Named after two of the most fabled festivals and armed with an aesthetic that harks back to the glory days of ’65 to ’68, these two new units offer a whole new way for players to fill their houses with Fender’s famous script logo. Classic design features like witch hat dials, blue jewel indicator LEDs and silver face era grille cloth lend a touch of rock and roll charm to your hi-fi cabinet. The Monterey is the most powerful of the pair; 120watts of power sits quietly behind the façade that looks like a scale model of a 2×12 cab. Four drivers power twin tweeters and subs that deliver some surprisingly beefy low end coupled with all the chiming highs that your favourite tunes deserve. While the Newport may be around half the size of its bigger brother, it certainly doesn’t lose any fidelity in the shrinking process. Portability is the real winner here; the 12 hours of battery life is enough to not only outlast the phones that are feeding it, but also bring them back to full charge. It’s tiny, sure, but has all the frequency response you need from your listening experience.
Aside from the size, the biggest difference between the two is the connectivity. The Newport, being the portable option, is not only compatible with Bluetooth ready devices, but has an 1/8th” aux cord and a USB port for those of you who favour hardwired interactions. The Monterey favors RCA connection over USB, which only serves to increase the fidelity of the experience as much as it cements its place on your mantle next to your record collection. They’re both simple machines with just enough on the list of features to satisfy the more finicky audiophiles among us.
‘90s cynicism taught us all and taught us well to avoid corporate tie-ins like the plague. If the idea of an instrument manufacturer of the stature of Fender veering into other avenues sticks in your craw a bit then I totally understand, but the fact remains that both the Monterey and Newport execute their purpose above and beyond the call of duty. This is something that Fender have always prided themselves on, so if you’re looking for that peerless quality in a listening experience as well as a playing experience, then you know where to look.