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Kove builds audio products that are designed for the mobile user, and their two-in-one Bluetooth speaker, the Commuter 2 stays true to this philosophy.
The company’s products are meant for the consumption of music. In fact, they make this clear on the website; they have a line that life is better with music. Kove’s lineup includes two Bluetooth speakers alongside the Commuter 2: a boombox and a mini Bluetooth speaker.
I put together this Kove Commuter 2 review and guide after using the Bluetooth speaker for about a week. This article will shine a light on the Commuter 2’s durability and performance in both music and speech audio.
I’ve also included a list of three alternative Bluetooth speakers for you to consider. Keep reading to find out all you need to know.
- 1 Bottom Line Up Front
- 2 Kove Commuter 2 Unboxing Experience
- 3 Kove Commuter 2 Design
- 4 How the Kove Commuter 2 Bluetooth Speakers Work
- 5 Main Features of the Kove Commuter 2 Bluetooth Speakers
- 6 Pros and Cons of the Kove Commuter 2 Bluetooth Speakers
- 7 3 Alternative Bluetooth Speakers
- 8 Frequently Asked Questions
- 9 The Verdict
Bottom Line Up Front
The Kove Commuter 2 Bluetooth speakers have great audio, excellent battery life, and IPX7 water resistance, features that make them worth considering. They’re also easy to pair with your device so you can put them to work right after unboxing.
Kove Commuter 2 Unboxing Experience
Inside the main box, you’re greeted by a smaller box in which there’s a user guide and a dual USB charging cable (Kove calls this a Y-cable). Buried underneath this is the Kove Commuter 2 Bluetooth speaker, which is secured in between foam padding. That’s it! The unboxing process is simple.
Kove Commuter 2 Design
The Commuter 2 speaker has a rounded-rectangle shape with a diameter of about 3 inches (7.5 centimeters) and a height of about 8 inches (20.5 centimeters). When in the box, the entire package measures about 3.7 inches by 3.7 inches by 9.4 inches (roughly 9.5 centimeters by 9.5 centimeters by 24 centimeters).
According to Kove’s spec sheet, the speaker should weigh about 1.9 lbs (860 g). However, I found it to weigh about 2.2 lbs (1 kg).
This is what makes the Kove Commuter 2 a unique product – its two-in-one design. Out of the box, you get a single unit. However, when you look at the center of the speakers, you’ll notice a seam that shows the point at which the two units are attached.
Kove’s designers must have worked hard to make the Commuter 2 look like one speaker when the two smaller ones are joined. In fact, from afar, you can’t tell that these are two units.
The two speakers have independent power and volume buttons so you have to turn each one on individually. However, when you turn any one of the speakers off, the other one powers off as well. Still, the upper speaker functions as the main one, so it can function without the lower one.
You can adjust the volume in both speakers by simply pressing the buttons on any one of the speakers. This ensures that the sound level is always equal in both units.
Detaching the speakers is simple; twist the lower unit clockwise while simultaneously twisting the upper one anti-clockwise and they separate. Both speakers sit flat on the table.
Amazon lists four color options: black, rose gold, sand, and terracotta. I’m not sure whether there’s that big of a difference between the rose gold and terracotta options, but that’s probably my laptop screen playing tricks on me. Kove’s website has two more colors: stone and concrete, but there’s no rose gold option here at the time of writing.
I went with the black option which, I know, isn’t a unique color, but it’s always a safe choice.
The button section has a matte finish that does a great job of resisting fingerprints. The volume and buttons are marked by up and down-facing arrows and between them is an oval shape for the power button.
However, since the buttons are entirely flat, pressing them might require a bit more pressure. I wish Kove had made these textured and slightly raised for a bit more tactility.
When the two speakers are joined, the volume-up button for the lower speaker becomes the down-facing arrow and vice versa. This makes sense when the two are detached because the lower speaker stands with the upper side facing down.
LED LightsLED Lights
There are subwoofers on either end of the speakers, each one ringed by an LED light. This light flashes to the beat of the song playing, but you can switch off this flashing effect.
The upper speakers LED remains on, but the lower one turns off when you deactivate the flashing feature. I wish there was an option to turn off both lights as I found the LED a bit distracting at night. If you’re like me then a solution would be to place the speaker with the lit side resting on the table.
Generally, the lights are white, but when the battery is low, they’ll start to flash red. When you plug the speakers in, the LEDs remain red and turn off when the batteries are full.
How the Kove Commuter 2 Bluetooth Speakers Work
Kove’s two-in-one Commuter 2 Bluetooth speakers work the way earpods do, by linking to each other and then pairing with your device. The upper unit acts as the main speaker, so it’s the one that receives the Bluetooth signal from your device and then relays it to the lower speaker. Because of this, you can use the upper speaker on its own but can’t use the lower one alone.
Note: The upper speaker is the one with the strap.
Connecting the Kove Commuter 2 Speakers to Your Device
- Power on both speakers by pressing the oval button until you hear a tone and the LED lights turn on.
- Turn on Bluetooth in your device (phone, laptop, or tablet) and make sure that it’s discoverable.
- Select Kove Commuter 2.0 on the list of Bluetooth devices and pair it with your device to connect.
- Once connected, the speakers’ LED lights should stop flashing.
This entire process is simple. On most phones (if not all) you should get a pop-up message asking you to pair with Kove Commuter 2.0 if your phone is discoverable. At least this was what I experienced, so it took just a couple of seconds to connect to the speakers.
Main Features of the Kove Commuter 2 Bluetooth Speakers
Each speaker has a 1500 mAH battery that Kove says should give about 5 to 7 hours of playtime when at 70% volume. The actual playtime, from my experience, will be closer to 5 hours.
I got about 12 hours of playtime at a reasonable 30% volume with the flashing LED feature switched off. If you play music at 50% with the flashing LEDs off, you should get about 7 hours. If you prefer to have the LED feature on, then this will eat into the battery life.
When you switch off the flashing lights, the lower speaker’s LED will switch off but the upper one remains on. Therefore, while testing the speakers, the upper one always ran out of juice before the lower one. And when the upper one switches off, you won’t be able to use the lower one.
When the batteries are running low, the LED will start flashing red and there’ll be intermittent beeps. This will happen for about 30 minutes before the batteries die completely.
Charging the speakers to 100% took about 3 hours each time, which is within the range of 2 to 4 hours given by Kove. While charging, the LEDs remain red and they turn off when the battery is full.
Each time, the lower speaker got to 100% a couple of minutes before the upper one. Of course, this is because I never got to use the lower speaker to 0 since the upper one always died first.
The Kove Commuter 2 speakers run on Bluetooth 5.0 technology, which is known for its improved speed, efficiency, and audio quality. These speakers boast a line-of-sight range of about 10 meters (about 33 feet) from the transmitting device.
The range takes a hit when there are obstacles like walls – I was able to use them within a range of about 5 meters (about 16.4 feet) indoors. The individual speakers can also be used apart within a similar range.
There are small subwoofers on either end of the speakers, right where the LED lights are found. For portable speakers, the bass from these subwoofers is quite decent.
However, don’t expect the intensity you’d get from dedicated subwoofers. Still, compared to other Bluetooth speakers in the market, the Commuter 2’s bass is one of the best.
On the front face, you’ll find the mid-range speakers. When the Commuter 2s are joined, these speakers face opposite directions to produce a 360-degree audio effect.
You’ll fully appreciate this feature when the Bluetooth speaker stands at the center of a room – the audio remains clear all around. And when used as separate speakers, you’ll get a stereo effect for even audio distribution throughout your room.
These speakers can get really loud. In fact, at the loudest volume, the audio can be clearly heard within a radius of 20 meters (65 feet) outdoors before it begins to peter out.
Of course, this radius will be shorter if there are loud ambient sounds, like people chatting (I’m thinking of an outdoor party scenario). Indoors, you won’t need to use the highest volume for these speakers as they get pretty loud.
The Commuter 2s have their own volume buttons – when you adjust the volume in one, it also changes the other one. In some Bluetooth speakers, when you adjust the volume using the speakers’ controls, your device will register this change.
This means that when you turn the speakers’ volume to the highest, your device will also show 100% volume.
However, in the Kove Commuter 2s, you can raise the volume on the Bluetooth speakers to the highest and then further increase the volume on your device for even more sound.
For example; I connected the Bluetooth speakers to my laptop, whose volume was at 20. I then turned the volume up on the speakers to the highest level, which was pretty loud. However, since the laptop’s volume was at 20, I could raise the volume even higher if I needed to.
The Kove Commuter 2 speakers have a sturdy build quality and are rather heavy when joined. This is a sign of the speakers’ long-term durability. Kove used high-quality material with no sign of hastily put together bits. Even the strap is securely fixed; you can use this to carry the speakers without worrying about it dropping.
These speakers are rated IPX7 water-resistant so they won’t be damaged by a splash. However, these speakers will get damaged when submerged for too long so try and avoid taking them into the pool.
If you connect the Commuter 2 to your phone, you’ll also enjoy hands-free phone calls thanks to the built-in microphone.
However, the microphone’s performance is underwhelming. I found that I had to be literally an inch away from the mic for my callers to hear me. Even then, they said that my voice was rather muffled. The audio from the other end came out clearly, but this is expected since the speakers themselves work well.
I bought the Kove Commuter 2 Bluetooth speakers for $95 inclusive of taxes. Interestingly, the price of these speakers greatly varies on different websites.
Amazon, for instance, is selling them for about $82 at the time of writing this piece, while Kove has listed the same speakers for $242. I’m not sure why there’s such a huge disparity.
Pros and Cons of the Kove Commuter 2 Bluetooth Speakers
- These speakers can get very loud, making them ideal for parties.
- They produce decent bass thanks to the subwoofers.
- It’s very easy to connect them to your device.
- Their batteries can last over 10 hours if you listen at a volume of about 50% with the flashing LEDs off.
- The Commuter 2 is made up of two small speakers that can be used as two independent units for a stereo effect.
- The speakers are charged using a micro USB cable that is easy to find.
- The Commuter 2 is IPX7 water-resistant, so it can withstand splashes.
- They have a wireless connectivity range of up 10 meters (33 feet) without obstacles between the speakers and the transmitting device.
- The volume and power buttons are a little hard to press because they aren’t raised. They take a bit of getting used to.
- The flashing LEDs aren’t ideal for photosensitive people, but this feature can be turned off.
- You can’t completely turn off the LED light for the upper speaker. This may be an issue for those who are easily distracted by lights at night (like me!).
- The upper speaker’s battery seems to die faster than the one for the lower speaker because its LED is constantly on.
- The Commuter 2 speakers are rather heavy when joined.
3 Alternative Bluetooth Speakers
To come up with this list of alternatives, I considered the following:
- Features – I looked for Bluetooth speakers that have almost similar features as the Kove commuter 2 but at different price points. For the more expensive ones, I considered those that offered slightly more to justify the higher price.
- Value for money – The alternative Bluetooth speakers ought to offer value for your money, at their price.
- User reviews – I checked the user reviews to find the highest-rated speakers by real buyers.
Best Low-Cost Bluetooth Speaker: EDUPLINK Portable Bluetooth Speaker
If the Kove Commuter 2’s price is out of your reach, consider this Bluetooth speaker from EDUP-LINK that they call the M6 Pro.
Costing about $40, it is one of the most affordable options in the market. Just like Kove’s option, it boasts IPX7 water resistance, Bluetooth 5.0, and an in-built microphone.
Its design is also reminiscent of the Commuter 2, with a cylindrical shape and a circular LED light that rims the subwoofer on the upper end. However, you don’t get a two-in-one design here, but that’s not an issue at this price point. Still, you can pair two M6 Pro speakers for a stereo effect.
Sadly, this Bluetooth speaker has a shorter range than Kove’s, at just about 6 meters (20 feet). Also, you’ll notice its highest volume start to reduce as the battery dissipates. Whatever the case, if you’re looking for an affordable Bluetooth speaker, the EDUP-LINK M6 Pro is a great choice.
Best Bass Bluetooth Speaker: JBL Flip 5
JBL is a well-known brand in the audio industry and their Flip 5 Bluetooth speaker is a testament to the company’s track record. This speaker has a similar design to the Commuter 2: a cylindrical shape with subwoofers on either end. However, this isn’t a two-in-one unit like Kove’s model.
The Flip 5 boasts a large lithium-ion battery that charges to full in about two and a half hours and offers about 12 hours of playtime. Incidentally, this model has a USB type C charging port, instead of the older micro USB found in the Commuter 2.
This speaker also gets IPX7 water resistance and JBL tells us that it can handle submergence to a depth of up to 3 feet (0.9 meters). The Flip 5’s main draw is its audio quality, which has an intense bass thanks to its lower frequency range. Sadly, the speaker uses the older Bluetooth 4.2, meaning a shorter range than Kove’s model.
Most Durable Bluetooth Speaker: Ultimate Ears BOOM 3
The Boom 3 is the only Bluetooth speaker on our list with an IP67 rating, which means that it has water and dust resistance. In fact, the company tells us that the speaker was taken through over 25 tests to ascertain its durability, and it passed! If you have an active lifestyle, the Boom 3 is the perfect option for you.
Other than its strength, it also performs well as a speaker. For starters, it has a 360-degree audio feature; the speaker produces sound all around it. You also get a deep bass with its lowest frequency being 90 Hz. This isn’t as low as the JBL speaker’s bass, but it’s still good enough for most users.
The Bluetooth range is up to 150 feet (45 meters), which is the longest among the speakers on this list, including the Kove Commuter 2. Moreover, you can pair two source devices to the Boom 3 at the same time or connect it to up to 150 other Boom 3 speakers for multiple audio points.
Frequently Asked Questions
Answer: The Kove Commuter 2 uses a micro USB Y cable to charge both speaker units. You can use any micro USB cable.
Answer: Bluetooth speakers can play on TVs that have Bluetooth connectivity. These are generally smart TVs.
Answer: You can use a Bluetooth speaker whenever you need to freely move with our audio or if you just don’t like the clutter created by wires.
The Kove Commuter 2 Bluetooth speaker has great audio but its bass is a little muted. If you don’t care for deep bass then you won’t mind these speakers.
The main feature of the Commuter 2 is its two-in-one design that allows you to get a stereo experience by separating the unit into two. Plus, with its IPX7 water resistance and sturdy build quality, these speakers are certainly built to last. If you have a budget of about $95 then consider these speakers.
Photos by: Barry Juma