The Sapphire speaker is a digital Bluetooth speaker made by British audio brand, Aves Digital. It also doubles as a docking station for selected iPhone and iPod devices, like the iPhone 4 and iPods with the older 30-pin adapters.
That 30-pin docking connection unfortunately rules out the use of newer Apple devices with Lightning connectors, but the £130 Sapphire speaker (Amazon price) does have Bluetooth and AUX input/ouput connectivity options to soften the blow, giving you alternative options you’ll need to play your music.
It has been built with two 3-inch tweeter speakers and two 1.5-inch bass speakers, pushing out 30W RMS in total (2 x 15W).
Design & Build Quality
The Sapphire is coated with a vibrant, red glossy finish on the curved 381 x 142 x 135 mm chassis, and paired with a chrome iPhone/iPod dock – it has a very nice look to it. There’s even an LED light on the bottom of the speaker that shines red during standby mode, flashes blue during Bluetooth pairing and stays a solid green when it’s turned on.
If red is going to be a little too eye-catching for you, there are white (£110) and black gloss (£60) alternatives of the Sapphire to choose from, both of which happen to be cheaper than the red model too.
Picking up the Sapphire it’s immediately noticeable that it’s solid and has been well built, but the soft textured power and volume buttons on top lack the firm touch I hoped for from a speaker at this price.
It would have been nice to have the full set of playback controls alongside the existing buttons too, although having said that, this is a speaker powered by Bluetooth devices and comes with an accompanying remote too, so it’s not a big deal.
On the Sapphire’s small (and rather unimpressive) remote you’ll find the usual volume and track controls you’d expect, five equaliser presets to choose from (Flat, Jazz, Pop, Rock & Classic) and an X-Bass setting, which as the name suggests, cranks up the level of bass.
Testing over a Bluetooth connection with my iPhone 5, the treble and vocals were clear at low to medium volumes but struggled to maintain clarity as soon as I pushed the volume all the way. The bass packs a punch too but all in all, it doesn’t create the kind of immersive sound I expected from the Sapphire. None of this was helped by the fact that the sound would distort at higher volumes with ‘white noise’ in the background, which quickly became frustrating to listen to.
Fortunately, this wasn’t the case with a physical connection or in docking mode. Using my iPod Nano, the sound output made me feel like the Aves Sapphire was a totally different speaker. It handled loud volumes really well with a balanced and immersive sound, vocals were clear and bass was deep and rich without any noticeable distortion.
Aves’ X-Bass function found on the remote was impressive too. It managed to improve the quality and depth of bass without overpowering the song, and was a feature I used frequently when playing bass-heavy tracks. The equaliser presets worked as they should and provide enough options for a casual user – although an audiophile is going to want more customisation over the settings.
Aves Sapphire: The Bottom Line
In light of the price differences between the Sapphire’s colour variations, can I recommend the red £130 Aves Sapphire? Not really. It uses an older 30-pin docking adapter, performance over Bluetooth wasn’t great and most importantly, it’s a lot more expensive than the other two.
If you’re happy with physical connectivity though, I can recommend the more affordable, £60 black model of the Sapphire. You may be compromising on the eye-catching looks, but on the upside you’ll be purchasing a speaker that over a physical connection performs really well – without the hefty price tag.