Fender has just released the Monterey and Newport Bluetooth hi-fi speakers, designed to play music and audio at home. Both units have a vintage ‘Silverface’ amp styling which is paired with modern technology, like options to connect smartphones. But you could, conceivably, also get your guitar playing through one of these, too…
Leo Fender started making and selling his first PA systems in the 1930s, so the company actually started out making speakers long before they made guitars. Fender has styled these two hi-fi speakers after its own Silverface amps, so there’s a ‘heritage’ vibe going on here (at least visually). Both speakers have a metal grille, with Volume, Bass and Treble knobs and a blue LED amp jewel light.
The Newport is the smaller of the two speakers, rated at 30W and has around 12 hours of playback time via a lithium-ion battery. The larger Monterey model is rated at 120W output via two 5.12” woofers and two 1” tweeters, though it needs mains power and so isn’t a portable solution like the Newport. It also has inputs on both 1/8” and RCA inputs to accept signals from a variety of sources.
Unlike the smaller Newport, the Monterey also has an EQ preset switch, which tunes it to the size of your room, a bit like a Sonos Play system speakers or the soon to be released Apple Home Pod. Fender doesn’t state how it achieves this so we don’t know how its solution sizes up against the competition – it might just be a few basic EQ curves to choose between.
Both are audio/Hi-Fi based systems rather than intended for use as amps, and support aptX and AAC audio signals. They also have full telephony and echo cancellation built in as well as a built-in USB port to charge smart phones and tablets.
I don’t see why you couldn’t use them to feed a guitar in via either a pre-amp or some sort of App like Amplitube or Garageband for example. But predominantly, they are similar to the Marshall range released a few years ago in that they are designed to listen to music around the home.
So, will we see more consumer devices from Fender in the future? It might be enticing for a famous music brand to deliver this kind of crossover product: an amp-styled music box for your kitchen that gets Fender a piece of the action on the burgeoning home audio market. But with a little effort you could also feed your guitar through one as well. The official teaser video below certainly points towards them being capable of a variety of tasks, including phone use.
RRP – The Newport GBP 189 and Monterey GBP 299
Fender Monterey and Newport product page