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
Bluetooth speakers vary greatly in sound quality, but in essence they’re all revisions of the same small boxy design. Gramovox, on the other hand, couldn’t be any more unconventional. Based around a handsome CNC’d walnut or maple base, Gramovox is unmistakable thanks to its stunning acoustically optimized steel horn, a 3:4 scale reproduction of the 1920s Magnavox, that blasts out a more organic vintage sound. Its base is capped by a 3D printed plate that’s fixed to the unit’s electronics, which include a Bluetooth 3.0 module, a mono 3W driver, plus a large 3,300 mAh Li-Ion battery good for up to 15 hours of play time.
Learn more at Kickstarter – $250
It’s no secret that our portable device’s batteries are lagging behind all their other components. They waste valuable space, take forever to charge, and only last for a few hundred cycles. While Blueshift’s Helium won’t address the former, it’s in another league when it comes to the latter two. Running on supercapacitors instead of lithium cells, Helium charges to full in a short five minutes, good for six hours of play time, and can be charged and discharged roughly half a million (read: effectively unlimited) times before giving out. Otherwise, these speakers feature Bluetooth receives, 3.5mm auxiliary inputs, and come in two flavors – mono and stereo – each equipped with either one or two 4″ full-ranged drivers.
Go pledge at CrowdSupply – $350+
From an acoustics perspective, a Bluetooth speaker can do better than sit on the nearest piece of furniture with a flat top surface. This concept, combined with the withholding of a battery, makes Proper Audio’s PA1 a little different than most Bluetooth units gracing these pages. Deceptively simple in style and function, PA1 sports just a single button to turn it on, off, and for Bluetooth pairing, with a memory that retains up to 5 devices. In terms of hardware, PA1 packs dual 20W drivers and a high pass tweeter – made possible thanks to the use of a power cord instead of batteries – all jammed within an attractive anodized aluminum housing. And, of course, we can’t overlook its selling point: it mounts securely to a wall or stand using the universal Wallee X-Lock mount disks, letting you install it in places optimal for filling a room with sound.
Hit up Kickstarter for deets – $150
There’s more than one reason why wood is the material of choice in constructing quality audio wares. Sure, it’s acoustically favorable, but it’s also aesthetically pleasing, far more so than standard plastic enclosures. LSTN took this to heart, featuring wood in every single pair of their over-ear, on-ear and earbud headphones. Their Bowerys earbuds feature three sizes of silicon eartips for a proper fit, passively dampening outside noise to let their 8mm neodymium drivers take center stage. Else, they’re made of one of three reclaimed woods – cherry, ebony and beech – sport a durable and tangle-resistant nylon-wrapped cable, and pack a microphone for quickly taking calls.
Find them at LSTN Headphones – $50
Chances are your desktop speakers leave a lot to be desired, not to mention your computer’s sound card. Bypass subpar circuitry with Audioengine’s 2+, a powered pair of desktop speakers with a built-in digital-to-analog convert (DAC) that works by plugging into your device’s USB port. The pair also features a 3.5mm auxiliary port and RCA line in to play nice with other devices, boasts a combined output of 60W, each speaker packing a 2.75-inch kevlar woofer and 3/4-inch silk dome tweeter, and sounds absolutely fantastic if its predecessor, the 2, is any indication.
We haven’t owned a desktop computer for years, or at least since Apple’s capable MacBook Pro lineup replaced their slow, struggling PowerBook. Regardless, the need for decent-sounding desktop speakers is just as important now as it was then, but this time, they’ve got to complement a sleek, razor-thin aluminum laptop instead of some bulky nondescript black box. Easily up to this task, Harman Kardon’s Nova combines stunning turbine-evoking aesthetics with performance-tuned 2.5-inch drivers and 1.25-inch tweeters for solid clarity and hearty power (40 watts, to be exact) across the full range. Else, Harmon Kardon’s proprietary digital signal processing improves soundstage depth while the system connects with your devices using a 3.5mm auxiliary port or Bluetooth with quick-pair NFC.
Headphones don’t alway sound as good as their looks would have you think – or vice versa – but Meze nailed both aesthetics and sound quality with their 88 Classics. Built with care through and through, these cans contain dual 50mm drivers sealed up within beautiful handcrafted 88mm diameter ebony ear cups that passively isolate noise. They’re also comfortable thanks to supple leather cushions and a smooth-adjusting headband, and plug in to your devices using a detachable gold-plated 3.5mm auxiliary cable, sans microphone.
Read more at Meze – $310
Straying from the sea of plastic desktop speakers currently flooding the market, Timbre looks to make a splash with its compact and handsome retro speaker set. Timbre was conceived with two things in mind: aesthetics and acoustics, and accomplishes both simultaneous thanks to its clean, straightforward design that’s based around a CNC-routed alder wood housing fitted with a front-facing stainless steel sheet. On the inside, the 20W driver foregoes the typical cone and is instead rigged up straight to the steel, outputting surprisingly clear, wide-ranged and full-bodied sound for a package this small.
Learn more at Kickstarter – $175
Apple’s 30-pin iPod adapter may be obsolete, but your old dock speaker that’s built around one doesn’t have to be thanks to Auris’ Skye. This simple device takes the place of an iPod/iPhone on a speaker, allowing for wireless streaming of music from your computer, smartphone or tablet over WiFi by way of Airplay, DLNA or WiFi Direct. Best of all, it sets up easily using the Skye control app, relies on power directly from the device, and works with speakers and systems devoid of a 30-pin connector thanks to an optional 30-pin to auxiliary 3.5mm, relying on USB for power.
Go pledge at Kickstarter – $69+