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Ryobi 18V One+ Compact Bluetooth Radio/Speaker

Ryobi 18V One+ Compact Bluetooth Radio/Speaker (#PCL600B)

Whether it’s over local FM radio stations, Pandora, or Apple Music, I listen to music everywhere I go. I previously reviewed the Ryobi PAD01B Bluetooth Speaker and it often accompanies me when I am working outdoors. I was recently given the smaller Ryobi 18V One+ Compact Bluetooth Radio/Speaker (#PCL600B) to review and my ears liked what they heard.

Radio/Speaker Specifications

Physical Set Up

The Ryobi 18V One+ Compact Bluetooth Radio/Speaker is indeed a compact music source. Without a battery in place, it weighs only 2 pounds and is less than 8 inches tall, less than 4 inches in depth, and it is less than 6 inches in width.  On the base of the radio, there are 4 rubber feet installed to ensure stability and to protect fragile surfaces when you place it down.

On the back of the radio and immediately above the battery, there is a 3-inch long and ½-inch deep cutout that allowed my 4 fingers to lift and carry the Radio. While the cutout is convenient as a grab handle, I would exercise caution when carrying it since the cutout is not as secure as an external handle.

There is a single 3-inch 15-watt speaker for sound production, protected by a durable black plastic cover. Ryobi included a dedicated USB charging port providing charging power of 5 Volts DC at up to 2.1 Amps. I enjoyed having the convenience of a charging source that, on average, increased my phone’s battery charge by 10% for every 10-15 minutes it was plugged in. The Radio/Speaker must be powered on to charge your device and you must supply your own USB cord.

The Bluetooth connection range was advertised at up to 175 feet. I was initially doubtful when I read that number, but in my testing, I found the connection worked consistently up to 175 feet with no large obstructions between my iPhone and the Speaker. After 160 feet, the music cut off once, but then it kept going strong. I am not sure how often a user will need more than 150 feet of separation from the Speaker, but Ryobi’s Bluetooth range far exceeded my expectations for a wireless speaker. Please note that there is no AUX input source on the Ryobi Compact Bluetooth Radio/Speaker, so any external music source must be Bluetooth-enabled. The PCL600B is also not water resistant.

Ryobi’s Superior Battery Life

The Ryobi Bluetooth Radio/Speaker operates on any Ryobi 18V One+ battery. I used the PCL600B for more than a month in a variety of situations. I used both a 2Ah battery and a 4Ah battery and with each, I found the battery life was outstanding. Ryobi states it will provide up to 32 hours of entertainment on a single battery and I believe that is a valid estimation after my own usage. In one case, I used the Radio with an 18V 4Ah battery for 2 consecutive days and the battery still had 2 bars of power remaining after 16+ hours of continuous run-time. I imagine a fully charged battery could easily last for a 3-day weekend family extravaganza.

With its superior battery life and USB charging ability, this would be a great Bluetooth Radio/Speaker to have as an emergency backup in the case of an extended power outage.

Radio/Speaker Onboard Control Panel

On the front of the Ryobi 18V One+ Compact Bluetooth Radio/Speaker, there are 7 buttons and a backlit LCD panel. Depressing the power button will give the audible message,” Power on”. Once the Radio is on, a quick press of the power button will allow you to cycle between Bluetooth and Radio mode. You need to press and hold the power button for 2 seconds to turn off the Radio, whereupon it will give you a “power off” alert.

To the right of the power button is the 1.75-inch wide backlit LCD display. On the display, you can view the FM frequency and current settings in use. To the right of the LCD display is the USB charging port.

The majority of the controls are together below the LCD. The first two buttons are the volume down and up buttons. Each press of the volume up button will show the volume level increasing on the LCD screen, from 01 to 02, for instance. The maximum volume level is 16, but I never came close to that level in my testing. The next button is a Play/Pause button that works perfectly to cycle between these 2 modes when connected to a Bluetooth device. A Preset button was included on the control panel and it can store up to 10 FM frequencies that can be scrolled through using that same button. Bravo to Ryobi for allowing you to save preset stations since it’s so much easier to find your favorite stations later.

The final 2 buttons perform different duties based on the connection type. In FM mode, the Tune/Seek arrows will scroll up or down through frequencies with each click. Holding down the arrow will enable the Seek mode to quickly find the next FM frequency with a strong signal. In Bluetooth mode, the Tune/Seek left and right arrows will go to the previous or next track on the connected device. Each of these controls worked perfectly when my iPhone was paired with the Ryobi Compact Radio.

The Ryobi Radio/Speaker can pair with one device at a time. The Radio will automatically attempt to connect to the last device that it was paired with. If it can’t find that device, the “bt” indicator will flash on the LCD panel until a new device is paired. Very conveniently, the PCL600B is identified as “Ryobi Compact Radio” on your Bluetooth device. It will audibly alert you when Bluetooth is connected.

FM Radio Music Playback

I used the Ryobi Radio both inside and outside of my house. The unit doesn’t come with an external antenna like their previous generation radio. Unfortunately, without an antenna, the radio reception was inconsistent. I found it to be challenging to pick up radio stations clearly inside my house. While the music could be heard, there was often a great deal of static, too. Sadly, several of my favorite local stations could not be picked up at all when using the Seek feature. When outdoors, the placement of the Radio made a big difference when I was trying to connect to a station. Finding the reception “sweet spot” took some effort, sometimes requiring the unit to be placed on its side to achieve the best FM reception.

When I did find a clear station, the audio playback was quite good. I felt the level of bass and treble were well-balanced throughout my trials. The audio was not broadcast in stereo, but it was still pleasing to the ear and it could be played loud enough to be enjoyed by a large group of people.

Sadly, without an external antenna, the Ryobi Compact Radio definitely relies upon proximity to a radio station’s tower. Our town’s local high school radio station transmits from 1 mile away and the reception was crystal clear each and every time I connected to that frequency. I assume as the proximity to a station’s transmitter improves, so will the FM Radio’s audio quality.

Bluetooth Music Playback

When I used the Bluetooth connection, I was very impressed by the audio playback from the Speaker. I used a variety of Bluetooth sources with the PCL600B—Pandora, Apple Music, TuneIn Radio—and they all performed seamlessly. While the reception was not ideal in FM Radio mode, an excellent alternative was connecting to local radio stations over Bluetooth using their own App or with the TuneIn Radio App; this was always my preference because the reception was always static-free. I also used the PCL600B to play the audio when I was streaming movies or television shows on my laptop. The Bluetooth connection to my laptop was made quickly and the audio sounded so much better than the built-in computer speakers.

The 3-inch 15-watt speaker that Ryobi installed inside the unit is capable of particularly loud audio playback. Not only is it loud, but it achieves loud volumes quickly!  I found that setting 02 was ideal when I was looking for background audio while working on the computer. At volume level 02, the decibel level was 46-50 at a distance of 1.5 feet. When increased to volume level 04, the decibel level for the same song increased to 67-70 decibels. Upon reaching volume level 06, the radio reached 85 decibels for the same song at a distance of 1.5 feet. When working outside, setting 08 was quite loud and the Speaker could be heard over other tools, such as my Ryobi Orbital Buffer.

Much like their larger PAD01B Bluetooth Speaker, Ryobi designed this Radio/Speaker to be very comfortable filling a large space with music. The PCL600B is not going to replace a high-end Bluetooth speaker that an audiophile might use in his/her living room, but it was perfectly capable and appropriate when I wanted my music to accompany me indoors and out.

Final Thoughts

I believe the Ryobi 18V One+ Compact Bluetooth Radio/Speaker was designed for those DIY’ers that appreciate the tremendous functionality and practicality of Ryobi tools.  The PCL600B offers you the flexibility of listening to the FM radio or streaming music over Bluetooth, all while charging your USB device, too.  Rock on, music and tool enthusiasts!

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