Leslie Shapiro

Leslie Shapiro  |  Sep 01, 2021  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $100

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Great value
Impressive dialogue clarity
Voice Assistant input
Minus
Lacks bass impact
Complicated LED display
Narrow soundstage

THE VERDICT
With its strikingly clear dialogue delivery, Vizio's V21d-J8 might just be the best $100 soundbar you can buy.

Whoever complained that you get what you pay for never listened to Vizio's V21d-J8. The company's latest 2.1-channel soundbar is a $100 entry-level model offering strikingly clear sound. Although the V21d-J8 lacks a dedicated subwoofer, it delivers a fair amount of upper-bass impact. For the price, it can't be beat.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Apr 21, 2021  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $169 (Shadow Black or Lunar White)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Rich, warm, sound
Impressive bass
Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and AirPlay 2
IP67 water- and dust-proof
Minus
Lacks treble clarity at high volumes
Pricey for a portable speaker

THE VERDICT
If portability and sound quality are important to you, the Sonos Roam smart speaker is an outstanding choice.

When a company known for inventing the multiroom speaker announces a new fully portable model, we sit up and take notice. The new Sonos Roam ($169) is an ultra-compact, IP67 water- and dust-proof smart speaker that weighs less than one pound and links with your phone or tablet via Bluetooth 5.0. But that's not the whole story. The Roam can also connect with your home Sonos ecosystem, automatically making the switch between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi as you come and go.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Mar 10, 2021  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $130

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Long battery life
Comfortable fit
Compatible with SonarWorks SoundID app
Minus
Complicated LED indicators
No track controls on touchpads
Sound quality reduction with ANC off

THE VERDICT
Affordable true wire- less earbuds that work with the SonarWorks SoundID app might seem too good to be true, but that’s exactly what you get with the Monolith M-TWE.

Monoprice is an affordable direct-to-consumer brand, and its Monolith product line features sophisticated A/V gear including speakers, amps, surround sound processors, and now the new Monolith M-TWE earbuds. The M-TWE touts aptX Bluetooth audio, active noise cancellation (with cVc Echo Cancelling and Noise Suppression for phone calls), and SonorWorks SoundID, a feature that lets you customize sound to your preference, all at a very budget-friendly $130.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Feb 10, 2021  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $749 (Black Matte or White)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Impressive kick from a slim, elegant cabinet
Refined sound
Extensive control via smartphone app
Minus
No remote control
No auto-calibration/room EQ feature

THE VERDICT
Designed to work with or without Bluesound’s Pulse soundbar, the new Pulse Sub+ is a bigger and better take on the company’s original Pulse subwoofer.

What's the one thing lacking in even the best soundbar? If you said "deep, realistic, room-filling, floor-pounding bass," then you are absolutely correct. Bluesound is known for its wireless multiroom audio components and speakers, a family that includes the Pulse soundbar.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Oct 14, 2020  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $499

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Immersive 3D audio mode
Chromecast-built in plus Bluetooth
Stylish, wireless subwoofer
Minus
Imaging can be vague with stereo music
Remote control hard to read

THE VERDICT
Polk Audio’s elegantly simple and affordable MagniFi 2 delivers expansive sound from a system with a relatively small footprint.

Polk Audio's new MagniFi 2 soundbar hits a sweet spot of affordability, performance, and convenience. It features Polk's patented SDA Stereo Dimensional Array technology to enhance stereo imaging, a 3D Mode that adds virtual height and surround effects, and a Voice Adjust feature to boost dialogue levels in movies and TV shows.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Sep 30, 2020  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $999

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Rechargeable, fully wireless surrounds
Upfiring speakers for overhead effects
Easy to use auto-calibration
HDMI with eARC and Dolby Vision pass-through
Minus
Smart Mode processing difficult to switch on/off

THE VERDICT
The JBL Bar 9.1 system combines soundbar convenience with a level of immersive performance only achievable through dedicated surround and overhead effects speakers.

The JBL Bar 9.1 soundbar system provides one of the easiest ways to get a realistic Dolby Atmos and DTS:X immersive audio experience. JBL's secret? The Bar 9.1 uses a pair of detachable wireless, battery-operated surround speakers that can be situated anyplace in the room that's convenient. In addition, the Bar 9.1 has an auto-calibration feature that will adjust the sound to compensate for speaker placement.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Apr 14, 2020  |  0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Comfort
Value
PRICE $329.95

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Solid build quality
Spacious imaging
Natural treble response
Minus
Bass could be smoother
Heavy
No inline controls on cable

THE VERDICT
With a unique wood-dome diaphragm, JVC’s HA-FW01 in-ear headphones deliver a clean sound that shines with acoustic music, particularly classical.

When our illustrious editor Al Griffin suggested that I review the JVC HA-FW01 in-ear headphones, he mentioned that they were "fancy." What could possibly be so fancy about headphones? As it turned out, the HA-FW01 has a gorgeous look, with a dark wood housing and rose-gold accents, but it's what's inside that really makes them fancy.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Feb 19, 2020  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $999

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Very good dialogue intelligibility
Wide stereo imaging
Multiple color options
Minus
Lacks front indicator lights
Pricey

THE VERDICT
The DALI Katch One 2.0 soundbar combines impressive TV sound with an attractive design and multiple color options.

DALI (Danish Audiophile Loudspeaker Industries) isn't a well-known brand in the United States, but the company may get more notice once word of its Katch One soundbar gets out. Stylish and simple, DALI's soundbar ($999) strikes an interesting balance between price and sound quality—it's undeniably pricey, but since the Katch One fulfills the promise of an audiophile loudspeaker, you get what you pay for.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Nov 19, 2019  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $150

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Decent sound for the price
Slim, wireless subwoofer
Bluetooth for music streaming
Minus
Confusing LED display
Lacks deep bass
Hard-to-read remote control

THE VERDICT
Vizio's 2.1 soundbar system with wireless subwoofer delivers better sound than built-in TV speakers without breaking the bank.

Vizio's latest soundbar is a compact system with a wireless subwoofer that sells for $150. If you just spent big bucks on a new TV and realized that its built-in audio is horrific, this 2.1 package will deliver significantly better sound without consuming what remains of your budget.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Oct 29, 2019  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $399

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Fabulous sound quality
Replaceable battery
Supports Alexa and Google Assistant
Convenient charging base
Minus
Mono playback
Audio input limited to wireless
No phone capability

THE VERDICT
The waterproof/dustproof Move is one of the best-sounding and full-featured portables available. It may just be my new favorite speaker.

Sonos is no stranger to compact speakers that play without wires, but the new Move ($399) is the first truly portable, battery powered model to come from the company. The Move's connectivity options let you tote it around the house and even outside when using Wi-Fi; beyond that, as long as it's charged up, you can take it anywhere and stream music via Bluetooth. The Move comes with a dedicated (and dare we say, stylish) charging base that eliminates fumbling around with connecting cables, and it can also be charged via USB-C (cable not included).

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