There are plenty of brilliant hybrid products out there, then there are those product mergers that get the job(s) done, though not as well as either of the original items. Think of the spork as the prime example there. Then there are other items that, when put together, prove a force multiplier, creating a better user experience than each independent of the other. You can think of the Nomadic Audio Speakase— a hard-sided carry-on suitcase with an integrated Bluetooth speaker — as a great example of that.
The Speakase is one of those products you didn’t know you needed, but once you have it, you’ll never want to be without it again. The first time you crank up the tunes, you’ll be blown away by the power of the sound this suitcase-based speaker system produces. And you’ll be thrilled by its audio quality too.
If you are planning on doing some traveling, you need a good, reliable suitcase, so why not make that suitcase one that lets you bring your jams with you? The $649 price tag? Okay, well, that is one good reason against it, but I still think this thing is worth heavy consideration. Speaking of heavy, that’s drawback No. 2. But price and weight are the only issues I have with this otherwise unique and generally excellent piece of hybrid hardware.
How it works
I got the Speakase’s speaker inserted into its slot at the front of the case in about 30 seconds, and it paired easily with my phone. Then I packed enough clothing for what I would need on a three-night trip. That included two pairs of jeans, two pairs of shorts, several shirts, socks, boxers aplenty, a toiletry bag, and a pair of shoes. Of course, also present in the suitcase was the speaker itself, which is 16.5 inches long by 4.5 inches wide and nestles against the side of the bag, secured by a mesh sling.
You access the speaker’s controls via a pair of cutouts in the front of the speaker. They can be covered by a turning disc when not in use. Two grates placed directly in front of the dual speakers allow for clear broadcasting of the audio. When the suitcase is fully packed or when you’re using the speaker on its own outside of the suitcase, said audio is potent and plenty crisp. When you empty out the suitcase and turn on the volume, you get truly amazing sound that’s pure, deep, and loud.
You know how a guitar’s body amplifies the sound of the strings? The case of the Nomadic Audio Speakase— which is made using a fiberglass-strengthened nylon, a polycarbonate shell, an aluminum frame, and several parts made of rugged ABS materials — creates amazing resonance that can fill a room or spread out over an outdoor area.
On the suitcase front, the Speakase has plenty of capacity as noted before. It’s smooth over myriad types of flooring or sidewalks, and it secures shut with a latch and optional combination lock. Inside, you’ll find straps for holding folded clothes in place, a divider that separates the top and bottom of the case, and several smaller organization pockets.
The Speakase is pretty heavy for a piece of roll-aboard luggage; with the speaker in place, mine weighed a bit over 12 pounds according to my bathroom scale. But most of that weight comes from an ultra-strong design that I’m confident will last for years and protects anything I put into the suitcase.
At 21.7 inches long, 14.6 inches wide, and 9.8 inches thick, this suitcase will fit in just about any overhead storage bin save for those on the smallest of commuter aircraft. The handle is adjustable to several heights and was plenty comfortable for me. (I’m 6-foot-2, for reference.)
According to the brand, the speaker has a 20-hour battery life, but I haven’t played audio on it for nearly that long, so we’ll take that on faith. If you have used any other Bluetooth hardware, figuring out how to operate it will take you all of no time at all — it’s entirely intuitive.
The cons to consider
The biggest issue with the Nomadic Audio Speakase is its large price tag. $649 is a lot to spend on a suitcase, and frankly you could get both a decent hard-sided suitcase and a decent Bluetooth speaker for less. But when you hear the audio pouring out of this thing, you’ll see what you paid for. Or hear it, I mean.
Also, as noted, this thing is not lightweight. Removing the speaker takes out about 2.5 pounds, but that means the bag still weighs almost 10 pounds. For reference, we have an OGIO ALPHA with comparable storage space that I weighed at just a hair over 7 pounds.
One more thing to consider: It would not surprise me if more than one TSA agent were to flag the bag for extra inspection if you send it through the X-ray machine with the speaker in place, so I recommend just popping it out and putting it in a bin preemptively.
Is a Nomadic Audio Speakase worth your money?
If you care about high-quality audio and you want a good suitcase, then yes, I recommend the Speakase. It’s pricey, but it’s built to last and it may well be the only piece of portable audio hardware you need, as the speaker is pretty small and still plenty noisy when removed from the suitcase.
And while on the heavier side, without the speaker in it, the Speakase is simply a very good piece of roll-aboard luggage.
Pros: Superlative sound quality, rugged design protects your stuff and will last for years, secure lock, rolls smoothly
Cons: Very expensive, heavy for luggage