The essentials of a good tailgate party are food, friends, family and a festive atmosphere. A large part of that festive atmosphere includes having good music. One thing you can’t control is your friend’s taste in music thinking playing a loop of Michael Bolton’s Greatest Hits at your tailgate is a good idea. The thing you can control is how your music will sound and the quality and clarity in the way it is delivered. We recently discovered the OutCast Jr Wireless Speaker by Soundcast and put it to the test to see how well it adapts to a tailgating atmosphere.
If you are familiar with the Soundcast OutCast Wireless Speaker, The Outcast Jr is the smaller, more transportable yet tremendously sturdy little brother. The Outcast Jr is an outdoor wireless stereo speaker designed to work with Soundcast audio transmitters and can receive signals up to 300 feet outdoors. That’s the length of a football field between the transmitter and the speaker. Also, the speaker has a long-life internal battery. That means if your tailgating neighbors half way down the row invite you down to try their atomic chicken wings, you can bring your tunes with you. Just pick up the Outcast Jr, leave your iPod docked in the iCast Transmitter, and you won’t miss a beat.
(As mentioned previously, we were sent an Outcast Jr free of charge in order to properly test and review it for quality, craftsmanship and durability. In the interest of full disclosure, receiving this product sample free of charge in no way influenced our opinion and review of this product.)
Upon receipt of the Outcast Jr, the first thing we noticed was how sturdy it was. The Outcast Jr is solidly built and before we turned it on and started playing music we could tell it could pack a punch. We plugged it in and started charging the internal battery on the speaker while we unpacked the iCast docking station and transmitter. This little guy was going to wireless transmit our music from our iPod to the Outcast Jr Wireless Speaker. The iCast transmitter was easy to use in that all we had to do was plug it in, place the iPod in the docking slot and hit play. Now was the real test to see how loud this speaker could get.
Cut to the chase, this sound system can get loud. And by loud we mean this could cut through the sounds of a noisy tailgating parking lot with generators and other music playing around you and still be considered to be loud. The Outcast Jr features four omni-directional speakers at the top and one 6.5″ subwoofer on the bottom. On a fully charged battery, this bad boy can play for six to 15 hours depending on how loud you like your music. Turning it up all the way proved to be ear splitting without any distortion which was quite impressive to me.
Now that you know it can belt out some pretty good sound, how would it hold up to the rigors of a tailgate season? In all honesty, we didn’t place it in the back of the car and let it roll around while we took sharp corners and we also didn’t take a baseball bat to it. But the solid construction and feel of it let us know it would take a beating and still pump out the jams. After a bit of snooping on the web, we came across these two videos of people putting the Outcast original through some tough environments including a high pressure car wash and even setting it on fire. Keep in mind, the manufacturer and Soundcast advise you do not attempt doing these experiments on your own and remind you that these videos are examples of testing under extreme conditions by third parties not associated with Soundcast. The Outcast Original and Outcast Jr are in no way designed to undertake being lit on fire or subjected to a car wash.
The Car Wash Test
The Fire Test
As you can see by the videos, you could even leave your Outcast in the rain or set it on fire and it will still play music. If it can withstand those types of brutal conditions, we’re sure it will handle whatever you can dish out while tailgating. If you accidentally tip it over while lunging to catch that errant pass thrown by your buddy who is less accurate than Uncle Rico, it will probably shrug it off and keep playing.
Another feature we liked about the Outcast Jr is the ability to customize it to any team logo you can imagine. By now we are sure you are familiar with Skinit.com where you can customize almost any device to include a logo of your favorite team, school or even your own custom skin. Skinit has skins that can cover the Outcast Jr so not only will you be able to play and listen to your team’s fight song in the parking lot, your speaker will be sporting your school’s colors and logo to boot. Skinit has skins for any professional team and college team you can imagine. We have our own Skinit wrap for the Outcast Jr coming in the mail and will be doing a follow up post once it arrives.
Okay, so now for the cons as it pertains to the Outcast Jr. After all, nothing is perfect and any unbiased review would not be complete without pointing out a few flaws. In relation to using the Outcast Jr while out tailgating, you will need to have continuous power going into the iCast Audio Transmitter. We tried unplugging it while it was playing to see if there was an internal battery and there was not. The iCast model we were sent came with an AC power cord but no power cord that was DC powered that you could plug into your cigarette lighter in your car. I would imagine they have DC power cords for the transmitter but we were not able to test that aspect. If they do, you then have the issue of running power from your car battery and potentially draining your battery depending on how long you play your music. I can’t imagine the amount of power the iCast transmitter using would kill your car battery alone but you always have to be aware of this potential issue while out in the tailgating parking lot.
The alternative to using the iCast is to plug your audio source, iPhone, Android, MP3, etc., directly into the OutCast via the headphone jack and eliminate the need for the iCast while at the stadium. The connection cable is included with the unit. I was so focused on the ability to operate the speaker wirelessly that I overlooked the concept of connecting the audio source in through the AUX port. Just make sure your iPod or MP3 player has a full charge because you will be running off of that device’s battery to produce the music. By employing this technique, if you have a TV running at your tailgate, you could watch the games with louder audio by using the included component wires to broadcast the game audio via the OutCast Jr.
Our suggestion to the folks at Soundcast would be that when they are making the iCast version 2.0, to include either an internal battery that you can charge or one that you could insert a pair of AA batteries into it. This would eliminate the need for continuous power and would truly make it tailgate friendly. Electrical power is scarce out at the tailgating parking lot so the more devices that run on batteries or better yet, solar power, the better.
Despite this minor flaw associated with the transmitter system needing power, we are going to deem the OutCast Jr Wireless Speaker by Soundcast “Tailgate Approved”. Based on the sound quality and durability of the product, this one will last a long time and withstand the rigors of numerous tailgating seasons.
The Outcast Jr is sold either by itself or as a package with the iCast Transmitter. Prices vary depending on the retailer but we found a package deal on Amazon for $536.49 when the same package is normally priced at close to $700.
To learn more about the Outcast Jr, please visit the Soundcast website at: www.soundcastsystems.com