Hey everyone, this is Ian, tech reviewer with JimsReviewRoom. What I have here today is pretty ridiculous. You’ve seen our reviews on the GTK-XB7 from Sony, and the Boombox from JBL. Well, the new Altec Lansing Xpedition 8 is the biggest everything-proof portable Bluetooth speaker that I’ve seen on the market today. In total transparency, Altec Lansing did provide this unit for us to test out, though my review was not altered in any way. As always, check our affiliate links below for the most updated prices in real time.
Right off the bat, the Altec Lansing Xpedition 8 is gargantuan – our postman had to wheel it into the office on a handtruck. It is the biggest wireless Bluetooth speaker I have personally tested. Coming in at 28 inches tall, 13 inches wide, and 15 inches deep, it’s almost the size and shape of a wedge speaker you would see in a performance venue. Apart from the sheer size of the speaker, it is really designed well also. The entire body is made of a very thick, durable plastic, which has handles molded into all sides which really helped me ease the burden of moving this thing around. The casing is a rigid, industrial design with raised beveled lines throughout, really making the speaker shape and contours stand out.
Great for versatility, the Xpedition 8 was also designed to stand both horizontally and vertically. There are non-skid rubber feet on both surfaces so it can withstand being pushed or kicked around. Honestly, I think this speaker could take a hit from a car and come out less damaged – though I didn’t test that out specifically.
The dual 8-inch woofers are covered by an aluminum grill that keeps them protected, but also gives the speaker another level of tangible durability. Flipping to the back, you have your water-sealed door – I’ll give you more on that in a second. You also have passive bass radiators here, with a more tightly woven aluminum grate covering the back.
LIGHTING FOR THE PARTY
The Xpedition 8 is designed to be just as visually stimulating as the music it provides. Three LED light zones are spread across the face of the speaker: two large central lights that run right across the woofers, two light rings surrounding the woofers, and two white strobe lights at either end. There are a variety of patterns and color combinations you’ll get with the Xpedition.
First, there is a blinking light show – not quite as quick as the 170 BPM of the strobe, more like a continual flashing of different color combinations within the woofer light zones. You’ll get 12 colors – mixes of reds, greens, and blues along with colors like lavender, lime, and turquoise that give the speaker a lot of character and make it stand out from more traditional speakers. Along with that color scheme, they can switch between colors to the beat of the music, either static or multi-colored. Finally, you’ve got a lighting setup of one solitary color – chosen by holding the volume knob for two seconds and rotating to your pick.
Waterproofing is huge in portable speakers – you want to have that freedom to take the speaker with you anywhere without having to constantly worry if rain or splashing will ruin your experience. Well, with the Xpedition, it is IP67 certified, pretty surprising considering just how huge this thing is. IP67 protection means you can have the speaker submerged in up to 3 feet of water for up to 30 minutes, just make sure the plastic port on the rear of the speaker is in its locked position. If that still scares you, because you worry you might knock it into deeper water – worry not. The Xpedition is designed to float in water with its woofers above the surface – meaning you’ll continue to get great quality music without the water muffling it.
As for controls, the speaker has a straightforward lineup right down the center. First thing I want to touch on is the volume knob. It’s slightly octagonal and clicky, so when I turn it, it felt a lot like a throwback to the old analog knobs on 90’s boomboxes. The knob is backlit with red LEDs that increase as you crank the volume up.
Button-wise, above the volume knob you have your power, as well as the Lights and Strobe buttons. Below the knob, you have a couple really cool buttons – Link and Beast. Beyond being great Zelda and X-men characters, these buttons allow for a couple great features. Link lets you connect another Xpedition 8 with your current speaker to have separate stereo channels, dramatically increasing the immersion of your music. Simply click Link on the controlling speaker, then press it on the pairing speaker and they will link together. Beast mode increases the low-frequency response of the Xpedition, giving you deeper, more resonating bass – I’ll go into more detail in my audio review.
Finally, the Bluetooth connection is down at the bottom – simply click here and connect on your phone. NFC is also offered for quick and easy pairing, just by pressing the Bluetooth button and tapping your phone on the side. I tested the Bluetooth range out on this thing in a real-world scenario, out in my backyard as if I was having a party, and I received about 112 feet of range before the signal was cutting out and unreliable.
An aux-in port is also offered, I really appreciate physical connections and loved this. When connected through the port, the speaker won’t allow Bluetooth, so just keep that in mind. Also included behind the rear panel is a USB charge-out port, at 5V/2A. I tested this with my personal iPhone X and it worked immediately with no problems.
As for power, Altec Lansing graciously offers two different options – AC/DC. Your traditional AC port is for use charging or powering the speaker at home, and the DC charger ends in a car adapter, so you can charge it on the go, really helpful for those consumers who are going to be using this thing at events, weddings, or parties.
Touching on charging, click on the volume knob for less than one second to check on battery life – the volume illumination area will fill to the percent of battery you have remaining. With a claimed battery life of 24 hours, you won’t have to charge up often. As always, to the detriment of my neighbors, I played the speaker at about 50% volume from full to dead, performing this test a couple times, and receiving a total of 13 hours and 51 minutes of use – one of the more intense battery tests I’ve done to date. While that doesn’t quite meet the claim of 24 hours claimed, at 50% volume, this speaker is really loud, and playing at 25% is still enough for many situations.
So as this was the biggest speaker I have tested to date, I looked forward to putting it through the paces. With a bunch of different genres, both indoors and outdoors, I played this thing a lot. It gets extremely loud, one of the loudest single speaker setups I’ve personally heard. It really does live up to the “boomboxes” of the nineties and eighties. At 420 watts of peak power, it can fill large rooms with ease, and even performs extremely well outdoors and while hearing it from a distance. You do lose some clarity, but nothing unexpected at 20 feet. Indoors, you do have to moderate your volume a bit or it will get too loud for space, but it has no problem livening up a party, even with genres from EDM, hip-hop, and rap.
Looking at the audio specifically, the Xpedition has a strong bass performance. It’s punchy and visceral, with tangible bass that you can feel in the chest. It’s not refined or super precise; it provides an exciting, exhilarating depth to the bottom end of the spectrum. Throwing on the Beast button just adds to this presence, shifting the balance even more towards the lower frequencies. This is prime for bass-heads, but not required to enjoy the speaker’s low-end performance.
In the midrange, you’re getting a similar performance. Nothing super delicate or precise, but a really enjoyable sound. The instruments and vocals that make up most of the sound in this range are forward and bright to stand out against the bass. There is some spillover in this range, especially at higher volumes, but it doesn’t affect the overall sound much at all. For instance, in White Room, by Cream, the hammer-like percussion of Ginger Baker doesn’t overshine the high-pitched vocals from Clapton.
Treble isn’t quite as noticeable, but there is some presence which gives some nuance to the music. In Close to the Edge from Yes, the high-pitched sound effects, keyboard, and cymbals weren’t overtaken by the other ranges. With a speaker this big, you will get listening fatigue if you’re listening up close. But using it to just pump some jams and really get excited by your music, everything is clean enough to prevent any ear tinging or ringing.
As is the case with most Bluetooth speakers, there’s not a ton of soundstage or audio separation, but with the speaker being so big, and the center of each driver being so far apart, it is able to get some width and dimension to the sound signature.
One last thing relating to the sound performance – many speakers have some issues with syncing audio and video over Bluetooth. Testing the Xpedition out with my iPhone, I actually did not have much of a problem. With YouTube, there was a fraction of a second delay, but it was totally bearable, and with Netflix, there were basically no issues at all.
There’s no app coming with this speaker, as everything is right there on the speaker. An EQ would always be nice, but you are able to adjust bass response through the beast button, so there is some control.
I think there was a pretty large hole in the market when it comes to an extra-large wireless, LED Bluetooth speaker, and I feel like the Xpedition 8 from Altec Lansing helps fill that gap with a sincere piece of tech. It is showy, flashy, and its light show will bring mood and excitement to any situation. If you’re having a cookout in the backyard, this single speaker can provide music for your entire get together, all while looking extremely cool and being extremely durable. Even if its thrown in the pool, it’s still floating with the speakers above the water’s surface. If you need portability, durability, flexibility, and volume, this thing is for you.