Star Wars is viewed as one of the most iconic movie series ever created, so naturally the breadth of licenced and unlicenced memorabilia is huge. With such volume comes a huge amount of tat and the most recent installation, The Force Awakens, saw everything from from shoddy plastic lightsabers to garden-variety oranges being marketed with Star Wars branding.
The sea of junk is enough to turn any ardent memorabilia hunter to the dark side, but thankfully, there is a new hope. The AC Worldwide Star Wars Bluetooth speakers are a set of premium speakers-cum-ornaments that promise be the ultimate addition to any fan’s den.
Video: Trusted explains the AC Worldwide Star Wars Speakers' main features
AC Worldwide is currently offering Stormtrooper and C-3PO versions of its Star Wars Bluetooth speakers. You can pick each one up at the likes of Amazon and Forbidden Planet for £129 each, but AC Worldwide recommends you buy them as a bundle for £250, so you can pair them up for a proper stereo experience.
As speakers go, they're a work of art. The first time I took them out of the box, I felt genuine, child-like giddiness, which is a feat in itself. AC Worldwide has gone to painstaking lengths to design both products to be as authentic as possible, and it really shows. The Stormtrooper’s grilles and shiny plastic make it look like it came straight from the original movies’ prop locker. The same is true of C-3PO’s shiny metallic finish, which while prone to picking up fingerprint marks, makes the speaker look amazing. Just keep your greasy mitts off of it.
Both speakers are fairly large, measuring in around 30cm tall, which makes them only slightly smaller than an actual person’s head. The circular base units have a large diameter of 20cm, meaning they'll need a fair amount of space on your shelves. What's more, despite their heft, they only feature tiny 2200mAh batteries, which only last for between four and five hours, depending on your usage and volume levels.
This completely eliminates them as a genuinely compelling portable speaker set – unlike the stellar UE Boom 2. But, in all fairness, that’s not what these speakers are about. AC Worldwide has taken a lot of care over the physical design because it wants them to act as centerpieces in people’s homes, and in my mind it’s succeeded completely.
The two speakers ooze character and come with a number of easter egg features that will delight any Star Wars fan while annoying everyone else. The characters' eyes and mouths light up when you power them up and blink whenever they shout one of their character’s iconic phrases. The random jibber jabber takes place when the speakers are idle, and also occurs when pairing and when their batteries are low, essentially replacing regular Bluetooth speaker cues with their own audio files. It didn't prove to be annoying during my testing though; I found it more charming than anything else.
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The two speakers come with all the standard ports and connectivity you’d expect. At the back you’ll find a charging port, a full-size USB port for charging a phone off the speaker's internal battery, a 3.5mm output and the speaker’s power button. The button's position at the rear makes it slightly harder to reach, but I never had any issues finding it when I wanted quick access to my tunes.
Up front are capacitive buttons for setting up Manual and Bluetooth connections as well as basic volume, next track, play and pause controls. There are also buttons to reduce or increase the speakers' bass level that, as I found in my testing, proved to be a real boon.
Pairing your device to an individual speaker can be done over the air to any device with a Bluetooth or NFC, or you can go old-school with the included 3.5mm cable.
If you've bought both speakers, they can pair together to create a stereo experience, although setting this up is a little more tricky. Before connecting the two speakers to an external device, you have to hold down the Manual control button on each speaker's base and wait for them to beep.
From there you have to wait a few moments for the speakers to connect to each other. Once the two have found each other their coloured light eyes will begin to glow and the speakers will bark one of their iconic characters’ catchphrases to let you know they’re good to go.
Once the two speakers are paired, the dominant speaker you need to connect to – which in my case was the Stormtrooper – will appear in the available devices list in your phone or computer's Bluetooth settings.
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When it comes to sound quality, the speakers are surprisingly good, but certainly not best in class at this price point.
Each speaker comes loaded with 32mm, 3W speakers. The speakers are backed up by a downward-facing 102mm, 10W ported Subwoofer. For its part, AC Worldwide claims they're loud and powerful enough to “drown out a Wookiee battlecry”.
As individual speakers there’s definitely some truth to this claim, at least if you position them correctly. Listening to a variety of music, ranging from classic Black Sabbath to Genki Rockets and Chopin, I can confirm the speakers have an impressive maximum volume and rock solid bass.
Listening to Black Sabbath classic Paranoid, Geezer’s bass powered through the soundstage to the point it began to actually drown out mids, and leave Iommi’s normally thundering power chords sounding a little underwhelming. Luckily with a quick adjustment of the speaker's bass button, the issue was resolved and I was treated to a more balanced sound.
Chopin’s nocturnes also sound reasonably good, with both C-3P0 and the Stormtrooper providing enough clarity for me to discern each individual keystroke and hear minor changes in phrasing.
AC Worldwide’s Stormtrooper and C-3PO match, if not beat a number of wireless speakers in the same size bracket, like the Ministry of Sound M Plus, when it comes to power and bass.
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However, this doesn’t mean things are perfect. The speakers don’t deal with the high end spectrum as well as I’d like. Listening to metal band Periphery, the distorted guitar took on an unintentionally harsh tone and sibilance crept into the vocals. The issue reared its ugly head again when I switched to to Less than Jake: the ska punk guitar’s popping rhythm began to sound a little too punchy and detached from the rest of the soundstage.
The issue isn’t as pronounced as I’ve seen on some competing speakers, but it will be noticeable to audiophiles, who would do better to look at things like the Sonos 1 – though being fair to AC Worldwide that’s not who this product’s being marketed at.
My only other slight quibble with the two speakers relates to their field of play. The speakers sound best when you are sitting, or standing, directly in front of them. Move to the side, or behind the characters and sound quality and balance rapidly deteriorates.
If these were portable units this would be a deal breaker, but because AC Worldwide’s speakers are designed to, generally, stay inside and be equal part decoration and speaker the issue is more forgivable. It does mean that you'll have to consider the best spot to place the speakers in your intended room after you've bought them, and perhaps rearrange your other memorabilia while you're at it. Experimenting in my lounge I got the best results from a single speaker placing it on a bookshelf in the corner of the room, with C-3P0 facing outwards.
I managed to further improve audio quality when I paired the Stormtrooper and C-3P0 and place the two at opposite corners of the lounge facing outwards. Here the two units collaborated well and managed to produce a loud, vibrant and, outside of some sibilance, balanced sound throughout my living room.
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If you’re a Star Wars fan looking for a cool centerpiece for your living room that can double as a wireless speaker, then these are a genuinely compelling, if very niche buy. The Stormtrooper and C-3P0 speakers look amazing and ooze character, which is really all you can ask for from official memorabilia.
As speakers they don’t match the sound quality of more focused products, like the Sonos 1. But that’s not surprising given their focus on aesthetics and authenticity to the movies. The audio quality is decent and matches some competing speakers in the same price point, like the Ministry of Sound M Plus.
The AC Worldwide Star Wars speakers are the ultimate collectible every true fan of the series should seriously consider.