BlueAnt X-3D Max
What is it?
Portable Bluetooth speaker from BlueAnt
Decent sound, good battery life, No Smart features
Some Bluetooth connection issues, No Smart features
BlueAnt’s latest speaker sells itself on its portability, extra bass tones and colour choices. It’s a generally good speaker if all you want is an actual audio speaker, but it’s worth bearing in mind that at its $279 price point, you could alternatively opt for a number of competing smart speakers – depending of course on your preferences around such matters. Or you could try to track down one of its X4 speakers that Asha rather liked, declaring them to be “colour drenched soundgasms”.
The BlueAnt X-3D Max is a circular speaker – that’s not unique in the speaker world – with the promise of 360 degree audio thanks to four active drivers that sit within its frame. Controls are kept very simple, with large friendly volume up and down buttons with a play button in-between. As long as you’re au fait with those symbols, you’re basically good to go.
On the back, there’s a power button with a simple four stage power light above a Bluetooth pairing button. Again nice and simple and easy to navigate for most Bluetooth needs. Where it does get a little trickier is when you want to charge the BlueAnt X-3D Max up, or connect a line-in audio source. Those ports sit beneath a very stiff rubber flap that’s quite hard to open.
That’s not just robust for the sake of being difficult, however. The BlueAnt X-3D Max is IP67 rated – while BlueAnt proudly proclaims it as “waterproof” on its web page, it’s more like “highly water resistant”, making it a more suitable speaker for outdoor use with minimal worries. I still wouldn’t be using it as a floating pool speaker if I were you.
The BlueAnt X-3D Max is also notable because it ships in four different colours. As is the style of the times, they all have slightly silly names, too, as you can pick between Slate Black, Nobility Blue, Coral Chic or Boudoir Red. BlueAnt sent me the Slate Black BlueAnt X-3D Max to review… or to put it more simply, just “Black”.
Black is still very much your standard speaker colour – it goes with everything – but it does have a small catch that the other colours don’t. It’s rather like the sun ship used by Disaster Area, in that it’s black with basically black controls. They’re technically silver, but in darker environments they don’t stand out that much. Thankfully they’re big and rather idiot-proof, but the contrast with, for example, the Coral Chic (Orange) or Nobility Blue (Blue) models is quite pronounced.
Pairing the BlueAnt X-3D Max is very simple; power it on – noting the Australian nature of the speaker’s design with a distinctive digeridoo tone – and hit the Bluetooth pairing button, then find it on your compatible device, and pair up. There’s no app to deal with, which keeps with the simple idea, but it also means that there’s no specific equalisation, and no clear method for firmware updates down the track if they were needed, though at a guess that’d involve the USB-C power port if it’s also data-capable.
The BlueAnt X-3D Max prides itself on providing “optimised” sound, and what it really means by this is slightly bass-heavy music. That’s probably on trend for the way a lot of people want speakers like this to work, but it’s worth noting depending on your musical tastes.
On a heavier track like Alter Bridge’s “Metalingus” it works well, while on something a little less in-your-face like Crowded House’s classic “Weather With You” it had a slightly deeper tone than I’d like.
Not unpleasant, and within the scope of the way you’re meant to use a portable speaker probably not a worry – but it’s definitely a speaker better suited to heavier music than lighter, more vocal-driven fare.
At first, I wasn’t that taken with the BlueAnt X-3D Max’s sound, because every once in a while I hit some notable digital distortion. This was paired to an iPhone 15 Pro using Apple Music to be specific.
Audio didn’t cut out, but it would briefly become slightly garbled, almost like it was very old school radio interference… which I guess it was, because Bluetooth is a radio wave transmission technology.
It was not a problem that was easily reproducible, but it was notable, especially because switching to an Android phone saw the problem vanish entirely. Is that a problem of BlueAnt’s making, or Apple’s? It’s hard to say, but I’m noting it here because it does suggest to me that it’s a better fit for Android users than iPhone ones – or maybe I’m just unlucky and got the model that was made last thing on Friday.
The shape of the BlueAnt X-3D Max provides it with 360 degree sound, but it is important to note that’s just the way it presents its soundstage because of its physical design. There’s no spatial audio or specific Dolby standards at play here, and as far as I can tell no pairing facility if you buy two of them either. The effect of that 360 degree sound is still fairly nice, and it opens up possibilities for placement. Where most speakers are highly directional, making them best located against walls or opposite your listening location, you can drop the BlueAnt X-3D Max down nearly anywhere and it will sound decent.
The claim from BlueAnt is that the BlueAnt X-3D Max is capable of up to 12 hours of battery life, which is good for a speaker of this size. It can mostly meet that claim, though I did notice that while its power indicator lights were generally accurate, the way in which it communicated battery status to either iOS or Android wasn’t. It’s worst at the bottom end of its power curve, where it can drop from 30% to 10% — at which point it starts to complain that its power is low – very quickly indeed.
BlueAnt does provide a 45W USB-C charger in the box, which is a very nice inclusion given how many other gadgets use USB-C these days. It’s quite feasible to use its charger to power up your phone if the speaker’s got plenty of juice. Another nice touch here is that it is capable of playback while charging, so if you have one of those truly epic parties that just keeps on going – or you’ve just forgotten to charge up the BlueAnt X-3D Max beforehand – you can plug it in and still keep listening along.
The BlueAnt X-3D Max is a generally decent speaker at a fair price if you just want simple audio. I can’t ignore the fact that in this space there’s a bevy of available smart options that can do more, but equally there’s a market of music listeners who abjectly do not want that. It’s also lost marks because of that iOS audio issue; while it wasn’t persistent, I can’t and won’t ignore audio issues in what is, after all, a speaker.