Jambox it mightn’t be, but Aiia’s Ssssspeaker is still plenty interesting, and at a price point that doesn’t sting quite as much. This hockey puck-sized speaker boasts a silicone cone that collapses when not in use, packing down small enough to fit in a day pack or big pocket. And you won’t mind chucking it in there along with all your other junk, since its protected 31mm driver won’t get crushed or dented. And while there’s no Bluetooth on this bad boy, plug it to your 3.5mm auxiliary port-equipped device for up to 8 hours of music or podcast playback, then charge it back up using the hybrid cable’s USB port.
Read more at Aiia and order by filling in the form – $7.50
Fusing new-age convenience with old school design, Tubecore’s Duo isn’t quite your grandfather’s speaker but could practically pass as one. At least until you spot the USB and HDMI ports on the back, its sophisticated pressure sensitive control knob, and its armament of connectivity and streaming options, including WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, XBMC Media Center for streaming HD movies using its in-built Raspberry Pi. While the Duo is wrapped in a sturdy, sleek hardwood case fitted with a removable magnetic speaker cover, looks aren’t everything, so it’s built around a 48v Class A Tube Preamp with upgradeable vacuum tubes (illuminated by user-controllable RGB LEDs), a 100w solid state amp, dual 4-inch composite cone drivers, and a 3-inch 30w long-throw subwoofer. Hell, it’s even got traditional phono and line level inputs in the back for plugging in the old fashioned way, meaning the Tubecore Duo is poised to please just about everyone.
Learn more at Tubecore – $480
Show off your latest record while keeping it within reach with Sonntagsstaat’s Record Frame. These handsome frames are handcrafted of dark Walnut or Northern European Birch, and let you effortlessly slide in a single record cover, with or without contained vinyl, for storage and viewing. Logically, we’d hang one on the bare wall above our turntable.
The classic iPod may be dead, largely replaced by big-screened capacitive devices, but the demand for a standalone hifi music player is just as alive as ever, as demonstrated by Neil Young’s Toblerone-shaped PonoPlayer. Fusing the convenience and portability of an iPod with the ability to accurately recreate the resolution and emotion intended by the artist, Pono offers an all-around solution for audiophiles, playing FLAC files up to 192kHz in resolution. With a high end DAC, minimal phase digital filter, zero-feedback circuitry, and up to 128GB of memory, PonoPlayer might not support Solitaire or snap photos, but it will play the hell out of your lossless file format music.
Read more at Kickstarter – $300
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