on 13 June 2013
If you're like me you'll have sceptically read lots of reviews before being tempted to splash the cash.
I've spent ages looking at the competition from B&W (Zeppelin Air and A5) at the top end, and Panasonic Fidelio, the oddly shaped Klipsch and Bose Sound dock - all closer in price, and perhaps better known than Azatom with their oddly named Stealth Air.
Clearly with a name like "Stealth" - they're more used to selling speakers to teenages - but this is just so much better than that!
Personally I always buy the absolute best I can afford, and I'd rather wait and buy a BMW rather than settle for a Ford. I've therefore spent months looking to replace my 10 year old stereo with an air-play device for my Apple iPhone and iPad. Problem was, I was short of cash, and being relatively new technology - these speakers are not cheap.
I'd never heard Azatom, and was skeptical, but hopeful when I read the glowing reviews of this box, and I'm pleased to say they're not exaggerating - the sound quality is just terrific.
The design itself is minimalist. Just a small but surprisingly (and reassuringly) heavy box with a single blue/green status light. It's only connections are a power cord, a line in and a USB - discretely placed on the side.
The top is brushed aluminium and black plastic, while the smoothly rounded face and sides are presented in Matt black speaker cloth.
Overall I'd give it 8 out of 10 for build quality, and look and feel of the box. I agree with another reviewers, the stealth logo (which is mercifully small) is a bit naff - but the overall look is cool, understated and black. It's also reassuringly heavy - and it will look pretty smart on almost any bookshelf.
Where it really scores though, is how it performs when you switch it on. The sound quality from this little box is really impressive, and at the price, it's nothing short of incredible.
I've been playing music in a huge, open plan lounge/kitchen, and it's produced enough clear sound to fill the entire room, and despite being turned up to maximum volume, the sound is still clear and it's been easy to identify specific musical instruments and backing tracks.
The only criticism I'd have is, out of the box, the bass is set so low - it makes it sound tinny. Put batteries in the remote control and turn up the bass to max - and it just soars!
I'm sure audiophiles could wax lyrical about sound quality, tweeters and distortion, and I'm sure you can get true HI FI quality on the Bowes & Wilkins A5 or the even pricier A7 - but at considerably less than half the price, I'd say this is terrific.
To use the car analogy, this is more a VW Golf GTI rather than a Mercedes S Class, but priced as a second hand Skoda - it's a terrific music player at a great price.
Sound quality: 9/10 (Almost top end HI FI sound quality)
Look and feel: 8/10. (The daft stealth bomber logo lets it down)
Build Quality: 8/10. (Solid, heavy - but the brushed aluminium is not quite there)
Features: 9/10 (Bluetooth and AirPlay and remote control)
Value for money. 10/10 (Overall package as good or better than air-play speakers at double the price)
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on 7 February 2013
This is the second azatom product i have. The first was a gift which was a small radio alarm dock which i was most impressed with so when I started looking for a system for my front room which uses airplay and bluetooth which allows me to play from itunes and my Hubbies Samsung with the bluetooth. I had a good look at the Azatom models and found the stealth-Air. We checked out a couple other models in Currys, name a few Sony, Bose and iHome airplay systems. All were very expensive double the price or even triple. The sound quality and functions of the Azatom stealth air is way above its price tag and in my view it out performs the Bose Airplay speaker and blows away the ihome totally.
The bass is strong and the lyrics and music tones are all rich, warm with nothing missing. Some tracks i could hear instruments that i not heard before on other speaker systems. You can usually tell when a speaker is going to perform once you feel the quality in your hands and the weight when you lift it out the box. My speaker now takes pride position in our front room. It sits neat and performs fantastic i really cant fault it. The sound is a top performer.
The connection via airplay from my laptop was simple and the connection has been solid all the time with no breaks as of yet. My partner uses his Samsung galaxy S3 with bluetooth so thats ideal that we can both use the same speaker. We choose this speaker with this in mind as most systems only have one either, airplay or bluetooth but not both at the same time.
Overall, one of my best buys at a great price. Value for money
I took a punt on this product, especially as I'd never heard of them, but reading through a number of reviews on different sites I thought it would be worth a bet.
Basically I was looking for a bluetooth and Air enabled wi-fi speaker to use with various iDevices and an Android smart phone. When I saw the price of some of the speakers with these features I almost fell off my chair, had I been sitting down, but I came across this product which seemed good value. If it wasn't any good I thought I'd just send it back.
The product was well packaged, out of the box the design is clean and clutter free, though my wife wondered why I had bought another toaster.
Seriously though, the design is clean and the bling kept to a minimum. The subtle design will fit in with most rooms. Some people like `in your face' music systems that scream `Look at me, look at me!', this is not one of those.
The quality of construction and materials are very good, though it is not as weighty as my Klipsch dock.
I do think the picture of the stealth fighter on the top of the unit is a bit naff, like sticking go faster stripes on a lawnmower, but it is small enough not to be too obvious, they would do well to remove it as it would enhance the look of the unit.
Set up was simplicity in itself, bluetooth took a minute or so and connecting it to my router took two minutes. Do follow the instructions carefully. I had my iPod, iPad and Macbook Pro connected without a hitch. The HTC phone and the iPhone were also no problem which I tried on bluetooth.
Design and construction aside, the million dollar question is whether it performs. Everyone has a different experience when it comes to music, and I'm no different from. I've actually been disappointed with the audio quality of a Bose unit, where another person thought it was exceptional.
So does it perform? Actually it does, and it does perform well. Connections from all devices except my Macbook are solid using either bluetooth or through the router. The ADSL router I use is an AsusDSL-N55U dual band for those who might be interested.
I have played a variety of music, listened to the radio using TuneUp and the odd audio book to try and get a feel for it.
For those of you who want to know what I listened to, here's a list, BBC radio 4, Johnny Cash, Spiderbait, Flo Rida, Dylan, Fall Out Boy, The Heavy, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Nickleback and some songs I love but refuse to acknowledge that I like.
The sound has a true clarity, though at first I thought it was lacking bass until I realised I should have turned the bass up. Thats when it hit me. Adding the bass to some speaker docks just adds a dead muffled bass sound which incidentally is what the Klipsch suffers from. Here it was different, it had life and it had warmth and did not take away the clarity of the music. Even having the bass at max does not take away the clarity. The music sounds as it should, not clinical like Sony docks can sound, but it gives music with a soul.
I tend not to need to hear music at full blast, but turn up the volume and the music is as good, no crackles or rattles to speak of except for my wife screaming at me to turn it down. I have over the years learned to filter that interference out.
It is early days yet, but this `toaster' seems to be up to the job and does the biz and I will not be sending it back.
My final words on this, get rid of the stealth fighter motif, it doesn't need it because it is better than that.
I wanted a wireless speaker at a reasonable price which had both bluetooth and WIFI so I decided to get this one after reading many reviews - happy decision.
+ good size - it fits very well above my desk
+ not very heavy which I actually like
+ very good for the price
+ bluetooth works very well with all devices that I tested (ipod touch 4th and 5th generation, nokia lumia 800, some samsung mp3 players and smartphones and several notebooks)
+ airplay works well via the home network using itunes. the problem with airplay is the delay, about 0.7-1 seconds which is very noticeable when watching movies. but this is because of the airplay standard itself and not something to do with the speakers.
+ wifi direct. it's kind of bluetooth but it's wifi... and by that I mean that it works as a device to device standard and does not require a network to intermediate the connection between the two devices.
+ the looks are reasonable - nothing inspiring all good quality plastic
+ on the left side of the speakers at the back it has an aux connection (very useful for a fast and direct connection between any devices and the speaker itself - tested and fully functional) and an USB port (for any memory stick with music on it - just plug it and it will start playing music)
+ the remote - black and medium size - it has a play/pause button, bass+/- buttons, volume up/down buttons, on/off button, mute button and a mode button. the mode button toggles between the speaker's modes: aux, bluetooth, wifi direct. the airplay mode does not have a mode but works like an overriding mode. regardless of the mode in which the speakers are set, if you start itunes, a small light on the front of the speakers will turn from red to green probably marking the fact that it is now connected to the network. Once you start the music and select the speaker as the output, it will exit the current play mode and start playing the song - quite nice. The remote requires two AAA batteries but I cannot remember if they were supplied in the box.
+ easy to set up. Just follow the clear instructions provided in the box and that's it. It has quite a nice menu with many options if I am remembering it correctly.
+ the speakers also has three buttons above - the volume up/down buttons and the mode button.
- given the price range (something like £150), it's hard to find fault to such a comprehensive implementation still...
- the fact that if not used for a bit it switches off from bluetooth mode is not very convenient. If I have to take a break from listening to music, it will switch off which means that I have to power it up again using either the remote or the speaker itself.
- the bass must always be on max for me to give some nice output. Don't know why they chose this particular bass range
I really like them and I have been using this speaker for a while now and I am satisfied with it as the day I set it up. Please let me know if you have any questions.
on 31 August 2014
I've thought hard about this review to make sure I am not being unfair but I keep coming back to the same feeling, in which case I'll share it with anyone else looking to buy.
I have other portable speakers and some nice medium range hifi equipment and for me the sound quality is the most important thing so after other owner's positive reviews about the sound I decided to buy - it seemed a reasonable price and it's British.
I really wanted to like this little unit but the truth is that I find it adequate and no more. Lots of reviewers comment on how good it is when turned up loud and it does improve when it's louder but if I want to turn up the volume on something that relies on a plug I'll stick to my hifi which is infinitely better. I am more interested in how clear and balanced the unit is when it is at a more reasonable level - like most I have neighbours - and what I have found is a quite reedy and over-trebled sound without much detail. Turning up the bass on the unit and in my phones (Walkman) equaliser to max really doesn't make a huge difference. The soundstage is narrow and detail merges and gets a bit muddied no matter where I place it. Bluetooth drops out all of the time but I can't blame the Azatom for all of that, Bluetooth seems to do that anyway and I ended up with a wired connection to save getting annoyed all of the time which kind of defeats the object.
Because there is some bass on this unit there is none of the empty plop plop sound where the bass should be as you get with some small speakers but the rest of the sound and the overall effect just falls really short for me, there's no wow.
When I compare this unit side by side to my Phillips Fidelio P9 I can hear the better clarity of the Phillips and I begin to realise what the professional reviewers meant by its lively, open and more balanced sound, it is more enjoyable to listen to, it is much clearer and whilst bass is usually really important to me it doesn't save the Azatom's overall performance.
This isn't supposed to be a comparison of two speakers and if you buy the Azatom you may not be disappointed, it depends what you normally listen to. For me, being able to compare showed me that for around the same price there are better sounding units that will give you, well, just a much more enjoyable sound.
on 15 September 2013
New to the wireless revolution I considered many options before deciding that, with a dedicated Apple household, Airplay was the way forward - in part because of the flexibility it affords with different speakers from various suppliers. This Stealth just kept appearing time and again in ridiculously positive reviews and, for the price, I decid to give it a punt.
Set up was not so straightforward for me. I'm technically competent but what threw me was that the web address provided (to enter into a web browser on your wifi set up to connect to the Stealth) would not work on my iMac. Instead, it worked on both the iPhone and ipad.
Once connected though, both myself and my wife were highly impressed. A truly rich, dynamic sound that fills a large space. Best of all, my wife - who hates complicated fuss when it comes to technology - was using it independently within hours.
You won't regret it.
on 13 April 2013
I debated hard about how many stars to give the azatom stealth-air as in it's self it's fantastic. Great sound, as said by others. All this would give it a 4-5 stars. However, the set up was very difficult and it still cuts out every so often. My only slight gripe with the speaker it's self would be that a longer power cable would be nice.
To make it work I had to fix the IP address of the speaker via the router preferences and change the router band. I also found turning off the bluetooth helped but this means my mouse doesn't work anymore. I haven't tried it with a cable (I'm sure that would work fine) but that wasn't the point of buying this.
My set up includes a *macbook pro and a *BT home hub. I've also tried to get my *iphone 4 to work with it but that's even more glitchy.
Basically, if you have the same set up as me, *my experience would suggest that if the phrases mac address, IP address and router band mean nothing to you, you might need to get something else.
However, *my experience would suggest that the fault was with the router not the speaker.
*Note to lawyers - I have said this was MY EXPERIENCE it may not be typical of all macbook pro and BT home hub set ups, however, to explain the problems I had, I felt it necessary to include these companies names.
Update (1 month later 8th May)
Right, so I moved the speaker and that meant that I had to unplug it. This made the airplay function disappear again, or rather, the airplay disappeared again at this point, I can't be sure it was connected to moving the speaker. However, my friend had an android phone and instantly found the speaker through bluetooth. I have to say, it is FAR easier to set up a connection through bluetooth, even with my macbook and iPhone. I have set up the airplay again, but might not bother next time. Obviously, bluetooth doesn't go through the router and that is still my prime suspect for the problems I've had. In fact, it was resetting the router that eventually solved the problem with the airplay.
It's nice to know that there is a different option for connecting to the speaker but wonder why the "recommended' method is to set up airplay/wifi network through the iphone (which I totally gave up on), the second method is airplay/wifi network through a computer (see the hassle above) while the bluetooth method is hidden away at the end and might as well have the sub-heading of "Well, if you really insist on using bluetooth, here is how to do it..." - And seriously, that's a mac/apple user saying that!
Yes, the speaker is good (having 2 or 3 for a better sound around the house would be great) and I have been criticised for giving it a low star rating, but the connection is rather important and the hassle hasn't made me jump to change the rating. All I will say to that is that a different wifi speaker would probably have been returned for a refund a month ago.
on 24 May 2013
My old Pure internet radio dock died, so I decided it was a great opportunity to update our home audio set up. We listen to iPod and internet radio (Magic, Jazz FM etc.) in equal measure, but I knew Airplay/Bluetooth offered a far more convenient solution than the now traditional and somewhat outdated (how did that happen?) iPod dock/radio setup. As the technology has now been around for some years, and more and more platforms/apps incorporate Airplay as standard, I felt confident in investing.
I did the usual scouring of the internet and visited our local Bose dealer, but nothing seemed to catch my eye/ear - particularly as this is still a fairly pricey bracket of the speaker market. The Bose in particular sounded good, but just not good enough for the sort of money they were after - particularly compared to my old Pure and Monitor Audio units from recent years. I also looked at more compact solutions such as the Jambox, etc. but again found them to be hugely expensive for what was on offer (bluetooth only, underpowered, technical issues - all for £150+).
So then I came across Azatom, one of a new breed of players in the marketplace offering an emphasis on quality/functionality/great design at an affordable price. In addition to glowing product reviews for this particular unit, I noticed their other products had received equal acclaim. The product spec. and British design sold it for me - these guys clearly know their market and I was impressed by the technology on offer at the price.
Well, their homework has paid off. For the price (and indeed some way above it) this is an outstanding unit. Rich bass (turn it up on first listen using the remote), clarity and room-filling sound are all there. Setup seemed a little convoluted at first, but in actual fact took 5 minutes. Once I had used my iPhone to setup the speakers on the wi-fi network, I noticed with some (albeit geeky) joy that they appeared on all compatible devices (iTunes, my wife's iPhone, Spotify etc.). Simple.
So now I either sit at my laptop working with my entire iTunes library to hand at the click of a mouse button, or simply use my iPhone to listen to my iPod, internet radio (plenty of apps now support Airplay) or Spotify (Airplay is not supported on desktop version but is on the app) with exceptional results.
I feel that too many 'established names' are dabbling in this relatively new market - reliant on brand and novelty value to make a fast buck from ill-informed consumers. Why pay a premium for lacklustre performance when you can have your cake and eat it too?
In short, highly recommended.
on 18 August 2013
Exactly the sound I was looking for in a portable wi-fi speaker with high definition throughout the sonic range. Bought this after I bought another make only because this was mains powered only. Now have the best of both worlds but there's no denying, this has the best sound of all.
Only thing to watch out for is when moving the device - the bass speakers are underneath with no protection, so when lifting, be careful not to put fingers though them (although they are pretty tough). Not worth dropping a star for though.
on 14 September 2013
For price paid (around £160) this represents great value giving its portability and size. Not sure I'd want to pay RRP though, that puts it in the league of some serious mini systems which I'm sure would outperform it, however they would'nt be anywhere as near flexible as this little unit in terms of convenience and portability. Won't bother repeating what everyone else is saying, but believe it. Sound quality is exceptional for such a relatively small unit. Superb bass reproduction considering its size and bags of detail. I usually listen in quite close proximity to it and am hearing lots of my music in a totally different light, with different instruments and vocals being presented for the first time.
For me set up using IPad Mini and AirPlay was painless, took less than two mins. I do however suffer from dropout on AirPlay even when no other demands are being made on my (Sky) wi fi. Could be my router location which is downstairs while my primary listening location is upstairs. Not a major issue for me though as for a serious listening session I sit my iPad on a stand and hook it up via a quality 3.5mm lead, for me this gives further gains in sound quality.
I do have one fairly major caveat though, whether on AirPlay or hard wired I struggle to get the volume "sweet spot" I want due to the single click volume adjustment. Whether adjusting via the Stealth or the iPad volume keys I very often find one click either way is either too loud or too quiet. Using the volume slider on the IPad music player doesn't help either, in fact on Air Play its a bit of a pain as on my set up there is quite a bit of lag between adjusting the slider and the Stealth responding. IMHO the increments on the volume controls need to closer together allowing more fine tuning of volume.
If Azatom read these reviews any chance of a firmware fix?