What we think
The Melbourne Bluetooth speaker from Urbanista is a great speaker for those on-the-go or travelling, thanks to its highly convenient size and rubber exterior, keeping it protected.
The subwoofer makes the bass exceptionally good for a speaker that’s so small it can easily slip into my pocket, but we’re not sure it’s great value for money.
- Looks great
- Highly convenient size
- Very loud despite being small
- Water resistant
- Annoying background noise
- Some distortion at high volume
Design and features
It’s clear from the start that Urbanista have put a lot of thought into the design of the Melbourne. This very aesthetically-pleasing speaker is small enough to fit in your pocket, allowing you to take it anywhere, and strong enough to ensure that wherever you end up, you can still blast out powerful tunes.
The Melbourne measures 5.12 x 2.56 x 0.87 inches, and weighs just 180g too, so you really have nothing to worry about if you want to pack it in your suitcase to take away on holiday.
Having a rubber exterior means the speaker is delightfully smooth and yet grippy at the same time, which helps to prevent it moving around too much when the volume gets cranked up and it starts vibrating more. It also helps protect it from scratches and rough-handling, which can happen a lot when having such a portable speaker.
All the buttons sit flush along the top edge of the speaker, indented into the rubber, and the ports – a 3.5mm AUX plug and a Micro USB slot – are completely covered up by a silicon ‘lid’. It was done so well that I didn’t even notice the little flap was there until the speaker needed recharging and I had to locate the port (it’s on the right hand edge, near the bottom, if you’re unsure).
What this all means is that the Melbourne is water resistant, an uncommon feature with Bluetooth speakers, which helps to make it stand out more in a fiercely competitive market. While you certainly can’t dunk it in water, being IPX4 certified it should resist rain, meaning you are pretty safe to use it outdoors most of the time without cause for concern.
Although it’s pretty standard nowadays, there is a microphone built in, so you can accept phone calls using your speaker rather than your phone, which is useful, as is the little rope-style strap which comes included. This allows you to hang it up if there is no table for the Melbourne to go on, or attach it to your bag, which I like being able to do. It’s a simple yet desirable addition.
There is also a very sleek subwoofer on the back, which I haven’t experienced before on a small Bluetooth speaker, and this is the main feature. In spite of including this however, the speaker failed to score that highly in the features rating due to it being quite basic, and not even being able to skip songs by holding down the Volume Up or Volume Down buttons. This therefore means you always need your phone to do this, which isn’t very convenient.
The Melbourne is available in four different colours, and I received the Fluffy Cloud version (white with a grey grill, pictured below). You could choose from Dark Clown (black with a red grill), Blue Petroleum (cyan with an orange grill) or Orchid Pink (pink front and back, white middle).
If I was going off travelling, I would definitely give the Melbourne serious consideration, because although there are a number of similarly-sized speakers (the XQISIT S20 to name just one), knowing this speaker is protected against splashes and scratches provides greater comfort that it won’t end up breaking not long after I’ve forked out for it.
My phone connected speedily via Bluetooth once I turned the Melbourne on, with no confusing processes to faff about with, which was pleasing.
In terms of sound quality, the Melbourne performs fairly well overall, but there was some ‘fuzzy’ background noise throughout the songs, which was actually really annoying. It didn’t seem like normal static, and may be due to Urbanista making it water resistant, but it prevented the sounds from being as crisp and clear as I would like. The sound is still very good, but it falls short of other small speakers I’ve reviewed.
However, the bass was very good at least, clearly aided by the inclusion of a subwoofer. Understandably the Melbourne can’t compete with larger speakers, but it probably has the best bass I’ve heard on such a small speaker. If Urbanista were able to solve the issue with the fuzzy noise, they have a really good speaker on their hands.
I was pleased to find the speaker still packs a punch in the volume department, although you do notice a bit of noise distortion the more you crank it up, as well as quite a lot of vibrating.
For true power, bass and crispness, you need to invest in a fairly large speaker, so if that’s the primary reason you’re in the market for a speaker then the Melbourne probably isn’t for you. Small speakers will generally have more issues with their sound, but they can be much more convenient, so it may just come down to finding the right balance between size and sound quality.
The Melbourne takes around two hours to charge it from 0 to 100 per cent, which is pretty quick, and you can then expect it to last for approximately six hours before it needs recharging. While this isn’t the longest battery life of a speaker I’ve reviewed, it will certainly do the job just fine.
To charge the speaker, you simply plug the Micro USB cable in and connect it to your laptop or your computer. Annoyingly the cable is incredibly short, but this is often the case for such speakers.
At the time of writing, the Melbourne speaker is only available from the Urbanista website, and costs £59.
While not extortionate, this is more money than I would be willing to pay. For such a small size, and not the greatest sound quality, I would probably pay no more than £40 for this speaker. It’s still a great speaker, but I personally don’t think it represents good value for money currently.
If the speaker becomes available at a cheaper price from other retailers, then I think I would probably go for it, as I don’t have any speakers that are as suited to travelling as the Melbourne.
Overall, the Urbanista Melbourne Bluetooth speaker looks set to be in the middle of the spectrum. It’s not bad at all, but it’s not incredible. With a very smooth design and being perfectly portable, I do really like the speaker, but I’m just not convinced by the cost.
For its price I want more from it, it lacks that something special that I feel is required to justifiably take a small speaker above the £50 mark, and I would expect a better sound quality. The fuzziness I could hear throughout really did irritate me, and it’s a shame because the bass was great for a speaker of this size.
If you aren’t on a budget, feel free to go for the Melbourne. But, if you want to ensure you get the best value for money you may want to check out other options. For not much more you can find more powerful speakers with a clearer sound, and if you’re a massive audiophile, then that may be the way forward for you. If you love to travel around, and want a tiny speaker to come with you, then give the Melbourne some serious consideration.