Detailed review of Syska Sound Cup
There are many things that can make or break a Bluetooth speaker, especially in the mid-range. Once you pay more than Rs. 5000 for any Bluetooth speaker, you expect a number of things from it: great battery life, reliable connectivity, portability and durability, but most importantly, it has to sound good. There is a lot of competition in this price segment, with established players and newcomers battling it out. Syska also tries to impress with its Sound Cup with a unique combination of functions and performance. Let’s see how well it performed in our tests.
Design and build
Right 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 a harness on the JBL Flip product range which can be a bit misleading as you are not allowed to use this upright. Most of the plastic body is covered with a cloth mesh, but press it and the plastic underneath will begin to creak, although not audibly. The two strips that connect both sides of the Sound Cup have a rubber finish. On the one hand, you have a touch interface that is used to control playback and track selection. The same face also has an analog volume knob underneath, which is definitely a nice addition. There are also (indoor/outdoor) mode indicators on this face, an aspect we’ll discuss later.
There is something odd about the way various elements and text are placed on the speaker housing. When you place the speaker on its rubber feet, with the brand logo facing you, the text next to the Mode button is aligned correctly, but the Mode button and power button are at right angles to you. Then if you turn the touch interface towards you, the Indoor-Outdoor indicators will be upside down.
Even the logo on the subwoofer side doesn’t match the placement perfectly. None of these affect the speaker’s performance, but give the feeling that the design could have been tested a little more. On the other hand, the materials used do not feel cheap at all and reflect the right attention to detail and robustness. The speaker even has an IPX4 rating, protecting it from splashes. Due to this ambiguity in the build, the Sound Cup loses some points that could have been easily avoided.
In terms of connectivity, you get the usual Bluetooth and NFC, as well as Aux-in. This is where another bad design decision rears its ugly head. The Aux-in port is located on the bottom of the speaker, right between the rubber feet. So if you are connecting an Aux-in cable, you must either block one of the faces or choose to block the speaker output itself.
The output of the Syska Sound Cup definitely leans towards the warm side of the sound spectrum. The 24W total output leaves no room for loudness complaints, but there is some degree of distortion at maximum volume. Due to his design and the presence of a subwoofer, he performed better on tracks like Hunter by Bjork and Uptown Funk. The bass sounds punchy, precise and doesn’t lose impact, even on tracks where there’s a lot going on. There is also a degree of stereo separation, although almost negligible.
The same can’t be said for other aspects of the Sound Cup’s performance. On tracks with relatively low instrument density, the Sound Cup seems capable, but on more complex tracks like BTBAM’s Selkies, the Sound Cup falters in the highs and mids. There is also a notable difference when playing high-res FLAC tracks versus standard streaming via Spotify. We tried this with Choti Si Asha from Roja, and the difference was noticeable. The vocals and instruments seemed more spread out with the high-resolution track and the fact that this difference can be noticed at this price speaks to the power of the speaker. That said, the same is much more apparent in the competition like the UE Wonderboom.
Coming back to the audio performance, the two available modes seem to differ mainly in the way they deal with different parts of the frequency spectrum. The indoor mode pushes out a rumbling bass, while the outdoor mode boosts the mids and highs in an effort to sound better in open spaces. The calling performance on the Sound Cup leaves a lot of room for improvement. We had to get very close to the speaker to make our voice readable to the listener on the other end. Connectivity on the Sound Cup is also a bit unpredictable as on a number of occasions it took a very long time to connect to a paired phone. The fact that it keeps beeping while in an unpaired state doesn’t help with its case.
Syska’s Sound Cup does a lot of things just right, and that’s about it. The build, other than the confusing alignment of things, is pretty solid and feels robust. You don’t have to worry about accidentally dropping this and breaking it too quickly. The sound, on the other hand, is above average, but not good enough to topple category leaders like the UE Wonderboom. It’s pretty easy to say that the Sound Cup is better than most budget options you can get, but again, how many cheap Bluetooth speakers are you going to buy? If features like NFC, an analog volume knob, can make switching between indoor and outdoor modes sound interesting and appealing to you, try the Syska Sound Cup.