The Anker Soundcore Model Zero certainly looks striking, with a cool, circular design that features a handle built into the grille itself, setting itself apart from the almost saturated portable Bluetooth speaker market.
With a hi-res audio certification, this portable speaker should deliver a crisp, detailed sound that’s double the resolution of CD-quality audio – but does it measure up to what is arguably its biggest rival, the Ultimate Ears Boom 3? Here’s what we thought.
Price and availability
The Soundcore Model Zero is available to purchase for $199.99 / £159.99. That works out at around AU$280 based on current conversion rates, however there is no word on when the speaker will be available in Australia.
Compared to other portable speakers, the price sits around the midrange; this is similar to the Bose Soundlink Revolve, which impressed us with its detailed and expansive sound.
If you’re looking for something on the cheaper end of the spectrum, you might want to try the Anker Soundcore Flare, which comes in at around $60 (£70 / about AU$120).
Anker has also released a beefier version of the speaker, the Soundcore Model Zero +, which comes with Dolby Audio and Google Assistant built in; this version costs $249.99, and appears to only be available in the US right now.
This speaker has an eye-catching design, looking a little like a kettlebell or a handbag, which is one of the things that makes it so portable – you can simply pick it up by the handle and go.
Plus, at just over 4lbs, it’s super lightweight and easy to carry, and with an IPX5 waterproof rating it should withstand the rain if you take it outside.
The Soundcore Model Zero is almost completely covered by a black grille, save for a thin aluminum bar that encircles it, and the foot of the speaker.
On the bottom of the handle you’ll find a 'BassUp' button (more on that later), volume, multi-function, and Bluetooth buttons, with the latter lighting up blue when the speaker is connected to your device.
Overall, the design has an almost sculptural effect, which is bound to look great in any home – but how does the circular shape impact the way the speaker transmits sound?
Features and performance
It may be small, but the Soundcore Model Zero is definitely mighty, with a warm, room-filling sound, and thanks to its rounded shape and all-over grille, you get an impressive 360 degrees of noise.
The speaker is hi-res audio certified, which means the sound is of a higher quality compared to what you would get from a CD, thanks to a sampling rate double the resolution of CD-quality audio – provided the file you're playing back supports it.
The sound you get from a hi-res audio certified speaker is a pretty faithful reproduction of your music, and the Soundcore Model Zero is no exception with lively, crisp treble frequencies, and smooth mids.
Vocals, keys, and synths sound particularly good on the Soundcore Model Zero, with detailed, mid-range tones coming through beautifully when we played vocal heavy acoustic tracks like Agnes Obel’s ‘Riverside’, as well as the synthier sound of Billie Eilish’s ‘When I Was Older’.
One of the calling cards of this particular speaker is the ‘BassBoost’ feature, which can be enabled via the Soundcore app or by pressing the dedicated 'BassUp' button on the bottom of the handle.
When in this mode, the bass frequencies are supposed to sound more intense, and while we definitely heard an improvement in the bass when using the BassBoost feature, we weren’t blown away by the lower frequencies, particularly at lower volumes.
Still, as a small, portable speaker, the Model Zero performs admirably in terms of amplification and its clarity across different frequencies.
You can also use the Soundcore app to change the equalizer settings on the Model Zero, giving you even more control over how your music sounds. You can choose between different equalizer presents like ‘Voice’ for vocal-heavy tracks, or ‘Flat’ if you want to get rid of most of the bass frequencies and high-end brightness.
You can also tune the equalizer manually if you wish. It’s a great feature to have, although the changes were quite subtle when switching between the different presets; we were hoping to hear more noticeable changes.
At around $30 more expensive than our favorite portable speaker, the Ultimate Ears Boom 3, we would have expected more powerful bass, and a better battery life; the Model Zero only offers 10 hours of playback compared to the Boom 3’s 15, as well as Anker’s budget portable speaker, the Soundcore Flare, which offers 12 hours.
All in all, the Soundcore Model Zero is a solid portable speaker, with a good volume level, and gives a great performance when it comes to mid and treble frequencies.
However, we do feel it’s lacking in terms of bass, and it can sound a little flat at lower volumes.
Still, we did like the overall design of the speaker, which we felt was really eye-catching without intruding too much on your home’s decor. Is that worth spending an extra $30 on if you’re deciding between this speaker and the UE Boom 3? We’re not so sure.