WAE Speaker Review

This post by WildSnow.com blogger  

For years I’ve been wary of amplified “ambient” music in the backcountry. I usually prefer the natural sounds of mountains, as well as the ability to hear “wumphs” and other important signals.

WAE rugged speaker.

However, we at Wildsnow are no strangers to technology (something to do with running a website). I’ve recently been won over to occasionally carrying a bit more tech in the bc in the form of a little audio speaker. After a bit of research I picked up a WAE speaker last summer. The speaker’s designed for the outdoors, with good battery life and a water resistant housing.

Of course evening tunes have long been a staple of many a hut trip. I’ve had a few über-cheap mini speakers over the years, and have also used some friend’s nicer ones on occasion. I’ve put quite a bit of use on the WAE over the past few months. During the summer I used it for some camping and climbing trips, and even around the house and in the yard while working on various things. On our thanksgiving hut trip on Rogers Pass having quality sound proved to be an excellent diversion when the sun went down around 3:45.

Skinning with the WAE pumping out some morael-boosting tunes.

An unexpected use I’ve found is while hiking. I avoid playing tunes on the speaker when there’s any chance of other groups in the area, as I’ve been on the receiving end of that too many times. However, on a few long de-proaches it’s been indispensable. When you’re still not back at the car at midnight, a little music is a welcome boost to the morale. I’m convinced it at least doubles my downhill walking speed. It at least makes my partners faster, as they run from my sometimes poor choice of music.

The WAE is a great unit. It’s water resistant, and it’s still bumpin’ after receiving more than it’s fair share of rain and snow. It’s got a Bluetooth connection as well as a analog line-in jack. I’ve ended up using the Bluetooth more; it works well. The range only seems to be about 10-15 feet, however it works great for throwing the speaker in your backpack and having your phone in the pocket. The sound is surprisingly good. it’s comparable to other high-end speakers I’ve seen that are similarly sized.

The WAE speaker works on a rechargable battery, something I was initially worried about. I generally like things that have replaceable batteries; not only can they be easily swapped, but they also provide instant spare batteries for more important items, like beacons and headlamps. While the WAE doesn’t help with that, the rechargeable battery has impressive capacity. It lasts several days of playing; I normally only charge it every few trips. As a test I left the speaker on full blast in my house and it lasted over 10 hours before I finally turned it off. Unfortunately there’s no battery indicator (besides one that shows it’s almost dead).

One one side of the speaker is a rubber flap covering the on-off-mute switch, the USB charging port, and the aux in port.

The other side of the speaker has waterproof buttons for the bluetooth and volume, and also a light that indicates bluetooth and charging.

The WAE’s on switch is a small slider with three settings: on, off, and mute. This switch is the only gripe I have with the device. It takes very little force to move the switch, and it often gets bumped from “on” to “mute.” This simply requires a bit more finesse, but is a glaring inconsistency on an otherwise very well thought out device.

The WAE speaker is an effective way to bring a little high-tech convenience along on a ski trip without much weight or hassle. The shock and water resistance are key; they make it much more usable in the backcountry than some other similar speakers.


11 Responses to “WAE Speaker Review”

  1. Gentle Sasquatch January 23rd, 2014 7:47 am

    at first I thought it was the Alien boot warmer. The colors and style match perfectly.

  2. MBR January 23rd, 2014 8:18 am

    Opted for the Cambridge Oontz and Oontz Angle in our family. Both models are dirt cheap, probably the best bass in its class [Oontz] and long enough battery life to make it thru four apres ski evenings, on a single charge, during a recent hut trip.

  3. Lou Dawson January 23rd, 2014 8:20 am

    Calling all WildSnowers, anyone getting a pop-in advertisement underneath Louie’s speaker photo, titled “V9 Similar Prices” ?? I can’t figure out if there is something on my internet connection that’s hijacking my browser, or what. Nothing weird in the source code…. let me know. Amazing someone can junk up a website that easily! Thanks, Lou

  4. Tuck January 23rd, 2014 8:38 am

    Don’t see the pop-in ad. Running IE11 on Win8.1.

  5. Ryan Bressler January 23rd, 2014 8:45 am

    No pop up add for chrome on os x 10.8. Could be a browser plugin that went bad see: http://arstechnica.com/security/2014/01/malware-vendors-buy-chrome-extensions-to-send-adware-filled-updates/ or hotel wifi sometimes inserts adds.

  6. Charlie Hagedorn January 23rd, 2014 10:45 am

    No ad here.

  7. Joe John January 23rd, 2014 11:42 am

    No pop up or ad that I could see.

  8. Mark Donohoe January 23rd, 2014 11:51 am

    Don’t see a popup on firefox running linux (ubuntu 1210).

  9. Dillon January 24th, 2014 12:36 am

    All clear on my end as well. Oh, and I like this speaker option. As mentioned, it would be great for hut trips and out-slogs.

  10. Lou Dawson January 24th, 2014 2:23 am

    Yeah, my issue was a browser hijack, pretty sure I got it fixed, sneaky evil stuff. Lou

  11. Martin January 27th, 2014 12:55 am

    He Louie, thanks for using the correct umlaut in ‘über-cheap’ ;-)

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information opinion website and e magazine. Lou's passion for the past 45 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about backcountry skiing and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free back country news and information here, and tons of Randonnee rando telemark info.

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