If that sentence didn't close the deal for you, read on to find out about the guys who make them and exactly why this speaker is so different from all the other wireless speakers on the market.
Ammo Audio was started by two guys in a workshop in Fayetteville, Georgia. Mike "Spike" Curtis is a USAF veteran who spent 10 years flying and instructing in fighter aircraft, including the A-10 Warthog and AT-38 Smurf jet. He's got a day job as a commercial airline pilot. Bart Hancock works for a governmental security agency was previously assigned to a High Threat Security Team in Baghdad. He worked on the Clayton County Narcotics Task Force for four years. They've partnered with Spike cousin, Patrick Curtis, a Wharton grad who started WallStreetOasis.com.
A couple of conclusions: their military and law enforcement experience has given them an appreciation for solid and well-made gear. The fact that they've had day jobs while they designed and developed the AmmoCan X means that they've built exactly the product they wanted to build without any pressure from a bank loan or investors to get something to market whether it was finished or not. This is a speaker designed by obsessive guys who went way past what the market demands on build quality.
First, it's built from a real ammo can. The case will last for years and only acquire more character as it gets dinged up from use in real-world conditions.
The speaker I tested was built with two 4" Rockford Fosgate car stereo speakers.
There's an vented MDF box inside each can. The wood (ok, "wood product") is the secret to getting the resonance that leads to good sound quality. There are a lot of more expensive speakers on the market that are all plastic.
Here's how it works. The Master power and Bluetooth trigger switches light up and they have a solid thunk when you flip them, designed to "make you feel a little bit like an actual fighter pilot," according to Mike. All of the logos and labels are engraved into the metal. There won't be an stickers or badges falling off after you used the speaker for a couple of years (or months).
The two USB outlets (which have their own on/off switch) allow you to charge a phone and tablet at the same time. There's a voltage button so you can check your battery level and a handy engraved chart so you don't screw up and run the battery down two far.
They're claiming twenty hours of life for the AmmoCan X's 12V battery, but I've consistently gotten over 24 hours from a single charge.
The handle is wrapped in parachute cord and feels great .
How does it sound? The AmmoCan X will crank up to high volumes with very minimal distortion, i.e. almost no distortion. I've been cranking the new reissue of Led Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti for the last couple of days and the speaker delivers performance that matches anything I've heard in its price range.
Here's the fact: you can't buy another wireless speaker that matches the feel and build quality of the AmmoCan X at any price. What you're getting is a hand-built product made by guys who built something they wanted to own themselves.
I've been carrying around the AmmoCan X for the last few weeks and everyone who's seen it has declared that they want one. Part of the appeal is that it's a throwback to the kind of purpose-built, limited-production gear that particularly appeals to two kinds of people I know: veterans and recording engineers. They're both groups who used their gear in situations where consistent performance and build quality are at a premium.
They're currently selling the AmmoCan X for $299 direct (list price $399). Sure, you can buy an excellent speaker for around $150 but it's not going to be as much fun as this and it's certainly not going to have this kind of battery power. You can get a personal engraving below the USB port for $79 and they'll also attach your service badge or challenge coin to customize your unit (scroll to the bottom of this page for some examples).
The AmmoCan X comes with a charging cord and a very short audio cable. You can connect your non-Bluetooth device and close up the can and lug it around safely inside, but you'll want a longer cable if you want to set your iPod on a table beside the speaker.
There's no volume control on the AmmoCan X. You completely control levels from the audio source. That's a sensible approach: a separate volume control on the speaker usually ends up generating confusion about how loud things are going to be when you make your audio connection.
The AmmoCan X is really heavy, so heavy they don't list its weight on the spec sheet. That insane battery life comes at a price: it's easily 15 lbs. That just makes it feel more solid to me, but not everyone wants their speaker to be that much of a production. But, if you've made it this far into the review, that's not an issue for you, is it?
That weight makes it hard to ship: standard shipping is $49. If you live in Georgia, you can pick one up direct from Mike and Bart for free.
Of course, just like every other similar speaker on the market, the AmmoCan X can't really give you full stereo separation with two speakers that close together. If you're looking for a higher-fi sound, you can upgrade to the AmmoCan XLT. For a current sale price of $599 (list price $799), you get a larger box made from a 40mm ammunition can, wider separation on the stereo speakers, a subwoofer underneath and separate volume, treble and bass controls. This beast weighs over 3o lbs. and standard shipping is $79.
Top of the line is the AmmoCan XLT+, which adds two more tweeters to the package. It's currently available for $699 (list price $1000). If you're ready to spend $599 for an XLT, you probably want to go all the way and get one of these.
If you start looking around, there are other people out there making speakers out of old suitcases, wine boxes and even ammunition cans. You can even find instructions on how to make one yourself if you've got a fully-outfitted workshop, but you would've already done it yourself if you were going to do it yourself. Nothing else on the market is as tastefully designed as the AmmoCan X, which lets the fact that it's an ammunition can speak for itself without a lot of distracting words and logos.
This is an A+ product built by guys who are members of the military community. They're not mass-produced and they haven't compromised on quality. This is a product that will last all day at the lake or the beach or the campground and only acquire more character as it gets used. There's a real pleasure that comes with using a product that so well-made. Check it out and tell those guys you read about it here on Military.com.