Of course, this being Britain we can’t take sunshine for granted, but the K3000ST isn’t actually as fussy as you might expect about how much sunshine it needs to work. Annoyingly after a weekend of bright sunshine I had to test during a day with lots of cloud and intermittent showers, yet the K3000ST and my faithful iPod kept working outside in a wide range of brightness and shade conditions and even on the windowsill inside the house.
The sound breaks up if the solar charger is in too much shade or if the conditions grow really overcast, but you can make up for this by lowering the volume slightly or moving the whole thing to a sunnier spot. While I was concerned that the amount of sunlight would affect the volume and sound quality from minute to minute or even second to second, the K3000ST actually does a great job of keeping things smooth. Overall tone and volume levels were as consistent as any battery-powered speaker system I’ve come across.
The bad news is that the sound quality is average or even below, and that goes whether you’re listening on free solar energy or mains power. Nobody expects HiFi quality from a device this small, but you have to be careful what you listen to on the K3000ST. Give the dual 1.8W speakers too much to work with and the output is tinny and lacking in body and bite. The shimmering guitar and piano tones of ”Mirrorball” from Elbow’s ”The Seldom Seen Kid” lose their shimmer altogether, while the bassline disappears into a muddy mix. The raucous guitar tones of The Black Crowes’ ”Remedy” became boxy and lifeless, the classic rock-and-roll sound drained of energy. Like my old eighties boombox, any drums in the mix seem to dissolve bar the snare while instruments at the treble end are over-emphasised. I tried Bill Evans’ small group version of the Kind of Blue standout ”Blue in Green” and the piano lines – fluid and haunting on a decent speaker system – became a nasty sort of mush. Good luck hearing all the instrumental detail in Radiohead’s ”Nude”; the K3000ST all but buries it.
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