Fender Monterey Bluetooth Speaker review: An amp-styled Bluetooth speaker with deep, amp-like sound

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Fender has entered the Bluetooth speaker market in a big way with the classic design and deep, rich, amp-like sound of the Monterey.

TA-ratings-96When Fender announced they were entering the Bluetooth speaker game, part of me was a bit surprised they already hadn’t. Given their history with musicians and music, it was only a matter of time. Our Fender Monterey Bluetooth Speaker review takes a look at one of their initial offerings: a powered speaker that offers deep, amp-like sound.

Specifications

The Fender Monterey Bluetooth Speaker has the following features and specifications:

  • 120-watt Bluetooth® speaker
  • Quad-driver system: two woofers, two tweeters
  • 33-foot+ Bluetooth range; mic with echo cancellation
  • 3.5mm auxiliary input jack
  • RCA connectors for preamp-equipped turntables
  • Speakers: Four (Two Woofers and Two Tweeters)
  • Maximum Output Level: 120 watts
  • Inputs: 3.5 mm, RCA
  • Bluetooth: V 4.2
  • Codec: aptX, AAC, SBC
  • Power Requirements: 100-240V AC power adaptor
  • Dimensions (W/H/D): 13.5 x 9.75 x 5.25″
  • Weight: 15 lbs

What’s in the box

  • Fender Monterey Bluetooth Speaker
  • AC power cord
  • 3.5mm audio cable
  • RCA audio cable
  • Quick Start Guide
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What’s in the (fairly big) box…

Design

When you first see the Fender Monterey Bluetooth Speaker, there is no question it’s a Fender product through and through. Designed after their ’68 Custom amplifiers, the Monterey looks, and feels — and is almost as heavy as — some of their amps. The entire front of the speaker is covered with an amp-style speaker grille which covers the two tweeters on the top half and the two woofers on the bottom half.

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The Fender Monterey (front) and a modern Fender Mustang 1 amp.

The wooden enclosure is covered with textured black vinyl along each side and the back, giving it a leather look. Most of the top is covered with this same material and the back edge houses a row of witch-hat knobs, an amp jewel, and control labels which mimic the custom Fender amp designs. From left to right you’ll find a 3.5mm input port, three source lights (Bluetooth/Mini/RCA) and a source button, a pairing button, volume, treble, and bass dials, the “amp jewel” which indicates power, and the on/off power toggle switch.

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The buttons, dial controls, and power toggle on the top of the speaker.

Just below this section on the back of the speaker is where you’ll find your input power port, a shape switch, and the RCA AUX In ports. Fender nailed the amp look on this one and when pictured next to an actual Fender amp, you’d swear you had a pair of them.

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The power port, shape switch, and RCA ports are located on the back.

As mentioned, the Monterey is quite heavy — weighing in at 15 lbs — and the only thing that’s missing design wise would be some sort of handle on the top for easier carrying. Looking at pictures of older Fender amps, and having a newer one myself, most of them had a handle on the top and it would have definitely been a nice addition.

Ease of Use

Bluetooth speakers are generally easy to turn on, but in the case of the Monterey, it’s even easier to turn on as it’s just a simple flip of a switch. As is the case with most Bluetooth speakers, the Fender Monterey is easy to connect to via Bluetooth from your device. Simply press and hold the Bluetooth button on the top until you hear the tone cue and then find and pair it with your device. Speaking of tone cues, this is one of my favourite details about the Fender Monterey. All the audio cues — powering on, Bluetooth connected, Bluetooth pairing, etc. — are reminiscent of a quick guitar strum. Definitely a nice touch.

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The amp jewel is a nice power indicator touch.

Toggling between Bluetooth, 3.5mm (Mini), and RCA is as easy as pressing a button, and the volume, bass, and treble dials are pretty self-explanatory. One thing you can’t do with the speaker, however, is control playback so you’ll have to keep your phone or other device handy to play, pause or skip tracks. It’s an interesting omission for sure on a Bluetooth speaker, but given the sound, you’re probably not going to be sitting right next to the speaker anyway.

Sound

The easiest way to describe the sound put out by the Fender Monterey is deep, rich, and amp-like. If you have a Fender amp, you know what I’m talking about — the first time I turned it on and the track started playing, my first thought was “wow, this really sounds almost exactly like my amp!” Being able to control the volume, bass, and treble independently of your smartphone is fantastic and lets you tweak the sound exactly how you want it. While you can use an equalizer on your phone as well, the shape switch on the back of the speaker equalizes the sound and adds a bit more bass punch. I’m a huge fan of bass but personally I found the sound better without the shape switch toggled on.

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A pair of tweeters, two subwoofers, and 120W maximum output make for big sound.

Classic rock, metal, Top 40, dance, EDM, hip hop, classical… you name it — every genre of music we tried on this speaker sounded clear, crisp, and nicely balanced. With a maximum output of 120 watts, the Fender Monterey Bluetooth Speaker can really rock a room or the backyard. With the phone volume set to maximum, the speaker fared rather nicely between 4 and 5 while indoors. During our tests outside entertaining the neighbourhood at maximum volume, the sound was equally crisp and clear with the same balance and no distortion whatsoever to be heard.

No matter the input — Bluetooth, 3.5mm, or RCA, the Monterey delivered nice, solid, balanced sound.

Price/Value

The Fender Monterey Bluetooth Speaker definitely isn’t cheap, coming in at $349.99 USD. However, the old saying “you get what you pay for” is more than true in this case. The build quality, but more importantly the excellent sound put out by this speaker, is well worth the price.

Wrap-up

Fender has entered the Bluetooth speaker market in a big way with the classic design and deep, rich, amp-like sound of the Monterey. For these reasons, it’s more than deserving of a Top Pick of 2017 here at Techaeris.

*We were sent a review unit of the Fender Monterey Bluetooth Speaker for the purposes of this review.

Monterey Bluetooth Speaker

$349.99 USD
Monterey Bluetooth Speaker
9.6

Design

10/10

    Ease of Use

    10/10

      Sound

      10/10

        Price/Value

        10/10

          Nailed it

          • Fantastic classic design, looks like an amp
          • Independent volume, bass, and treble controls
          • Can use via Bluetooth, 3.5mm, or RCA
          • Fantastic sound for any music genre
          • Shape toggle for built in equalization

          Needs work

          • A handle would be a nice addition
          • Can't play/pause/skip tracks from speaker
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