Milwaukee M18/M12 Wireless Jobsite Speaker Review
MIlwaukee's latest jobsite speaker might be on the high end of the price range at $149, but the sound quality and crispness are well worth a few extra bones, especially since the premium speakers are so well protected inside the roll case design with water and dust resistance.
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I admit that I often work in silence on my “indoor jobsite” – in front of the keyboard – since I assume the words come more easily that way after the testing is complete. But I think I’m in the minority since many of us, regardless of jobsite type, prefer to have some kind of music or talk playing while we work. We find ourselves to be more productive that way. Modern options like the Milwaukee M18/M12 Wireless Jobsite Speaker make the hours go by more quickly.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I surf the sound waves the rest of the time, whether I’m getting ready for the gym, tinkering around in the workshop, or winding down before bed. But with the handsome Milwaukee M18/M12 Wireless Jobsite Speaker (which also includes an AC adapter) to review, how could I resist breaking the silence of my jobsite and carrying the speaker with me everywhere else besides?
I cranked it up to see if it hit the right notes.
The Milwaukee M18/M12 Wireless Jobsite Speaker is a sharply designed hexagonal box. The eye is drawn to the matching hexagonal frame reinforcements just behind the honeycomb that covers half of the exterior. A decorative Milwaukee red strip flows across and up the front of the speaker before becoming a functional handle on the right side of the speaker.
While many users may think Milwaukee must have a pretty impressive team to design tools and a speaker like this, they actually turned to an outside source – Anvil Studios. Managing Editor, Kenny Koehler, points out that Anvil’s deep work in cycling makes sense for this sector as well. Top level bikes need to be lightweight, strong, and aerodynamic. That’s not an easy trio to combine. Anvil takes the knowledge gained and helped Milwaukee design a speaker that can maximize the premium speakers in a housing that’s still jobsite tough and functional.
Five control buttons are located on top of the unit: the power button, Bluetooth button, and auxiliary button will all illuminate when powered on while the two volume buttons will not. The back of the speaker houses either a Milwaukee 18V or 12V battery. Beneath a small rectangular cover (held on by a rubber strap to prevent loss) are a jack for the AC adapter, headphone jack, and USB port to connect auxiliary devices.
The speaker’s 2.1-amp USB port will charge your phone or other electronic devices whether you’re using a battery or AC power. The charging port is becoming pretty standard on these units, but 2.1 amps will give you quicker charging.
Just as impressive as the speaker’s power and input capabilities is its output capability. It features six speakers: two hi-def mid-woofers, two high range tweeters, and two passive radiators as well as a 40-watt digital amplifier. The whole package is IP54 rated, which means it resists dust and water. With what Milwaukee calls a roll cage protecting it, it’s clear that the speaker could stand up to some abuse.
Does It Go To Eleven?
When Metaphors Go Bad
I plugged in a freshly charged M18 4.0Ah battery, powered the speaker on, and pressed its Bluetooth button until it blinked, indicating that it was in pairing mode. At the same time, I let my phone search for nearby Bluetooth devices. It only took a few seconds for the two to find each other, like an electronic device with Bluetooth capabilities and a wireless speaker in the night. I immediately searched for a podcast about improving one’s metaphorical writing.
Making Beautiful Music
In any event, I began using the speaker while I worked by letting it play a “chill” channel that Google Play Music suggested. I was really surprised at the clarity and sharpness of what I heard. Voices were crisp and the music was well balanced. I turned it up to push the speaker a bit and see where it would distort. Perhaps surprisingly, I didn’t hear any distortion. But I hadn’t pushed it all the way up just yet.
I moved the test outside to work on a project in the backyard. I maxed out the volume to a point that would disturb any neighbor with normal hearing, and the crisp sound filled my property.
I was at least around 40 feet away from the speaker at times and there was no interruption in the sound. Milwaukee claims the speaker has a range of 100 feet, and I put it to the test. I took my phone and the speaker out front, set my phone on my property line, and walked down my street with the speaker in hand.
It turns out I was right to test it – I consistently found the range to be around 70 feet. And of course, that’s without an obstruction between the devices. This isn’t a dealbreaker by any means – some speakers can only get around 30 feet – but it’s the reason we test the limits when we can.
I found it easiest to turn the speaker’s volume all the way up and control the overall volume with my phone. The speaker emits a pleasing beep at each volume level until it reaches its zenith, whereby it emits a higher pitched beep to let you know there’s no higher level.
You don’t have to be an audiophile to hear for yourself that the Milwaukee M18/M12 Wireless Jobsite Speaker is not a substitute for a Bose. Some people have correctly pointed out that the low end of the sound is a little light.
You certainly could find beefier speakers with more bass, but the sound carries a solid balance and has an acceptable low end – at least to my ear. Then again, I was in a band, but that was a long time ago. It should probably go without saying (but I’ve never let that stop me) this is simply a speaker and audio aficionados will want something with receivers and more fine-tuning functions. However, for the vast majority of us, the sound quality with this speaker will be a big improvement over other current jobsite options.
A Little Room for Improvement
I would really like to see some rubberized caps around both ends of this speaker. With the roll cage design, the reinforced frame, and the IP54 rating, it seems like the icing on the cake would be a little buffer between the composite plastic material and concrete that you’ll set it on.
As it turns out, the radio easily scuffs up on masonry. I’m sure the functionality wouldn’t be impaired by impact, but Milwaukee could really ensure that by adding some overmold on future generations of the speaker.
The Bottom Line
The Milwaukee M18/M12 Wireless Jobsite Speaker can be powered by M18 and M12 batteries as well as an AC power adapter. It’s Bluetooth capable and has a USB input for directly plugging in electronic devices, which are charged whether the speaker is powered by AC or DC power. That’s a nice touch. The unit has six speakers, a 40-watt digital amplifier, a roll cage reinforced frame, and an IP54 rating against dust and water intrusion.
The speaker pairs quickly and easily. Voices are remarkably crisp and clear and the music is well balanced for this class. The sound won’t distort even though the speaker gets loud. The mid- and high-range is remarkably good and, although some have questioned the strength of the bass, I find it to be more than adequate.
For all the strength of its build, it lacks some overmold around the end caps. The speaker’s impact resistance is likely enough to protect it from harm, but the composite plastic easily scuffs on concrete. Further protection in the form of some bumper material would not only ensure the impact resistance but also the cosmetic longevity.
It might be on the high end of the price range at $149 since you can get full jobsite radios for much less, but the sound quality and crispness are well worth a few extra bones, especially since the premium speakers are so well protected inside the roll case design with water and dust resistance. If you’re already on the Milwaukee’s M12 or M18 platform, I highly recommend it!
Milwaukee M18/M12 Wireless Jobsite Speaker Key Features
- Industry’s loudest, cleanest sound system
- Stream high definition music wirelessly with Bluetooth from over 100 feet
- Compatible with the M18 and M12 systems featuring over 200 tools, or power with AC adapter
- Two passive radiators maximize clarity and volume of bass
- Two high definition mid-woofers maximize clarity at loudest volume
- Two high range tweeters drive greater range of treble
- IP54 water and dust protected
- Impact resistant roll cage
- Protected 2.1 amp USB power outlet and 3.5 mm auxiliary input
Milwaukee M18/M12 Wireless Jobsite Speaker Specifications
- Model: Milwaukee 2891-20
- Power Source: Milwaukee M18 battery, M12 battery, or AC
- Bluetooth Range: 100 ft
- Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.28%
- Amplifier: 40W, (2) 20W channels
- USB Charger Output: 2.1 Amp
- Length: 7.5 inches
- Height: 6.5 inches
- Width: 13.75 inches
- Weight: 5.3 pounds
- Price: $159