ECOXGEAR Soundextreme SE266

EcoXgear SoundExtreme SE26 – the Humvee of the BT soundbar world (review)

8.4

The EcoXgear SoundExtreme SE26 is for Humvees, ATVs, golf carts, boats – anywhere you need a great stereo soundbar that is IP66 ‘life-proof’. And it has a light show and LED bar as well – perfect for ‘beats in the bush or sound at sea’.

We will get to the tests later because this is almost unique, and frankly, sound fidelity is secondary to survival. Not that it sounds bad – quite the opposite. EcoXgear SoundExtreme SE26 has achieved a good, listenable sound signature despite IP66 water and dust proofing constraints.

EcoXgear SoundExtreme SE26

Websitehere
Price$699.99 includes all vehicle mounting and electrical connections. Optional AC/DC Home kit is $69.99
FromLegitimate retailers and direct
Warranty12 months or three years with registration
Country of ManufactureChina
AboutEcoxgear is an American company based in San Diego.
MoreYou can read more GadgetGuy EcoXGear news and review here

First impressions

Heavy little blighter (5kg). Solid, rock-solid, I am sure the Rock does workouts with this. It is not pretty unless you like post-modern arms-race design – more utilitarian and at home in any tank.

Euphemisms aside, the design is perfect for the task. A 64.8 x 10.2cm cylinder (plus mounting brackets taking it to 16.5cm) it is crafted from IP66 black faux carbon fibre and perforated metal speaker grills.

Mounting

It should be roof-mounted (hanging down) where the speakers and controls point at you or from behind you. It comes with all the mounting hardware and even Allen wrenches. There is a remote control, so you don’t have to reach the physical controls.

Colourful

Each speaker (there are 8) has RGB LEDs that can sync to the music or act as lights. There is also a rear (now front if roof-mounted) LED light bar. It is not retina piercing but can provide a softish LED illumination – about 800 lumens (twice office lighting) at the source and 100 lumens (25% office lighting) at 1m.

Inputs/Outputs

Bluetooth 5 LE with SBC or AAC codec – that means Android, iOS or PC or Mac. There is also an AUX-in 3.5mm jack to play from a wired device and, interestingly, a 3.5mm AUX-out that you can use for headphone or daisy chain to a second unit for large Humvees.

There is also a USB-A 5V/2.1A/10.5W output, but it cannot play USB audio content. The soundbar must be on to activate this. It has a microphone for use as a speakerphone (when connected to a smartphone). It is adequate but lacks any noise cancelling.

There is an EcoCast setting to transmit up to 50 other SoundExtreme soundbars within BT range. Also, an FM radio mode and two station pre-sets. The lack of a display readout makes this pretty hit am miss.

Power

12V/10A/120W means it must be hard-wired into the vehicle electrical harness – not via a utility socket. It also has a DC-out SAE connector.

Sound

This is a stereo 2.2 soundbar. It has separate left and right sealed chambers, each with 1 x side-firing 102mm sub-woofer, 2 forward-firing 57mm mid-range, and one forward-firing 25.4mm tweeter.

Volume-wise any smartphone is capped at 80dB, and the speaker easily handles that. You can increase the volume to well over 90dB using AUX-in, but it gets a bit harsh at full clip.

Note that it claims 500W ‘peak’ – don’t be fooled. In reality, it is about 250-300W divided between the sub-woofers (estimate 75W each), woofers (25W each) and tweeters (12.5W each). That is still plenty of power.

Sound signature and stage

It has a reasonably narrow forward-facing sound stage, probably best suited to a car ‘space’. The side-firing sub-woofers give it a slightly wider stage, but there is no ‘detail’ there.

It has no low-bass (and you would not expect it to have), quite sharply building mid-bass to 100Hz (good) and then is relatively flat (good) to about 5kHz – low treble. It then slowly drops off to 20kHz.

Technically this a warm and sweet signature that is good for most music genres, but like all BT devices, it is affected by content quality. In some cases, it verges on mid-centric for clear voice. There is no app or EQ adjustment.

If you want to know about sound signatures and why they are so important, read our guide here. It will help you to assess how good a speaker really is.

Caveats

Ensure that you have space to mount this where it won’t obscure your vision or hit you on the head. The only significant user complaints relate to placement.

When the ignition switch is off, the bar powers down – many have suggested a toggle switch bypass.

Volume – a few user reviews commented that they expected more headbanging sound from a 500W device. In reality, it is about the same as car audio, and as it is often quasi-open spaces, it may not sound as strong as you expect.

And for the LED lights – most tire of the gimmick and turn them off. The LED bar is not strong enough for a driving light.

GadgetGuy’s take

If you have an off-roader, ATV or boat, buying and fitting the EcoXgear SoundExtreme SE26 is a no-brainer. It is better than the typical audio compromise that these vehicles usually have. Sound-wise – it is more than fit for purpose. Design-wise it accents those Humvee lines nicely.

Rating

It is at its most basic an IP66, Bluetooth soundbar. That earns it a passmark of 8/10. Then we add the LEDs, the sound signature is pretty good and it is more than fit for purpose. But there is no denying its a tad expensive and you need to be careful with finding the right mount position or you will lose what sound stage it has. In addition, it needs to be wired into the vehicle and that may incur more cost. Finally we object to inflated ‘peak’ wattage measurements – manufacturers have to get over this and use RMS and per channel specs.

(and don’t mount it on a crash bar above your head!)

In the box
EcoXgear SoundExtreme SE26
If I have an off-roader, ATV or boat, buying and fitting the EcoXgear SoundExtreme SE26 is a no-brainer.
Features
8.5
Value for money
8
Performance
8
Ease of use
9
Design
8.5
Positives
Negatives
8.4

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Features
Value for money
Performance
Ease of use
Design
Final Score