Most Bluetooth speakers we see here at CNET are of the speakerphone variety, which you can pair up with a phone to make and receive calls. Since the rise of stereo Bluetooth, however, there are a few companies that make stereo Bluetooth speakers without the ability to handle phone calls. These speakers are dedicated music machines, and their primary function is to stream your music wirelessly wherever you may be. The BlueAnt M1 Stereo Bluetooth Speakers is one such device, and not only is it portable with a rechargeable battery; it delivers excellent sound as well. The BlueAnt M1 Stereo Bluetooth will cost you a hefty sum at $139 a pop, but this is a great gadget for a day at the beach or a party in the backyard.
We don't normally say this about portable speakers, but the BlueAnt M1 looks sleek, sharp, and unmistakably modern. We love the jet black finish, the silver detail on the sides, and the glowing white LEDs that illuminate the controls around the volume knob. Measuring 12-inches long by 3.5-inches tall by 3.46-inches deep, the M1 is slim enough to fit in a travel bag. The front and top of the device is wrapped in perforated steel, while the aforementioned volume knob is located on the front toward the right. The M1 speakers even come with a padded carrying bag with a grille opening for the vent on the back, in case you want to stream some tunes while the M1 is in the pouch.
As for the controls arranged around the volume knob, they consist of a Play/Pause button, two Track Shuttle keys for Rewind/Previous track and Fast Forward/Next track, a bass-boost button, and the On/Off switch. To the right of the controls is a Bluetooth LED indicator. On the back of the M1 are the charger jack, a battery-status LED indicator, and a line-in audio jack if you don't want to use Bluetooth.
Setup is pretty easy. Just plug the M1 speakers into a wall outlet for a few hours or until the battery-status LED light is green. To pair a Bluetooth device to the M1, just press the M1's On/Off switch for about five seconds (make sure it's off first) and wait for the Bluetooth LED indicator to flash blue and red. Then turn on the Bluetooth mode in your device and pretty soon you'll be paired, connected, and ready to go. The M1 can be used with any device that supports stereo Bluetooth, from cell phones and music players to PCs and Macs.
We paired the M1 with the LG Chocolate 3, which has stereo-Bluetooth support. Sound quality was fantastic. The M1 has an internal subwoofer with 28-watts RMS output, which helped in creating a really loud maximum volume as well as a pretty decent bass output, especially with the bass-boost mode turned on. It made our tiny little MP3 sound so much richer than it did on the cell phone. Do note that the M1 has an operating range of 10 meters.
While we would've liked a removable battery, or maybe an option to use regular alkaline batteries when a wall outlet isn't in sight, we think the M1 lived up to our expectations overall. The BlueAnt M1 stereo-Bluetooth speaker has a rated playback time of 3 to 4 hours on high volume and 10 hours on medium volume. It has a rated standby time of 62.5 days and a charging time of 3 hours.