Get insider access
Preferred store
Your browser is not supported or outdated so some features of the site might not be available.

ION Pathfinder 320 Speaker Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Reviewed Mar 01, 2023 at 09:07 am
Latest change: Writing modified Sep 01, 2023 at 11:47 am
ION Pathfinder 320 Picture
6.7
Music
5.9
Videos/Movies
7.1
Podcasts
3.1
Voice Assistant
6.4
Outdoors

The ION Pathfinder 320 is a large party speaker with built-in RGB lights. With a loud sound and a thumping bass, it's ideal for bringing up the energy at your next big event. Plus, it's rated IPX5 for water resistance, so you can take it outside with you if you want. Through its companion app, you get access to lots of sound customization features, as well as radio capabilities, meaning you can save your favorite presets onto the speaker.

Our Verdict

6.7 Music

The ION Pathfinder 320 is alright for music. This party-oriented speaker has a boomy sound out of the box, so bass-heavy genres like EDM and hip-hop are somewhat lacking in clarity. That said, bass lovers can add more to the mix using the Boom button. Also, if you want a different sound, the graphic EQ in the companion app makes it easy to customize.

Pros
  • Gets loud.
  • Graphic EQ and presets.
  • Customizable RGB lights.
Cons
  • Downmixes stereo content into mono.
  • No multi-device pairing.
  • Some compression at max volume.
5.9 Videos/Movies

The ION Audio Pathfinder 320 isn't meant for watching movies. However, if you want to check out a video on your paired smartphone, it can get the job done. Its boomy sound brings lots of rumble, especially in action-packed scenes. That said, latency is relatively high with iOS and Android devices, so you may notice some lip-synching issues.

Pros
  • Gets loud.
Cons
  • High latency.
  • Downmixes stereo content into mono.
7.1 Podcasts

The ION Audio Pathfinder 320 is decent for podcasts. While it has a boomy sound out of the box, voices are still relatively clear in the mix, so you can follow along with your favorite shows. Plus, if you want a different sound, the graphic EQ in its companion app gives you the ability to customize its output. Its impressive Bluetooth range keeps to connected to your paired phone even from far away, too, and it's more than loud enough to fill your space with sound.

Pros
  • Gets loud.
  • Impressive Bluetooth range.
Cons
  • No multi-device pairing.
  • Large and heavy design.
3.1 Voice Assistant

The ION Pathfinder 320 doesn't support voice assistants.

6.4 Outdoors

The ION Pathfinder 320 is acceptable for outdoor use. Overall, this speaker has a sturdy and robust design, with an IPX5 rating for water resistance to help protect it against the elements. It gets loud enough to fill large and open spaces with sound, so it's great for a backyard party. However, it's on the larger and heavier side, and its built-in wheels aren't ideal for traversing muddy or sandy areas.

Pros
  • Gets loud.
  • Graphic EQ and presets.
  • Built-in wheels and handles for easier transport.
Cons
  • Downmixes stereo content into mono.
  • No multi-device pairing.
  • Large and heavy design.
  • 6.7 Music
  • 5.9 Videos/Movies
  • 7.1 Podcasts
  • 3.1 Voice Assistant
  • 6.4 Outdoors
  1. Updated Sep 01, 2023: Added market comparison with the ION Pathfinder Go in the Portability box.
  2. Updated Mar 01, 2023: Review published.
  3. Updated Feb 23, 2023: Early access published.
  4. Updated Feb 17, 2023: Our testers have started testing this product.
  5. Updated Feb 10, 2023: The product has arrived in our lab, and our testers will start evaluating it soon.
  6. Updated Jan 20, 2023: We've purchased the product and are waiting for it to arrive in our lab.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The ION Pathfinder 320 is available in Black/Red. You can see the label for the model we tested here.

If you come across another version of this speaker, let us know in the discussions, and we'll update our review.

Compared To Other Speakers

The ION Pathfinder 320 is a relatively budget-friendly party speaker with customizable RGB lights and a built-in bottle opener. With its built-in handles, it's easy to bring the party on the go, too. For the price, it comes with lots of customization features, like a graphic EQ. However, unlike other party speakers, there aren't microphone or guitar inputs on hand for musicians.

See also our recommendations for the best party speakers, the loudest Bluetooth speakers, and the best Bluetooth speakers.

JBL PartyBox 310

The JBL PartyBox 310 is a better party speaker than the ION Pathfinder 320. The JBL is larger, but since both speakers have built-in handles, they're pretty easy to transport. Still, the JBL stands out because it can reproduce a more extended low bass and gets louder, too. It also comes with microphone and guitar inputs, unlike the ION. Its battery doesn't last quite as long as the ION.

ION Pathfinder 280

The ION Pathfinder 320 and the ION Pathfinder 280 are both pretty similar party speakers with access to graphic EQs and other customization features through the ION Sound XP app. The 320 can reproduce a more extended low-bass, making it more suitable for genres with lots of bass mixed in, such as EDM and hip-hop. It also has a longer battery life. However, it doesn't get quite as loud as the 280.

JBL PartyBox 100

Depending on your listening habits, you may prefer either the JBL PartyBox 100 or the ION Pathfinder 320. They're both relatively budget-friendly party speakers, but they offer different features. The JBL gets louder, and it has guitar and microphone inputs for karaoke. However, only the ION has a graphic EQ and presets to help you customize its sound across the range, and its battery life lasts much longer.

Monster Rockin' Roller 270X

The Monster Rockin' Roller 270X and the ION Pathfinder 320 are both party speakers with similar overall performances. The ION's battery lasts longer and comes with a full graphic EQ for sound customization, compared to the Monster's bass and treble adjustments. However, only the Monster has microphone and guitar inputs for karaoke fans.

JBL PartyBox Encore Essential

Depending on your listening habits, you may prefer either the ION Pathfinder 320 or the JBL PartyBox Encore Essential. They're both party-oriented speakers, and you can find graphic EQ in their respective companion apps to customize their sound. However, the JBL comes with microphone and guitar inputs for karaoke, unlike the ION. It's also able to reproduce a more extended low-bass. However, the ION's battery life lasts much longer.

ION Pathfinder Go

The ION Pathfinder 320 is a larger and more premium alternative to the ION Pathfinder Go. They're both party speakers with similar designs, though the Go is smaller and more portable. As a result, it doesn't get as loud as the 320. It doesn't have as many physical controls, and they aren't backlit, which isn't ideal for dark parties. Plus, the 320's battery life lasts much longer.

+ Show more

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
RGB Lights Yes

The ION Pathfinder 320 is a large party speaker. It has a square shape with a handlebar located on top to help you transport it, as well as a telescopic wand that lets you move the speaker like carry-on luggage. Plus, there's a bottle opener on the side for your next party, and there are RGB lights on the sides of the speaker and around the control panel. You can adjust the color of the lights or turn them off entirely through the app.

6.7
Design
Portability
Volume
3,478 inยณ (57,000 cmยณ)
Weight
22.7 lbs (10.3 kg)
Power Source
AC & Battery
One-Hand Carry
Yes

Since it's battery-powered, you can bring this speaker on the go. It's on the larger and heavier side, though, especially compared to alternatives like the ION Pathfinder Go. Fortunately, it has a lot of different design features to make it easier to transport, like the built-in handle on top. There's even an additional telescopic handle on the back to pull the speaker along using the wheels underneath.

7.0
Design
Build Quality
Material Quality
Good
Water Resistance
Waterproof (IPx5)
Dust Resistance
Unspecified
Impact Resistance
Unspecified
Floats In Water
Unspecified

Overall, this speaker has a decent build quality. It's mostly made of thick plastic, which feels quite solid and robust, and there are metal grilles to protect the drivers inside. The wheels seem solid, too. While the speaker isn't rated for impact resistance, the IPX5 rating for water resistance means that it's protected against low-pressure water streams.

7.0
Design
Controls
Ease Of Use
Great
Feedback
Great
Music Play/Pause
Yes (Physical)
Call Answer/End
No
Volume Up/Down
Yes (Physical)
Track Next/Previous
Yes (Physical)
Microphone On/Off
No
Additional Controls
Yes

The control panel on the front of the speaker has a series of rubberized buttons that are really easy to use. It has more traditional controls to play/pause your audio and adjust the volume, as well as some tools to control the speaker's sound. You can press the EQ button and turn the control knob to increase or decrease the selected frequency. The Light Mode lets you adjust the RGB lights, and the Link button lets you stereo pair with a compatible speaker. Plus, you can set radio presets and pair and disconnect to devices over Bluetooth.

There's also some audible feedback to help you keep track of the settings as you adjust them. The display above the controls shows the volume level as you adjust it, for example, as well as the battery level. The speaker lets you know when it's powered on as well as when you've successfully connected or disconnected to a paired device. When you press the BOOM button to enhance the speaker's bass, it makes a distinct sound, too.

Design
In The Box

  • Manuals
  • IEC320 C13 power cable
  • ION Pathfinder 320 speaker

Sound
6.5
Sound
Frequency Response Accuracy
Slope
-1.41
Std. Err.
4.21 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
54.2 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
12.0 kHz

This speaker has fair frequency response accuracy. Out of the box, it has a boomy sound overall, with lots of extra emphasis in the bass range to bring genres like EDM and hip-hop to life. However, the dip in the mids means that voices and lead instruments are lacking detail. Notably, it brings more low-bass than the ION Pathfinder 280, so you notice a little more thump and rumble in the bass. If you want to add more bass to the mix, there's a Boom feature available, as well as a full graphic EQ in the app to switch up its performance across the range.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
Binaural Recording @ 1m
Binaural Recording @ 2m
6.3
Sound
Soundstage
Directivity Index
3.18 dB
Stereo
No (mono)

This speaker's soundstage performance is acceptable. It has to downmix stereo content into mono to play it, so you have to pair it with a second unit to get stereo sound. Its directivity is good, though, so its soundstage is perceived as wider and more open.

7.5
Sound
Dynamics
SPL @ Max Volume
96.1 dB SPL
DRC @ Max Volume
2.89 dB

This speaker gets loud enough to fill larger and more open spaces with sound. However, at max volume, there's a touch of compression present in the mix, especially in the bass range.

Active Features
5.0
Active Features
Battery
Battery Life
117.9 hrs
Charge Time
12.9 hrs
Power Saving
No
Charging Port
AC
Battery Powered
Yes

This speaker lasts well over the advertised 100 hours of play time off of a single charge, so you can enjoy multiple listening sessions without having to worry about a recharge. It takes a while to recharge; however, there seems to be a quick-charge feature on handโ€”in our tests, the battery was about 3/4ths full after only 45 minutes of charging. Unfortunately, there's no power-saving feature, so you have to remember to power it off manually to save battery life.

0
Active Features
Voice Assistant
Alexa
No
Google Assistant
No
Speakerphone
No
Siri
No
Voice Assistant
No
Voice Activation
No
Microphone Mute
No Microphone
Far-Field Performance
No Assistant
Ambient Noise Performance
No Assistant
6.3
Active Features
App
App Name
ION Sound XP
iOS
Yes
Android
Yes
EQ
Graphic + Presets
Stereo Pair Mode
Yes
Party Mode
No
Multi-Room
No

The ION Sound XP app lets you control the speaker from your phone or mobile device. You can check the battery level, adjust the volume, and switch up the colors on the RGB lights. Plus, you can switch up the speaker's sound using the EQ as well as the Boom feature. If you own a compatible ION speaker, you can connect it with the speaker to form a stereo pair. A full video of the app is available here.

Connectivity
Connectivity
Wired
Aux Input
Yes
USB Audio
No
Other Ports
Yes

On top of the speaker, you can slide back the plastic to reveal a charging compartment. Inside, you find an AUX port to wire your devices to the speaker, as well as a USB-A charging port.

7.4
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth
Yes
Bluetooth Version
5.0
Bluetooth iOS Latency
157 ms
Bluetooth Android Latency
124 ms
Bluetooth Range
331.4 ft (101.0 m)
Multi-Device Pairing
No

This speaker's Bluetooth range is impressive, so your device remains connected to the speaker even if it's far away. If you want to watch videos, the latency is a bit high, so you may notice some delays between the audio you hear and the video you see. That said, different apps can compensate for latency in their own ways, so your real-world experience may vary.

0
Connectivity
Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi Version
No Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi Frequency Band
No Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi
No
Apple AirPlay
No
AirPlay Latency
N/A
Google Chromecast
No
Chromecast Latency
N/A