phplCKbXoPM.jpgWriting these blogs is fun for a lot of different reasons. While I have only been doing it for the past few months. I get the opportunity to try out, test, and review a lot of different music related gear. Sometimes packages just seem to show up at my door and frankly, it’s a little bit like Christmas is coming all year long. I suppose the big difference is that with these “gifts” I have to return them all when I am finished. Some have impressed me enough that I plan on buying them for myself. So when I was asked if I would be interested in writing about the Alesis Transactive Wireless Portable Powered Bluetooth Speaker System (OK, I got tired just typing that. I shall henceforth refer to it simply as the Alesis Transactive Wireless) I looked at the Alesis web page for it and thought “sure, why not? Sounds relatively cool”. I was wrong. It is in fact extremely cool (and convenient and awesome and … you get the picture) and for the first time I do not want to send an item back. The value that this had for me over the past week plus goes beyond my usual “musical instruments” realm and has shown itself to be a very useful device in many manners of my, and my family’s musical lives.



I’ll start by going over some of the specs and features before expanding on how and why I love this unit. The Alesis Transactive Wireless is a solid device, which is good since at its core it is a portable speaker and needs to be able to stand up to the rigours of travel. It weighs 28lbs, which is not heavy considering the size of the device but certainly heavy enough to provide faith that it won’t crumble into dust the first time, or the fiftieth time, you move it. And if that may be too heavy for you, fear not! The unit has a collapsible handle and wheels to help you move it around. The Transactive Wireless stands 17 inches tall, 14 ½ inches long, and is 10.6 inches deep so it does not take up tremendous amounts of real estate. The unit does not have phantom power so it can only be used with a dynamic microphone as a condenser microphone requires phantom power. The literature from Alesis also claims that battery life is “up to 50 hours when fully charged” and while manufacturer claims are often the result of laboratory testing under controlled ideal conditions, I can attest that I have used it on battery power for at least 7 hours straight and never had any concerns about battery life as the 3 simple to read green LED lights indicating battery power were still lit. There is also a red LED that comes on to indicate that the battery is low. I’ve yet to see it lit.

alesistop.jpgThe Alesis Transactive Wireless also has a cradle at the top of the unit that will hold iPhones, iPads, Android devices, mp3 players, or other mobile devices. The cradle is conveniently located beside the USB charger where you can plug in your devices to keep their battery levels up while playing music or simply as another easy way to make sure your phone doesn’t die while playing from another device or using a mic or instrument through the unit. One very cool and forward thinking feature is the voltage selector. Anyone who has travelled overseas knows that not all electronic devices work in all countries due to differences in voltage. This feature takes care of that as it allows you to select the appropriate voltage requirements for whichever country you are in.



When I first opened the packaging and removed the Transactive Wireless Speaker and plugged it in to the wall, I grabbed my iPhone to see how easy it was to connect via Bluetooth. I went to my device settings, hit Bluetooth and there in my device list was Alesis TranAct. I touched it and instantly connected. Simple as that. From unboxing to connected via Bluetooth in 30 seconds. A few days after I received the unit, we had some friends over for drinks in the backyard and I saw a great opportunity to put this to a real world test. I unplugged it, carried it upstairs and outside, set it in the corner of the patio and played some music from my iPhone connected through Bluetooth. I could adjust volume from the unit or from my device and after making the early guests listen to some Kick Axe and Saxon, my wife took control of the music for the rest of a great evening. Many guests commented on the Transactive and how clear it was without being overpowering or distorted and one of the guests even ended up on the Best Buy web app looking to see what the cost was and plans on grabbing one from the local store. Seven hours later I carried it inside and plugged it back in to recharge.

A few weeks before I got this, my daughter in law, who has a business running a horse stable and putting on shows, had asked if she could borrow our PA so she could make announcements during their event. Unfortunately we only have a large band PA in our practise space so I was unable to help her out. This would have been the perfect unit for what she needed and could have also had music playing to add even more polish to her event. Again, the literature suggests that Transactive Wireless “projects your performance for more than 150 feet”. So while it wouldn’t have worked at Woodstock, it can certainly meet most small-scale demands for Public Address requirements. Camping? Yes please! Heck, you could even play music while having a mic plugged in and voila, instant karaoke. I have used it virtually everyday since getting it. I use it when I’m on the computer or in the garage or when I’m painting, and will be sad to see it go. I will be getting one for myself, however, so that will mitigate my pain.


123.jpgNow, if you are an avowed audiophile this isn’t for you. Bluetooth in general isn’t near audiophile quality as it takes an audio signal that is already compressed (mp3) and the Bluetooth format has to compress it even further to meet its bandwidth requirements. For most applications though, the lost fidelity is virtually neglible. And in defence of Bluetooth, fidelity is getting better as audio becomes a more significant portion of the market for this technology. But as always, at the end of the day the choice is yours and I encourage you to go down to the local Best Buy and give it a listen. The test drive is really the only way to know for sure if something is right for your needs.


Darren Blakeborough
My day job is as an Assistant Professor in Media and Communication Studies at the University of the Fraser Valley. My primary teaching and research interests revolve around popular culture and technology. I am an adequate at best guitar player currently attempting to romanticize my inglorious youth in a Hair Metal cover band called "Glam Chowder”. When not working or watching TV, I am usually listening to music, recording music, playing music, or trying to figure out what gear I need to make all of that music sound even better.