WIRELESS SPEAKER REVIEWS

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Leslie Shapiro Posted: Nov 11, 2013 0 comments
IK Multimedia has just released its latest product, aimed at musicians and music lovers alike: the iLoud portable speaker. The company claims it is “studio quality” and equips it with a guitar/microphone input. Hmm, “studio quality”—I’ve heard that one before, but I decided to check it out. Is it actually something I would have used in my own recording studio?

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Mar 10, 2014 0 comments
I’ll admit it. I’m over it. Or at least I’m just a little tired of the endless parade of portable Bluetooth speakers that claim to be “stereo.” Sure, if you hold your breath and keep your head positioned precisely in front of the 3-inch wide box, you can almost convince yourself there’s a slight impression of stereo imaging. Worse are systems that claim you can easily pair two devices for true stereo but it turns out that pairing is funky and frustrating and never seems to work. When did stereo become so disposable? The iLuv SyrenPro claimed to be different. Let’s just see about that.

Lauren Dragan Posted: Nov 26, 2014 2 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $300

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Exceptional sound and bass response for the size
Easy to set up, NFC pairing a bonus
Unique design
Minus
Lacks detail of stationary speakers
While portable, still takes up a lot of bag space

THE VERDICT
The One would be my pick for portable/desktop crossover. It’s not tiny, but it’s definitely easy to take with you, and the sound is really fantastic when you take the footprint into account.

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

Another relatively compact portable option, the Infinity One weighs just under 3 pounds and costs $100 more than the Cambridge Audio Go. That $100 is well represented, however, in both added features and sonic quality. With four 1.77-inch drivers and two passive radiators, the One puts out an impressive amount of sound.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Sep 29, 2014 3 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Serious drivers and power
AirPlay, Bluetooth, DLNA
Cool retro styling
Minus
Some connectors inconveniently located
Bright tonal balance, though adjustable

THE VERDICT
JBL’s Authentics L16 is a powerful-sounding triple-threat wireless speaker system—oh, and it’s got a phono input.

If you’re the type who likes to order the biggest hero (hoagie, grinder, po’ boy, or submarine depending on where you live) sandwich you can find with everything on it, JBL’s Authentics L16 may be just the wireless speaker for you. At more than 2 feet wide, it’s a big mama jama. And its wireless connectivity is all-embracing. In addition to a direct device-to-device Bluetooth connection, the L16 supports both Apple AirPlay and DLNA via Wi-Fi, for streaming from just about any smartphone, tablet, or computer. It’s also got the retro angle covered, with cubed sculpted-foam grille cosmetics.

Lauren Dragan Posted: Nov 26, 2014 2 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $600

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Fantastic sound with pleasantly forward bass
Lots of bonus features (including optional cordless Qi device charging)
Sexy retro design
Optical input
Minus
Bass could be a bit much for those who love flat response

THE VERDICT
Perfect for folks with small apartments where space is tough to come by, the L8 is versatile, adaptive, and attractive enough to be front and center of a small audio setup.

How It Connects: Bluetooth, NFC, DLNA, Wi-Fi, Airplay, ⅛” analog, optical.

A true bookshelf speaker packed with extras, the JBL Authentics L8 is the largest model we’ll discuss here, measuring about 26 x 10 x 13 inches and weighing around 16 pounds. So whereas the Go and the One offer portability, the L8 is made to stay put. That said, if you can’t take the L8 with you, there are a lot of ways to bring your audio to the L8.

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Mar 19, 2013 0 comments

It’s that time of year again. Birds are singing, the sun is shining, temperatures are warming, and people are starting to move outdoors again. (Okay, fine, I know I live in Miami, but really, I feel your pain, Buffalo!)  When I go outdoors, I love taking my music with me. JBL has two new products designed to take music to new locales, both indoors and out.

SV Staff Posted: May 08, 2013 0 comments

The KMC 3, Klipsch's first Bluetooth speaker, doesn't look like anything radical, but to our eyes, it's a new paradigm for personal audio. Most of its competitors use Apple's AirPlay wireless audio technology, but the KMC 3 uses Bluetooth, making it compatible with any type of smartphone. Most of its competitors need an AC outlet to operate, but the KMC 3 runs off batteries or AC.

Bob Ankosko Posted: Feb 18, 2015 1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $997 as reviewed (three speaker models plus accessories)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Robust sound from small, medium, and large speakers
Excellent fit and finish
Portable design
Minus
A little pricey
Connection process can be finicky
Tiny transmitter “batons” easy to misplace

THE VERDICT
The Korus wireless speaker system requires almost no setup and delivers excellent sound quality from three different size speakers.

I first learned of Korus last summer at the CE Week press event in New York City. Big sound emanating from small wireless speakers prompted me to stop at the booth for a closer look—and listen. I was impressed. So much so that a couple months later, I found myself doing a hands-on evaluation away from the hustle and bustle of the noisy trade-show floor.

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Mar 07, 2016 4 comments
One of the hottest trends in consumer electronics is multi-room speaker systems. While single, portable Bluetooth speakers are fine for travel and using outdoors, many people are seeking simple and elegant solutions for whole-home listening. The new Libratone Zipp ($300) and Libratone Zipp Mini ($250) are certainly interesting options.

Leslie Shapiro Posted: May 04, 2015 0 comments
Travel companions really have to stand out if they’re going to make the final cut on my packing list. They have to be small, pack a punch, and be fun to have along. The Soen Audio Transit XS (MSRP $180) Bluetooth-enabled portable speaker was begging to come on my next trip—a weekend at the beach. Was this small Bluetooth speaker up for the challenge?

Bob Ankosko Posted: Jul 09, 2014 0 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $900

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Quick setup Bluetooth streaming Impeccable build quality Excellent bass and tonal balance
Minus
Pricey
Restricted soundstage

THE VERDICT
Crescendo is an elegant tabletop music system that shines with vocal and acoustic music, but it might leave you yearning for a broader soundstage.

Let me just get this out of the way right up front: MartinLogan’s Crescendo is a work of art and perhaps the most beautiful tabletop music system on the planet. It’s also not at all what you expect from a company that’s been building fine electrostatic speakers for three decades. But who can fault a company for broadening its horizons and doing it in a way that upholds its long-standing dedication to quality? Crescendo is, after all, a classy addition to the MartinLogan family.

Bob Ankosko Posted: Jul 14, 2016 1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $599

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Stylish, sturdy design
Compact and battery powered
Easy setup, no apps required
Remote control included
Spacious, full-bodied sound
Digital audio input
Minus
Pricey
Not ideal for heavy pop/rock

THE VERDICT
The Core is a remarkable speaker that delivers excellent sound quality for its size, but its price is steep.

My wife thought I was crazy as I walked into the kitchen cradling a speaker while singing along with the Boz Scaggs classic “Look What You’ve Done to Me.” It’s not uncommon for me to serenade the family, but doing so with a “live” speaker in tow, well, that’s unusual even for (the goofball in) me. But that’s one of the things I love about Mass Fidelity’s remarkable Core: It’s so easy to move around. And then there’s the sound—we’ll get to that in a minute.

Bob Ankosko Posted: Jun 17, 2016 3 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $400

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Killer outdoor music system
Super sturdy design
Battery powered
Awesome one-time, “no-fault replacement” policy
Minus
Pricey
Heavy!

THE VERDICT
The Monster Blaster will shock you (and your neighbors) with its powerful sound.

As I removed the Monster Blaster from its box, I felt like I was lifting a dumbbell from the rack. Seriously, the thing weighs about 17 pounds, and it’s built like a tank, ready for the rough and tumble of outdoor use.

And when I say rough and tumble, I’m not kidding. If you buy the Blaster from monsterproducts.com, it’s covered by a lifetime warranty with “one time, no-fault replacement.” As Monster explains on its website: “If the Blaster has any issues (your fault or ours), return the product and get a replacement.” Buy it elsewhere, and you get the one-year standard warranty.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Apr 26, 2010 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $1,098 (as reviewed)

At A Glance: Robust wireless communication between devices • Supports most audio codecs except Apple FairPlay DRM-protected and WMA lossless • Access to numerous online audio-subscription services • ZonePlayers can stream local analog sources to other zonesI’ve often thought it would be nice to have music in multiple rooms of the house; but, as I’ve alluded, my home is not custom install friendly. I decided that a wireless multiroom system would definitely be the best bet. Sonos, a company that focuses exclusively on wireless multiroom audio, has a system that’s designed to do just thatŃand moreŃin up to 32 independent zones without breaking the bank or tearing down any walls. After I read the endearing tag line, “Wireless that works like magic,” I thought, what better time or place could there be to check out Sonos’ latest system incarnation? So I asked Sonos to send out its Bundle 150 two-zone package ($999 ) plus a ZoneBridge and let the fun begin.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jun 26, 2012 7 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $600 At a Glance: 2.1 independently amped channels • Bluetooth and dock connectivity • Tweaked by Paul Barton

The NAD VISO 1 was an immediate hit in my household from the moment it was uncrated. Between my roommate and myself, it received Bluetooth input from an iPad 2, iPhone 4, and iPod touch 2G. The dock played host to two iPod nano 6Gs and two nano 2Gs in addition to the nano 5G actually used for formal demos. Though not portable in the strictest sense—it won’t slip easily into a briefcase or carry-on—the system was still movable, and eager hands shifted it from living room to bedroom to kitchen. It was pressed into service to provide music for ballet exercises, cooking, reading, and bedtime listening.

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