As I mentioned during our video coverage from CES, Antec is a company that you probably know better for computer cases and power supplies. However, they've recently branched out with a subsidiary called Antec Mobile Products or a.m.p. for short. This capitalizes on the growing mobile market and they've got plenty of accessories for it.
One of the prime examples of this is the Antec SP1 Portable Speaker. This is a Bluetooth speakerphone, meaning that you can use it both for streaming music from your smartphone and for taking phone calls when the need arises. The particular version being reviewed here is green, but it's also available in black or white. They also introduced five additional color options at CES last week.
Features and Specs
As much as we love our smartphones and tablets, their on-board speakers always leave something to be desired. The Antec Mobile Products SP1 portable Bluetooth speaker is meant to "liberate yourself from poor-quality sound" and "break the bonds of your small tablet, smart phone or laptop and feel your media come to life."
While it is certainly larger than something like the NuForce Cube, the SP1 is still reasonably compact and will easily fit in your bag. It measures 158 x 41 x62mm and weighs 380 grams. The rubberized finish around the exterior gives you some sense that this will survive a little bit of abuse. The key selling point for this device, though, is that it is loud, despite its relatively small dimensions. The spec sheet doesn't give a dB rating, but through my testing, I can certainly attest to its power. Bluetooth range is the typical 30 feet with battery life rated at about 10 hours of continuous playback.
What's in the Box?
Opening up the packaging, we find the a.m.p. SP1 speaker itself, of course, along with a small user manual. They've also included two cables, both of which are the super thin "ribbon" variety. The first is a microUSB-to-USB charging cable and the second is your standard 3.5mm audio cable. While the SP1 is largely designed for wireless use via Bluetooth, it can also accept a normal cabled input via the stereo mini jack too.
While the microUSB-to-USB charging cable is provided, you don't get any kind of wall adapter for charging through a standard wall outlet. What this means is that you either have to charge it through an available USB port on your laptop or desktop, or you can provide you own wall adapter. There are plenty on the market and they're generally quite inexpensive. It would have been nice if an AC adapter was included, though.
Pump Up the Jam
The first thing that struck me about the SP1 was just how loud it was. Even at about 50% volume, this speaker was reaching levels much louder than I was able to get through competing products like the Devotec Solar Sound 2. There is something about the design that keeps a relatively "cleaner" sound too, but you can tell that the SP1 is tuned more toward the bass end of things. Heavier hip hop and R&B are well suited for this reason.
Cranking things up to full blast, you'll really be impressed by just how much sound is coming out of this relatively small speaker. You can tell that it's trying to be punchy, but given its smaller dimensions, it's understandable that the bass isn't quite as deep and rumbling as a true subwoofer. I also noticed that there would be more crackling and distortion at the higher end, particularly with heavier bass songs. Getting to about 70-80% removed that distortion and left me with a thoroughly satisfying experience.
Taking Your Calls Now
Of course, the SP1 isn't just a speaker; it's a speakerphone. There is a built-in microphone there for you to pick up or place calls. Since there are just three buttons on here, there really isn't any confusion as to what you need to do, considering the other two buttons are for volume control.
As far as voice quality goes, it was about on par with all the other Bluetooth speakerphones on the market. I could hear the other person on the line perfectly fine and they said they didn't have any problems hearing me either. It gets the job done and that's all we can really ask of it.
MEGATechie Amped Up or MEGATechie Singing the Blues?
There has been a recent surge of these kinds of Bluetooth speakers in the last little while, but I feel that the SP1 is certainly one of the better options. The build quality is really good with the speaker feeling very solid in your hands. The rubberized finish adds to this premium appeal and I appreciate that the three buttons give a satisfying "click" when pressed. The sound quality is also quite good for a speaker of this size and it certainly doesn't have any problem being loud. It provides good bass, but don't expect it to compete with full-sized subwoofers for sure.
While the Antec AMP SP1 Bluetooth speaker carries an MSRP of $99.99, a little snooping around online reveals that you can buy it for as low as $80. This speaker retails through a wide range of online and offline merchants, typically wherever you already find your other Antec products.