Klarus CL1 Review (with Power Bank Feature)

Preface

This model represents quite a few firsts for Klarus.

1st Camping Lantern, 1st Bluetooth Speaker & 1st 3-in-1 (Lantern, Bluetooth Speaker and Power Bank) device.

Let’s check out the merits and demerits of this new Klarus CL1 model.

Packaging & First Impressions

This is what the light will come with as shown below.

  • The tail electronic switch requires a rather firm and deliberate press to activate and helps in preventing any unwanted activation of the light/Bluetooth.
  • Magnetic tail is able to bear the lantern’s weight when attached horizontally and vertically (upside down) to a flat ferrous metallic surface.
  • Collapsible hook has quite a bit of flex but can probably withstand day-to-day normal usage without issue.
  • The provided carabiner is of fairly decent quality with some flex but should withstand day-to-day abuse without issue.
  • A nice quality pouch to hold the lantern, charging cables and carabiner is provided.
  • No lanyard is provided.
  • Scanning the QR code with your phone/tablet on the box’s side would bring up the Klarus main website.

Top:

Bottom:

Sides:

Box Contents:

Quick Overview (Manufacturer Specifications)

  • Body Material: PC (Polycarbonate), ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) Polymer + Aluminum Alloy.
  • LED: No information provided
  • LED Specification: High CRI, 4500K
  • Battery Format: Built-in 3.7V 6600mAh battery
  • Bluetooth Battery Usage Time: 20h to 50h
  • Bluetooth: 4.0
  • Bluetooth Range: 10m
  • Driver: 40mm
  • Driver Output: 5W
  • Sensitivity: 80 dB SPL/mW
  • Impedance: No information provided
  • Frequency Response: 150 Hz – 26 kHz
  • Lantern Output & Runtime (with built-in 3.7V 6,600mAh battery):
    • Low (12 lumens / 13days 1h)
    • Mid (160 lumens / 14h)
    • High (390 lumens / 8h)
  • Max Beam Distance: 18m
  • Beam intensity: 81cd
  • Waterproofness: IPX-4 Standard
  • Impact Resistance: 1m
  • Dimension: 81mm (length) x 72mm (diameter)
  • Weight: 294g (including batteries)
  • Accessories Included:
    • 1*Built-in 3.7V 6,600mAh battery
    • 1*2-in-1 USB cable with Micro-USB and Lightning connectors
    • 1*Carabiner
    • 1*Pouch
  • MSRP: ~$60

UI (User Interface)

UI for this lantern/Bluetooth speaker is fairly straightforward to use.

Switching ON and OFF for the light or Bluetooth speaker is done by the electronic switch on the bottom of this camping lantern. Hence, there is no momentary activation for the light operation.

Normal Operation (Lantern & Bluetooth Speaker)

From OFF:

  • 2 Click – Light will switch ON in LOW mode.
  • 3 Click – Light will switch ON in LOW mode first then move to MID mode.
  • 4 Click – Light will switch ON in LOW mode first then move to MID mode and finally be in HIGH mode.
  • HOLD – Bluetooth Speaker is switched ON.

From ON (<4 seconds):

  • 1 Click – Mode change (light cycles through OFF, LOW, MID, HIGH -> OFF,LOW, MID, HIGH).
  • HOLD – Bluetooth Speaker is switched OFF.

From ON (>4 seconds):

  • 1 Click – Light will switch OFF.
  • HOLD – Bluetooth Speaker is switched OFF.

There is no blinky (STROBE or SOS) modes.

First Connection/Pairing (Bluetooth Speaker)

The following instruction would guide you through the simple process to connect the Klarus CL1 to a Bluetooth-compatible device for the first time.

  1. Switch ON Bluetooth on Bluetooth-compatible device (phone, tablet, computer or etc.).
  2. From OFF, HOLD the power button for ~1sec till the BLUE indicator flashes. A chime will sound to signify the Bluetooth mode is switched ON and is searchable.
  3. Select the name of the speaker (KLARUS Music) on the Bluetooth-compatible device to connect.
  4. The speaker is now connected to the Bluetooth-compatible device & all audio will now play on the speaker directly. Another chime will sound to signify it is now connected and the BLUE indicator will be switch ON (as seen in below photo).
  5. Switch OFF speaker, HOLD the power button for ~1sec till the BLUE indicator is switched OFF.

Note:

  • This is a Bluetooth Speaker only, it does not have a microphone to take phone calls so audio from phone calls will not be transferred to the speaker as well.
  • There is no additional button to control the volume and/or skip sound tracks.
  • After 5 minutes, it will go into hibernation mode if it is not connected to any Bluetooth-device.

Subsequent Connection/Pairing (Bluetooth Speaker)

The following instruction would guide you through the simple process to connect the Klarus CL1 to the Bluetooth-compatible device after the first pairing.

  1. Follow steps 1 & 2 of above “First Connection/Pairing (Bluetooth Speaker)” instructions.
  2. The speaker should connect with the Bluetooth-compatible device almost immediately.
  3. If Step 2 does not occur, manually tap to connect on the device’s Bluetooth menu.
  4. The speaker is now connected to the Bluetooth-compatible device & all audio will now play on the speaker directly.
  5. Switch OFF speaker, HOLD the power button for ~1sec till the BLUE indicator is switched OFF.

Power Indicator

There is only 1 type of Power Indicator for this product.

From OFF:

  • 1 Click: The Side battery indicator will glow accordingly to show current battery capacity:
    • 4 GREEN LEDs – Power is between 95% – 100%.
    • 3 GREEN LEDs – Power is between 65% – 94%.
    • 2 GREEN LEDs – Power is between 35% – 64%.
    • 1 GREEN LED – Power is between 15% – 34%.
    • 1 RED LED – Power is <15%, do recharge the batteries.

Note: the Power Indicator will always be switched ON when the Lantern and/or Bluetooth Speaker is in use.

Connectivity

The Klarus CL1 uses the Bluetooth 4.0 version.

There is no aptX codex included to help improve sound quality transferred via Bluetooth.

After the first pairing/connection, the speaker would connect to the Bluetooth-compatible device almost instantly through our tests. No disconnection occurred when placing the Bluetooth-compatible device in the bag.

The claimed Bluetooth range is 10m and the speaker is still connected to the Bluetooth-compatible devices close to the 10m mark. The speaker will still remain connected even in an adjourning room (separated by a concrete wall), although this decreases the Bluetooth range to about half.

Notably, the Bluetooth unit used in this speaker could be a lot better but nonetheless, for a flashlight manufacturer’s first Bluetooth speaker, it is definitely a great step in the correct direction.

Form Factor

For lanterns that are intended to be carried around and used for possibly an extended period of time, form factor is extremely important.

This lantern is rather compact and its weight is reasonably acceptable especially since it contains a fairly large 6,600mAh battery in a lantern-sized body while packing a 40mm speaker, at the same time.

The rubberised grip on the body of the lantern ensures that it remains “grippy”, even with wet hands/gloves.

The lantern is able to tail-stand perfectly without the slightest wobble.

Charging Process

With the provided micro-USB Cable, the battery was charging at ~0.77A.

The product is capable of operating on all Lantern modes and with the Bluetooth Speaker in use, when charging (at the expense of a slower charging rate). However, it is recommended to use “LOW” mode for the Lantern only, to ensure that the battery does get charged.

The flashing GREEN indicator (any of the 4 indicators) depicts charging in progress and 4 GREEN indicators lit (non-blinking) depicts charging has completed.

  • 4 GREEN LEDs ON – Power is between 95% – 100%.
  • 3 GREEN LEDs ON & 1 GREEN LED flashing – Power is between 65% – 94%.
  • 2 GREEN LEDs ON & 1 GREEN LED flashing – Power is between 35% – 64%.
  • 1 GREEN LED ON & 1 GREEN LED flashing – Power is between 15% – 34%.
  • 1 GREEN LED flashing – Power is <15%.

Discharging – Power Bank Function

This is probably one of the key specialty of this product – the ability to use it as a backup Power Bank with the provided 2-in-1 USB cable with Micro-USB and Lightning connectors.

The Klarus CL1 was discharging at ~0.80A. It will still be able to operate on all Lantern modes and with the Bluetooth Speaker in use, even when discharging.

Note:

  • Battery Discharging Capacity Indicator – Side Switch Indicator Light will be switched ON to indicate remaining battery capacity
    • 4 GREEN LEDs – Power is between 95% – 100%.
    • 3 GREEN LEDs – Power is between 65% – 94%.
    • 2 GREEN LEDs – Power is between 35% – 64%.
    • 1 GREEN LED – Power is between 15% – 34%.
    • 1 RED LED – Power is <15%, stop discharging and recharge the batteries instead.

Battery Runtime (Bluetooth Speaker)

There are a lot of factors that affect a speaker’s battery runtime – distance of speaker from Bluetooth-compatible device, Bluetooth-compatible device’s Bluetooth version, volume of audio, genre of music and more. Hence, we try to make as much as the above variables, as constants instead.

Here are the parameters for our unofficial runtime test:

  • Bluetooth-compatible device used: Apple iPad Pro 9.7, Airplane Mode activated, all background applications closed
  • Distance of Speaker from Bluetooth-compatible device: Placed next to each other
  • Bluetooth Version: 4.2
  • Music Player used: Apple Music (no Equalizer activated)
  • Audio used: Royals by Lorde (in Repeat mode)
  • Volume of Audio: ~50%

With the above parameters in place, the speaker lasted 48 hours – just a 2 hours shy of the 50 hours claimed by Klarus.

The runtime will dropped significantly if the lantern and/or discharging functions were used at the same time.

Sound Quality

There are many components to evaluate an speaker’s sound quality. We do not pretend to be true hardcore audiophiles but we will look into 4 of the more common characteristics that most audiophiles tend to look for. The following unofficial tests are made without an equalizer.

There is a split second audio delay with videos – it is not exactly noticeable till you actually look for it. Hence, video editing is definitely not possible with this speaker.

  • Soundstage: The soundstage is fairly narrow and is probably due to the single 40mm driver.
  • Treble: The treble is noticeably boosted.
  • Mids: The mids is slightly recessed.
  • Bass: The bass is slightly boosted and sounds slightly muddy at times.

Overall, the sound quality is fairly good with a focus on vocals. Again, for Klarus’s first bluetooth speaker, there isn’t much to complain about especially when factoring the cost of this lantern with the discharging power bank feature.

Beam Style/Beamshots

For this light, the beam pattern (spill, corona and hotspot) is somewhat predictable due to the Polycarbonate (PC) cover used. The LEDs are fully covered under the PC cover. Hence, the beam has soft flood for recognizing items in the up-close distance only.

The above beam profile is a rough interpretation of what is seen when white wall hunting.

The beam has a wide “wall of light” diffused spill with no visible hotspot or corona. There are no beam artifacts in the beam when whitewall hunting and in real world usage.

All of the beamshots taken below are done so with the following camera settings (LOW: 2sec, F3.5, ISO100, 5000K WB, MID: 0.8sec, F3.5, ISO100, 5000K WB and HIGH: 1/2sec, F3.5, ISO100, 5000K WB).
Some pictures have been adjusted slightly to depict as close as to what is seen in real life. The distance of the light from the door is 4.6m.

Control shot:

LOW (12 lumens):

MID (160 lumens):

HIGH (390 lumens):

Mode (Output) Spacing

Mode spacing appears to be progressively brighter to the eye and the modes are well spaced enough to be able to know which mode one is currently in. With that in mind, TLR tend to view mode spacing as battery life indicators (amount of runtime left) rather than the specific output (lumens).

There is no MOONLIGHT mode for this lantern but the LOW mode is perfect for camping usage inside a tent. That said, a hidden MOONLIGHT mode option would be perfect for leaving the lantern switch ON during camping at night – somewhat like a location beacon without the blinking function.

On a side note, the MID mode (160 lumens) could use a slightly lower output of say ~120 lumens to ensure a longer runtime at a cooler temperature – as the difference in output is almost imperceptible to most human eyes. On MID mode with the speakers on 50% output, the CL1 does get slightly warm on extended usage.

Tint & CRI

The color temperature is said to be 4500K with a high CRI (Color Rendering Index) Rating for the LEDs used in the light. For this lantern, a guesstimate would be in the 90CRI ballpark.

There are no tint shifts throughout the beam profile. The floody spill is a neutral yellow tint.

Waterproofness

As the CL1 is IPX4-rated, it was subjected to being under slow moving room temperature water (to best mimic light rain) whilst switched ON.

No signs of water intrusion in the charging ports was seen. Nonetheless, due to the design of the speaker vent, the speaker has to be placed upside down (speaker vent facing downward) to ensure that all water that had entered, will exit and/or dry out.

The speaker functions perfectly, even after our water tests.

Lockout Capability

No electronic lockout or mechanical lockout are possible when needed, like during transportation in a bag.

This is probably why the UI for this CL1 requires 2 Click to switch ON the lantern and a HOLD to activate Bluetooth connection.

Scale Comparison (Ruler)

Summary

To sum up, we believe that the most important part of any review is if given the chance to purchase the same lantern Bluetooth speaker for our own usage or to gift to our loved ones out from one’s pocket (wallet), would we still do it?
For this light, it is a YES, if you are in the market for a rather quality multi-purpose lantern.

The rather small form factor (for a 3-in-1 product – Lantern, Bluetooth Speaker & Power Bank), convenience of being able to operate all 3 functions at once (charging the Bluetooth device, playing audio through said Bluetooth device & having light), high CRI, pleasant tint, soft floody light, relatively decent sound quality, magnetic tail and hooking options via collapsible hook or provided carabiner are all plus points for this flashlight.

That said, the CL1 could use a higher IPX rating to stay ahead of the Bluetooth Speakers’ competition and perhaps have slightly better tuned driver(s).

Here is a bonus size comparison with some of the other lantern style light we reviewed previously and below that is a size comparison with the true wireless Sudio Nivå earphones.
From Left to Right: Rofis MR70, Klarus CL1, Nitecore LR12 and Oveready BOSS 35 with optional Diffuser.

As with all gears, two is one and one is none.

Stay safe,
The Lite Review


Disclaimer: CL1 was provided for by FastTech for this review. No other compensation was provided.


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