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
There’s a lot to like about Aiia’s Ssssspeaker, particularly the new Bluetooth version that drops the need for wires. For one, it collapses down when not in use to roughly the size of a hockey puck and weighs in at just 2.5 ounces. What’s more, its 31mm mono driver is shielded by plastic, protecting it from the other contents of your pack or pocket. Else, its rechargeable li-ion battery helps it run up to 5 hours per charge at max volume. So sure, it might not pump out the same caliber of sound as a Jambox or Soundlink, but at a mere fraction of the price it still makes for a great casual speaker setup at home or during a picnic.
Go pledge at Kickstarter – $21+
As music making becomes ever more digital and portable, capacitive screens start replacing physical controls, and for intent of fine tuning, that’s mostly a bad thing. Enter Tuna Knobs, easy to use stick-on control knobs that give you full tactility. Stick these knobs onto your tablet using their micro suction cup and twiddle away; the conductive rubber beneath their pointer provides a fine, precise touch on your tablet’s display for minute adjustments. Their soft touch rubber handles provide a good grip while a transparent polycarbonate base lets you see the result of each twist.
Pledge at Kickstarter – $12+
Stripping away anxiety-driven thoughts is amongst the best ways to truly enjoy and focus on what you’re doing. Case in point: Fugoo’s Tough Bluetooth Speaker. This ruggedized device is ready to take on just about anything, from drops, dust storms, snow, and even getting accidentally kicked into the pool – it’s waterproof to 3 feet for 30 minutes – thanks to a fiber-reinforced resin and aluminum casing that protects the electronics within. Plus, with its six symmetrically-mounted drivers – including two tweeters, two mid/sub drivers, and two passive radiators – the Tough also blasts out 95 dB of clean, bass-balanced sound in 360 degrees. Throw in 40 hours of battery life plus an interchangeable jacket that lets you cut down on bulk when resilience is less needed, and Fugoo’s Tough is an assured contender for your next portable speaker.
Pick one up on Amazon – $230
You’ll find Mira three hundred million miles away in the constellation Cetus. As far as is known, this red giant is not waterproof, but Mira by Braven is. And that’s the least of what MIRA is and does. This Bluetooth home audio speaker is ultra-portable and features a built in access hook to stand or hang the device. Change volume and track from MIRA’s face, or use it as a speakerphone. Did we mention that MIRA is IPX5 water-resistant? Use it by the pool, in the rain, or deep sea diving (okay, not while diving) and hook up seamlessly with Bluetooth to your favorite audio provider.
If the amount of wires is inversely correlated with how good a given product is, Earin’s Wireless Earbuds are bound to be fantastic. These downright minuscule earbuds operate as one without any use of wires whatsoever, connecting to your device via Bluetooth 4.0 to play back music – and only music – with no strings attached. Earin’s buds relies on tiny balanced armature speakers for solid audio delivery, choice between three foam tips for customizing fit and comfort, plus one rechargeable battery per unit to deliver up to 3 hours of playtime per charge. And while its battery life might not cover you through a long flight, it’s perfect for split morning-evening commutes since the earbuds charge on the go when stashed within the included case.
Hit up Kickstarter for more information – roughly $205
Good music makes a good party. But taste in music is subjective, and so it’s better hand the reigns to the people with Moto Stream. This compact music-streaming icosahedron connects with up to 5 devices simultaneously – whether smartphones, tablets, computers, or other – letting anybody jump in and drop a track via Heist mode should the mood be suffering. It’s ultra simple to use, requiring no particular setup or requirements other than Bluetooth (and simply taps to connect if your device supports NFC), plugs to your speakers using a 3.5mm auxiliary output, and boasts Five LED indicators to display status.
Learn more at Motorola – $50
Regardless of whether they were given a hand in conception by their newly inaugurated design-obsessed parent company, Beats’ brand new Solo² still manages to reshapes the brand’s typically exceedingly bass-heavy soundscape considerably. Refined acoustics create a more balanced range of sound, easing up slightly on the lows to boost clarity on less bass-dependent tunes. A sleeker design with flowing lines, 6 color choices, and no visible screws cleans up aesthetics while still managing to fold for lugging around in a pack, lest you prefer the look of hanging yours around your neck. And, like any decent portable set of cans, the Solo² also boasts a RemoteTalk cable – color matched, no less – for skipping tracks or adjusting volume without having to reach for your device.
Head over to Beats for more info – $200
Move over Klipsch, Boston Acoustics, B&W and Mission, there’s a new kid in town. Renowned graffiti artist Devon Turnbull of OJAS has partnered with Saturdays NYC to offer a limited edition set of speakers to commemorate their Kobe, Japan location’s one year anniversary. Not only is Turnbull adept at defacing public property, but he also has a degree in audio engineering. These two talents merge and the outcome is the OJAS speaker, constructed with a wood casing and displaying a quirky simplistic, even minimalist design that complements any room.