This versatile stereo Bluetooth speaker delivers a huge amount of sound in a package that’s both smaller and considerably less expensive than the competition.
Best Prices Today: Anker Soundcore Rave Party 2
Anker’s Soundcore brand made its name with speakers that punch far above their weight, delivering audio quality that matches or surpasses other speakers that cost a whole lot more. The company’s speakers emphasize clarity at high volume and offer an optional bass boost that can shake the rafters.
The Soundcore Rave Party 2 is the largest portable Bluetooth speaker in Anker’s Soundcore portfolio. It’s being marketed through retailers like Amazon and Walmart, but is curiously absent from Anker’s own online store. Don’t let that absence fool you, this is one of the company’s very best speakers.
This review is part of TechHive’s in-depth coverage of the best Bluetooth speakers.
Soundcore Rave Party 2 build quality
The speaker has rubberized feat on two different sides, so it can be used either vertically or horizontally. While on its side for horizontal use, the speaker measures 7.30 x 7.20 x 15.50 inches (HxDxW) and weighs a hefty 11.7 lbs. The case is plastic and its front grill is metal, a design that’s more utilitarian than stylish.
The Rave Party 2 pumps out 120 watts of power and offers stereo playback with its two 4-inch woofers and two 2-inch tweeters. The speaker carries a surprisingly low IPX4 weatherization rating, which means the manufacturer makes no claim of protection from particulate matter and maintains that it is merely splashproof in terms of protection from water ingress. You’ll find everything you need to know about IP codes at the preceding link. This is likely due to the open bass port on the back of the speaker, so be sure it stays next to the pool and doesn’t go in.
The speaker’s controls are on the same side as its handle (top when the speaker is vertical, on its right-hand side when the speaker is horizontal). Rubberized buttons control power, bass boost, Bluetooth connections, light-show status, PartyCast pairing with additional speakers, volume, and play/pause. There’s also an arc of lights next to the power button that indicates battery level. Soundcore promises 16 hours of playback with the lights turned off.
The back of the speaker has a panel that covers several additional connections. There’s a DC input for use with the included AC adapter, inputs for USB drive that supports MP3 playback, and a 3.5mm aux input for plugging in an additional source, like a cassette or CD player.
There’s also a 1/4-inch microphone input and gain and reverb knobs to adjust mic audio when using the Rave Party 2 as a karaoke speaker.
Using the Rave Party 2 for karaoke
Plug a mic into the Rave Party 2 and you have an instant PA system for making announcements at a party or getting the team’s attention at soccer practice. There’s a wide range of reverb available and, as everyone learns on the first day of audio-engineering school, lots of reverb can mask all manner of a singer’s vocal limitations.
The Rave Party 2 is a fun karaoke machine if you’re looking to sing along with your favorite tunes. Most streaming services now give you an option to have the lyrics scroll by on the screen during playback, so this speaker can effectively do double duty at a party.
Anker’s Soundcore app
Anker’s excellent Soundcore app, available for Android and iOS, offers tweaks for most of its headphones, earbuds, and speakers. Once the Rave Party 2 is connected to Bluetooth and then paired with the app, there’s a landing page that shows its battery level and links to its Lights, Equalizer, PartyCast, and Bass Up controls.
Clicking the settings gear takes you to a screen that allows you to switch between Bluetooth, USB, and Aux inputs. You can also adjust the bass and treble for an attached microphone, set the auto power-off time, turn off the prompt tones, and update the speaker’s firmware when necessary.
A Party Games panel offers spinning wheels for playing Truth or Dare, Spin the Bottle, or the built-in version of the game Categories. The lights on the speaker react to the spinning wheel, and there are sound effects for each game.
The Light DJ panel is the silliest option, putting a pair of circles on your phone screen that echo the look of a pair of turntables on a DJ’s deck. Use your fingers to control the light show or add sound effects like scratching, drum kicks, or DJ Khaled-style exhortations like “Yeah!,” “Get Ready,” or a pair of different screams.
This novelty feature is probably good for no more than a couple of hours of fun, but it’s nice to see Soundcore experimenting with new options for users.
The app offers five equalization presets, including Soundcore Signature, Voice, Treble Boost, and Balanced. Each of these deliver neutral bass. When the Bass Boost button is turned on, the settings jack the bass without changing any of the other settings.
If you prefer your own EQ, there’s a Custom panel that allows you to create and save multiple alternate settings to appeal to your preferences. You can also have a completely flat playback via the Custom settings if you prefer.
The app also has a panel that allows you to control the light show.
The Rave Party 2 light show
If you don’t want your speaker to flash its lights at you, you can turn them off and never think about them again. You’ll save some battery life and enjoy a sedate life.
You’d also be missing out on a big part of the fun from these speakers. The app offers lighting scenes called Campfire Vibes, Spring Break, Romantic Stroll, Neon Night, Euphoric Dance, Flow, and Party. All the scenes except Flow and Party have a trio of color options.
None of the scene names really seem to have much to do with the actual patterns they create, so you’ll need to play with these settings until you land on ones you like. Flow is the most laid-back option, with light movement that’s slower than any of the other settings.
Soundcore PartyCast and Stereo Pairing
Soundcore PartyCast 2.0 allows users to connect multiple Soundcore speakers of recent vintage in a listening chain that clones their sound and synchronizes the light show.
I used the PartyCast button to connect the Rave Party 2 speaker to Anker’s smaller Soundcore Rave Neo 2 speaker ($180 at Amazon), which delivers 80W of power but is fully waterproof with IPX7 weatherization and will float in a pool.
You can connect up to 100 speakers via PartyCast, but the Rave Party 2 and the Neo 2 combo offered plenty of volume by themselves. It’s important to note that the PartyCast technology only clones the audio coming out of the main speaker, and each speaker added to the chain will deliver mono or stereo audio based on its capabilities.
If you want to true stereo imaging, you’ll need two Soundcore Rave Party 2 speakers to take advantage of True Wireless Stereo, so you can get as much separation as you want. TWS only works with two speakers of the exact same model.
How does the Soundcore Rave Party 2 sound?
Anker has designed a speaker that offers remarkably good stereo for a device of its size, with the understanding that you’re never going to experience great separation when the drivers are so close together in a single enclosure. If you’re looking for a true stereo experience, you’ll need to buy two Rave Party 2 speakers and set up TWS pairing.
That said, most users won’t be looking for a portable party speaker to take care of their true stereo needs, so it’s more important to judge this speaker based on real-world use cases. I’ve used this speaker both indoors and out over the past few weeks, and it’s my new favorite portable speaker.
Listening to Apple Music’s Rap Life playlist was a particular joy. The Rave Party 2 delivered remarkable clarity at high volumes, and it didn’t distort when confronted with the massive low-end vibrations on tracks like “Mad Max,” by Lil Durk & Future or “Nothing Changed,” by Quavo & Takeoff.
The sounds were equally engaging when listening to a wide variety of 2022 hits like “Moscow Mule,” by Bad Bunny; “Bad Habit,” by Steve Lacy; “Kill Bill,” by SZA; “Break My Soul,” by Beyoncé; “Maroon,” by Taylor Swift; “Something in the Orange,” by Zach Bryan; and “The Kind of Love We Make,” by Luke Combs. The Rave Party 2 hits a sweet spot that should please anyone at your party.
The bass boost is pronounced. There’s nothing subtle about the settings, so you’re limited to “off” and “shake the house” options.
Should you buy the Soundcore Rave Party 2?
Anker’s Soundcore Rave Party 2 Bluetooth speaker is a well-made speaker that has enough battery life to get through most parties, but it also comes with a power brick that can offer fast charging and endless playback if you’re near an outlet.
This speaker hit 107dB during my testing without any noticeable distortion, so it can be dangerously loud when you need to bring the noise. The microphone input allows you to use the speaker as a basic public address system or karaoke machine. Most importantly, the Rave Party 2 delivers excellent value for its price, comparingly favorably to larger and more expensive speakers, including the Braven BRV- XXL and the JBL Boombox 2.