Review: Fender Monterey Bluetooth Speaker

I have listened to a fair number of the best Bluetooth wireless speakers, so when Fender released its Monterey Bluetooth Speaker ($349.99), I was intrigued. Fender is best known for its eardrum crunching guitar amplifiers, so I was curious to know how well Fender made the transition from its 20th-century electric guitar roots to 21st-century wireless sound. Read on to find out.

Related: Battle of the Behemoths: The Best Rugged, Outdoor Bluetooth Speakers

Master your iPhone in one minute a day:

Sign up to iPhone Life's Tip of the Day Newsletter and we'll send you a tip each day to save time and get the most out of your iPhone or iPad.

The Fender Monterey Bluetooth speaker is housed in the iconic Fender amplifier style of the rock band era. Everything from the embossed case stitching and vinyl fabrics to the dial knobs and on/off toggle switch of a classic 1968 Fender amp is near-perfect in the Monterey wireless speaker. It is also surprising heavy, just like a traditional scaled-up Fender amp as well. Most telling of the sonic output, the power cord included with the package is a beefy three-prong cable that helps the amp deliver a glass shattering 120 volts of volume output.

After plugging in, toggling on the power and quickly pairing the speaker with my iPhone by pressing the PAIR button on top of the Bluetooth speaker, I was ready to put the speaker through its paces. Running through a quick selection of musical playlists ranging from rock, jazz, classical and hip-hop, I dialed the volume up and down to get a sense of the sonic clarity throughout the range. I was pleased to discover that even at the highest ear-splitting volume, the Monterey Bluetooth wireless speaker continued to emit crystal clear sound even as the air in front of the speaker was violently concussed with each bass drum beat of the music. Moreover, to help push the wireless speaker to the fabled Spinal Tap "11", Fender included a Shape button in the back of the speaker to toggle even more explosive bass booms.

Since the speaker is indeed a Bluetooth speaker, Fender included a built-in mic with echo cancellation for voice calls. The Monterey wireless speaker also includes audio jacks for 3.5mm and RCA input plugs. Quite surprisingly, Fender opted not to include standard quarter inch (6.5mm) mic or guitar plug inputs. While you can purchase plug adapters, it is an odd omission given Fender's history and its attempt to accurately recreate the true Fender experience in the Monterey.  I am not sure if Fender intentionally omitted this jack in order to clearly separate the Monterey as a Bluetooth wireless speaker for typical consumer use or if the company did not want to categorize it as a small guitar amp. Tt still seems like its omission was not accidental.

Final Verdict

In summary, if you are a fan of the Fender electrified sound experience and want to recreate the look, feel, and auditory excellence for somewhat portable but notably heavy speaker amplification, the Monterey wireless Bluetooth speaker is hard to beat. Fender's absolute stunning attention to detail and sonic clarity even at the Monterey's loudest window-rattling volume is as clear as its lowest volume setting.  If you can afford its luxurious price and have the strength to hall it around, Fender's Monterey Bluetooth speaker will bring a smile to your vibrating face as it fills your home with sound.

Master your iPhone in one minute a day: Sign up here to get our FREE Tip of the Day delivered right to your inbox.

Mike Riley is a frequent contributor to several technical publications and specializes in emerging technologies and new development trends. Mike was previously employed by RR Donnelley as the company’s Chief Scientist, responsible for determining innovative technical approaches to improve the company’s internal and external content services. Mike also co-hosted Computer Connection, a technology enthusiast show broadcast on Tribune Media's CLTV.