101

Ion Pathfinder 280 Review

True Score

71
69
1

Experts

79
748

Consumers

Product Awards

GR Certified

Expert Rankings

Top testers loved the ION Pathfinder 280, and they recommended it for parties, music, and outdoor settings. They loved its remarkably loud output, low sound compression, and near-neutral sound profile. Testers also liked its outstanding battery life. However, they disliked its narrow soundstage and high Bluetooth latency.

$124.99

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Product Snapshot

Overview

The ION Pathfinder 280 is a 2021-model mid-range Bluetooth party speaker that promises wide-angle sound and pleasant Bluetooth lighting for partygoers. Unlike most on our list of the best speakers, this device has customizable RGB lighting and a waterproof storage compartment for small devices. It has a rugged IPX5 water-resistant design and boasts excellent battery life. This model connects wirelessly via Bluetooth 5.0, featuring a good 278.9-foot range, and a built-in radio provides wide-ranging entertainment. Read to the end of this review and see how the ION Pathfinder 280 stacks up against the best Bluetooth speakers today.

Consensus

our Verdict

Reviewers loved the ION Pathfinder 280, endorsing it for parties, music, and the outdoors. Testers at RTINGS lauded the app-based Graphic EQ and presets. However, if you prefer, physical presets, see our Devialet Dione Review. Reviewers at Crutchfield loved its outstanding 68-hour battery life. This 23.8-lb speaker has an IPX5-rated waterproof design. See our iFix iF012 review for a smaller speaker. It boasts a decent 73.4Hz to 16.3 kHz frequency response and near-neutral 2.91 dB standard error. Testing revealed a relatively narrow soundstage with a 4.31 dB directivity index. Testers lauded its very loud 100.5 dB maximum SPL and very low 1.13 dB sound compression at the maximum volume. The system only supports stereo when paired with a similar speaker, however. It also doesn’t support voice assistants. See our Denon Home 350 review if you require built-in Alexa. The 322 ms iOS Bluetooth latency and 245 ms Android latency proved to be high for movies. Check out the JBL BoomBox 2 review if you need less latency.

ReasonS to Buy

  • Speaker gets really loud
  • Well-balanced sound profile
  • IPX5-rated water-resistant design
  • Low sound deterioration at high volume settings
  • RGB lighting

Reason to Avoid

  • Lacks multi-device Bluetooth pairing
  • High Bluetooth latency
  • Only support stereo when paired with another speaker
  • Narrow and directional soundstage
  • Lacks voice assistants or speakerphone functions

Ion Pathfinder 280 Specs

Battery LifeBattery Life100 hrs
Built In MicrophoneBuilt In Microphonen/a
Charge TimeCharge Time10 hrs
DepthDepth11"
HeightHeight18.1"
IPX RatingIPX RatingIPX5
Smart AppSmart AppYes
Speaker PairingSpeaker Pairingn/a
Water ResistantWater ResistantYes
WattageWattage120W
WidthWidth18.1"
Wireless RangeWireless Range100 ft

All Specs

Test Results

Battery Life (Hours)68
Volume Output (dB)100.5
Low End Roll Off (Hz)89.797
High End Roll Off (Hz)11,494.012

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Product Comparison

Ion Pathfinder 280 Review

True Score

71
85
78
NR

Ranking

#

101

/

109

#

19

/

109

#

92

/

109

#

/

Market Context

The ION Pathfinder 280 is a 2021-model mid-range Bluetooth party speaker that promises wide-angle sound and pleasant Bluetooth lighting for partygoers. Unlike most on our…

The ION Pathfinder 280 is a 2021-model mid-range Bluetooth party speaker that promises wide-angle sound and pleasant Bluetooth lighting for partygoers. Unlike most on our list of the best speakers, this device has customizable RGB lighting and a waterproof storage compartment for small devices. It has a rugged IPX5 water-resistant design and boasts excellent battery life. This model connects wirelessly via Bluetooth 5.0, featuring a good 278.9-foot range, and a built-in radio provides wide-ranging entertainment. Read to the end of this review and see how the ION Pathfinder 280 stacks up against the best Bluetooth speakers today.

Featuring a 104.7 dB SPL, the JBL PartyBox 100 gets louder than the ION Pathfinder 280, which reaches a top SPL of 100.5 dB. Additionally,…

Featuring a 104.7 dB SPL, the JBL PartyBox 100 gets louder than the ION Pathfinder 280, which reaches a top SPL of 100.5 dB. Additionally, the JBL speaker plays stereo, unlike the ION Pathfinder 280 speaker, which requires pairing with a similar speaker to support audio. However, the ION device features graphics EQ and radio features, unlike the JBL model.

The ION Pathfinder 280 features a 100.5 dB SPL and 1.13 dB DRC, getting louder and maintaining the audio quality better at the highest volume…

The ION Pathfinder 280 features a 100.5 dB SPL and 1.13 dB DRC, getting louder and maintaining the audio quality better at the highest volume than the Monster Rockin’ Roller 270X, which has a 95.7 dB SPL and 2.24 dB DRC. However, the Monster speaker boasts mic+guitar inputs, unlike the ION Pathfinder 280.

The ION Pathfinder 280 speaker has a waterproof storage compartment on top, unlike the ION Pathfinder 4 speaker. Additionally, the ION Pathfinder 280 has side…

The ION Pathfinder 280 speaker has a waterproof storage compartment on top, unlike the ION Pathfinder 4 speaker. Additionally, the ION Pathfinder 280 has side speakers, boasting a more immersive 280-degree performance than the more directional Pathfinder 4.

Battery Life

100 hrs

12 hrs

100 hrs

Built In Microphone

n/a

No

n/a

Charge Time

10 hrs

6.5 hrs

n/a

Depth

11"

11.4"

Height

18.1"

21.6"

IPX Rating

IPX5

n/a

Smart App

Yes

JBL PartyBox, Yes

Monster Zone Control

Speaker Pairing

n/a

Yes

Yes

Dig Deeper

JBL Partybox 100 Review →

Monster Rockin’ Roller 270X Review →

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  • $124.99

    Availability

    In Stock

    Free Shipping

    No
  • $572.99

    Availability

    In Stock

    Free Shipping

    Yes

Score Card

E

Expert Score

69

*.75

We place a 75% weighted value on Expert Test Scores

C

Customer Score

79

*.25

We place a 25% weighted value on Customer Scores

True Score

71

Any product with a True Score above 70 is a Mixed Reviews

Expert Scores

  • Rtings
    102.6

    Category Trust Rating

    66
    The ION Pathfinder 280 is good for podcasts. While it isn’t necessarily designed for this,… Read More

    By:

    John Panoryios

Customer Scores

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