WIRELESS SPEAKER REVIEWS

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Bob Ankosko Posted: May 25, 2017 0 comments

Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $400

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Impeccable fit and finish
Streaming via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Excellent sound

Solid bass
Remote control
Minus
App could be more intuitive
Wish there was a display window

THE VERDICT
The Three melds retro style with modern sound in a beautifully crafted tabletop stereo.

I’m not gonna lie. When I first saw a press photo of the Three, I was immediately taken with its elegant retro styling—the wraparound grille, the walnut top…those copper control knobs. I wanted one.

Evoking what Klipsch calls the “mid-century” design legacy of its late founder Paul W. Klipsch, the Three boasts impeccably finished walnut panels, a knit grille, and a copper strip with two knobs—one for volume, the other for source selection—plus something you don’t expect to see on modern gear: a toggle switch. Positively retro. Behind the classic façade is a stereo pair of 2.25-inch drivers that flank a 5.25-inch woofer. Klipsch has also incorporated two 5.25-inch passive radiators—one on each end of the enclosure—to boost bass output.

Rob Sabin Posted: May 11, 2017 1 comments
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $1,000 ea

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Classic McIntosh styling
DTS Play-Fi compatibility
Excellent sound quality
Minus
Quirky Play-Fi app
Grille isn’t acoustically transparent
No Bluetooth
Pricey

THE VERDICT
It’s hardly cheap, but McIntosh’s wireless speaker will satisfy your inner audiophile in more ways than one.

My UPS delivery guy—after having me sign for a pair of McIntosh RS100 wireless speakers, whose brand labeling was plainly evident—couldn’t resist commenting before walking off with a wink and a smile: “Have fun with those!”

Bob Ankosko Posted: Apr 18, 2017 0 comments
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $599

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Solid build quality
Powered by AC or battery
Integral handle
Minus
Disappointing sound quality
Expensive

THE VERDICT
The Adcom Luna has style and pizzazz but falls short of the competition on sound quality.

Luna is not your father’s Adcom. As the first speaker to bear the familiar red logo, from a relatively recent licensee of the venerable old brand, it has no common heritage with the fine power amplifiers and preamplifiers on which the original company built its name in the ’80s and ’90s, except for its dominant color—black.

Leslie Shapiro Posted: 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.

Bob Ankosko Posted: 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 Posted: Dec 23, 2016 1 comments

Duetto
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value

Solo
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $299 (Solo), $399 (Duetto)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Versatile
Solid build quality
Streaming via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi
Impressive sound
Intuitive app plus traditional remote
Minus
Wish it was battery-powered

THE VERDICT
Como Audio's Solo and Duetto look good, sound great, and are loaded with features.

Don’t be fooled by the clock-radio appearance of the Solo or Duetto. Yes, there is a clock with dual alarms and, yes, there is an FM radio—but these extras barely scratch the surface of what these mini marvels can do. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a compact music system that’s as versatile or sounds as good as the Duetto or Solo from Como Audio.

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.

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.

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