- Page 1AQ Audio Smart Speaker
- Page 2 Performance and Verdict
AQ Audio Smart Speaker – Performance
We mentioned the AQ Audio SmartSpeaker seemed a
bit lightweight for a truly high-end piece of audio equipment and sure
enough its sound quality is a little weaker than we remember when we
first listened to it demoed many months ago. That said, there’s still an
impressive amount of power on show here.
With a 25W peak output,
one of these speakers will out pace the likes of the Jawbone Jambox and
Jabra Solemate and fill with undistorted sound a small to medium sized
room or tent, plus it should easily be sufficient to keep you
entertained while in the garden. Pair them together and you’ve quite
clearly got double the power too.
to the bass, though, and it’s about on par with battery powered units
of its size but we have heard better. The Pasce minirig, for instance,
delivers deeper tones and generally has more clout despite being markedly smaller, though
this in turn leads to it having a slightly muffled sound when kicking
out bassy tunes.
More surprising than the slightly weaker than
expected bass is the mediocre fidelity. There’s a lack of sparkle to the
top-end giving a slightly flat feel to music. In fairness, it’s a sound
signature typical of most smaller battery powered audio devices but we
had expected a little more for the size and price.
helping our overall impression, however, was the intermittent
connection we were getting over our Wi-Fi. With a router setup in a
downstairs living room and the testing mainly done in a first floor
office, the speakers constantly struggled to maintain a steady
connection, and when they did you could hear that the bit-rate (reduced
by AirPlay because of the poor bandwidth) was very low leading to poor
sound quality. This is less an issue with this particular product as
with AirPlay in general, though, and using AQ Direct mode eliminated this.
As for the signature stereo
speaker setup, we were impressed that they created a convincing stereo
effect, and due to their completely wireless nature it’s easy to place
them wherever you need to get that audio sweet spot. The ultimate sound
quality isn’t exactly Hi-Fi but it’s pretty good and a great option to
As for longevity, AQ Audio’s claimed 10hrs on a full charge
seemed to tie-in with our experience, and the unit charges up pretty
quickly in between uses too. You can also charge your USB devices from
the USB port, saving you having to carry around a separate USB charger.
AQ Audio Smart Speaker – Value
Priced at £159.99 the SmartSpeaker’s audio performance is in line with what we’d expect, and indeed it’s better than most
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portable, wireless competitors. The Jawbone Jambox, the Jabra
Solemate and the Braven 650 all offer similar features based on Bluetooth connectivity, have 10-15hour battery life and cost around £150 but the SmartSpeaker out performs them all on the audio front – though it is markedly bigger.
Other alternatives include the irrepressible Pasce minirig
if you don’t need wireless and just want the biggest portable audio performance
from the smallest space. Or, there’s the £329 Libratone Zipp which offers the same AirPlay (with direct mode) technology but a much beefier sound, though at twice the price it’s not without fault either.
AQ Audio SmartSpeaker is a clever and stylish portable AirPlay speaker
that’s beautifully built, sounds decent and whose party trick of being
able to pair up and create a stereo speaker arrangement is unique and
innovative (even if you do need to buy two to do it). And priced at ~£150, it’s bang on in terms of price.
Thanks to its recent updates it’s also now a very versatile system that can be used to offer wireless sound wherever you are. We still think it straddles a slightly odd line whereby it’s large enough to be a bit limiting in its portability yet not powerful enough for regular home listening but considering the features on offer for the price this is a great buy.
Score in detail
Sound Quality 7