AQ Audio SmartSpeaker – Review
The AQ Audio SmartSpeaker stands tall and upright, and in many ways is reminiscent of the speakers that, in the past, one would have attached to a desktop computer, with one slight exception – there are no wires. Using Wi-Fi and a built-in rechargeable battery it connects to any device from a MacBook Pro to a PC to an Android phone to an iPhone, but it may be picked up and taken along when leaving the room, something you can’t do with a wired speaker.
The elegantly styled British-designed speaker will feel at home in any decor. Three buttons are built into the top of the speaker, two to control the volume and one to toggle the power and Wi-Fi mode. You can configure the Wi-Fi settings in less than a second with a USB cable, which also allows you to play music should you be out of the range of a Wi-Fi network. The speaker also has an auxiliary input connector. A switch toggles between Left, Mono, and Right settings facilitating fully wireless stereo and multi-room audio systems.
The sound that the SmartSpeaker produces is quite good, using two drivers and a digital amplifier to get the most out of a small package. Using the SmartSpeaker with TuneIn Radio on an iPhone to listen to radio broadcasts from France and Germany worked well, as was listening to a variety of music, with iTunes and also while viewing TV on an iPad.
Considering its size and portability, the sound is impressive. . I did not get the chance to test two Smart Speakers together with a stereo setup, which would likely improve the listening experience.
The best part of the SmartSpeaker is how portable it is. Unlike other wireless speakers, or speakers used with iPods in general, it does not require a cord nor a constant stream of expensive batteries. The built-in lithium battery will power the unit for up to ten hours of wireless playback, or 20 hours when the speaker is connected via the auxiliary input.
Given that there are apps for Android and Windows Phone, as well as the ability to transfer Wi-Fi settings from your iOS device with the touch of a button, the SmartSpeaker can be used in a multitude of situations. Available in packs of one, two, and four, it’s easy to set up pairs of SmartSpeakers as well as standalone speakers to create a clutter-free multi-room system.
Connecting a device directly via USB is another option and the USB cable (supplied) may be used to charge the attached device, something I found quite convenient. Two separate channels of SmartSpeakers on the same network are possible and easily addressed in the set-up process.
The AQ Audio SmartSpeaker is not going to replace a home theater system or carefully tuned home bi-fi,. The makers did, however create a practical portable, wireless speaker system that can be adapted to a multitude of situations and needs and is easy to use.