The W-King D8 Bluetooth speaker has a massive 50W of output, up to 24 hours of battery life, can charge your gadgets with its built-in 8000mAh battery, and has an IPX5 water resistance rating. It can even be stereo paired wirelessly with a second identical speaker.
At around $75 or £70, it’s less than a third of the price of the comparable JBL Xtreme 2. I’ll be comparing against the JBL, and also the LG PK7 I reviewed recently. I’ll be testing the sound quality both in and outdoors, which you’ll be able to hear for yourselves.
Do you need to spend more money to get something that sounds good? And is it missing any of the features of the pricier offerings. Let’s find out.
Inside the box, you get the speaker itself, a USB-C charging cable, a 3.5mm audio cable and a multilingual instruction manual.
The speaker looks quite rugged, but I’m not sure how its hard plastic would fare if it took a knock or drop. But it’s solid, with no flexing or creaking. Like a lot of these more budget speakers, the branding isn’t exactly subtle with W-King in bold letters across the metal speaker grille.
It comes with a non-removable shoulder strap and weighs a considerable 2431g and measures 320mm x 121mm x 118mm. It’s very similar in size to the JBL Xtreme 2 and LG PK7.
The dual passive radiators at the sides are well protected, and around the back there’s a rubber flap revealing the USB-C charging port, 3.5mm audio-in port for a wired connection, and a USB-A port for charging your gadgets off its built in battery.
Along the top are the slightly raised rubber buttons to control the speaker, which unfortunately aren’t lit in any way and being black on black are difficult to see with limited lighting. To the far left is an NFC sensor for quick pairing to compatible devices. And to the right of the NFC sensor is the microphone. The bottom of the speaker has two grippy rubber feet.
Charging the 8000mAh integrated battery takes around 4 hours from empty using the supplied USB-A to USB-C charging cable and a decent charger. I was able to charge at a full 2A using a 30W Anker wall charger. Confusingly you can’t use a USB-C to USB-C cable to charge the speaker.
The battery indicator LEDs blink whilst charging, all lighting up solid when the speaker is fully charged. You can still use the speaker whilst it’s charging.
Hold down the power button to turn the speaker on and off which is accompanied by a sound that can’t be disabled. The blue LED next to the power button will flash indicating the speaker is ready for pairing. Tap on D8 in your Bluetooth settings. There’s another sound and the power LED goes a steady blue. To pair to another device, hold the volume plus and minus buttons together until the blue LED starts flashing again. Unfortunately you can only pair to one device at a time. The JBL Xtreme can pair to three devices simultaneously and the LG can pair to two.
The manual describes inserting a paper clip into the audio-in port to press the hidden reset button and factory reset the speaker clearing any paired devices, but this didn’t didn’t anything when I tried it.
If you have a second D8 speaker you can set them up as a TWS or True Wireless Stereo pair. Start with both speakers not paired and turn them both on. Double press the power button for the speaker you want to be the master. You may have to experiment with exactly how fast you double press the button, but you’ll hear a nice little melody when the pairing is created and the master speaker’s blue power LED with flash ready for pairing. The other speaker’s LED will be steady blue. As before, find D8 in your Bluetooth settings to connect. You’re connecting to the master speaker but you’ll now hear the left and right stereo channels through each speaker. Even after they’ve been turned off, the pairing will reestablish itself when both speakers are turned back on again.
To clear the pairing, press the volume plus and minus button simultaneously on either speaker.
The controls are fairly straightforward. The volume controls unfortunately aren’t in sync with your device. So you’ll need to set the maximum volume you desire on the speaker and then control the volume from your phone. I’d recommend setting the maximum volume on the speaker, and then pressing the volume down button 4 steps and leaving it set as that for most of your listening.
A long press of the volume plus and minus skips tracks forward and back respectively but you can’t activate your voice assistant from the speaker itself. A long press of the play button which often summons this feature, instead redials the last-called number which seems far less useful to me. You can still activate your voice assistant from the phone and then interact with the speaker via its built-in mic.
The button to the far right activates what the manual describes as the “sound effect” mode. When activated the blue power LED flashes. This woul d be better described as an outdoor mode and makes the speaker noticeably louder, but also introduces sound distortion at louder volumes which I’ll come back to in the sound tests. I’d recommend starting with this off.
The speaker has a USB port to charge your gadgets using its built-in 8000mAh battery. A single press of the power button show will activate the feature and also display the battery remaining via the status LEDs. But it will also work with the unit turned on and in use.
What’s nice to see with this speaker is it has a decent output. Often you’ll be limited to 1A charging current or even less with the JBL Xtreme 2, which is okay for some smartphones, but for phones with bigger batteries and especially tablets this just isn’t enough. The D8 charged my iPad at over 2A, pretty much the same as the included 12W Apple wall charger.
Sound quality and performance
The D8 has 2 x 15W full range drivers, 2 x 10W tweeters and dual passive radiators either end and is certainly loud. I’d recommend turning off the sound effect mode and lowering the volume on the unit itself by at least 4 steps, for the best results. You can then control the volume on your device and maximum volume will still be loud enough for most situations.
At more comfortable listening volumes the speakers sound good with a well balanced sound. Mids sound clear and aren’t swamped by the impressive bass. I did find that sibilant sounds were a bit harsh but lowering the volume still further helped.
Configuring two speakers as a stereo pair is loud enough even at relatively low volumes, especially inside, and produced a rich sound that together with the spatial separation was very enjoyable to listen to.
Although I would rarely use the sound effect mode, I can still see it being used outside when you just want as much volume as possible, at the expense of some sound quality. There is noticeable distortion, but I’ve heard worse.
If you watch the video, I’ve recorded a sound test both inside and outside, so you can hear for yourself how the speaker sounds. With the inside test, I’m comparing against the JBL Xtreme 2 that costs over 3 times the price, and the LG PK7 which costs around $50 or £50 more. You can hear the speaker with the sound effect mode on and off, and I’ve lowered the speaker’s maximum volume four steps. The outside test I’ve recorded at maximum volume with the sound effect mode on for the loudest sound possible, albeit with some accompanying distortion. Again I’m comparing it against the JBL Xtreme 2. The PK7 wasn’t quite loud enough for this test. I’m 1m away from the speakers in the indoor tests, and 8m away for the outdoor tests.
I’ve recorded the sound test with binaural microphones that capture stereo sound, to try and provide the closest representation of what I’m hearing. Please listen with headphones for the best experience.
The JBL does have a cleaner, richer sound compared to the D8. It has the characteristic bright mids that JBL speakers have that I quite like. But the D8 still does a very good job considering it’s a fraction of the price and it’s louder too, especially in its sound effect mode, if you’re willing to put up with some distortion. Although the PK7 is similar in size, even with its latest firmware update it’s not as loud as the other two speakers, but it’s again more refined than the D8 with good clarity across the range.
The speaker uses the older Bluetooth 4.2 standard, like the JBL but I found the range good. In fact slightly better than the JBL, reaching the far end of the next room of my house over 10 metres away. And the connection was generally reliable, even when connected as a stereo pair.
There’s no support for the higher quality aptX or AAC codecs, but you could always connect via the 3.5mm cable for potentially better sound quality.
I got slight audio sync delay with YouTube on iOS like most of the more budget speakers I’ve tested, but there was no noticeable delay with YouTube on Android and Netflix on both platforms was fine.
The built-in microphone is good enough for phone calls. There is a little background hiss, but it’s quite acceptable.
The speaker feels fairly robust, but does employ that hard plastic as I mentioned earlier. I didn’t have any issues in my testing, but it does feel like it could be quite brittle if it experienced any knocks or drops. It does have an IPX5 splash proof rating that held up fine in my testing.
Battery life is quoted as an impressive 24 hours, but this is playing back at just 20% volume. Playing back at at least 75% volume, I still got a very useful 8-10 hours of usage.
The W-King D8 speaker is a very tempting proposition. It’s reasonably priced compared to the big brands and it actually offers more useful features compared to both the JBL Xtreme 2 and the LG PK7. USB-C charging is so much more convenient than the proprietary chargers both the JBL and LG have, that you can never find when you need them. And although the JBL can charge your gadgets with its USB charging port, it does so at such a slow speed that it’s not particularly useful for much. The LG has no charging port at all. The D8 even has NFC for quick pairing that neither the JBL or LG have.
The sound quality of the D8 is surprisingly good. I’d recommend turning off the sound effect mode, and lowering the speaker’s maximum volume around four levels, otherwise you’ll most likely experience some distortion. It doesn’t have quite the clarity or richness of the JBL or the LG for that matter, but I doubt you’ll be disappointed with its audio quality. And if you are happy to enable the sound effect mode and push the volume to its loudest setting, its noticeably louder than the JBL, and completely drowns out the LG.
The build quality is ok, but the JBL and the LG to a slightly lesser degree look and feel a lot more premium. And being able to only pair to one device at a time is a little limiting for a speaker like this.
Overall the W-King D8 is a well featured, good sounding, loud speaker at an affordable price.
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