Hands on: Emie Radio Bluetooth Speaker

This cute, retro Bluetooth speaker looks and sounds like it's from a different age

Quaint and cute, the Emie Radio looks and sounds like a transistor radio from bygone days. And that’s a good thing.

Bluetooth speakers come in just about all shapes and sizes these days, and it’s possible to spend the same amount as a cup of coffee, or darn near the equivalent of an actual coffeeshop, on one. The Emie Radio doesn’t aspire to be the best sounding, or the most high falutin Bluetooth speaker you can find. Instead, it’s all about the minimalist, cute design that’s a throwback to simpler times when the transistor radio was the only source of music for most.

Emie is a Chinese brand with an interesting and extremely low-key design philosophy, which this speaker perfectly embodies. It’s small, just 4.5-inches long and about an inch deep, with a protruding volume knob to give it that old-timey radio feel. The result is about as cute as Bluetooth speakers get — short of those that actually look like little animals, that is.

The Radio is wrapped in a material with a wooden texture — not wood itself, but a soft-touch plastic that does an excellent impression of it. From a distance you’d never know, and even close up you have to feel it to make sure. The pine coloring is matched with off-white front and rear panels. The wood aesthetic is unique to each Radio, thanks to an unusual water-based printing process. The result is minimalistic, retro, and bordering on adorable. It’s rock steady too, thanks to a grippy rubber pad on the base.

Around the side are two ports: a Micro USB for charging, and a 3.5mm auxiliary input. Otherwise, the Radio connects to your phone, computer, or tablet using Bluetooth. Pairing is easy and fast, with the iPhone picking it up straight away. To pair with another device, it simply needs to be disconnected. The Radio is turned on by pressing down the knob on top, which also clicks round to adjust the volume. That’s it for controls, so it’s all very simple to operate.

The compact size makes it great for carrying around, and it weighs little more than a modern smartphone. Once connected, audio is played through a single 1.5-inch 2-watt speaker, which is where the Radio starts to lose points. No, it’s not terrible, but it is quite tinny. If you want bass, then this is not the speaker for you. It’s bright, and the volume is sufficient to fill a small room, but there’s no thump. It’s to be expected, given the size of the Radio, and its single speaker.

However, oddly, it doesn’t feel right to pump the volume up on the Emie Radio, nor would it to have bass-heavy tunes emanating from it. It’s perfect for podcasts and audiobooks, or for background music while busying yourself with work at a desk. Twiddling the knob to change the volume is quaint and tactile, and its retro look is a lot of fun. The sound, operation, and style all fit together well — it feels like it’s from another era, and we enjoyed that. We also enjoy the price: The Emie Radio can be purchased on Amazon for just $30.

Highs

  • Retro, minimalist design
  • Great build quality
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Very affordable

Lows

  • Sound may not be full enough for some listeners
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