The Bottom Line
Despite the competitive party speaker market, the Aiwa Exos-9 has managed to remain. Relevant for a number of years now, offering a fairly affordable solution to those needing big sound out of their Bluetooth speaker. While it falls short of some of the JBL PartyBox range, it shouldn’t be easily dismissed.
Editor’s note: We have improved this review since its original publication, providing a more accurate and detailed account of this speaker’s performance.
The Aiwa Exos-9 is a fairly striking speaker in that the design falls outside of what we’re used to seeing with traditional party speakers. The design is almost reminiscent of a boombox-style horizontally focused speaker but without the typical configuration of a primary left and right-sided driver placement. Instead, the Exos 9 has an array of drivers with a 6.5″ subwoofer sitting flush in the center while supported with midrange woofers and dedicated tweeters on either side. This driver configuration results in some interesting sound presentations, which we’ll discuss further below.
- 200 watts of power
- Onboard controls
- 5 powered drivers
- A 1-year warranty
- Removable battery
- Up to 9 hours of playtime
- 3.5mm audio jack (for direct connection)
Unique Design or Identity Crisis?
When it comes to the design of the Aiwa Exos 9, we haven’t come across anything quite like it before. While we’ve reviewed other boombox-style speakers, as I’ve mentioned, the Exos 9 is not really like one’s traditional boombox in style, even though it carries a lot of traits that we’re used to seeing from old-school boombox designs. Chances are you either love or hate the design of this speaker.
The Exos 9 brings its own unique approach to the table with a design that isn’t going to satisfy everyone’s tastes, and we have to appreciate the risk that Aiwa took with the Exos 9 design, opting for something out of the box, rather than relying on the traditional design style found in most party speakers.
While I’m not personally the biggest fan of this particular design from an aesthetic point of view, I can appreciate the versatility that Aiwa has created by designing this speaker so that it doesn’t look out of place indoors or outdoors.
The LCD display on the center-top portion of the speaker really adds to the impression of a clean finish and can help tie it into a room. While the LCD display feels pretty durable on touch, there are obviously some downsides, in that it becomes a bit more frightening to carry around a lot or carry across a room of people into their fourth drink. Some parts of the speaker feel more durable than others, and I couldn’t recommend this speaker to those in need of a rugged solution.
The Exos 9’s design is best suited for home party environments, especially when one takes into consideration that there is no weather protection on this speaker. We’re used to seeing at least IPX4 protection on speakers of this nature and would like to see some sort of protection added in any future iteration of this speaker.
This creates the impression that the Exos 9 is suffering from a bit of an identity crisis. After all, the Aiwa marketing for this speaker was heavily pushing forward the idea of an outdoor boombox-style speaker, and even in the manual, you’ll find the recommendation of using this speaker for the outdoors, camping, or the beach. Something we’d recommend against, given the lack of weatherproofing.
Another thing we do like to see from party-focused speakers, however, is the inclusion of some lighting effects. This isn’t present in the Exos 9, which, while a little disappointing, is also understandable given the design approach of the speaker, which focuses on a cleaner design.
Big Sub, Big Bass, Big Volume
I’ve seen a lot of sponsored reviews in the past talk about the volume of the Exos 9 beating the likes of the JBL PartyBox series, which I found not to be the case at all. Don’t get me wrong. The Aiwa Exos 9 is an extremely loud speaker with around 100dB of volume. This sound is especially impressive in the low end, where there is a significant amount of bass thanks to the 6.5″ subwoofer. Even with the impressive 100dB volume, the Exos 9 still falls a few decibels short of the JBL PartyBox 310 when it comes to measured volume output but does perform better than the JBL Boombox series in this regard.
The Exos 9 does boast an impressive amount of power, with 200W of raw power output. However, it’s important to remember that wattage is only one part of the puzzle. This speaker also offers a frequency response range of between 40Hz – 20kHz.
A topic that we need to discuss is the sound signature of the Aiwa Exos 9 because if you’re looking for balanced, accurate audio – this isn’t going to be your best bet, and for that, I’d recommend looking at some home smart speakers, or bookshelf speakers for instance. The sound profile on the Exos 9 is tuned very much towards a bass-dominant profile, which is great for parties and typical social gatherings, but isn’t the best when you’re just looking to relax with a drink and enjoy some music.
I like the way Aiwas approached their driver configuration for this speaker, as it can be challenging to provide enough clarity in the midrange and treble when you’ve got a large, dedicated subwoofer in the mix. But the addition of the two tweeters and two midrange drivers allows the Exos 9 to sound fairly bright, given how much bass is in the mix. I do enjoy the Exos 9’s EQ capabilities, which let you adjust the sound signature using both presets or manually, letting you get the sound closer to your personal preferences.
It’s far from the best speaker we’ve heard when it comes to critical listening, but it can compete with the rest of the party market in its price range in providing a great party solution.
Limited battery Life
With the high amounts of power that the Exos 9 uses, we’re not too surprised to see a somewhat limited battery life, especially when compared to some other competitors, such as the PartyBox range. Still, the 9 hours stated by the manufacturer is generous when playing music at a louder volume. We’ve found that you’re more likely to achieve around 5 hours of battery at a higher listening volume.
The Exos 9 is not the newest speaker on the market, and battery performance has improved remarkably in the last few years. However, we’d have still liked to have seen more from the Exos 9 in this regard. We wonder if this is because the Exos 9 is not necessarily made as an outdoor speaker, and it is assumed that one has more frequent access to power to recharge.
Still, if you’re someone who requires a good amount of battery life from your speaker, this does become a problem, and we’d recommend looking at one of the many other party speakers if you’re looking for something similar but with better battery performance.
At its release, the connectivity offered from the Exos 9 felt more than par for the course, but it has started to show its age, especially as we’ve seen a multitude of new Bluetooth versions in recent years, which have improved latency and connection distance. The Aiwa Exos 9 utilizes Bluetooth 4.2, which while still viable, is becoming rarer to see on the speaker market.
Outside of wireless connectivity, the Exos 9 features a 3.5mm aux input, along with two USB ports. One of these USB ports can be used to charge your phone, while the other USB port can be used to perform firmware updates.
Conclusion & Recommendations
If you’re looking for a bass-heavy party speaker primarily for indoor use, the Awai Exos 9 is a popular choice for a reason. It offers loads of volume, a bass-heavy sound signature, and build quality that establishes it as a quality speaker choice.
If you’re in the market for a rugged outdoor speaker, no matter what the Aiwa marketing or sponsored reviews may tell you, this isn’t a great idea. The LCD display poses an immediate risk for damage when in the outdoors, and the lack of weatherproofing is a big drawback. If you’re after a speaker that fits this description I’d recommend looking at the Turtlebox 2 or Soundboks Go.
With that said, I feel like the Exos 9 still holds a lot of value as a home party speaker, where it can be protected from the elements while still showing its true power as a bass-heavy speaker with a lot of volume.