WIRELESS SPEAKER REVIEWS

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Bob Ankosko Posted: Jul 24, 2015 1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $299

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Compact design
Impressive build quality
Simple to set up and use
Spacious, full-bodied sound with a kick
Minus
No remote control
Not ideal for driving rock
Not practical for use as a soundbar

THE VERDICT
The little Theatre Box will surprise you with its bold, big sound.

Sinatra is crooning in the background. “I like New York in June, how about you? I like a Gershwin tune, how about you?”

Frankly (sorry, couldn’t resist), I like what I’m hearing from the small box sitting on the filing cabinet in my home office. Impressive how clear and present the Chairman is on this Capitol recording (“How About You?”) released 59 years ago (Songs for Swingin’ Lovers!). Even more impressive, his voice is coming from a speaker that’s about half the size of a shoebox.

Barb Gonzalez Posted: Jul 15, 2015 3 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $180

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Speaker and remote respond to plain English
Voice control initiates music, weather, traffic, and more
Voice-command access to music by artist, song, or radio station
Shopping list and reminders transfer to companion mobile app
Minus
Best used with Amazon Prime membership
Tendency to push Amazon products

THE VERDICT
The most useful gadget since the invention of the remote control.

When Amazon first made the Echo available to a limited number of Amazon Prime users, it seemed like a novelty device possibly destined to end up in the Land of Forgotten Gadgets. Instead, this voice-controlled Bluetooth speaker has become the device I wouldn’t want to live without.

Michael Trei Posted: May 09, 2016 0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $749 pr

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Easy, comfortable sound
Bluetooth with aptX, AAC
Simple to set up and use
Superb finish
Minus
No USB or Wi-Fi
A bit too large for desktop use

THE VERDICT
The easy-to-live-with HD6 looks great and can deliver high-quality, true stereo sound with a minimum of fuss and clutter.

In the decade since they launched their first powered speaker, Audioengine has become embedded in my mind as the no-brainer recommendation whenever friends ask about getting better sound on their desktop. Dozens of both audiophile and non-audiophile friends have bought A5 and A2 amplified speakers at my suggestion—and so far, nobody has been disappointed. They’re affordable, easy to buy, and easy to set up, and they look great.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Mar 03, 2016 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $699

AT A GLANCE
Plus
AirPlay, Bluetooth, analog input
Redesign reduces cabinet resonance
Unique cosmetics
Minus
No iPhone/iPod dock

THE VERDICT
Bowers & Wilkins revises, revoices, and updates its popular high-end Zeppelin speaker to eliminate the iPhone/iPod dock, focusing instead on wireless connectivity—and it sounds better than ever.

The debut of the iPod was so cataclysmic that it nearly hurled the planet out of orbit. “1,000 songs in your pocket” was a revolution on par with “perfect sound forever.” And now it seems just as archaic. In fact, Apple no longer offers the iPod classic, and Bowers & Wilkins has quietly eliminated the iPhone/iPod dock from its formidable Zeppelin one-piece audio system. If you want to plug a wired device into the new Zeppelin Wireless, it’ll have to go into the analog minijack in back—the servants’ entrance, as it were.

Rob Sabin Posted: Oct 02, 2011 0 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $600 At A Glance: Excellent tonality • Good imaging • Cumbersome WiFi setup

I've never been a big fan of paying for brand names for their own sake. Build quality? Yes. Performance? Absolutely. Aesthetics? Sure. Ease of use? Certainly. Each of those has value, and it often makes sense to pay more, even a lot more, for any one of them. But sometimes, in the course of shopping for whatever, you encounter an entry from a well-respected or even elite brand that at first glance seems so outlandishly priced you have stop and wonder: what am I really paying for here?

Suffice to say that was me when Bowers & Wilkins first suggested I take a little ride with the Zeppelin Air, the company's $600 iPod dock...

John Sciacca Posted: Jun 06, 2012 0 comments

Summer’s arrival means it’s time to peel your pasty self off of the couch and head outside for a little sunshine and fresh air. But just because you’re stepping outside the indoor A/V sanctuary doesn’t mean you have to go all Trappist monk with your entertainment. And I’m not talking about dragging an iPod and headphones or (heaven forbid) some relic of a boombox outside.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Feb 06, 2015 3 comments

BeoLab 18 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value

BeoLab 19 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $25,625 as reviewed

AT A GLANCE
Plus
WiSA wireless multichannel audio technology
All processing and switching built into the TV
Motorized TV speakers and TV stand
Minus
No backlighting on remote control
Nothing else but the price

THE VERDICT
Although most of us can’t afford this system, those who can will be treated to an amazingly moving experience that no other system can provide—every time they turn it on.

Bang & Olufsen is unusual in the AV world. In fact, I could have stopped at “unusual.” I once heard a story about B&O that perfectly sums up what I’m talking about. It’s probably apocryphal, because the person I heard it from had heard it from someone else, but I’ll tell it anyway. Years ago, when B&O still made phones—corded, landline telephones—a guy from the U.S. asked one of the Danish engineers why the handsets had their unique shape, which made them almost impossible to cradle between your ear and shoulder so you could have a conversation and still use both hands. (Twenty-some years ago, that was the era’s version of “hands free.”)

The engineer’s answer was short and to the point: “Because we don’t talk on the phone that way here.” That sort of stubborn—some might say arrogant—confidence in the belief that their way is the right way is one of the core characteristics of Bang & Olufsen. When other AV companies are busy jumping on the latest technological bandwagon, B&O is off in the woods searching for truffles.

Al Griffin Posted: Nov 24, 2015 2 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $300

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Spacious sound
Fold-up, portable design
Cool conversation piece
Minus
Limited volume
Limited bass
Pricey compared with Bluetooth speakers with similar volume/bass capabilities

THE VERDICT
BenQ’s treVolo is a lush-sounding Bluetooth speaker that should please audiophiles with reasonable expectations.

Portable Bluetooth speakers range from toy-like novelties you can tote along in the shower to high-end Danish audio lunch boxes designed to survive a day at the beach. In between, you’ll find plenty of other options ranging from cheap and bad-sounding to pricey and good-sounding.

With Bluetooth speakers starting to become not just a popular, but a default audio playback system for many people, it’s perhaps time to take the category seriously. BenQ, a company best known for video monitors and projectors, has entered the crowded Bluetooth speaker arena with an attention-grabbing effort: a compact portable design that uses electrostatic panels—the same tech found in speakers from companies like MartinLogan—to convey sound. If that doesn’t count as a bid for Bluetooth speaker seriousness, I don’t know what would.

Lauren Dragan Posted: Feb 14, 2014 0 comments
In this era of technology that seemingly at best connects people through a screen and at worst isolates us from any human contact whatsoever, it’s refreshing to encounter a concept that actually encourages and enhances in-person interaction. The Camden Square is a Bluetooth Speaker. But add Polk’s DJ Stream app, and it’s suddenly a party speaker.
Lauren Dragan Posted: Nov 26, 2014 0 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $200

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Louder than smaller
portable speakers
Easy to set up
Good battery life
Minus
Lacks high-frequency detail
Lacks bass intensity

THE VERDICT
The Go is perfect for someone who wants better and louder sound than the average wireless portable, or who wants to amplify their music device and doesn’t want to commit to their speaker staying put in one room.

How It Connects: Bluetooth, AptX, NFC, ⅛” analog.

The Cambridge Audio Go is lightweight and small enough to carry with you (about 2.5 pounds) but big enough to fill a midsize room with sound. Equipped with two 0.75-inch titanium dome tweeters, two 2-inch woofers, and a rear bass radiator, it’s a step up from the tiny Bluetooth portables that most of us are familiar with. Perfect for kids’ bedrooms, dorm rooms, or other small spaces, the Go sounds better (and louder!) than the speakers on your laptop but is easy to cart to another room.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: May 29, 2014 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $599

AT A GLANCE
Plus
AirPlay and Bluetooth
Excellent build quality and sound
Carrying handle
Minus
None!

THE VERDICT
The Minx Air 200 is a well built and great sounding compact system that supports wireless streaming from many mobile devices.

So long, Apple 30-pin docking connector. You were a prodigiously creative little jack while you lasted. You gave birth to whole new categories of iPod/iPhone accessory docks and docking systems. You even muscled your way into A/V receivers, initially with add-on docks, then with iOS-capable USB jacks, your Apple-ness embedded into the receiver’s silicon brain. But now you’re on the run. Apple’s skinny Lightning connector has made you instantly obsolete, and you’ll linger only as long as the legacy devices you serve. In fact, even Lightning, your designated successor, is practically DOA thanks to another transformative change.

Bob Ankosko Posted: May 13, 2015 0 comments
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $349

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Blends into any décor
A cinch to setup
Clear, clean sound with vocal and acoustic music
Minus
Volume and bass are limited
Sound is confined
Pricey

THE VERDICT
Clio is an unobtrusive, one-of-a-kind speaker that is capable of producing clear yet confined sound with limited volume and bass potential.

They call Clio the first invisible speaker. And even though it’s not really invisible, when you put this unique specimen on a kitchen counter, end table, or fireplace mantel, it’s pretty darn hard to spot with its low-profile base and acrylic glass “windshield” that disappears into the room.

Lauren Dragan Posted: Nov 26, 2014 1 comments
If you live in a small apartment or a dorm, or you’re looking for a sound system for your office, small stereo bookshelf speakers are usually the way to go. They take up less space than traditional sound systems, are simple to set up, and generally offer better sound quality than the speakers attached to your computer, small TV, or portable device. But as we’ve all experienced, getting connected to analog speakers can be a drag. Running cables under carpets or through walls in a rental isn’t always a possibility, and nobody likes having wires pinned along the molding and ceiling. If these problems sound familiar to you, then a wireless stereo speaker may be just what you’ve been looking for.
Michael Berk Posted: Dec 01, 2011 0 comments

High-quality Bluetooth audio? I know what you're thinking.

John Sciacca Posted: Mar 13, 2015 1 comments

W Studio Soundbar System
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
W9 Wireless Speaker
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
W7 Wireless Speaker
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
W Amp Amplifier
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $3,295 as reviewed

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Stellar audio quality
Sleek-looking components

Minus
Android app is pretty basic
iOS app very limited
Doesn’t currently support true high-res listening

THE VERDICT
The speakers sound amazing and the W Studio soundbar is a home run even without its multiroom capabilities, but the limited Play-Fi app for streaming leaves Def Tech’s W system lagging behind the best multiroom systems.

For a while, audio manufacturers seemed resigned to give it the ol’ “lie back and think of England” routine when it came to accepting Sonos as the dominant force in the wireless audio world. Sure, they might not have liked it, but they weren’t offering any compelling alternatives of their own. And while there had been some challengers in the past, most fell well short of the Sonos benchmark and quickly faded.

This tide has changed lately, however, and the war for wireless audio is heating up. Multiple systems are now offering their spin on wireless music distribution and hoping to take a bite out of the Wi-Fi audio pie. And unlike past attempts, several of these new solutions are not only good, they’re great. Darryl Wilkinson recently reviewed two top rivals for Sonos’ throne, Bluesound (S&V, June 2014) and Denon’s HEOS (S&V, January 2015). Now, well-regarded speaker manufacturer Definitive Technology is throwing its hat into the ring by embracing Play-Fi in its new Wireless Collection.

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