WIRELESS SPEAKER REVIEWS

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Bob Ankosko Posted: Nov 17, 2016 0 comments

Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $299

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Elegant styling
Top-notch build quality
Bluetooth and Wi-Fi streaming up to 192 kHz/24 bit
Remarkably full sound from a compact speaker
Minus
Can sound a tad bright
Not battery-powered
Rudimentary app

THE VERDICT
Oppo’s Sonica is an elegant and versatile wireless speaker whose superb sound belies its small footprint.

As I waited in anticipation for Sonica to arrive, I was reminded of an old ad slogan: “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen.” It’s kinda that way with Oppo. Over the past 12 years, the Silicon Valley–based company has built a stellar reputation with its best-in-class Blu-ray players and Top Pick–designated headphones and amp/DACs. I couldn’t wait to see if Oppo had extended its golden touch to wireless speakers—a category with more than its fair share of duds. My expectations were high.

Michael Trei Posted: Aug 18, 2016 2 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,199

AT A GLANCE
Plus
True surround sound without the wiring hassles
Quick and easy setup
Hi-res wireless audio transmission
Minus
No Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD Master Audio decoding
Remote is difficult to use
Lots of wall-wart power supplies to plug in

THE VERDICT
By eliminating the hassle of running speaker cables for a 5.1-channel system, the CineHome HD delivers a true, fuss-free surround experience that no single-point soundbar can match. While its feature set is pretty basic, that simplicity will likely be a plus for its targeted customers.

Here at Sound & Vision, we like to think of ourselves as hard-core home theater enthusiasts, so it’s difficult for us to fathom why average people don’t want to jump through hoops to set up a complete 5.1-channel surround system. Sure, you’d need to find space for an A/V receiver and a pile of speakers—plus you’d have to hook up a bunch of wires and thumb through a stack of onscreen menus to get everything properly configured and adjusted—but that’s all part of the fun, right?

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 0 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: Jun 07, 2016 1 comments

PW 800 Speaker
Performance
Build Quality
Ergonomics
Value

PW Amp Amplifier
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value

PW 600 Speaker
Performance
Build Quality
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,897 as reviewed

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Excellent build and sound quality
192-kHz/24-bit support over Ethernet
Anthem Room Correction with included mic
Minus
Limited number of streaming services
Single orientation for PW speakers
Components can’t be powered on via the app
Play-Fi control and proximity limitations

THE VERDICT
Limited streaming options and a few limitations for its Play-Fi multiroom platform are the only things that hold back this beautifully designed system with top-notch room-correction technology.

At last count, 1.34 bazillion established companies and crazed startups were designing wireless streaming audio systems. The latest company to toss its Wi-Fi dongle into the steaming streaming pile is Paradigm. Founded in 1982, the Toronto-based speaker company is no starry-eyed Kickstarter sensation hell-bent on streaming multiroom audio using a Raspberry Pi, an Altoids tin box, and numerous references to the Internet of Things. In fact, as well known as Paradigm is, the company should know better than to sully their engineering hands (they actually do build a lot of their speakers by hand in Toronto) with the interference-ridden mishmash of 802.11g/n standards, amplified speakers, audio codecs, sample rates, apps, and “What’s the best router to use?” On the other hand, maybe Paradigm—with its new Premium Wireless series—has actually succeeded in building a premium, wireless, streamingaudio system.

Rob Sabin Posted: Jun 03, 2016 0 comments
Prior to a decade ago, having distributed music around your house usually meant calling a custom installer to put in hundreds of feet of cable, multiple pairs of in-ceiling or in-wall speakers, and racks of amplifiers. You’d get keypads on your walls that could control, just barely, your distant sources via IR. There was no metadata feedback to select a particular song; you might have been able to advance to the next track on your CD player or dial up a different preset station on your FM tuner, but not much more. The cost for this was, well, prohibitive. Multiroom audio, for a long time, was strictly a rich man’s game.
Al Griffin Posted: Jun 03, 2016 1 comments
When you hear the term wireless speakers, chances are you think of Sonos. There’s good reason for that. Sonos staked out the wireless speaker category early on, establishing a solid product line known for reliable performance, engaging sound, and a user-friendly app that controls speakers in multiple rooms around the home. It also didn’t hurt that Sonos had the marketing budget in recent years for Super Bowl commercials—not exactly something that audio manufacturers are known for doing.
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.

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Mar 07, 2016 0 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.

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.

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Feb 15, 2016 2 comments
They say that size matters. With audio products, it is often the case: bigger speakers, bigger amplifiers, and bigger batteries can often translate into better sound and added convenience. The Nyne Rock boombox is one of the biggest and most powerful portable Bluetooth speakers we’ve seen in a long time. Let’s see if bigger truly is better.

Lauren Dragan Posted: Jan 23, 2016 1 comments
Following the success of their portable Bluetooth speaker, the Turbo X, Riva has decided to go even more compact with their latest introduction, the S. Smaller, lighter, and complete with a ballistic nylon carrying case, the S is just as attractive as the X; made for on the go. But Riva’s S has more up it’s sleeve than just being the Turbo X’s little brother.
Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 19, 2016 7 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $499

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Auto-senses and adjusts output for vertical and horizontal orientations
Trueplay room EQ
Capacitance touch controls with audible feedback
Pure butt-kicking sound
Minus
Slight high-frequency edginess when used vertically
Tiny feet bumps are visible on sides of speaker

THE VERDICT
The Sonos PLAY:5 gets a radical makeover that adds $100 to the price but combines an amazing user experience with stunning audio performance.

Here’s the bad news: After six years, Sonos has stopped making the company’s first and, until now, best all-in-one wireless speaker system, the PLAY:5. Now for the good news: Sonos has a replacement for the PLAY:5 called…wait for it…the PLAY:5. (Confusing, I know.) At $499, though, the new PLAY:5 is $100 more than the original. For multiple reasons, the original PLAY:5 was my all-around favorite wireless speaker. Will its replacement prove worthy of its heritage—and the higher price?

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Dec 01, 2015 3 comments

Stereo Cubes Speaker
Performance
Build Quality
Value
One S Speaker
Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $2,944 as reviewed

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Intuitive, easy-to-use app
Classy, minimalist cosmetics
Supports up to 192-kHz/24-bit files
Minus
No Bluetooth or AirPlay
Only four currently supported online music services
No subwoofer outputs

THE VERDICT
The Raumfeld system’s excellent-sounding active/passive speakers, ability to handle hi-res audio, and very intuitive app make it a top-notch competitor and a standout in a category that’s spawning a plethora of me-too Sonos imitators.

It’s mandatory at the beginning of any wireless streaming audio system review to mention Sonos. The company is a Goliath that launched the category more than a decade ago and now dominates it. The reason is simple: Sonos gear sounds good, is reliable, and is about as easy to use as it gets. That doesn’t mean, of course, that Sonos is perfection incarnate, nor is it totally without flaws. (There are chinks in every suit of armor.) But you do have to feel at least a modicum of pity for any manufacturer that decides to pick up a slingshot and take aim at the Sonos colossus.

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.

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