Bluetooth Speaker Reviews

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Leslie Shapiro  |  Nov 06, 2017  |  0 comments
Voice-activated speakers are hitting the market hot and heavy with everyone vying to be the only system you’ll invest in. Amazon is hoping you’ll pick Alexa, and Cortana is hoping to get some traction in the market. Once you’re a Google family, odds are you’ll stay there. To that end, JBL just released a new line of Google Assistant voice-activated speakers, and the LINK 20 is the perfect balance of features, sound quality, and portability. Yup — that’s right — a voice-assistant that’s not only portable, it’s waterproof too so it can go anywhere.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Oct 23, 2017  |  0 comments
When a company known for making very good speakers and receivers comes out with the first Cortana-based smart speaker, it better sound good. Did it? Nope — it sounded great!

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  |  Sep 26, 2018  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $330

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Excellent sound quality
Compact and well-built
Easy to set up and use
Great value
Minus
No Wi-Fi streaming
No visual feedback
No grille cover

THE VERDICT
Kanto’s SYD is a simple, high-performance Bluetooth speaker that will wow you with rich, powerful sound that belies its size.

I could tell SYD was a serious speaker the moment I heard Joni Mitchell singing “A Case of You” from 1971’s Blue. Her angelic voice was mesmerizing in a way I didn’t expect from a speaker this size, not to mention a 47-year-old recording — and I was streaming from my phone.

Daniel Kumin  |  Sep 25, 2019  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $799/pair

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Remarkable bass extension and output
All-in-one solution including phono input
Noteworthy treble clarity and definition
Minus
Soundstage depth less dramatic than some designs
Tiny input labeling

THE VERDICT
With analog, digital, wireless Bluetooth, turntable, and USB computer connections, Kanto's great-sounding TUK powered bookshelf speaker is ready to rock right out of the box.

Kanto is a Canadian firm barely a decade old that specializes in powered loudspeakers. The company has established substantial cred for its active desktop and bookshelf speaker lines, both of which deliver high value and widely noted performance. Now, with a new model called TUK, the company is moving up-range in market-segment, size, and price. Also, utility: TUK is an all-in-one powered-speaker solution, with a phono-preamp, an asynchronous USB DAC, a headphone amp, preamp controls, a subwoofer crossover, and amplification all built right in.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Dec 22, 2017  |  1 comments

Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $480

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Phono, line, optical, Bluetooth inputs
Subwoofer output
Wide choice of colors
Minus
USB not PC-friendly

THE VERDICT
If you’re looking to plug your turntable directly into a good-looking and functional pair of speakers, the Kanto YU6 will make it work—and sound great.

Why shouldn’t life be simpler? If there’s one thing your studio apartment, dorm room, bedroom, or guest bedroom doesn’t need, it’s an audio rack with a tangle of cables. But going without music would be barbaric. So how simple do you need to get? If a bare-bones Bluetooth speaker isn’t enough, a pair of powered speakers might make more sense. You’d have a stereo soundstage without the fuss of an outboard amp and rack.

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.

Bob Ankosko  |  Dec 27, 2017  |  0 comments
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $799

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Solid build quality
Handsome fit and finish
Easy setup
Good overall sound quality with bountiful bass
Minus
No Wi-Fi streaming
No tone controls
Disappointing phono preamp

THE VERDICT
Klipsch’s beautifully crafted Sixes deliver fine sound with the bonus of onboard power, but vinyl playback is shortchanged by its pedestrian phono preamp.

I’ve been talking about pulling my old turntable out of mothballs since I moved to my current home, oh…20 years ago. Which is why I jumped at the chance when asked if I had any interest in auditioning The Sixes, the latest entry in Klipsch’s Heritage Wireless series and big brother to The Three, the superb all-in-one wireless music system we reviewed in May. I know what you’re thinking: What does reviewing speakers have to do with setting up a turntable? Bear with me.

Leslie Shapiro  |  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  |  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.

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