An Affordable Bluetooth Wireless Speaker - AMP SP1
Antec has been a popular brand for high-performance computer components and accessories for the PC upgrade and do-it-yourself (DIY) markets since 1986. Times are certainly changing in the PC industry and many companies are evolving in order to stay relevant. Antec noticed that the market was changing and in 2012 they introduced a new global electronics division called Antec Mobile Products or A.M.P with the goal of putting state of the art mobile and audio technology into the hands of every user. AMP has introduced a number of headsets, USB power banks and even a speaker. Today, we'll be looking at the AMP SP1 Bluetooth Speaker, which is the companies first and only speaker solution.
The Antec AMP SP1 was first introduced in 2012 with an MSRP of $99.99, but you can now find it for as little as $77.87 shipped for some of the off colors. When it comes to Bluetooth wireless speakers, you are generally looking at products in the $59.99 to $179.99 price range. You have competing products like the Jawbone Jambox at the high-end of the price spectrum and others like the Phillips SBT310/37 on the low-end. Most of the lower end products run off a pair of AA batteries and last just five hours, so those models will eat up a set of batteries each time you go to use it! The AMP SP1 uses a rechargable Li-Ion battery that lasts up to 10 hours, so for a $10-$20 more than the base models you are getting nearly twice the battery life and a device that is rechargeable.
Antec AMP SP1 Bluetooth Speaker Specifications:
- Dimensions: 158(H) x 41(W) x 62(D) mm
- Weight: 0.38 kg
- Communication Range: 10 M (30 ft)
- Playback Time: 10 hours
- Frequency Response: 2.402 ~ 2.480 GHz
- Battery Capacity: Li-lon Battery 3.7V
- Power Source: DC 5V 0.5A
- Bluetooth Standard: Bluetooth 2.1+EDR
- Color Choices: Black, Blue, Green, Orange, Pink, Red or White
- Support Profiles Supports Enhanced Data Rate (EDR) Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) 1.2, Hands-Free Profile (HFP) 1.5, Headset Profile (HSP) 1.1
- 1-Year Warranty
Inside the AMP SP1 retail box, you'll find a thin ribbon or flat style USB cable for charging, a thin 3.5mm auxiliary audio cable and the instruction manual. The battery does not come fully charged, so you'll need to fully charge it before the first use.
The AMP SP1 measures in at 158(H) x 41(W) x 62(D) mm and has a weight of 12.4 ounces or 0.78 pounds. There are grills on the front and back for the front facing speakers and rubber-like 'beauty' ring that wraps around the unit. This holds the grills on and provides a pretty good slip free way to sit down the Bluetooth speaker.
The power switch on the AMP SP1 Bluetooth Speaker has a status light on it. It glows red when it is low on power or white when it is fully charged when plugged in and charging via the USB port. The same light is also used to show when the unit is paired with a Bluetooth device (glows a solid white), when it is not connected (does a slow white blink) and when it is in search mode (rapid white blink). Next to the power switch is the 3.5mm headphone jack for the included 3.5mm stereo headphone connection cable for those that don't want to use Bluetooth. To the left of that you have the USB charging port. It should be noted that no wall charger or power plug is included, so you'll have to plug it into a computer or another USB charger in order to charge it.
How do you pair the AMP Bluetooth SP1 speaker with your Bluetooth device? There's 3 buttons on top of the AMP SP1: a negative sign (-) to turn volume down, a positive sign (+) to turn volume up, and then a middle dot button (.) to put the device into pair mode. Pairing is easy, just hold the button down till the side light starts blinking and then go into your Bluetooth device (tablet, smartphone or computer) and connect to it.
Bluetooth Pairing The SP1 Speaker and First Use
We paired the AMP SP1 Bluetooth speaker to the Samsung Galaxy S4, Google Nexus 7 (2013) and the Apple iPhone 5 with no issues at all. It should be noted that two devices can be paired to the SP1 at the same time. The image below is what we saw on our Samsung Galaxy S4 when we went to pair the devices. You should see 'SP1' come up on the list and you just need to click on it to 'pair' the two devices together. Once the two devices are connected, you'll be taking calls on the SP1 and using it to listen to your music.
So, after charging the AMP SP1 for a few hours and pairing our devices, we were up and streaming music. Once connected, you can raise or lower the volume with your mobile device but you can't go any higher than the master volume that is set on the AMP SP1. We often left the master volume on the SP1 set to the highest possible setting, so we had full control of the volume with our smartphone or tablet. We are by no means hardcore audiophiles, but we found the sound quality to be good considering it's compact size, although it was a bit on the flat side. The AMP SP1 has multiple speakers, but we could quickly tell that this is not a stereo speaker as it runs If sounded a little flat though and was certainly not as crisp as some of our wired speaker solutions. We tried to adjust the audio profiles on our mobile devices, but most of the sound effects and settings are not supported by Bluetooth.
The AMP SP1 really shines when gaming or watching videos or other media as it gives you the volume your phone just can't deliver and you hear things that your phones internal speaker just wasn't able to reproduce.
One of the interesting features of the AMP SP1 is that is also serves as a hands-free Bluetooth speaker phone. The AMP SP1 has a microphone located on top of the unit so that you can pair it via Bluetooth to either your favorite mobile device or even to your computer for Skype and VoIP calling. The SP1 will remember two devices, so you can automatically connect to it when your are within Bluetooth range. Switching between two paried devices when they are both within range is tricky and the only way we found to do it was to turn off Bluetooth or forget the pairing.
We found the speakerphone call quality to be average at best. Since the microphone does not actively noise-cancel background noise, our call partners noticed the difference between the SP1 and handheld cell phone speaker. A few of the call recipients said that they could hear themselves (echo) and that it sounded a bit metallic or boxy. So, the audio quality during a phone call wasn't that great but it is an interesting feature that does work.
What happens when you are listening to music and a call comes in? The music will stop when a call comes in and then you'll hear a ring on the SP1. You can answer the call with the sync button on the SP1 or with your handset. You can then hang up the call with the sync button of the SP1, so you can be up to 30 feet away from your phone and can take phone calls!
When it comes to the Bluetooth signal strength, we were able to move a good 30 feet away before it would disconnect and worked when separated by an inner wood wall. Bluetooth does not need direct line-of-sight connection, so you can easily walk around a bit before breaking the connection. This is critical as your phone might not stay in one place at the beach or outside on your patio. Having a Bluetooth wireless speaker is a welcomed addition to any gathering of friends. They can easily pair their device and share their music with everyone and that makes for a fun party or gathering. The AMP SP1 has enough power to fill an indoor room and easily a patio or small outdoor area. This is key as it doesn't have enough bass or power to keep the neighbors up or having the police called on you, granted you have more than 25 feet between you and your neighbors house!
Here is a viral video that Antec did on the AMP SP1. It's a bit strange, but gives you an idea of the size of it!
Final Thoughts and Conclusions:
The Antec AMP SP1 Bluetooth Speaker is an interesting product that can be picked up for $77.87 shipped. For the price you pay and the size of the speaker, it sounds pretty darn good. When you are outside hanging out with friends at a gathering it is more than good enough. Antec has managed to come up with a competitive product the first time trying, which is crucial in a Bluetooth speaker market that is packed full of competing products.
Antec is said to be making an AMP SP1+ or SP1 Plus Bluetooth Speaker that will add NFC-enabled Bluetooth pairing, as well as CSR's TrueWireless Stereo technology that will let you use one SP1+ as the left channel, and then another SP1+ as the right channel. No other changes have been announced or leaked out. The Antec SP1+ is due out in October or November.
We can only hope that the second generation speaker will continue to build on the strong points and eliminate the weak ones. For example we'd love to see a wall charger included. You could also ditch the 3.5mm auxillary input and included 3.5mm cable as most won't be using that feature and it will reduce costs. It would also be nice to set the device volume to the max by default so it can be fully controlled by your smartphone or tablet.A battery level meter would be nice too! The last change we'd make is to remove the microphone and make this just a speaker. When having a party or an afternoon on the beach, the last thing you want is the music to shut off when people call you to tell you they are running late. This is a speaker right?
If you are looking for a budget friendly Bluetooth wireless speaker that is compact, rechargeable and affordable with good sound quality, be sure to give the AMP SP1 a consideration. This is a product that we will recommend as you'll have a hard time finding a product for $77.87 shipped that sounds as good with all these features. The new AMP SP1+ will be coming out later this fall, but it looks like a minor refresh that will only apply to those with NFC supported devices and those wanting to buy two for true stereo surround.
Legit Bottom Line: The AMP SP1 Bluetooth Speaker goes to shows that Antec can make more than just computer components and do it well!