Discovering new music isn’t the simplest of things. But that’s exactly what it should be, and Aether thinks they’ve figured out how to make it so with Cone, a stunning speaker that mates plastic with copper plus a 3-inch woofer and dual tweeters. With an ear for what you want, Cone takes note of songs skipped or not and presents you with music from amongst millions of tracks, all played seamlessly and instantly without the need to sift through countless channels, genres, or the like. Turn the dial to start playing, turn it again to skip, tap its center to pause, or talk to it like you would Siri. Of course, it’ll also play podcasts and music from your existing playlists over AirPlay for 8 hours per charge, meaning Cone will still see use even if your dials are set to predictable.
Check it out at Aether – $400
Even with a suction mount, fidgeting with Google Maps or skipping tracks on your iPhone can be more than a little dangerous, or end with you getting slapped with a big fat ticket in some states. And soon you might not have to thanks to CarPlay, Apple’s new interface that seamlessly couples your device to entertainment systems of most major car manufacturers. Full Siri capabilities at the touch of a steering wheel-mounted button, seamless Maps integration, plus full music and Podcast access are just a few of CarPlay’s prominent features, though you’ll need to buy CarPlay-equipped car first.
Shipping on select models later this year. Read the press release at Apple – $TBA
There’s a strong association between acoustics and aesthetics when it comes to high fidelity audio, and while that doesn’t entail causality neither are absent from Grain Audio’s Passive Bookshelf Speaker. Each pair is enveloped in FSC-certified solid walnut and a metal grill, boasting a natural sound curve that helps preserve sound as the artist-intended, something that’s too much to hope for with certain other popular brands. A 5.25-inch neodymium woofer in each speaker maxes out at 75 watts, meaning they’ll continue commanding attention across two senses.
Find it at Grain Audio – $800
The term Smart headphones is probably not one you’re familiar with, but the concept is straightforward: pack functionality – as much as modern day technology will permit, anyway – into a pair of cans. Executing this idea, of course, isn’t exactly a piece of cake, but Bragi may just pull it off with Dash. These lightweight wireless earbuds ditch tangle-prone wires, instead packing a 100 mAh battery in each unit to squeeze out roughly 3-4 hours of play time over Bluetooth, or straight from their 4GB on-board memory if you’re without phone. Throw in an Ear Bone mic for answering calls, a 3-axis accelerometer to track physical activity, passive sound insulation via sized silicone sleeves, a 5 field capacitive sensor for touch control (fiddle with the right bud for music and the left for tracking), heart rate & oxygen saturation sensors, plus 1 meter depth of water resistance, and Dash may just well be worth its price tag.
Go pledge at Kickstarter – $200
Most earbuds barely endure the harsh environment that is the inside of a backpack, let alone getting slammed by a 30 pound mallet. But then, most buds aren’t milled from titanium, fitted with anchored Kevlar tri-weave cables, and rated waterproof to IP65 standards like Aurisonics’ Rockets. Obviously, extreme durability would be moot without sound quality to match, so Rockets sport 5.1mm drivers and four sizes of SureSeal sound isolating tips that block out 24 dB of unwanted noise. Throw in patented tri-tab silicone retention collars and you’ve got a pair of buds perfectly suited to active and sedentary lifestyles alike.
Hurry up and pledge at Kickstarter – $150
Everyone knows that craftsmanship makes all the difference when it comes to music. A fine Steinway piano, a Stradivarius violin or an original Les Paul, all sound better than their garage sale counterparts. Enter one of the finest crafted audio listening devices ever made, the Meze 11 Deco. Each Meze features passive sound insulation thanks to fitted silicone earbuds, a handcrafted beech wood enclosure, 8mm Neodymium drivers for crystal clear sound, and a gold-plated 3.5mm plug that keeps the connection clear. The tangle-free cord with integrated microphone just perpetuates its striking design.
Check them out at Meze Headphones – $80
Its name might be more than a mouthful, but then so is Soundmatters’ foxL DASH 7′s sound quality. This ultraportable speaker is just 3/4 of an inch thick, perfect for slipping into a small bag or big pocket and making it the slimmest, lightest Hi-Fi Bluetooth device currently on the market. Its secret is the use of two wafer-thin Soundmatters Twoofers – tweeters that double as woofers – that output crisp, clear and wide-ranging sound for up to 12 hours per charge. It also doubles as a noise-cancelling speakerphone should your listening be interrupted by a phone call, sports a 3.5mm auxiliary port for wired (and thus higher quality) playback, and pairs with the foxLO portable Subwoofer for further extended acoustic range.
Available in midnight black, vibrant red or arctic white at Amazon – $220
Grado makes fantastic headphones, but their usual black-on-black designs might be considered understated to some. Enter their collab project with Bushmills, a pair of headphones based around the same high-end drivers and acoustics that built up the Grado name but within an re-envisioned enclosure rather unlike their usual spartan norm. Designed in part by Elijah Wood, these limited-edition cans feature bodies crafted from reclaimed whiskey barrels, complemented by a brown leather headband and packaged in a wooden outer box. Of course, Grado’s humbler offerings sound just as good, but these are just plain hard to resist.
Have your eye on a particular model of Jawbone’s excellent Jambox lineup? Expand its usage potential with optional add on Liquipel treatment. Liquipel’s watersafe coating renders your Jambox more resilient to water, essentially attaining IPX5 waterproofing levels (or, to be more specific, it’s “water projected at all angles through a 6.3mm nozzle at a flow rate of 12.5 liters/min at a pressure of 30kN/m2 for 3 minutes from a distance of 3 meters”). Sure, it won’t save your Jambox should it fall into a pool or hot tub, but at least you can rest a little easier knowing it’ll shrug off splashes like a boss.
Compatible with both Jambox and Mini Jambox. Learn more at Jawbone – $50 add-on
Even if you can’t figure out how to change your ringtone, you can still get dynamic sound and rich tone from your iPhone or jumbo sized iPhone…er…iPad. The HiddenRadio2 is probably the simplest, yet most advanced wireless Bluetooth multispeaker ever developed. Its stunningly minimalistic design removes any distractions, making this diminutive dynamo all about the music, just like the original. Most small speakers produce good high end frequency performance with sparse bass; conversely, large speakers provide bass, but little high frequency range. The HiddenRadio2 combines the best of both worlds with dual speakers and custom software, allowing heavy lows and flying highs. It’s also got new touch-sensitive cap that, when touched, raises the cover to expose the speaker, and lets you play, pause, adjust the volume, skip forward/reverse, even answer a phone call or active Siri. And if one speaker isn’t enough, two HR2s can link up to one same phone (facilitated, for Android phones anyway, by HR2′s NFC capabilities), allowing for a readily portable stereo configuration that works just about anywhere.
Learn more here – $150