The Roberts Reunion does the basics very well but may prove a little light on features for those not enamoured with its retro aesthetic
- Stylish, retro design
- Enjoyable, natural sound
- Compact and lightweight
- Lacks power
- Limited feature set
The Roberts Reunion is a new Bluetooth speaker from a manufacturer best known for producing eye-catching DAB radios. It’s not the British brand’s first foray into the world of portable speakers but is the only entry in its lineup following the discontinuation of the Beacon 310, Beacon 320 and Beacon 330.
The Reunion follows the design and audio formula of those models pretty closely while addressing a couple of the issues we highlighted in our review of the Beacon 330. And, at less than half the price of that speaker, it’s a much more wallet-friendly proposition.
It lacks raw power, however, and this, coupled with a pretty basic set of features, means that it relies heavily on its aesthetic charms to convince consumers it’s the speaker for them.
Roberts Reunion review: What do you get for the money?
Launched in September 2023, the Roberts Reunion costs £80 and comes in either Black or Duck Egg (bluish-green).
It seeks to deliver 360-degree sound through two full-range drivers and two passive radiators, with total output stated at 50W. It supports the SBC and AAC codecs over Bluetooth 5.0 but can also operate over a wired connection. Additionally, you can link up to ten Reunions using the speaker’s Multi-cast feature.
The Reunion weighs in at 456g and measures a compact 7.9 x 7.9 x 18cm (WDH). You’ll find a panel with playback, volume and Bluetooth buttons on the crest of the speaker, while the USB-C port for charging and 3.5mm input are located behind a flap on its rear.
An IPX7 rating for water resistance certifies the Reunion as fully waterproof – a big improvement on the company’s Beacon speakers, which had no protection against the elements whatsoever. Battery life is stated at a respectable 18 hours of audio playback and Roberts includes a USB-A to USB-C charging cable in the box.
The Reunion is one of a huge number of portable speakers available for under £100, with options catering for every use case and style preference. JBL is the market leader and its Flip 6 (£99) is a great pick if you’re looking to balance performance and portability.
Soundcore’s Motion 300 (£90) is a rough-and-ready alternative designed for use outdoors that supports high-resolution streaming, while the LG XBoom Go XG7 (£200) has customisable lighting to accompany its bass-heavy sound. A cheaper alternative worth considering is the EarFun UBoom (£58) – it’s not nearly as attractive as the Reunion but has very similar specifications.
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Roberts Reunion review: What does it do well?
The obvious place to start is the Reunion’s appearance. It’s an elegantly shaped speaker that elevates itself above similarly priced rivals with attractive silver accents and liberal use of acoustic fabric. Both the black and duck egg colourways have an air of sophistication that belies the Reunion’s reasonable price tag.
It’s well-made and resilient, too. Despite being lightweight, it feels properly put together and I had no problems with build quality. The aforementioned IPX7 rating means it can withstand everything from light rain to brief submersion in shallow water, so though it may look like an indoor speaker, it’s perfectly happy in the garden, by the pool or at the beach.
The Reunion also punches above its weight with an impressively agile audio presentation. Michel Legrand and Corinne Marchand’s operatic Sans toi was reproduced articulately, with vocals sounding very natural and piano lines crisply detailed.
It consistently managed to strike a pleasing balance between an all-out fun and flat frequency response, though it’s worth noting that those who listen to a lot of bass-heavy music may be left a little wanting where low-frequency impact is concerned. For general listening, however, the Reunion is nicely balanced and I was impressed by its ability to tackle just about everything from podcasts to Radio 1’s Essential Mix.
Like many Bluetooth speakers which claim 360-degree coverage, the Reunion doesn’t actually produce a complete circle of sound. Its two drivers sit back-to-back, meaning you get the same experience when positioned directly in front or behind the speaker but there’s a slight drop-off when you’re located to the sides. Despite not being completely enveloping, the soundstage created is fairly convincing.
You’ll achieve a significantly more expansive soundstage by putting two Reunion speakers into Broadcast Mode and having them work as a stereo pair. When listening to Harness Your Hopes by Pavement, the imaging was excellent, with rhythm guitars located on the left speaker, vocals on the right, and drums and various other details shifting between the two. Granted, you’ll need to invest twice as much to enjoy this but if you’re after an affordable stereo setup, you can do far worse than a pair of Roberts Reunions.
The speakers remain paired with one another even after they’ve been switched off, so you don’t need to worry about syncing them up again at a later date. That may not seem like a big deal, but it’s a welcome convenience that’s emblematic of the Reunion’s user-friendly nature.
Unlike the Beacon 330, the Reunion has an in-built microphone and this works effectively as a speakerphone for calls and a method of summoning voice assistants. There’s no voice assistant built-in, so you’ll need to have your paired device nearby to access your smart helper of choice, but I had no complaints about the quality of the microphone itself.
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Roberts Reunion review: What could be improved?
If you’re after serious audio muscle, the Roberts Reunion won’t be for you. While the speaker’s output was fine for casual listening in my flat, it wasn’t capable of the kind of volume needed to have a real impact in open outdoor spaces. While less refined, the Tronsmart Halo 100 (£100) is a better party pick available for similar money.
I’m also not convinced that multi-speaker casting will be that attractive to the average consumer. The problem isn’t quality-related – it vastly improves the listening experience – but having two speakers to keep charged and transport around with you is not as practical, despite how lightweight the Reunion is.
Those in search of stereo sound will typically gravitate to an amplifier and two passive speakers to do the job indoors, usually to higher fidelity, and be satisfied with a single, powerful speaker when not tied down by wires. For what two Reunions will cost you, you could buy the exceptional Sonos Roam (£179) and enjoy Wi-Fi connectivity, in-built Alexa, Google Assistant and more.
Beyond its broadcast mode, the Reunion offers very little on the features front. The absence of a companion app means no audio customisation or lighting effects, so it’s very much a case of what you hear – and see – is what you get. I have no problem with this since the sound fits a wide range of genres, while lighting would be jarring given the Reunion’s retro appeal, but some may prefer a speaker that offers a bit more than the basics.
And while a play/pause button is now present on the Reunion (unlike the Beacon 330), there still aren’t controls for track skipping. Granted, the addition of these would unbalance the neat four-button panel design but having this functionality available at your fingertips would be appreciated.
Roberts Reunion review: Should you buy it?
You’ll likely have an idea if the Reunion is for you as soon as you set your eyes on it; its retro styling will be a big draw for many and the build quality is impressive. But it’s not all style and no substance- most genres are tackled adeptly and when two Reunions are multi-casting, their stereo performance is highly engaging.
There are plenty of other similarly priced speakers available offering more powerful audio and a longer list of useful features, however. And while true stereo sound is a boon, I would expect most people to plump for a single, more capable performer rather than a pair of Reunions.
That said, if you’re after a compact, uncomplicated speaker that looks and sounds great, the Roberts Reunion might just be your perfect match.