As consumers, we have many portable Bluetooth speakers to choose from. So imagine being an audio manufacturer. How would you differentiate from a crowded market? One way is to look to the past for inspiration, and that is exactly what one company did.
I’m reviewing the MUZEN OTR Metal Portable FM Radio Bluetooth speaker. Inspired by the transistor radios of the 1950s and 1960s, this Bluetooth blends retro aesthetics with Bluetooth connectivity in a tiny, compact package. Needless to say, these are unique mini Bluetooth speakers that cater to people looking for something a little different.
Notable specs: MUZEN OTR Metal
- FM Radio picks up local stations with tunable dial
- 10-hour battery life, recharges in 2-3 hours
- Winner of CES Innovation Awards
Design of the MUZEN OTR Metal speaker
The entire body of the MUZEN OTR Metal is constructed from a single piece of alloy. The OTR in the name is for their ‘On The Road’ series. It comes in a variety of colours: Jet Black, Red, Pink, Sky Blue, Pistachio Green, and Flamingo Pink.
The body, paint job, and design resemble antique cars and radio from the 1960s. The speaker itself is incredibly compact measuring approximately 3.5”x 2.5” x 2” (WHD). Despite its small size, it’s heavy, weighing just under one pound.
The front includes three dials. The largest dial is for tuning FM radio stations. It functions just like a traditional transistor radio. The dial itself is incredibly smooth and tuning radio stations brought back a lot of childhood memories. Below that is a volume dial and a dial to select between off, Bluetooth, AUX port, and radio.
The Muzen OTR Metal has rubber feet on the bottom to prevent movement from vibrations.
What’s included with the MUZEN OTR Metal speaker
The speaker comes with an assortment of accessories. Some models include a removable faux leather carrying case. All come with a larger luggage-inspired carrying case. It includes stickers that users can decorate the luggage case with. This adds to that classic, retro look.
There’s an extendable antenna that attaches to the Micro-USB port on the back. A micro-USB to ⅛” headphone jack cable is included along with a USB charging cable.
To protect the speaker during travel, a front cover is included for the models that have the removable carrying case. It clips to the case to protect the front. There is also a faux leather strap that can be attached to the case to carry the speaker over the shoulder.
Using the MUZEN OTR Metal speaker
Once on, the FM frequencies backlight displays orange-yellow backlighting. This is the same colour temperature as old incandescent lights and adds to the retro look. There are three modes, Bluetooth, AUX, or FM radio. Naturally, I tried the FM radio first. As I scrolled through the dial, a small LED light on the bottom left glows when it finds a station.
There’s something nostalgic about finding a radio station using a traditional radio dial. It really takes me back to the days before smartphones and streaming music. I think there is a big population out there who thinks like me. They miss having a simple, portable radio.
I noticed that I could access a lot of stations without the use of the antenna. The speaker actually looks better with the antenna on. It’s extendable, but I think it looks best small.
Switching between radio to Bluetooth music streaming really showcases the difference between radio and digital music transmission. Music streaming from my smartphone sounded digitally clean compared to radio signals. At max volume, the radio stations came out louder but more distorted compared to the Bluetooth connection.
I should note that it can only connect to one Bluetooth device at a time. Basically, that means it does not support dual Bluetooth pairing. That’s a feature you commonly see in party speakers.
Sound quality of the MUZEN OTR Metal speaker
Despite its compact size, the MUZEN OTR Metal speaker can easily fill up a room. I connected it to my tablet and watched YouTube videos while I was cooking. The audio dialog was clear and loud. It also sounds great at various volume levels. Between podcasts, videos, and music, it makes a perfect companion for smartphones and tablets.
One thing you will not hear is a lot of low-end bass. This is due to the compact size of the speaker. Still, I could clearly hear basslines and other low-end instruments in a variety of musical genres. The high end is clear and punchy. Overall, no matter the content, the MUZEN OTR Metal can fill virtually any room with sound.
We live in a world full of different types of portable audio products. To find inspiration, sometimes you have to look back. That’s exactly what the MUZEN OTR Metal speaker did. It looks and operates like a transistor radio from the 1960s. I think this appeals to older users who remember and appreciate old-time radios. It’s a blend of old aesthetics, with wireless technology.
As much as I like this speaker, there is room for improvement. First, I would like to see AM radio. I listen to a lot of talk radio and I’m a frequent guest on a lot of shows as a tech expert. It seems unfitting to have a retro-inspired radio that doesn’t support the AM signal.
Second, I wish there was a larger version. I really love the retro design of this speaker. So much so, I want to flaunt it in my living room. MUZEN should create a larger version the same size as older radios. This is the kind of design people want in a home speaker.
That said, I was really impressed with the carrying case. It adds to the retro look and protects it during travel. The addition of stickers helps people personalize it like retro travel luggage.
If you’re a fan of retro radios and looking for a compact portable Bluetooth speaker and radio in one, you’ll be hard-pressed to find something like the MUZEN OTR Metal speaker. It’s the perfect choice for someone looking for something a little different in a portable speaker.