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A boom box vs. Bluetooth speaker smackdown (pictures)

The Audiophiliac compares an ancient JVC PC-X100 boom box with a bunch of wireless speakers, and the results are clear-cut.

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Steve Guttenberg
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1 of 10 Steve Guttenberg/CNET

Riva Turbo X vs. JVC PC-X100

Hunkered down in the CNET NYC listening room, the Audiophiliac compared an ancient JVC PC-X100 boom box with the latest and greatest portable wireless speakers, starting with the little Riva Turbo X that some say is a top contender.

Armed with ADX Trillium audio technology and seven custom ADX transducers, the Turbo X wasn't bad, but the JVC PC-X100's size advantage was obvious. The little Turbo X's bass had nice impact, but the midrange and treble sounded like a small table radio. Dynamic range was compressed and limited, so the JVC PC-X100 stomped all over the Turbo X.

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2 of 10 Steve Guttenberg/CNET

Aiwa EXOS-9 vs. JVC PC-X100

The Riva Turbo X was overwhelmed by the PC-X100, so I next tried the mighty Aiwa EXOS-9 Bluetooth speaker that's bigger and bulkier than the PC-X100. The EXOS-9's brawn made itself known; it played louder, but this bad boy sounds harsh and grating at any volume. The PC-X100 was smoother and clearer, but it couldn't play as loud as the EXOS-9. It was a closer contest, but I'd rather listen to the PC-X100 any day of the week.

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3 of 10 Steve Guttenberg/CNET

Tweaking the sound balance

The JVC PC-X100 has an easy-to-adjust graphic equalizer on its top panel, changing the sound's tonal balance was a snap. Most vintage 'boxes were similarly equipped.

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4 of 10 Steve Guttenberg/CNET

Fluance Fi30 Bluetooth Speaker vs. JVC PC-X100

The Fluance Fi30 looks a bit like a boom box, and this one sounded clearer than the other Bluetooth speakers. The high-gloss wood cabinet looks sweet, too; bass is nicely detailed, not at all pumped up or exaggerated. The Fi30 is the best affordable Bluetooth speaker I've heard, but the JVC PC-X100 wasn't embarrassed by the comparison.

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5 of 10 Steve Guttenberg/CNET

JVC PC-X100, not bad for 24 years old

I'm not claiming the PC-X100 was the greatest boom box of its era, just a very decent-sounding 'box. It's big, and sounds it, especially when you compare it with any small 2015 portable Bluetooth speaker. They all sounded crude and harsh next to this big guy.

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6 of 10 Steve Guttenberg/CNET

Detach the JVC PC-X100's speakers for even better sound

I haven't seen too many Bluetooth speakers that let you spread the left and right speakers like the JVC PC-X100's. Placed a few feet apart, the two speakers produce true stereo!

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7 of 10 Steve Guttenberg/CNET

Swapping out the JVC PC-X100's speakers for better speakers

Substituting the inexpensive Dayton B652 speakers was a major upgrade over the JVC PC-X100's standard speakers. Some, but not all boom boxes let you change speakers, that's an advantage I've rarely seen on Bluetooth systems.

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8 of 10 Steve Guttenberg/CNET

Stepping up to even better speakers

Even better sound, here's a pair of Pioneer SP-BS22-LR bookshelf speakers with the JVC PC-X100, I loved that combination. Of course, you can try out any small speaker with your boom box.

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9 of 10 Steve Guttenberg/CNET

To change a boom box's speakers...

Look and see if your boom box has speaker connectors like this on its rear panel.

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10 of 10 Steve Guttenberg/CNET

The JVC PC-X100's Hyper-Bass Sound

The JVC PC-X100's central unit not only houses the amplifier, radio, CD and cassette player, there's also an internal woofer you hear from the front panel's twin bass ports. The bass was boomy, and lacking in definition. Then again, that's why they called them boom boxes!

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