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+
Mo-Fi — short for mobile fidelity — is a term that’s relatively new to us. But then again so is the driving concept behind Blue Microphone’s first pair of headphones: they’ve been, as you might have guessed, solely making microphones until now. Mo-Fi couples a built-in audiophile amplifier to 50mm fiber-reinforced dynamic drivers, handily milking stellar audio from even the most power-starved audio devices. Since quality is nothing without comfort, Blue employed a sophisticated multi-joint design that accommodates virtually every head shape, adjusting for width, height, camber, and desired tension. It also boasts earcups shaped like ears, three analog amp modes, intelligent power management with 12 hours of battery life, and a classic design that’ll stand the test of time.
Grab a set at Amazon – $350
At its base, OM/ONE is already a solid 3 watt portable speaker, complete with Bluetooth 4.0, one 75 mm audio driver, a built-in microphone, and 15 hours of battery life. But unmissable is the fact that it magically floats 1.2 inches in the air when placed on its stand thanks to electromagnets within, slowly spinning all the while. Granted, its levitating act is mostly aesthetic, but that’s still bound to sway us into choosing OM/ONE over its more grounded counterparts.
Hit up OM/ONE to learn more – $180
What’s the weakest link in your sound system? If you’re rocking Audioengine’s B1 Bluetooth Receiver, it likely won’t be connectivity. This premium, all-aluminum receiver boasts Bluetooth 4.0 with aptX codec, a 24-bit upsampling low-noise, high-fidelity DAC, and support for A2DP and AVRCP. Plug it to your system using either stereo analog RCA or digital optical out, then pair it to a Bluetooth device stocked with good music. And with its extended 100 foot range, the source device won’t be shackled to the same room, either.
Find it at Audioengine – $189
It’s not rocket science: bigger speakers generally output bigger sound. But thanks to a little engineering ingenuity, NudeAudio’s Super-M is the exception to the rule. This compact Bluetooth 4.0 speaker is jam packed with electronics, including 2 full-range neodymium drivers on each side and two passive radiators, totalling 6 drivers positioned all-around for booming 360º sound. Its IPX-5 waterproof and sandproof case also contains an 8-hour li-ion battery, meaning it’ll effortlessly go anywhere and keep running all the while.
Hit up Kickstarter for details – $100
Cliff Clavin could regal you with a little known fact about hoodies. Originally developed in the mid 13th century, they were used to funnel the sound of grog horns and drums when attending the equivalent of present day rock concerts. Betabrand’s Audio Engineer Hoodie doesn’t fall far from the acoustic tree. Designed for audio engineers whose fashion sense comes second to the functionality of their wardrobe, this hoodie incorporates everything you need to mix, listen and feel your music. At first glance the dual kangaroo pocketed black, relaxed fit hoodie seems anti outré. But a closer look reveals features that any audiophile can appreciate. An interior line with a cassette-themed pattern sets the mood for music which is further developed with acoustically transparent hood panels that, like magic, allow sound to penetrate unmolested while remaining visibly solid. A headphone pass-through hole in the front pockets, left pocket loop for securing securables, internal headphone routing to the right pocket, and a secure chest pocket for your thumbdrive round out the engineering tech. There’s even wiring diagrams screened on the interior so you need only solder once.
Find it at Betabrand – $142
One size fits all or one size fits none? Whichever way you slice it, off-the-shelf ear buds were never truly fitted to your ears, and perhaps that’s why they keep falling out. But Normal Earphones are. Use their mobile app to analyze your distinct ear shape, then order right from your smartphone: using this information, each bud is fitted to a custom 3D-printed earform that hugs the curvature of your ear, ensuring a perfect fit and minimal sound leakage. Of course a perfectly shaped bud would be useless without quality parts, so each pair boasts 14mm neodymium dynamic drivers coupled to a CNC’d anodized aluminum outer cabinet for crisp, powerful acoustics.
Learn more at Normal – $200