Pros:
• Good battery life
• Brilliant as a speakerphone
• Great mid-range sound

Cons:
• Imperfect build quality
• Harsh treble
• Weird sound effects

Most of us go for headphones when we want high quality, on-the-go sound, but when it comes to sharing playlists, a small speaker becomes a necessity. It’s for this purpose that Cyrus — a company best known for its full-sized hi-fis — has created the Soundcan, a compact bluetooth speaker, which also includes speakerphone functionality. But at £80, is it really worth the investment?

Hardware

Whilst the Soundcan is clearly no design rival of Bang and Olufsen’s products, its polished exterior does appeal to my inner magpie, and it has a reassuring paperweight heaviness to it.

It lacks a screen, but the top-mounted four-button control disc makes for good ease of use. The physical compactness of the Soundcan is also impressive — it’s less than half the size of a beer can.

Cyrus Soundcan

Come to use that control disc, however, and you’ll be greeted by a flimsy piece of plastic that makes an unpleasant hollow clonk whenever you depress it. It’s a minor gripe, but it seems a shame that Cyrus had to spoil an otherwise nicely made device with a cheap, but much-used part.

Setup

The thing about wireless audio is that it should be built for convenience; if getting a connection is a struggle, you might just as well use a cable.

In most respects, the Soundcan avoids this pitfall. After switching on and holding the play button, bluetooth pairing is pretty seamless, although initially, the Soundcan seems to struggle if it’s more than a few feet away. However, once hooked up, it holds on pretty well, and the 3.5mm jack socket allows you to revert to plug-in-and-play, should you wish.

Cyrus Soundcan

My only major complaint here is about the Soundcan’s bizarre in-built sound effects. When you flick the power switch, a retro warp-speed-type noise blares out, before a voiceover instructs you how to connect via bluetooth (no matter how many times you’ve done it before). Similarly, if the Soundcan loses its connection, an elongated “dooooh”’ is played, which can be pretty disconcerting when the volume is high.

Sound

And high volume is something the Soundcan is very much capable of. Most standard-sized rooms would be filled by the sound that this thing kicks out, although the quality varies enormously throughout the frequencies.

Cyrus Soundcan

Assuming you follow Cyrus’ instruction to place it “in the centre of a wooden table” for the best sound, the Soundcan’s bass is satisfyingly deep, if a little quiet, and the mid-range is stunningly good. Unfortunately, both are somewhat overshadowed by a small range of trebles (perhaps those which make the Soundcan resonate) which are incredibly harsh.

The overall sound is still much better than anything you’ll get from a laptop, but once again, it feels like Cyrus has done some great work, but then not quite finished the job.

Speakerphone

Although the Soundcan is clearly not the speaker of choice for a committed audiophile, the option to use it as a speakerphone will make it a popular choice with corporate commuters. The microphone, which is embedded in the top rim, does a good job of capturing clear conversation, and given the Soundcan’s mid-range richness, it’s little wonder that the Skype audio is superb.

Battery

It’s also worth noting the Soundcan’s power-holding abilities. Four hours of charging via micro USB seems to provide enough juice for the claimed ten hours of battery life, and possibly more using a wired connection.

Cyrus Soundcan

The Bottom Line

In many respects, I’m impressed by the Cyrus Soundcan. The majority of its sound is surprisingly good, and the compact design is sleek and practical. It also performs very well as a speakerphone, and the battery life is impressive, too.

In fact, most of the Soundcan’s negatives are niggles rather than major issues. The plasticky control disc doesn’t affect operation, the sound effects are nothing worse than weird, and that harsh treble only applies to a very small range of frequencies. That said, I would probably expect these issues to be ironed out of an £80 device.

In total, nothing about the Soundcan will amaze, but it is a perfectly competent, compact option for playing your phone‘s or laptop’s music library out loud.

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Mark Myerson

Mark is best known for writing about apps, but he also loves the tactile, hardware side of technology. Being a professional photographer, he's pretty handy with a camera, and he's a self-confessed tweetaholic. Connect with him on Twitter and Google+.