmering highs or thunderous bass - if that's what you're looking for you'll need to consider other options. Still, Aukey impresses given its performances and its price ($50).

Aukey says its SK-M12 speaker is “waterproof”. That means the speaker should be able to survive if it were shoved underwater, not just resist some splashes here and there. To see if the statement was true, I took it into my bathroom, ran the water faucet in my sink as hard/fast as I could and stuck the speaker underneath the full stream of water and sat for 90 seconds while the speaker blared Limp Bizkit’s “Break Stuff”.

The SK-M12 started to gargle a bit underneath the constant stream after a few seconds of water hitting the face of the unit (as expected) but it never once cut out, and I could always hear the music even over the sound of rushing sink water. Once the sink filled up enough, the speaker began to float on top of the water, preventing the unit from ever being fully submerged on its own. I laughed to myself in disbelief – I'd actually have to forcibly shove this speaker underneath the water's surface to see if it could survive in a submerged environment. I did just that for a few seconds and it still continued to play.

All of this occurred after running the speaker for 24 hours (and counting) over 4 days. I took the speaker on a road-trip to Couer D’Alene in Idaho (USA) and, while there, left it on a heavily used beer pong table for a couple hours and told the people playing not to avoid getting the speaker wet at all. It experienced a few splashes of PBR and Coors Light during that time and still worked. The speaker sat in 90 degree heat with ~60% humidity for a few days and still worked. Not only did the speaker survive all of that, it's still playing next to me at the end of day 5. Even the speaker phone option works without issue and I have yet to fully drain the battery. Consider me impressed.

Conclusion

The Aukey SK-M12 is a great option if you’re in the market for a Bluetooth speaker, especially one meant for outdoor activities. It can go wherever you go - it can even be mounted on something like a mountain bike thanks to its mounting port on the bottom of the unit. It gets loud enough and offer plenty of bass to satisfy anyone without the highest standards, it stays on in pretty challenging conditions and has a battery that doesn't want to stop. You won’t find audio quality that matches great speakers like the Bose Soundlink III because Aukey doesn't utilize passive or active subwoofers in the SK-M12, but you're probably not going to care considering how much money you've saved by choosing Aukey's speaker.

There are some opportunities for improvement on the unit, like the speaker's button responsiveness being weak at times, and the rubber tab that covers the connection ports being a pain to open up. While this may be the result of making the unit waterproof it's still mildly annoying. Yet, for $50, I'm not sure I want to spend time complaining about those things because this speaker is so close to perfect everywhere else it's hard to care enough. It wouldn't hurt if Aukey spent a minute or two naming the device since the company has another, smaller Bluetooth speaker available for purchase with the same generic company name. In the end, Aukey has a phenomenal speaker that can output better-than-expected sound at an affordable price. If truly feeling the bass isn't a deal breaker when considering a speaker, the Aukey SK-M12 deserves your consideration, especially for outdoor moments.

 

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