WIRELESS SPEAKER REVIEWS

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Michael Berk  |  Dec 01, 2011  |  0 comments

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

John Sciacca  |  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.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Feb 20, 2017  |  0 comments
When JLab Audio launched their new Party Series wireless Bluetooth speakers last month, they quickly created quite a stir. After they won a 2017 CES Innovations award and a 2017 Dealerscope IMPACT! Award, I knew I had to check them out in person. I’m certainly glad I did.

Michael Trei  |  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  |  Oct 11, 2017  |  0 comments
Audio Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $200

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Multiple streaming options via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
Chromecast built-in
Remote control
Minus
Lackluster sound quality

THE VERDICT
The Mondo+ is a versatile internet radio that offers easy access to a multitude of streaming sources, but we expected better sound quality for the price.

My first thought was “clock radio” as I lifted the Mondo+ out of its box. It’s tough to gauge the heft of a product from a picture, so I guess I was expecting something a bit more substantial. Even so, the plastic-encased Mondo+ is nice and compact—about the size of a loaf of bread—and attractive with a smooth gray finish and large color display that serves as a gateway to wireless streaming options and system settings, including—you guessed it—an alarm clock.

Leslie Shapiro  |  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  |  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  |  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  |  Sep 29, 2014  |  2 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  |  Nov 26, 2014  |  5 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  |  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.

Bob Ankosko  |  Jan 24, 2017  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $400

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Great for impromptu gatherings
Easy to transport
Rugged build quality
Plays loud and clear
Water resistant
Minus
A bit bulky/heavy for a portable speaker
Pricey

THE VERDICT
The Bullfrog Jump lives up to Kicker’s reputation for delivering big, bold sound that you can take with you wherever you go.

“That’s an ugly speaker.” Oooh. That’s not what I was expecting to hear when I walked into the family room, Bullfrog Jump in tow. I like the way it looks. Then my son chimed in: “Well, it does sorta look like a space heater.” Hmmm…. He’s got a point, I thought to myself. OK, so it isn’t a work of art. It’s not supposed to be—it’s an outdoor speaker. And a darn good one at that.

SV Staff  |  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  |  Feb 18, 2015  |  0 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  |  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.

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