Looking for a way to directly stream music from your mobile phone or other audio device to the stereo system? With the decreasing popularity of HTPC systems, streaming clients have gained a widespread popularity. For instance, bluetooth stereo receiver now come with a host of features which not only facilitate audio streaming but further enhance your audio listening experience. There are already quite a few popular brands like AudioEngine, Fiio amps, Auris, and Bose that are very popular among the masses.
I am really impressed with the size of Bluetooth amps that SMSL has been producing lately. Be it the very popular AD18 or this B1, the amps are very compact but yet very impressive when it comes to their performance. If we talk about this B1 in particular, it only measures 7 x 5 x 2 inches and weighs 7.2 ounces. Needless to say, it is highly portable and light in weight.
If you want to make sure that your Bluetooth audio amplifier stays hidden in your living room, you will definitely be able to do it with this compact amp. The amp features a small Bluetooth antenna which you can easily fold when not in use. Overall, I was happy with the purchase when I removed the amp from the packaging for the first time.
Setting-Up SMSL B1
B1 is innovatively designed with a display at the top of the amp. While the display is small, it is neatly designed and very easy to read. The Bluetooth stereo amplifier has a large dial which handles all of its features and functions. The dial is multipurpose and can be used for adjusting volume, selection menu options, and even turning the amp on/off.
Overall, if I talk about the design and build quality of B1 I’ll have to say that it is pretty impressive. It is compact and feels very sturdy in hand. It is very easy to setup and use too. Let us talk more about this.
Just like the latest Bluetooth amplifiers from SMSL, B1 also offers a total of 5 input options- Bluetooth, Aux, Optical, USB and Coax. Moreover, it is one of the latest breeds of Bluetooth amps that are compatible with APT-X-ray transmission. So, you can easily select the input from the available options with the first selection of the dial.
Turn the dial further and you can switch between speakers and headphones. I tested this amplifier with Bluetooth with speakers as well as headphones to accurately judge its performance. As compared to the speakers, I liked the audio quality on headphones better. Do not misunderstand me on this as the quality on speakers was good too but I think it is too loud for me. Even at lower volume levels, the speakers were very loud.
The next on the menu is the EQ selection. There are many different EQ settings like rock, jazz, classical, etc. which you can select as per your requirement. I am not a big fan of EQ so I didn’t experiment much with this option. Move the dial and you can now adjust the bass and treble. There are a total of three different levels in this setting. That is pretty much about setting up this Bluetooth audio amplifier. Now let us get to the most important section of this SMSL B1 review- the sound quality.
To test this amp, I made it go through Bluetooth streaming, tried its USB port, and even connected it to my speakers. It was pretty evident that the sound quality was exceptional across all the different inputs and outputs. While the audio was too loud even around 30 level, it was very impressive with my SkullCandy headphones.
The lows were very clear and free from any kind of distortions. I like my music with a bit of bass. While the default bass was fine too, when it increased it to the first level there was a significant improvement in the overall bass which was pretty adequate for my ears. I also increased it to the second and third level and the bass actually increased with every increment. While the sound quality started to suffer a little when the bass was as the third level and volume was above 35, I was highly satisfied with the bass at the first level and even the default bass for that matter.
The inbuilt DAC of this amplifier with Bluetooth is of great quality and switching between sources is very simple. If you are just a casual listener, I would highly recommend this product.
Pros and Cons
Let us quickly go through some of its pros and cons-
√ Inbuilt DAC is very good
√ Easy controls
√ Compact and lightweight design
√ Highly durable
√ Excellent sound quality
√ Great product for casual listeners
√ Default base is good
⊙ Too loud
⊙ Distortion when bass is increased at higher volume
While I would certainly not recommend SMSL B1 to someone who is professionally into music, it is a great product for casual listeners. It has everything that a buyer would expect from a modern Bluetooth stereo amplifier. Right from its build quality, Bluetooth range and reception, sound quality, to its inexpensive price tag, I am thoroughly impressed with this Bluetooth amplifier.
If you too are looking for a high-quality product from a brand that has gained a lot of attention even from audio professionals in the past few years, this SMSL B1 can be an excellent choice for you. Just go ahead with the purchase and you will thank me later!