Sunday, December 20, 2015

Alesis TransActive Wireless Portable Powered Bluetooth Speaker Review


Sometimes you do not need a full-blown PA system when doing a small gig, such as in a coffee shop, classroom, or a small party. Unfortunately, a lot of the all-in-one speaker options end up being little more than a toy that are suitable for little mote than something for kids to mess around with for their karaoke. The Alesis TransActive Wireless speaker is a pretty good options that falls somewhere in between these two extremes.

You probably remember Alesis as the company that brought us the Qudraverb and other cool live sound electronics back in the 1980s. They have expanded their live considerably to include all kinds of products, including powered speakers. The TransActive Wireless is one of these, and it has just about everything under the kitchen sink crammed into it.

For starters, it is very portable, as it is a little smaller than a carry-on suitcase (15” x 11” x 17”), and it only weighs around 28 pounds. The similarities do not end there, as there are recessed wheels and a telescoping handle so it is really easy to drag to gigs. The cabinet seems fairly sturdy, so it will probably hold up well over time. There is a 35mm socket in the bottom of the cabinet in case you want to put it on a standard speaker stand.

Inside, there is an 8-inch driver with a 1-inch tweeter, and the amplifier is rated at 25 watts continuous/50 watts peak. Also, there is a built-in rechargeable battery, which Alesis says is good for up to 50 hours of performance time. I have never run it that long, but it is definitely good for a 3 or 4-hour gig or party. Of course it will run forever if you leave it plugged in with the included detachable IEC 110 volts cable. By the way, it takes about 6 hours to charge the battery.

The control panel is located on top of the cabinet which is fine if you have it sitting on the ground, and not so great if you have it stuck on a speaker stand. The inputs and controls are simple yet versatile, with a master volume and two channels: one with an XLR input and one with a ¼-inch input. They each have their own level controls. Also, there is a third input/level control for a 1/8-inch jack or Bluetooth. You heard that right – there is built-in Bluetooth so you can sing along to music from your phone, tablet, or laptop. Pairing it is super easy, as it is always looking for a device to connect to.

Also on top of the unit is a dock that you can set your device into and a USB charger (5 watts/2.1 amps), which is really handy. On the side of the TransActive is the power switch, an IEC power cable socket, and an LED battery indicator.

What does it not have? There are no EQ controls or vocal effects included, and there is no aux out so you will not be able to connect it to another speaker.

So, this Alesis unit has almost everything on it, and it works surprisingly well. It puts out decent volume, and if you want to do some vocals along with tracks, or maybe with a guitar or keyboard you will be in good shape for small gigs or practice out in the garage. It would be perfect for a large conference room or a small meeting room so a presenter can be heard well. It would not be appropriate for use with a band or in a room that sucks up a lot of sound. 25 watts is not that much, you know.

The big question remains unanswered, and that is, “How well will this hold up over the long run?” This is not a very expensive speaker and it has a ton of features, so chances are they did not use high-quality components for any of it. You can replace a blown speaker easily enough, but if you have an amplifier goes out, the rechargeable battery go bad, or the Bluetooth electronics crap out,this thing might end up in the trash. If you add up parts and labor, you are going to go over the purchase price of this speaker very quickly. I think these come with a one-year warranty, but I cannot find anything in writing, so buyer beware.

And the purchase price is the most alluring thing about the Alesis TransActive Wireless. This unit has a list price of $299 and a street price of $199, which is dirt cheap. I think it is worth taking a chance on if you really need all of its features. But keep in mind there are a lot of powered speakers out there in this price range. They might not have Bluetooth, wheels, or a rechargeable battery, but they do have multiple inputs and gobs more power – 400 watts is the norm. So, figure out exactly what you need before you buy!



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