Today we’re going to be checking out a wireless Bluetooth speaker from Archeer, the A320.
Archeer sells a pretty wide variety of products like cellphone cases, headphones, charging options and more. They even make a monocular telescope. When I had the chance to check out their AH07 Bluetooth headphones earlier this year I wasn’t expecting them to offer such a focused and quality listening experience given the variety in Archeer’s product lineup. When they contacted me about the A320, the opportunity to review such a beautiful, bamboo infused speaker could not be passed up. If my experiences with the AH07 were any indication, Archeer knows how to make a good sounding product. The A320 is no exception.
The A320 was provided free of charge in exchange for a fair and unbiased review. A big thanks to Lucas for the opportunity. The thoughts within this review are my own and do not represent Archeer or any other entity.
The A320 is currently available through Amazon.com for 79.99 USD. It seems they are running a 20% off discount (.com only) right now using promo code YCTVZP38 which can be found on this listing;
You can also check out the A320 and other Archeer gear on their website; http://www.archeer.com
My Gear and I:
I’m a 30 year old professional working for what is currently the largest luxury hotel chain on the planet. I have a background in Psychology which probably explains my somewhat dry writing style. My entry into the world of portable audio was due primarily to a lack of space for a full-sized stereo system during my university years, and truly began with the venerable JVC HA-FXT90. After reading pretty much the entirety of IjokerI’s multi-earphone review thread, reviews from other established reviewers, and thus being greatly inspired, I took a chance and started writing my own.
Fast forward a couple years and I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to write about products for wonderful companies like RHA, Accutone, ADVANCED, NarMoo, Brainwavz, Meze and many more. I don’t do it for money or free stuff, but because this is my hobby and I enjoy it. If my reviews can help guide someone to an earphone that makes them happy, I’ll consider that a job well done and payment enough.
Testing gear was an HTC One M8 and Shanling M1 used almost exclusively over Bluetooth. I listen primarily to various EDM sub-genres (liquid drum and bass, breakbeat, drumstep, etc.), hip hop, and classic rock. While I enjoy a variety of signatures, I generally lean towards slightly warm with elevated treble and sub-bass, an even mid-range response, and reduced mid-bass. My favorite in-ear, the Echobox Finder X1[i] is a fantastic example of this with their grey filters installed.
Packaging and Accessories:
The A320 takes a very minimalist approach coming in a mostly unmarked cardboard box. It is very securely held in place by some high quality foam inserts. Within one of those foam inserts is a USB cable terminated on one end with a microUSB tip. Also included is a durable carry bag and a fairly beefy feeling auxiliary cable which can be used to run the A320 wired if desired. An instruction manual which clearly outlines all the A320’s features, controls, and more is also provided. Here is a video of my unboxing experience if interested;
Build, Design, and Usability:
Calling the A320 an unattractive speaker would be a hard sell in my opinion. The bamboo front baffle is beautifully cut to show off the grain and is strikingly contrasted by two matte black 1 1/2″ 5W speakers surrounding a 3 1/4″ 15W subwoofer. On the rear, more bamboo is present housing a 1″ bass port and input bar. There are inputs for the usbMicro charge port and auxiliary in. There is also a reset button which I’ve had no need to use, and a charge indicator light.
The rest of the unit is covered in durable canvas-like fabric that prevents the A320 from scratching whatever surface you choose to place it on. It also effectively dampens all vibrations emanating from that monster of a subwoofer helping ensure a clean sound.
On the top of the unit you find the media controls and a connectivity LED. The power button and media controls are white rubber icons printed on the canvas which covers the buttons underneath. I thought this was going to make them difficult to press, but thankfully that’s not the case. Each depression happens with a clear and satisfying click. The media buttons let you play, pause, skip back and forth through tracks and of course, control volume. It’s all very intuitive and works as you would expect, though I would like to see Archeer lessen the time taken to turn on and off the A320. It only requires a three second press, but that feels about a second too long.
Overall the A320 is a gorgeous looking piece of kit, one that would not look out of place on a desk or bookshelf. Those are good places for it too because it’s powerful sound can easily fill my apartment. I only wish there was some protection in place for the drivers. They’re recessed a decent amount (~1/4″) into the baffle, but accidentally damaging them wouldn’t be much of a challenge.
Connectivity and Battery Performance:
The A320 uses Bluetooth 4.0 to connect to your transmitting device and advertises a fairly standard range; 10 meters/33 feet. Pretty much every Bluetooth device I’ve used has quoted the same range, with only the Ausdom M05 truly impressing. Well, I can add the A320 to that short list. I can set my Shanling M1 anywhere in the apartment and not a stutter is emitted from the A320. Not even with two concrete walls separating us. In nearly two weeks and almost 30 hours of use, the A320 has yet to drop connection.
Archeer claims around 11 hours of use at 50% volume from the upgraded 5,200 mAh lithium ion battery. I’ve been seeing anywhere from 10 to 12 hours depending on how I was using it. The first run through saw the A320 used almost exclusively as a desktop speaker, seeing at least 12 hours of use. The next charge was spent with the A320 across the room on my bookshelf. A higher volume was required and why I saw closer to ten hours of playtime.
From my laptop the A320 was charging in just over five hours which I feel is a little long for the play time. Thankfully, plugging it into my HTC One M8’s wall charger lowered this considerably, closer to four hours. The A320 can be used during charging, but Archeer recommends leaving the unit off during this process. Given they cannot run passively, this makes sense.
The only issue I ran into ended up being pretty minor, but I could see it being a problem for some. When using the AUX cable, you couldn’t simply turn on the A320 with the cable plugged in and expect it to work. The A320 would only register AUX cable use if it was plugged in while the A320 was already on.
A system as beautiful as the A320 would be a serious letdown if Archeer saddled it with sub-par sound quality. Thankfully you needn’t be worried. The A320 delivers on it’s promises of clear mids and highs backed by a thunderous low end.
Given the A320’s marketing focuses on bass, let’s start there. The subwoofer on this thing really kicks out some serious low end. It’s a bit on the loose, boomy side, but place the A320 on a bookshelf across the room and you’ll immediately hear the benefits of this tuning. Room-filling bass is an entirely apt description. I haven’t spent a ton of time with similar products, but I’m very familiar with the usual 2.1 and various other speaker systems that many pair with their desktop computers. The A320 can go head-to-head with many of those systems, able to pump out just as impactful bass as larger subwoofers. It’s pretty silly actually. That’s a good thing.
When listening to the A320 with it sitting with me at my desk, I apply the following EQ adjustments to tone down the bass a touch, providing a more balanced listen;
-3 dB at 62 Hz
-2 dB at 125 Hz
-1 dB at 250 Hz
The mid-range take a step behind all that bass but is very clear and cuts through to remain crisp and coherent. There’s a bit of bleed from all that mid-bass, but that really only crops up listening at the high volumes the A320 can hit with ease. Detail is excellent, able to display finer nuances in a track like fingers sliding lightly across guitar strings, and the quick inhalations and lip re-hydration of a rapper performing at the top of their game, etc. The A320 is fairly revealing and as a result won’t smooth over flaws in a recording. If there is sibilance in the vocals, you’ll hear it. This is both a blessing and a curse as you can imagine. Feed the A320 quality files and it will output quality sound.
Treble on the A320 is also pretty great. It’s balanced nicely with the mid-range, offering an additional layer of prominence that gives the A320 their consumer friendly v-shaped signature. It leans slightly towards a thinner presentation which helps highlight the extension, clarity, and detail on offer, and gives them a decently airy presentation despite the compact size.
Stereo imaging on the A320 is at it’s best when it’s accompanying you in close proximity; less than 8 feet. Place the A320 further back and the limitations of three speakers in such a small enclosure start to show. Maybe a future revision could angle the treble/mid drivers, throwing sound out at an angle. In my limited experience building custom enclosures, this seems to simulate additional space between drivers and maximizes imaging capabilities.
Overall, the A320 makes for an entertaining listen. It’s a very powerful speaker with an appropriately large sound that has no problems filling my apartment with music.
Archeer has done a great job with the A320, releasing an attractive looking and sounding speaker. The Bluetooth connection is rock solid and backed by a decent 10-12 hour battery life. It’s build and material quality are excellent, enhanced by stellar fit and finish. It’s an impressive looking and sounding product that wouldn’t look out of place in a modern apartment.
My only qualms are that it’s bass is a bit loose for my preferences, and the size and lack of protection for the drivers makes them more of an indoor speaker for me, one that will see limited transportation.
Thanks to Lucas at Archeer for the opportunity to review this lovely system, and thank you for reading!