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.

Product Review

Controversy has dogged the MacBook Pro lately. Is it still a good purchase?

The MacBook Pro is a controversial laptop these days -- and that's unfortunate. Due to some divisive changes Apple made to the functionality of the MacBook Pro, fans are more split. Does the 8th-gen refresh change that?

Here are 19 portable tech gadgets you’ll want to use every day

If you're looking for portable tech to keep you charged up while on the go (or for some great small gift ideas), we've rounded up 19 must-have gadgets. You'll find everything from a mini gaming controller to a folding Bluetooth keyboard.

How to choose an iPad in 2019: A practical guide to Apple’s tablets

Selecting an iPad from Apple's lineup can be intimidating, but it doesn't have to be. Our comprehensive guide should put the numbers and specs in practical, easy-to-understand terms. Find your ideal iPad with the help of our guide.

Get $100 discount on the Razer Phone 2 for a limited time

The Razer Phone 2 is finally here, and it's got upgraded specs, that super-smooth 120Hz display, and an updated design. Here's absolutely everything you need to know about the Razer Phone 2.
Home Theater

Report: Spotify preparing to launch $100 in-car streaming device

According to a report, people familiar with Spotify's plans say the company is readying a dedicated in-car music streamer that will cost $100. It will work with any Bluetooth-enabled audio system and can be controlled by voice.

Take a gander at the best deals on 4K TVs for January 2019

There's no doubt that a good 4K smart TV is the best way to take your home entertainment setup to the next level to enjoy all your favorite shows, movies, and games in glorious Ultra HD. We've got the best 4K TV deals right here.

Netflix’s rate hike is a good thing. Wait, wait, hear us out

Upset at Netflix for raising its rates? We don't blame you. Nobody likes to pay more for anything -- even if they love that thing. But you really should be thanking the streaming entertainment giant. The hike in prices is a necessary and…

Spotify is the best streaming service, but its competitors aren’t far behind

It can be hard to decide which music streaming service is for you, so we've picked out the individual strengths of the most popular services, aiming to make your decision a little easier.
Home Theater

Spotify adds artist-blocking feature, despite its denials

Though it continues to claim you can't do it, there is plenty of evidence that Spotify added an artist-blocking feature to its platform, making it easy for users to never hear a specific musician or band.
Home Theater

Here’s what’s new on Hulu and what’s leaving in February 2019

Our complete list of what's new on Hulu for February 2019, our personal favorites, and which titles will be removed will help you catch up on all the site has to offer -- and ensure you don't miss any titles heading into the streaming…

Save up to $100 on the Sonos Beam, Sub, and Playbar before game day

With the big game less than two weeks off, now is the perfect time to upgrade your home theater. Whether you're hosting a party or kicking back by yourself, Sonos is offering nice deals right now on a few of its top-rated audio devices…
Home Theater

Looking to cut cable? Here’s everything you need to know about Pluto TV

Pluto TV offers plenty of entertainment in a fashion similar to live internet TV services, only at no cost — you don’t even need to register. Too good to be true? Here’s everything you need to know.
Home Theater

Don't need sports or local channels? Philo can save you some dough

Philo is a super-affordable live TV streaming service, with an impressive channel list and feature set. With more hardware support and greatly improved TV Everywhere features, the service is now even easier to recommend.
Home Theater

How to wall mount a TV: Tips and tricks to cut down on frustration

This how-to guide includes a video on how to wall mount a TV, along with other tips and tricks about the process. Step by step, we'll take you through what you have to do to successfully get your TV on your wall.