Features high, average performance
A detailed review of the Siska Sound Cup
There are many things that can make or break Bluetooth speakers, especially in the mid-range segment. Once you are paying above Rs. For any Bluetooth speaker 5000, you expect a certain number of things from it – great battery life, reliable connectivity, portability and durability, but most importantly, it should sound good. There is a lot of competition in this price segment, with established players and new entrants pushing it out. Syska, including her Sound Cup, is trying to create a brand with a unique combination of features and performance. Let’s find out how well it performed in our test.
Design and build
Out of the box, the sound cup tells you one thing – it has nothing to do with a cup. The design looks like someone put an armor on the JBL flip range of the product, which can be a bit confusing because you are not supposed to use it directly. Most plastic bodies are covered with a fabric mesh, but when you press on it, the plastic on the bottom starts to crunch, although not very loud. The two strips connecting the two faces of the sound cup have a rubberized finish. On the one hand you have a touch interface that is used to control playback and track selection. Below the same face is an analog volume dial, which is definitely a nice addition. There are also indicators for this facial mode (indoor / outdoor), a direction we will touch on later.
There is something strangely confusing about the way the various elements and text are placed in the speaker body. When you place the speaker on its rubberized legs, the brand logo is on your side, the text next to the mode button is aligned, but the mode button and the power button are at right angles to you. Then, if you want the touch-interface to face you, the indoor-outdoor indicators are reversed.
Even the logo on the subwoofer side is not fully aligned with the placement. None of this will affect the performance of the speaker but will make you feel that the design could be tested a little more. On the other hand, the materials used do not seem cheap at all and reflect proper attention to detail and rigor. The speaker even plays an IPX4 rating, protecting it from splash. This ambiguity in the build Sound Cup loses some points that could have been easily avoided.
In case of connection, you will get NFC as well as Aux-in in addition to normal Bluetooth. This is where another poor design decision comes in handy. The aux-in port is just below the speaker, right in the middle of the rubber foot. So, if you connect to an Aux-in cable, you need to block either one of the faces or block the speaker output itself.
The output of the Syska Sound Cup is definitely leaning towards the warmer side of the sound spectrum. The overall 24W output leaves no room for complaint about the height, but there is some amount of distortion in the maximum volume. Due to its design and the presence of a subwoofer, it has performed better on tracks such as Hunter by Buzzer and Uptown Funk. The base pierces, sounds precise and doesn’t lose track even on tracks where a lot is happening. There are also some degrees of stereo separation, though almost negligible.
The same cannot be said for other aspects of the sound cup performance. On comparatively low density instrument tracks, the sound cup appears to be capable, but on more complex tracks such as the Celkis by BTBAM, the sound cup stagnates with the high and middle. There is a significant difference when you play default streaming vs. high-resolution FLAC tracks via Spotify. We tested it with little C hope from Roger, and the difference was noticeable. Voices and instruments have been given more space with higher resolution tracks and this price point speaks to the ability of the speaker to be able to notice that difference. That being said, UE is similarly more pronounced in competitions like Wonderboom.
Coming back to audio performance, the two modes available seem to differ mainly in the way they handle different parts of the frequency spectrum. The indoor mode pushes the rumbling bass, while the outdoor mode increases the middle and height in an attempt to make better noise in the open. Calling in the Sound Cup leaves a lot of room for performance improvement. We really had to get closer to the speaker to make our voices clear to the other side of the audience. The connection to the sound cup is also somewhat complicated, as the speaker takes a really long time to connect to a pair of phones on several occasions. It does not help to beep when it is in a paired state.
The sound cup from Syska gets a lot better, and that’s about it. The build, the stuff feels quite stiff and strong, without confusing alignment. You won’t find yourself worrying about accidentally dropping it and breaking it too soon. On the other hand, the term is above average but not good enough for the fall of category leaders like UE Wonderboom. It’s easy to say that Sound Cup is better than most budget options you can get, but then again, how much budget are you going to buy Bluetooth speakers for? If features like NFC, being able to switch between an analog volume dial, indoor and outdoor modes seem interesting and appealing to you, give Syska Sound Cup a shot.