The Antec SP1 has no shortage of competitors in this crowded playing field, so how does it match up against luminaries such as the Jawbone Jambox and Soundmatters Foxl V2, two of best sounding portable Bluetooth speakers we have tested thus far?
We begin with the classic Eagles hit Hotel California and very quickly, it was apparent that the Antec SP1 has a couple of crucial flaws. Although the SP1 could achieve decent levels of loudness, it was very prone to cracking and popping, even at around 60% volume level. Additionally, at high levels of volume, the SP1 would skip and hop on the table. And on the opening bongo drum sequence, we found that bass notes sounded loose and lacked punch and definition, but the guitars and vocals sounded sufficiently clear despite the regular cracking and pops. Overall, even though the SP1 was loud, it was short on body and sounded hollow and lazy.
Things did not improve much on Tiesto’s Elements of Life. In fact, this track revealed that fast and bass-heavy tracks are by far the SP1’s weakest suit. Apart from the flat, uninspired-sounding bass, the SP1 would constantly skip and hop on the table especially when we turned the volume up. Evidently, the rubberized surface provides little in the way of grip.
Buckethead’s Sail on Soothsayer is a track with some very fast guitar sections and this exposes the SP1’s lazy nature. And while Buckethead’s guitar does not sound muddy, it is missing that clarity and transparency of tone that speakers like the Foxl V2 have.
We concluded our testing with Adele’s Melt My Heart to Stone, and the British songstress’s vocals sounded thin but pleasant and warm enough. Sibilance was slightly apparent, but only higher volume levels; and drum beats continue to sound unenthusiastic, but otherwise this is the SP1’s best sounding piece - comparatively speaking. Here's a final summary of the SP1's scores:-
|Hotel California - The Eagles||5.0|
|Sail on Soothsayer - Buckethead||6.0|
|Melt My Heart to Stone - Adele||6.5|
|Elements of Life - Tiesto||5.5|
From a performance standpoint, the Antec SP1 was pretty appalling. Crackling and pops at higher volumes aside, it had a hollow sound and very loose and flat bass. Worse still, the SP1 hops and skips on tables when playing bass-heavy tracks and if you turn the volume up. Apart from the annoyance, this also means it could fall off tables or surfaces if left unattended and playing at higher volume levels.
That said, the Antec SP1 does have some redeeming features. For one, it was dead easy to setup and as a hands-free speaker it worked well enough. We also like its design and color scheme. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and this is entirely subjective.
Its trump card, however, is its price (or so it might seem initially). With a recommended retail price of just S$129, it costs less than half the Jawbone Jambox (S$328). To be sure, it doesn’t have the same levels of audio performance, but if audio fidelity is not your priority and what you want is a good-looking portable wireless Bluetooth speaker that is also easy to use, the Antec SP1 is probably worth checking out. Even if only because it is affordable.
On the other hand, if what you are looking for is a compact speaker, the Creative Sound BlasterAxx SBX 8 throws the Antec SP1 a curveball because it is just about as compact, and crucially, costs the same. However, like the Jambox, the SBX 8’s audio performance is in an entirely different league. Not only does it sound more full-bodied and authoritative, the Sound BlasterAxx control panel software lets users tweak it so that it sounds just right for each individual. Where it loses out is that it is missing Bluetooth functionality.
In closing, if what you are looking for is a portable and compact speaker and do not value Bluetooth streaming, the Creative Sound BlasterAxx SBX 8 is a superior offering. But if you are not picky about audio performance and what you want is a wireless Bluetooth speaker that is compact, looks great and does not cost as much as the Jawbone Jambox does, the Antec SP1 is a viable option.