It’s loud, I’ll give you that.
Paired with another one to make the audio experience stereo, the AQ Audio Smartspeaker does pack a punch. But we’ll get to that later. The preliminaries first.
It comes packaged carefully in a big sturdy box with nice egg-carton restraints in which nests the big speaker (it’s big—tall and narrow, for an external speaker; nearly a foot tall, it’s big and broad in the base and tapers up top), the kinda bulky charging brick and cable, and external aux cable with 3.5mm plugs at either end. The front face of the speaker is a nice black fabric grille, and the back is grey soft-touch rubber. There is a metal strip running all along the sides, with a power button, connection indicator light and volume controls on the very top, a metal AQ Audio logo band on the bottom front and a small control panel on the bottom back. The base is made of a tough red rubber compound that prevents it from slipping around on whatever surface you put it on.
The charging brick is kinda large, with a long, detachable cord, which is odd now in an age where charging is normally done via a USB cable. It attaches to the control panel and while it charges, there is a blinking light by the logo on the front that tells you it is. (It’s kind of irritating, actually.) When fully charged, the light stops, and the Smartspeaker can work for up to 10 hours on wifi, or if you so connect it, 20 hours via the aux cord. While on wireless, it shuts itself down after 10 minutes of non-use to save on battery life.
It works via the AirPlay route, a wifi iTunes standard that Apple developed which AQ Audio trumpets prominently in its packaging, although it will run on Android devices as well. It works well out of the box with your Mac‘s or PC‘s wifi connection, connecting via the 802.11b/g streaming connection, and aside from iTunes, can play any audio that uses the Airplay protocol at around a hundred feet from your wireless router.
You can download a free iOS app on your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad with which you can pair the speaker by connecting the charging/sync cable and your device and running the app. You only need to do this once, though, and the device remembers the connection. If you’re using an Android device, you’ll need to download the DNLA-certified app AQ Play before you can use it. If you want, you can purchase the Airfoil software (there is a coupon for a 40% discount that comes in the box), that lets you play YouTube, Spotify, Rdio, Rhapsody, movies and TV shows and similar things from Airplay.
Once connected, it works well enough. The speaker is loud (24w!), loud enough to play to a medium to biggish room. It has “patented, cutting edge amplifiers” that is supposedly 20x more efficient that other Class D amplifiers. It plays highs and mids well enough, but it somewhat lacks the punch of the lows. It does have some distortion at maximum level, but you only need play it just below maximum to avoid the buzzing distortion. The audio quality is adequate enough, but nothing to write home about, really. Let’s just say it works well enough and leave it at that.
There is just one limitation to the Smartspeaker, which AQ Audio downplays, but doesn’t hide—it’s a monaural speaker. It’s mono. You can play your audio as loud and as much as you want, but you’ll have it only in mono. There is an option for stereo though: but you’ll have to buy another Smartspeaker, and you’ll have stereo output. You can use the switch on the control panel to swap the audio on the speaker from mono to a left channel or right channel orientation, and flip the switch on the other Smartspeaker to the other side. (But this is a pricey option. One Smartspeaker is, I’m told, upwards of P12,000. Another one would set you back another P12K, which might be too much for the casual user.)
Another caveat on this score. You can set it to stereo, sure, but only on iTunes from a Mac or PC. There is an option on the Airplay menu where you can select multiple speakers, but there isn’t such a choice on the iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad, so if you want your Doobie Brothers on soul-shattering stereo from those devices, you’re SOL. Neither, I think, can you play stereo from Android devices. Apple hasn’t (yet) implemented the multiple-speaker iTunes option on its smaller iOS devices, so while it’s still thinking about it, we’re all basically out of luck.
But if you’re still ok with your Christmas bonus, or money isn’t really an issue for you (you lucky devil), the AQ Audio Smartspeaker makes for a great speaker (or two) for your device.
PRICE Approx. P12,000
AVAILABILITY Beyond The Box, Digital Hub and Digital Walker branches
You must be logged in to post a comment.