“Soundcore's Motion 300 offers great sound and features for far less than the price of other speakers.”
- Under $100
- Full stereo sound
- Totally waterproof
- Speakerphone built-in
- Handy carry strap
- Illuminated controls
- No battery level indicator
- Bigger, heavier than alternatives
- Hi-res audio is underwhelming
- Sound gets rough at higher volumes
Anker’s Soundcore division has become a thorn in the side of the major audio brands like Sony, JBL, Jabra, and Apple thanks to products that consistently deliver fantastic features and performance at much lower prices. Its latest attempt at repeating that formula is the Motion 300, a Bluetooth speaker that comes packing hi-res audio, a fully waterproof design, stereo pairing, speakerphone functionality, and 13 hours of battery life — all for under $100.
Here’s why the Motion 300 deserves some serious consideration before you buy your next Bluetooth speaker.
The Soundcore Motion 300 is the second Soundcore speaker to use the brand’s distinct metal and rubber design. (The first was the boombox-shaped Soundcore Motion X600.) Our review model came in black, but you’ll soon be able to pick between blue and green versions, too.
Its slab-like shape is unusual for a portable speaker. These products tend to feature cylindrical or boxy profiles to help with stability and 360-degree sound dispersion. But this is by design — the Motion 300 is meant to stand up, lie down, or hang suspended from its integrated (but removable) carry strap. As such, there are rubber feet on the bottom and rear panels, and Soundcore has installed a tiny gyroscope that can sense the speaker’s orientation. If you want, it can use that information to automatically optimize the sound — I’ll cover that more in a moment.
Its thinner profile could make it easier to carry around, but the $80 Motion 300 is a bit bigger than the $150 Marshall Emberton, $170 Emberton II, and $130 JBL Flip 6. It’s also the heaviest of the four speakers: 1.8 pounds for the Motion 300, 1.5 pounds for the Embertons, and 1.2 pounds for the Flip 6.
Like these competitors, the Motion 300 is rated IPX7, giving it excellent protection against water as long as the rubber charging port cover stays securely in place. It can be fully submerged for short periods of time, but you’ll still need to pay attention if it ends up getting tossed in the pool — it doesn’t float. (Neither do the Embertons, nor the Flip 6.)
I didn’t experiment with dropping the Motion 300, but it doesn’t take lab measurements to know that the speaker will fare better if it makes contact on one of its four rubberized corners than on its metal grille — that thing will dent for sure.
An auxiliary input for connecting other music sources would have been a nice touch, but I think it’s fair to say most of our devices are Bluetooth-capable these days.
All of the Motion 300’s controls are located on the top surface. Well, it’s the top surface when the speaker is standing — at other times, they’ll be accessible from the side. You get buttons for power, Bluetooth pairing, one-touch access to the extra bass EQ mode, and volume up/down, plus a multifunction playback button that can play/pause and track skip. Thanks to backlighting — a very rare feature on Bluetooth speakers — they’re easy to locate even in a darkened room, and they’ve got nice tactile feedback even under their protective rubber skin. You can even adjust the button brightness (or turn it off) in the Soundcore app.
Strangely, despite going to the effort of backlighting the controls, Soundcore hasn’t included a detailed visual indicator of remaining battery life, something that is very common on other portables. The power button will glow white when fully charged, but then stays that way until it hits “low battery” status, at which point it starts to blink red. How much is left when this happens? Hard to say. Soundcore’s documentation isn’t forthcoming. You can still figure it out by checking your phone’s settings or the Soundcore app, but an extra reminder would have been helpful.
With Bluetooth 5.3, the Motion 300 has an exceptional wireless range. It’s not quite as capable as Soundcore’s claimed 328 feet, but I got about 180 feet line of sight, and there wasn’t a single spot in our house that didn’t get excellent connectivity. That’s much better performance than either the Emberton II or Flip 6.
With Bluetooth Multipoint you can simultaneously connect two devices, and I found it was effortless to move seamlessly from one to the other. Soundcore also supports stereo pairing over Bluetooth as long as you have a second Motion 300, but I wasn’t able to test this feature out.
The Motion 300 might be a bit beefier than its main rivals, but it puts that extra size to good use when it comes to audio by delivering fuller and more expansive sound than the competition. For its price, it has no equals.
You’re probably going to want to keep the extra bass mode turned on. With that mode in use, the Motion 300 has a very respectable amount of low-end. It doesn’t thump or boom or pound, but it provides enough bass response that things sound natural, not tinny. When it’s turned off, things feel a bit hollow.
The midrange is surprisingly detailed and the highs are very clear. The automatic tuning for the three orientations works. It’s not magical, yet I definitely preferred the sound when it was turned on versus when it was turned off. Of the three positions, you’ll get the best bass response by lying the speaker flat. You’ll get the best stereo separation when it’s sitting upright. And while I can’t really say the vertical position offered any improvement over the other two, it’s a convenient option to have.
It turns out that the Motion 300’s sound quality is most sensitive to volume level. The speaker hits its sweet spot at 50% to 60%. There’s enough volume to easily fill a small space like a kitchen, and everything feels balanced tonally. Once you start pushing into the top 25% of the speaker’s range, the midrange starts to get lost between the lows and highs. Vocals become a bit more harsh, with a tendency toward sibilance (that “s” sound that cymbals and “s”-word vocals can produce).
You can partially mitigate these effects by tweaking the EQ using the Soundcore app’s impressively granular equalizer, but this could take some effort on your part — the tiny selection of EQ presets just won’t cut it. In fairness, this is true of the JBL Flip 6 as well. In fact, because the Flip 6 can get substantially louder than the Motion 300, you start to notice the deterioration of sound quality at around 65% of its range.
As much as I want to give Soundcore props for including hi-res audio compatibility via Sony’s LDAC Bluetooth codec, I found it impossible to tell the difference when comparing the same tracks streamed from an iPhone 14 using AAC and a Motorola ThinkPhone using LDAC. And I’m not in the least bit surprised. It can be challenging to hear the difference between these codecs even when listening to wireless headphones or earbuds, which provide a much more intimate experience. A portable speaker like the Motion 300 never had a chance. Moreover, LDAC is far more power-hungry than AAC, and I just don’t think it’s worth the hit you’ll take to battery life.
What does this all mean for daily use? As a travel speaker, it’s going to be a fun hotel room party starter, with a fuller, more immersive sound than you’ll get from the competitors I’ve mentioned above. It’s the same thing for small poolside gatherings and it will give your outdoor dinners the perfect soundtrack. But don’t expect to entertain an entire backyard’s worth of revelers. It might get loud enough to do so, but the results won’t be satisfying.
For some reason, Soundcore doesn’t mention the fact that the Motion 300 can also act as a speakerphone. It’s not called out on the company’s own product page, and you won’t see it listed on Amazon’s page. I didn’t even know the feature existed until I read through Soundcore’s FAQ. That’s truly baffling to me since we’ve been critiquing a lot of recent Bluetooth speakers for failing to include speakerphone functionality. The Sonos Roam, JBL Flip 6, Marshall Emberton, and UE Megaboom 3 — none of them let you take calls.
The Motion 300’s mic is in the top-left corner of the speaker (when standing upright). While it’s not particularly sensitive (your voice won’t get picked up if you’re on the other side of the room), if you stay within 2 to 3 feet of the speaker your callers will hear you very clearly. It’s best used indoors — there’s little ability to cancel out other sounds — but it’s a better out-loud calling experience than you’ll get on most phones.
At a claimed 13 hours, the Motion 300’s battery life is certainly enough to get you through most, if not all, of a day’s worth of listening. Keep in mind that this is based on running the speaker at 50% volume, with the LDAC codec option disabled — another reason to skip hi-res audio.
This kind of stamina is what you can expect from most Bluetooth speakers at this size and price — the Flip 6, Sonos Roam, and UE Boom 3 all provide between 10 and 15 hours. If you want more, two of the few options is the Marshall Emberton (20 hours) or the Emberton II (up to 30 hours).
Soundcore continually demonstrates that it knows how to build great audio products for less money than the big brands, and the Motion 300 keeps that tradition alive. It may not have the classic good looks of a Marshall speaker, the incredible loudness of a JBL speaker, or the smarts of a Sonos speaker, but with a rugged and waterproof construction, great sound quality, speakerphone capability, and a price that undercuts every competitor in its class, the Soundcore Motion 300 should be on everyone’s Bluetooth speaker short list when it comes time to buy.