ION Audio Road Warrior Speaker Review: Is it for You?
Want to be sure of a booming loud bass sound at your party, or when you’re chilling out in the backyard, it will pay to look at the ION Audio Road Warrior Bluetooth Speaker.
With its distinctive odd-shaped look, this stereo Bluetooth speaker is not for everyone. My review though will tell whether it is for you.
I describe what you get in the box and how to operate the ION.
More importantly, I cover what you get for your money, like the quality of the build, the battery, and the sound and where it’s best suited to enjoy. But I haven’t held back on some of the downsides.
Click in the table of contents below for any question you want immediate answers to or keep scrolling to read the full review.
Built For Handling Party Going
The ION Audio Road Warrior is large and heavy at 29+ lbs.
The housing is made of hard industrial plastic bolstered by aluminum and metal reinforcements used in the frame and the handles. So, it can withstand the knocks you get when carrying it to your party.
It has an odd-shaped appealing look, with the front panel slightly angled to help better disperse the sound. The two woofers and tweeters are protected by a transparent aluminum grille.
It fits right into the atmosphere of your party with red lights that flash on and off to the beat of the music.
And the rubber feet on the bottom panel are just right to protect the paint finish on your car.
But it lacks in any form of waterproof protection. So not only do you have to take it undercover at the slightest hint of rain you can’t take it anywhere near the pool. A splash could spell the end of your speaker.
A Portable Stereo Sound That is One of the Loudest
The Road Warrior is a stereo Bluetooth speaker with 500 Watts of power (2 x 250 Watts per channel).
The music is delivered by two each of:
- 10-inch woofers.
- 1-inch tweeters.
- bass ports.
This all amounts to a massive sound output that literally shakes the rafters. So, make sure you’re not too close for too long.
But ramp up the volume on the ION too much, and distortion begins to kick in. It starts to become annoying at 85% so unless you just want the loud beat; you’re left with 15% unused volume.
Lowering the volume level on your source device can reduce the distortion.
You’re not going to get a perfectly balanced sound with the ION. The exceptionally loud bass overwhelms the mids, especially at the higher volumes. And the mids do lack detail. But the highs are clean and crisp, not something you’d expect for a loud heavily oriented bass speaker.
You might be able to reduce the impact of the loud bass by adjusting the tone or equalizer control on your source device to lower the bass level.
A Battery That is Disappointing
When it comes to powering the ION Audio Road Warrior, there are upsides and downsides.
On the upside, with a full charge, the battery lasts around 12 hours playing at lower to medium levels if you have the woofer lights on while usage time drops to 9 hours.
Like all battery running speakers when you ramp up the volume to the higher level’s playtime drops so, you’ll only get 4 or so hours.
What is disappointing though, is that recharging the battery takes a long time, something like 7 – 8 hours to reach full charge. Normally I would expect 3 – 4 hours. And I think it’s because of the type of battery.
The ION has a 7Ah lead-acid battery and not the latest generation Lithium-Ion battery.
You’ll find the battery won’t last as long as a Lithium-Ion battery. Some customers have complained that playtime reduces after a few months.
Others found their battery became unstable after a year. The lifetime of any battery varies according to the amount of usage. But the number of issues customers report about the battery is disappointing.
For a low price, you can buy another 7Ah battery from ION as a replacement. This is inconvenient and downright annoying.
On the upside, like most portable Bluetooth speakers you can play the Road Warrior by connecting to a wall outlet using the AC power cable.
Even better, there’s a 12V DC power cable which allows the unit to be powered from a car battery. So, if you can get your vehicle close to the party scene, you’ll be right to blast out music all day and well into the night. Or just make it a tailgate party wherever you stop
The sound is not quite as loud, to avoid damaging the vehicle’s internal wiring or fuses.
You can use the USB port to charge your phone or another device. That’s a handy feature if you forgot to bring your device charger or there’s no power outlet available. But I wouldn’t be using it regularly because it means less music playtime and isn’t that why you buy a speaker? So, you can listen to music?
It’s Heavy But Portable
At 28.7 lbs. the Audio Road Warrior is heavy to carry. And with its shape it not easy to hold it on your shoulder. You can do so, but it’s not too far before it becomes uncomfortable.
There are strong, comfortably shaped handles on each side.
You can use two hands with the ION resting on your stomach. Or use one hand stretched out to the side because of its bulk. Either way, you won’t be carrying it for a long distance.
Or you can strap it to a luggage type trolley, but that’s an extra cost.
So, it is portable but not too far. It is built to handle the knocks you get when transporting or taking it to your party and it has a battery, so you don’t need a power outlet. Or you can pull it out of the trunk and hook up to your car battery for a great tailgate party.
And outdoors you’re fine so long as there’s no rain or you don’t get close to water splashes at a pool or at the beach. Even indoors keep it away from the drinks table at the party because it has no waterproofing. It’s not even splash-proof.
Where’s It Best Suited to Play?
Play the ION Audio Road Warrior for a loud music party or even when you’re working in the garage, the backyard or at a job site.
If your vehicle is handy, it’s ideal for tailgate parties, beach parties and when you’re away camping. You know that with a connection to the car battery you have that much longer playtime than running off the internal battery.
What’s in the Box
The box is large and heavy with a shipping weight of nearly 40 lbs. so, be careful when you’re opening it. Inside you’ll find, one each of a:
- Road Warrior Portable Speaker
- Auxiliary Cord with 3.5mm jacks
- AC Power Cable (For Wall Socket)
- DC Power Cable (For Car Socket)
- Quick Start Guide
- Safety and Warranty Manual
The speaker does come with a rechargeable battery that is user replaceable, but it’s not a simple slide-in replacement.
You can use a microphone with the ION, but you’ll have to buy that as an extra.
The ION Road Warrior weighs 28.7 lbs. and measures:
If you want to look at the ION Audio speaker, watch the first three and a half minutes of this video.
Even if you’ve watched the video, let’s take you through what you’ll find as you explore the ins and outs of the Road Warrior.
The Front Panel
First up, you can’t help but notice the two huge 10-inch woofers on the front panel covered with protective aluminum mesh. A strong indication this speaker is built to blast out a loud sound.
Next, on the front panel, are two small 1-inch tweeters in the top left and right-hand corners.
And in the middle at the top is the round-shaped control panel with a small display.
There are two strong carrying handles on each side of the speaker. You can carry the ION using only one of the handles, but it is a little awkward.
The Top Panel
There is a handle on the top panel, but the Road Warrior is not easy to hold with it, and you won’t go far using it.
You’ll also find:
- A rubberized radio antenna.
- A USB port to charge phones or other USB connected devices.
- An NFC logo that you tap to pair Android phones with the speaker (note you can’t do this with iPhones).
The Rear Panel
Of special interest at the rear of the Road Warrior are the two bass ports that help produce an all-around deep, punchy sound.
In addition, there’s:
- The AUX port (for the 3.5mm audio cable).
- The ¼ inch microphone port.
- The DC input to charge the battery and to power the speaker through your car’s power outlet.
- The AC input to charge the battery and to power the speaker through a wall socket.
- The On/Off Switch.
- The LED light that stops displaying red when the battery finishes charging.
That’s what you see once you’ve unpacked.
Now I’ll take you through how to use the Control panel to most effect.
The Control Panel
In the middle of the round-shaped control panel is a small LCD display that shows from left to right:
- Battery life.
- Volume status.
- Source mode, i.e., whether it’s radio or Bluetooth).
The other controls circle the LCD display:
- Bluetooth button to disconnect the Bluetooth device.
- SOURCE button to shift between Radio and Bluetooth mode.
- VOL Plus and Minus buttons to adjust the volume to your liking.
- TUNE Plus and Minus buttons to search for Radio Stations.
- MIC Plus and Minus buttons to adjust the volume of your microphone.
- The Light button.
The light button is a feature that adds a touch of pizazz to your party. Press the light button once, and the woofers light up in red. Press it again, and the red light starts flashing. That’s a neat touch.
Connectivity that is Bluetooth and More
The Audio Road Warrior is like most of the speakers it competes with. It offers different options to connect the speaker but unlike most it also has FM Radio.
Let’s look at how easy each option is to connect.
There are no surprises when you connect to Bluetooth:
- Turn on your Bluetooth device.
- Turn on the Road Warrior.
- Press the Source button to switch to Bluetooth mode.
- On the setup screen of your Bluetooth device, find “Road Warrior” and connect.
If your Bluetooth device prompts for a pairing code, enter “0000”.
It’s as simple as that.
It’s only a minute or so to have stereo music streaming wirelessly from any Bluetooth device.
The ION Road Warrior has Bluetooth A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution). The rating for receiving music is 100 feet away from your Bluetooth device.
As always though, if there are obstructions, in the way, the quality will suffer, and the connection could break.
Also normal is devices like other phones, speakers, or wi-fi equipment. These can interfere with the Bluetooth signal and shorten the range or cause some playback issues.
When you want to disconnect, press the Bluetooth button on the Control Panel.
Don’t Have Bluetooth? Use Android NFC Pairing
NFC is the acronym for Near-Field Communications.
If you have an Apple device, don’t read any further on this subject.
Most Android phones have NFC (check your manual or device settings to see whether your device is supported).
The process of connection is like Bluetooth:
- Check that your device is turned on and unlocked.
- Open your device settings and turn on NFC (you only need to do this once).
- Press the Source button on the ION to switch to Bluetooth mode.
- Touch and briefly hold your device to the NFC logo on the Top Panel.
- Follow the pairing instructions that appear on your phone.
- If a passcode is required, enter “0000”.
To unpair, gently bump your device against the NFC logo.
Want to Go Hard-Wired? No Problem
Use the 1/8-inch (3.5mm) aux input for any of your non-Bluetooth
Use the MIC input if you want to make announcements during music switches or you want to go Karaoke.
And a Little Different – Listen to FM Radio
I’m wasn’t impressed when I checked the warranty.
Normally you can expect at least a year’s warranty for an electrical based product.
And yes, if you buy the ION Road Warrior outside of the US, you’re covered by a one-year warranty from the date of purchase.
But buy it in the USA, and it’s only ninety days.
That is not much coverage for a speaker that has a mid-range price.
And you have all the normal exclusions.
In my view, this is a buyer beware purchase.
Should you need to activate a warranty claim, ring ION Audio customer service at 401-658-3743.
For technical support click on www.ionaudio.com/support
What I Don’t Like
- The incredibly short warranty period of three months.
- The durability of the battery.
- The lack of waterproofing, so you need to think twice about the weather.
- The limited mid-range sound.
What I Do Like
- The loud sound that isn’t drowned out by other noise.
- The booming and powerful bass.
- The rugged and durable build quality.
Do you want to make a statement with your portable Bluetooth speaker?
Do you want it to be large, rugged looking, with a powerful, loud bass sound? And with visual effects at night to create the right party mood?
A speaker that isn’t drowned out at your tailgate or any large outdoor party?