I wondered how long it would take, and here it is: the logical next step in Bluetooth audio innovation, two speakers that work together to give us physical separation of sound. The best single Bluetooth speakers I have tried so far achieve great clarity and virtual stereo effects thanks to sophisticated technology, but with these the familiar separation is achieved in the traditional way, by having different sounds coming out of two separate units.
To fully appreciate this layering of sound, I have been listening to Bryan Ferry (Mamouna, Olympia and the latest, Avonmore) and I must say I am really impressed.
The Taco Dual by iDea USA arrived in a beautiful lidded box, which is my favourite type of box for quality electronics. Inside, the two speakers are securely packaged together with the accessories: two USB charging cables; two sets of AUX cables for alternative connection when Bluetooth is not available; two gorgeous velveteen storage bags; two softgel under-pads for slippery surfaces; a clear but basic, copiously illustrated manual.
The excellent first impressions are fully confirmed by practical performance. I first tested the speakers with my Kindle Fire HD, a useful device not known for its sound capabilities. The Taco Dual connected immediately with each other and were recognized by my Kindle without delay. The sound is very satisfying, well balanced and makes the most of the source material. The speakers were loud enough to compete with the noise of the lawnmower (my husband was mowing at the time), without even reaching their upper limits.
I used them for an hour straight out of the box, but it is best to top up the charge with the USB cables provided. Operation is really easy: both speakers should be turned on at the same time, then the Bluetooth button on the Left speaker is pressed to initiate pairing. A female voice confirms operation as you go. I could not immediately see a way to tell which speaker is left or right, but the voice does identify them and the blue light blinks at different speeds. On your phone or tablet the device is identified as “iDea Taco Dual” (instead of some arcane alphanumerical code) which makes it easy to select them if you've got other favourite Bluetooth equipment in your list.
The Taco Dual speakers are made of solid, quality materials: metal grille and non-slippery hard black plastic with distinctive bright red sides; it's a bold design which I find very edgy and attractive. The triangular profile dispenses sound very efficiently (I have another speaker of the same shape that I love). The multi-function buttons are logically arranged, there is a microphone in each, and the connecting ports are protected by a rubber flap that seals and keeps dust and humidity out. They have NFC connectivity, but I don't own any compatible equipment, so did not test that function. They can be used independently, which is nice, but why would I want to?
I used the AUX cables to connect the Taco speakers to my desktop computer which does not have Bluetooth. There were no instructions for this, but this is how it works for me:
- Make the physical connection between your audio source and the left speaker with one of the AUX cables provided (not sure if it HAS to be the left but that's how my test went)
- Turn both speakers on at the same time to pair them together
- Start playing your music through both speakers. If you turn on the connected speaker first, only that speaker will work.