Peachtree Audio's Deepblue ($400 street) may seem like a curiously named device given IBM's famous chess-playing supercomputer, but it's a fitting moniker: this is a Bluetooth speaker that makes exceptionally deep bass.
The performance shouldn't be surprising once you look at the specs, which boast a 240-watt amplifier and a jumbo (by Bluetooth standards) 6.5-inch woofer. It all adds up to big, aggressive sound that's particularly fantastic with heavier rock tunes, delivering more low end than any other shelf system I can recall. On the flip side, that rough-and-tumble feel is all over the Deepblue; it's not a pretty-looking speaker, and the controls could certainly be better.
The Deepblue may not have that furniture-quality design (a la the Samsung DA-E750) that you'd want to feature in your living room, but if you're looking for a high-performance Bluetooth speaker that knows how to rock, it's tough to beat.
Design: Beautiful only on the inside
Given that Peachtree is known for its beautifully designed amps, the Deepblue looks shockingly generic. The black plastic cabinet feels like it belongs on a cheaper product, and the gray speaker grille doesn't do much to distinguish it, either. Next to the Cambridge Audio Minx Air 200 and Klipsch KMC 3, the Deepblue easily looks the least distinguished.
The top has a glossy finish and features the Deepblue's three buttons: power, volume up, and volume down. I'm all for minimalism when it comes to controls, but here the controls are a bit too pared down; Bose's SoundLink Mini is a good example of a Bluetooth speaker with just the right number of buttons.
For example, Bluetooth pairing is done, counterintuitively, by holding down the power button and waiting for the tiny blue light on the front to blink. The light is pretty much the only visual feedback you get, which can be a particular pain with bass control, where it would be really nice to know if you're at +3 or -2. Similarly, sometimes the volume level can be confusing; your smartphone may be maxed out and the Deepblue can still sound soft because the volume on the unit itself isn't cranked. You get used to its quirks, eventually.
The remote gives you more control over the Deepblue, although its basic grid of buttons isn't a great layout. Granted, you'll be using a smartphone or tablet to do the vast majority of controlling on the Deepblue, so the subpar clicker isn't that much of a drawback.
Features: Big drivers and Bluetooth
If the outside seems like an afterthought, that's because it appears that Peachtree has put all its effort on designing the Deepblue's guts. It's surprisingly heavy, coming in at just over 16 pounds. That's generally a good sign as far as sound quality goes (more on that later), but it solidifies the Deepblue as largely a one-room device. There's no handle or built-in battery that would imply portability, which makes the Deepblue seem like it's meant to be placed in one room and left there.