Boldly named audio tech manufacturer Blitzwolf successfully crowdfunded HK$100,000 to aid their R&D into the Blitzwolf BW-AS1 Bluetooth speaker. That works out to about £10,000 and whilst that doesn’t seem like an awful lot, it was still 200% of their target.
As a result, the companies first Bluetooth speaker, the Blitzwolf BW-AS1 was born.
Blitzwolf threw out plastic case materials in favour of a modern anodised aluminium design. To a large extent, aesthetics is this speaker’s USP.
In their own words: “we don’t just pursue sound quality; we also pursue art.”
The case is manufactured via a 10 step aviation-quality oxidation process. Sounds impressive and to be fair, it would look the part amongst the many minimalist machined metal gadgets that are found throughout modern homes today.
The New Generation of Portable Speakers
The Blitzwolf BW-AS1 looks cool and all, but who really buys a speaker purely for its looks?
Aside from its sleek profile and design, Blitzwolf state that 1040 hours of R&D went into tuning the BW-AS1’s dual 10w drivers to provide high fidelity sound with great bass reproduction, even at high volumes.
Portable speaker manufacturers have to work hard to add audio substance to their units and comparisons have been drawn between the Blitzwolf BW-AS1 and Bose’s Soundlink Mini II, which has long held its position as one of the best sounding portable Bluetooth speakers around.
Speculation and claims aside, let’s take a look in the box and examine the Blitzwolf BW-AS1 in a hands-on review:
In the Blitzwolf BW-AS1 Box
The BW-AS1’s box matches its minimalist aesthetics and the speaker itself feels solid and durable. Its machined shell does look carefully made – it’s a great looking unit, you can’t deny it.
The only issue here is that the speaker holes don’t quite align – I presume that this was a defect that the original units suffered. I suppose it was rectified before mass commercial sale (..I hope) since no reviews across Amazon etc seem to point this out.
In the box, you’ll also find an AUX cable and micro-USB cable. I almost missed these entirely – they’re right at the bottom of the box!
The speaker is simple, you have 4 buttons which include on/off, play/pause and volume up/down which double up as skip track forward/back. On the back, you have a micro-USB port for charging and an AUX-in for wired use.
To skip tracks you hold the forward/backward buttons. To turn volume up you simply tap it (don’t tap it too fast or it won’t work).
Pairing the Blitzwolf BW-AS1 is very simple and for me, it worked pretty much flawlessly every time with every device I used. Simply search on your device and pair.
Blitzwolf claim a maximum working range of 10m or 33ft. I found that distances exceeding two metres would cause issues when the speaker is placed on the ground. Presumably, the floor interferes with the connection. Place it up higher for a much better connection range. When the speaker was raised I could go all the way through my house and up-stairs and it would work fine through multiple walls. You could keep your phone on you as you operate the speaker at a party with no problem.
Even if a speaker was manufactured from a solid block of diamond, it still has to sound good for you to want to listen to music on it!
Overall, the Blitzwolf BW-AS1 does provide solid audio quality and for its 20w power rating, it’s impressively loud.
The comparison to the Bose Soundlink Mini 2 looks somewhat valid and that’s still considered one of the best sounding portable Bluetooth speakers on the market today, and it costs almost twice as much as the BW-AS1.
The BW-AS1’s highs and mids provide suitable clarity to picked guitar riffs, string instruments, vocals and percussion but it’s also immediately obvious that the speaker is tuned for bass response. Cranking out an authentic bassy tone from a small speaker is a challenge but the BW-AS1 makes music sound weighty and that’s awesome.
The “Too Much Bass” Debate
Is the BW-AS1 too bassy? Probably!
Even at low volumes you can hear low-end rumble and unless you EQ some bass out with your playback device, you might end up annoying people nearby (e.g. at a campsite). Also, the volume button is not particularly sensitive at lower volumes so you may be left with a choice – either too loud or too quiet.
Low volume performance aside, if you stick it in the corner of a room on a wooden cabinet then it’s capable of a pretty intense level of volume for a diminutively-sized unit.
Since the 90s, that booming bass tone has become a hallmark of cheaper commercial audio devices (think of that Bass Boost button on your Sony Walkman). Whether that jacked up bass sound is for you or not depends on your listening choices and environment. This is a Bluetooth speaker, not a hi-fi.
Premium Build AND Premium Components?!
Blitzwolf have previously been known to utilise higher end parts (at least for this price tier) from manufacturers like Panasonic. They claim that the BW-AS1 is no exception; it uses a Texas Instruments amplifier and to be fair, you can tell that it provides an extra ‘something’ which speakers in the budget bracket do not possess. Remember though, this is still a £70 Bluetooth speaker we’re discussing here and those “premium components” are likely not all that expensive.
Overall, the BW-AS1 ticks the boxes in sound quality. It’s well rounded, impactful, bassy and loud. Arguably, that’s all you need in a portable Bluetooth speaker.
Such is the ingenuity of many Chinese audio manufacturers that devices like this often come stacked out with extra features that you’ll probably never use.
Sadly, the Blitzwolf fails to score points here. There’s no ability to connect multiple devices simultaneously, no ability to link two or more speakers together in tandem and no attempt of waterproofing. The aluminium case will at least provide a good degree of protection from drops and knocks though, I imagine.
The Blitzwolf BW-AS1 does have one extra feature that is usable: it can be used to pick up a hands-free call. Simply press the play button to accept a call whilst the device is connected and you can speak via a mic built into the speaker. This function is widespread throughout many other more expensive Bluetooth speakers but it’s still nice to see in this cheaper unit. Simple but thoughtful.
The BW-AS1 uses Bluetooth 4.2 and houses a 5200mAH li-on battery which provides a theoretical 11 hours playback at 50% volume on a single charge. It takes 3.5 hours to charge to full. Whilst the Blitzwolf’s 7 – 11 hours total playback time seems hefty, some speakers like the JBL Charge 3 can provide 20 hours of playback time on a single charge at full volume.
Whether that matters or not depends on how you intend on using the Blitzwolf. If you plan on using it on long weekends without access to chargers then it will run out at some point. We do have to say that, on balance, the BW-AS1’s battery life lags behind the competition.
The Blitzwolf BW-AS1 scores most of its points in the sound quality department which is a good thing for sure. Aside from that, it really is a great looking unit and whilst Blitzwolf’s statement “we don’t just pursue sound quality; we also pursue art” does seem a bit strong (especially given the cosmetic error of this particular unit), you can’t take anything away from the unit’s sleek design.
On the other hand, those looking for stellar battery life and other newer features should probably look past the Blitzwolf. It fits a niche in the Bluetooth speaker industry but it isn’t a real all-rounder.
Blitzwolf certainly makes a noble attempt at creating an affordable but beautiful speaker in the BW-AS1. It sounds pretty good and is comparable to other similarly powerful units from brand-leaders like Bose. For the price tag, that's good enough to earn it a good review, even if it does lose out in areas such as battery life and additional features.
Reader Rating1 Vote99
A great looking unit which would be well placed in a modern home
Capable of a loud, impactful and bassy sound
Comparable to other more expensive units
Skimps out on extra features
Battery life certainly isn't up there with the best