Dead for a decade, Aiwa stages an appropriate comeback with a retro boombox

Aiwa EXOS-9
Rich Shibley/Digital Trends
Editor’s note: The images in this post are of a prototype unit and are not indicative of the final product’s aesthetics. 

Once upon a time, Aiwa dominated the electronics shelves in department stores across the nation. The name was synonymous with the notion of affordable quality, and the brand enjoyed widespread recognition. But not long after being purchased by Sony, Aiwa fizzled away — it’s been almost 10 years since an Aiwa product was made. But that all changes today. Aiwa is officially back.

At the helm of the new Chicago-based Aiwa is Joe Born, the man who once brought us the SkipDr disc repair system. Along with marketing gurus Alex Kemmler and Dana Golin, Born intends to resurrect Aiwa ‘s reputation by staying true to the brand’s roots, producing products that perform well above their price point. And he’s just the guy to do it, too.

In its early days, Aiwa was best known for its affordable receivers and tape decks. Later on, after being acquired by Sony, the Aiwa name was stamped on everything from component and executive shelf systems to Minidisc players and recorders. Still, nothing evokes the spirit of Aiwa like the classic boombox.  It is fitting, then, that a reborn Aiwa would make its return to the US market with a 21st-century re-imagining of a boombox. Meet the prototype Aiwa Exos-9.

With the Exos-9, Aiwa aims to fill a need currently unmet by other portable Bluetooth speakers: Huge sound in a (somewhat) portable package. Make no mistake, the Exos-9 is big. And that’s kind of the point.

Putting the boom in this modern-day boombox is a 6.5-inch woofer which is designed to produce a hearty amount of party-driving bass well below the 60 Hz mark. Taking care of the midrange frequencies are two 3-inch drivers topped off by two 1-inch tweeters. The speaker uses multiple digital amplifiers (wattage not disclosed), and is equipped with a 5-band, user-adjustable EQ with four presets plus a battery-saving mode.

Most folks will stream music to the Exos-9 via Bluetooth (for which there is a NFC chip enabling touch-pairing with compatible devices), but an Auxiliary input is also available for hard-wiring nearly any source. The Exos-9 stands on its own very nicely, but the speaker’s Bluetooth chip does allow for two Exos-9 speakers to be paired together in stereo, one left channel, one right.

Aiwa Exos-9 (2)

Rich Shibley/Digital Trends

The only other product that comes close to the Exos-9 might be Klispch’s KMC-3, but the KMC-3 doesn’t go as deep in the bass, and isn’t quite as powerful overall. If you ask us, $300 is the perfect price for such a potent portable. If you’re interested in pre-ordering one yourself, you can do so at Aiwa’s website.

It should be noted that this is not a finalized version of the new Aiwa speaker. In the end, some different materials may be used, and the final product will be a little bit cleaner. For that reason, we’re holding off on a full review of the Aiwa Exos-9 until we receive a proper production model. Until then, we’ll be over here partying with our prototype.

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