Hot on the heels of Bowers & Wilkins first Bluetooth speaker comes a first from Bang & Olufsen as well, and frankly, we don’t think either will disappoint. Larger than most but still relatively thin and portable, the BeoPlay A2 boasts an extruded aluminum body, a removable leather strap, and a triad of speakers on either side, being a pair of 3/4″ tweeters, two 3″ full-range drivers, and two 3″ passive bass radiators. In terms of connectivity, Bluetooth 4.0 with aptX handles most streaming needs, though an auxiliary line-in covers older gadgets while a USB port lets music play while simultaneously charging your device. That said, it doesn’t sport a speakerphone nor is it equipped to deal with harsher conditions like some of its rivals, but its 24 hour battery and room-filling True360 sound are all that matter if its the music you’re after.
The sheer amount of selection when it comes to portable Bluetooth speakers has left us rather critical, but any entry from Bowers & Wilkins has earned our attention. The T7 is B&W’s smallest wireless system yet, sized to quickly slip away into a bag or backpack. Its distinctive Micro Matrix honeycomb structure braces the speaker cabinet and reduce vibrations to let the system’s dual 50mm drivers and twin bass radiators do their work in packing a serious punch. It also boasts Bluetooth aptX for quality streaming, a Hi-Fi DAC, and 18 hours of battery life, more than enough for just about any event.
Learn more at Bowers & Wilkins – $350
The iPhone’s 6 speakers may be better than its predecessor’s, but that doesn’t say much about either. If you value portable sound, Amp is for you. This snap case adds a bit of height to your device but more than makes up for it with two powerful 14 x 20 mm drivers that pump out immersive audio in a manner not unlike some wireless speakers. Moreover, Amp also packs along a Cortex-M4, a 24-bit DAC, a headphone amp, and Dynamic Noise Reduction to improve audio quality piping through your headphones while compensating for noises in your environment. And to avoid shortening playtime, Amp boasts a built-in backup battery to power its electronics and your device, actually extending battery life by 25%.
Preorder at Amp Audio – $70
Parrot’s original Zik headphones were already impressive what with their combination of Bluetooth capabilities, active noise cancelation, and a jawbone conductor for cleaning up sound quality. With subtler looks once again designed by Philippe Starck, Zik 2.0 is 17% lighter than its predecessor and even more impressive. Features include noise cancellation that’s driven by six microphones around the headset, seemingly magical touch sensitive gesture recognition on the right faux-leather cup to control music or place calls without fiddling around with buttons, and uncompromising sound quality thanks to 32 bit digital audio processing plus 40mm neodymium drivers. Its app is also getting a makeover, now boasting a highly customizable equalizer — which can even be tuned for individual songs — and their optional Concert Hall effect that simulates more natural, directional sound. And since driving all these features takes a lot of juice, Zik’s removable li-ion battery lasts up to 18 hours in flight mode and charges up from zero to full in two and a half hours.
Check out the full lineup of colors at Parrot – $TBA
By no means must you spend a grand to bolster your television’s meager sound. But should you choose to, Libratone’s Diva is sure to please both your eyes and ears. With a face that’s entirely concealed by Pepper Black wool and a curved shape that diverges from the angular norm, the Diva boasts — importantly — 225 Watts worth of speakers, including dual 1-inch tweeters, two 3-inch midranges, and a 5-inch 75W subwoofer. It’s also primed to be your primary sound system even when the TV’s off thanks to AirPlay and DLNA compatibility, Bluetooth 4.0 with aptX, quick NFC pairing, and built-in clamshell-shaped reflectors that fill even larger rooms with sound. And if the dark wool face doesn’t suit your pad, just unzip it and swap it out with another one from Libratone’s wide range of color options.
Read the press release at Libratone – $TBA but probably roughly $1,000
At a concert or a game, it’s often tricky to find just the right sweet spot using earplugs that allows for hearing clearly without sustaining some degree of permanent hearing loss. Doppler Labs’ Dubs Acoustic Filters aim to do just that while looking like something you’d actually wear. These reusable earplugs employ a 17-piece Dynamic Attenuation filter, a passive mechanical system that reduces volume while preserving the sound’s balance and clarity to let you fully enjoy the show, just at a lower volume. Throw in premium materials including silicone, polymer foam plus a cold rolled steel body, and we’ll gladly shell out 25 bones for a pair.
Can a cube a fraction the size of a traditional soundbar — let alone a set of stereo speakers — truly fill a well-sized room with booming sound? Mass Fidelity seems to think so, as do several reviewers, about their Core wireless speaker. While it’s slightly bigger than its truly portable counterparts, Core uses Acoustic Holography technology and Wave Field Synthesis to makes it sound like two distinct speakers without a specific sweet spot, meaning it sounds great from any listener’s perspective. And unlike other small speakers, it also produces bone-shaking bass, boasts a slew of connectivity options (including optical, auxiliary, and Bluetooth with aptX codec), plus 12 hours of battery life, making it just as proficient for home theatre use as it is for streaming audio.
Learn more at Mass Fidelity or preorder at IndieGoGo – $389
Bose is the undisputed leader in acoustic noise cancelling headphones, but their previous industrial-looking designs were a little too busy for our liking. Enter the QuietComfort 25. Continuing from where their QuietComfort 15 left off, the QC25 was re-engineered for deeper, more powerful sound, improved noise cancellation, and a sleeker design that’s more accommodating, comfortable, and just as lightweight as ever. A single AAA battery gives off enough juice to run these cans for 35 hours straight, though if it runs flat you can still listen, albeit without any active noise cancellation. It also boasts an inline mic plus remote, folding hinges to pack away tightly in the included case, and a huge range of customizable Colorware color options — for a price.
Learn more at Bose – $300 ($400 for custom colors)
Beats and Apple may have fused, but that won’t silence one of the former’s cofounders, who’s trying his hand at radically reworking our vision of the earphone into one that’s worn all day long around the neck. The Ropes’ aluminum cubic design runs through all its components including both earpieces, its three-button mic, and splitter pendant, which also houses batteries, electronics, and a spare 3.5mm jack for sharing your music with a friend. Roam’s Noise Equalization also creates an attenuated listening environment, perfect for setting the conditions for their professed stellar sound quality shine through. And thanks to Bluetooth plugging them into your device is entirely optional.
Learn more at Roam – $300
Considering the options, settling on a Bluetooth speaker can seem daunting. Still, Soen’s giving the competition a run for their money with their latest, the XS. This 1-inch thin speaker boasts build- and sound quality far above its price point, boasting a sleek design, rubberized body, and cutting edge audio technologies that pack a surprising punch given its diminutive size. A 1/4″ tripod mount on its back helps attach to all sorts of things, like a bike, bag, or tripod with Soen’s optional accessories (or a GorillaPod), and a splash resistant design plus 8 hour battery mean it won’t be left on the sidelines when opportunities to use it outdoors crop up.
Find it in five colors at Kickstarter – $75+