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Toshiba TY-SP3 (TY-SP3EU) Portable Bluetooth Speaker Review

For budget music on the move, you could certainly do worse

by hodg100
Hi-Fi Review

Recommended
Toshiba TY-SP3 (TY-SP3EU) Portable Bluetooth Speaker Review
SRP: £40.00

What is the Toshiba TY-SP3?

The Toshiba TY-SP3EU is by no means the first portable Bluetooth speaker we’ve reviewed, but it is by far the least expensive.

Through these doors we’ve already had the Bayan Audio Soundbook X3, Samsung DA-F61 and Cambridge Audio Minx Go but those are priced between a hundred and two hundred pounds, where as the Toshiba is a far more modest forty quid, or so.
Toshiba markets the SP3 as a PC peripheral but it can obviously be used in other scenarios and with the summer holiday season nearly upon us, it’s certainly something that could easily be slipped in to your suitcase. Let's see if its worth packing, or sending packing.

Toshiba TY-SP3 Design & Connections

The TY-SP3 comes in Apple white, which doesn’t mean it has a light tinge of green, just that it looks like the kind of plastic used in many an iDevice. Concealing the three drivers is a hard, perforated grille and, on the top, are the Volume buttons and a multi-functional circular button.
Toshiba TY-SP3EU
Toshiba TY-SP3EU

At the rear we have a 3.5mm auxiliary jack, a Power button and a mini-USB port, which is only used for charging. Toshiba supplies the appropriate cable in the box and claims that when used at 75% volume, a full charge should last for around ten hours use. That's a figure we can actually back up, in real world testing so it's a decent lifespan.

Toshiba TY-SP3 SetUp & Operation

There’s not much to it, in all honesty. You choose your source and then either connect it via Bluetooth or the 3.5mm jack and away you go. Bluetooth pairing might not be the slick NFC process we see with some portable speakers but it’s hardly taxing. By holding down the circular button on top of the unit, the pairing process is initiated, marked by the indicator light on the front flashing red and blue. It’s then a case of entering the appropriate menu on your PC, phone or tablet and establishing a link with the Toshiba TY-SP3. If you need a security code, it’s 0000.
Toshiba TY-SP3EU
USB power cable supplied
When connected, the indicator light will flash blue, intermittently, which can be slightly annoying but at least you’ll know all is well. We’d have preferred a non-flashing light and also that the indicator changed in colour when connected by wire. For the record, hooking up something via the Aux connection will override the Bluetooth connection but it would be good to have some kind of visual indication of that, rather than just an aural one.

Using the buttons on top of the unit it is possible to control some very basic playback operations on the Bluetooth linked device. You’re limited to skip forwards/backwards and Play/Pause but it’s useful nonetheless.

Toshiba TY-SP3 Features

The TY-SP3 supports Version 2.1 of the Bluetooth spec with Enhanced Data Rate (EDR) and that enhancement proved good to its intent by ensuring a consistent connection between the various devices we paired it with. For the record those were a Samsung Galaxy Note 3, a Nexus 7 (2012 Edition), iPad 4 and a PC running Windows 7, where it was particularly utilised with Skype and Spotify.

It’s the case of Skype that highlights the one and only real feature of the TY-SP3, and that’s hands-free calling capability. If you’re simply using the speaker in conjunction with your phone then you shouldn’t have to take any action in order for it to be able to take a call, provided it’s paired, and it is simply a case of answering via your handset or by pressing the circular button on the speaker.
An awful microphone precludes it from hands-free use
If you’re in the process of streaming music (or any audio), the SP3 will automatically pause it and you are then able to converse using the built-in mic at the back. If you want to use the Tosh with Skype on your PC, it requires a few settings to be adjusted in the Options Menu of the Skype App but, again, it’s very straightforward stuff really.

Toshiba TY-SP3 Performance

As a hands-free speaker, it works in the regard that incoming voices are certainly clear and easily audible and the process of receiving calls is very easy but it fails spectacularly on the quality of the in-built microphone. I may not be one of life’s great talkers but I am generally audible, at least, but several calls to Skype’s testing service, plus actual real human conversations, confirmed that the mic is really not up to the job. Outgoing voice quality is muffled, in the extreme, and you’ll be hard pressed to make yourself heard in anything but broken sentences.
Toshiba TY-SP3EU
So, it’s now a question of how the TY-SP3 performs as a wireless speaker as to whether it’s worth your money and the answer is, ‘it depends’. First of all, the price differential we mentioned above is significant when compared to the other wireless speakers we’ve reviewed. It is, of course, nowhere near as pleasant to listen to as any of them and can’t produce anything like their output, in terms of volume. But, we have to say, we were quite pleasantly surprised by the quality.

Dialogue is crisp and clear and music rarely distorts

Dialogue, in particular, was very well rendered by the SP3 and we happily listened to many a radio broadcast and podcast through it – usually whilst in the bath – and its portability really comes into its own in this type of scenario. We’d also be more than happy to stick it in our travel bag and take it on hols with us to provide a spot of background music listening. Again, it delivers there with creditably clean audio and although the dynamic range is naturally limited, there’s little to nothing to fault, in terms of serving its intended purpose.

Verdict

Pros

  • Clean and clear dialogue
  • High portability factor
  • Easy setup
  • Good price

Cons

  • Very little dynamic range
  • Microphone is useless

Toshiba TY-SP3 (TY-SP3EU) Portable Bluetooth Speaker Review

Let’s cut to the chase. The Toshiba TY-SP3 is a budget portable speaker intended for convenient, non-critical listening and really shouldn’t be judged against the far costlier wireless speakers we’ve reviewed. It’s small, light and a doddle to setup and even, in theory, can double as a hands-free speaker for your Bluetooth capable phone or PC.

On that front it fails, however, owing to the almost useless microphone built into the unit but as a travel speaker it’s certainly worth consideration. Its compactness means it will slip easily into a travel bag or suitcase and the quality of the audio possesses enough clarity to provide a pleasing background listen. It’s particularly good with dialogue but the lack of dynamic range precludes it from any serious listening duties. A comparably priced set of headphone might be preferable, if that’s your goal.

You certainly can’t expect the moon on a stick for this kind of modest outlay and if you’re the sort to take your speakers partying, it’s not going to have enough grunt either but the TY-SP3EU produces a fairly warm and inviting sound that rarely distorts. So, if you’re looking something cheap and cheerful to take away on your hols, this one is worthy of a recommendation but you’ll want to look at something else if you have any designs on achieving a hands-free calling setup.

Recommended

Scores

Sound Quality

.
.
.
7

Build Quality

.
.
.
7

Value For Money

.
.
8

Verdict

.
.
.
7
7
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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