In this day and age, choosing a pair of headphones depends as much on your tastes in sound as it does aesthetics. Equally subjective, however, is fit and comfort, and that’s where Bang & Olufsen’s Beoplay H2 headphones really shine. These sleek on-ear headphones are held together by a durable, textile-covered composite frame that adapts to the shape of your head, forming a perfect fit within minutes of sliding them on. Importantly, they also boast 40mm drivers in each leather-padded can, an inline 3-button remote with mic, and a lightweight design that stays comfortable all day long.
Preorder on Amazon in three colors – $200
Bose’s SoundLink Color rounds out their portable speaker lineup, bringing a touch of liveliness to their otherwise drab grey and black devices. This compact, lightweight Bluetooth unit weighs just 1.25 pounds and puts out a full, lifelike sound for up to 8 hours per charge. It also pairs easily with voice prompts that talk you through the process, boasts an auxiliary input for wired connections, and comes in 5 colors — Black, White, Mint, Red, and Blue.
Find it at Amazon – $130
You won’t often find high fidelity audio equipment wrapped in plastic enclosures, and for good reason. Audioengine’s B2 speaker couples a hand-built wooden cabinet to high-fidelity components such as an extended range Bluetooth aptX module, 24-bit DAC, dual 2.75″ Kevlar woofers and a pair of 0.75″ silk dome tweeters. While it might not fare as well as others on the road due to a lack of built-in batteries it’s still fairly portable, and, if Audioengine’s other products are of any indication, will blow most mainstream speakers out of the water.
Check it out at Audioengine – $300
Technically their first new product since their acquisition, Beats’ Solo 2 Wireless, as you’d assume, sees the cords cut on their most popular pair of headphones. While the internals are left mostly untouched, the Solo 2 Wireless packs along batteries good for 12 hours of Bluetooth playback or taking calls (thanks to a built-in mic). Fortunately, plugging them in with the included auxiliary cable remedies a depleted battery, and a set of on-ear controls — including the Beats “b”, which doubles as a button — lets you adjust volume and skip tracks without needing to reach for your device.
Arriving later this month. Learn more at Beats – $300
Headphones and earphones won’t ever replicate the spine-chilling bass of a live concert setup, but with Woojer you’re not far off. This matchbox-sized woofer clips to your clothing and sits between your headphones and your device, reproducing bass frequencies in form of vibrations that lets you feel the sound. It works great with music, games, and movies, runs for 4 hours on a charge, and is drop-dead silent, letting you enjoy seemingly loud music virtually anywhere without bothering those around you.
Read more at Woojer – $100 to $180
Equipped with a 2.5-inch subwoofer and a 2.0-inch driver, Amazon Echo can play your music, podcasts, and whatever, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. This cylindrical device acts as a personal assistant at home, listening constantly and ready to take commands. Talk to it from across the room using the wake word, “Alexa”, and Echo replies, telling you the weather, converting units, penning new items to your shopping or to-do lists, setting alarms, notifications, and much, much more. Its 7 microphones can hear you from any direction, even over music, and it’s always adapting to your peculiarities and getting smarter thanks to its cloud-contained brain.
Request an invitation at Amazon – $200 (or $100 with Amazon Prime)
Hot on the heels of Bowers & Wilkins first Bluetooth speaker comes a first from Bang & Olufsen as well, and frankly, we don’t think either will disappoint. Larger than most but still relatively thin and portable, the BeoPlay A2 boasts an extruded aluminum body, a removable leather strap, and a triad of speakers on either side, being a pair of 3/4″ tweeters, two 3″ full-range drivers, and two 3″ passive bass radiators. In terms of connectivity, Bluetooth 4.0 with aptX handles most streaming needs, though an auxiliary line-in covers older gadgets while a USB port lets music play while simultaneously charging your device. That said, it doesn’t sport a speakerphone nor is it equipped to deal with harsher conditions like some of its rivals, but its 24 hour battery and room-filling True360 sound are all that matter if its the music you’re after.
Preorder at Amazon or learn more at Beoplay – $400
The sheer amount of selection when it comes to portable Bluetooth speakers has left us rather critical, but any entry from Bowers & Wilkins has earned our attention. The T7 is B&W’s smallest wireless system yet, sized to quickly slip away into a bag or backpack. Its distinctive Micro Matrix honeycomb structure braces the speaker cabinet and reduce vibrations to let the system’s dual 50mm drivers and twin bass radiators do their work in packing a serious punch. It also boasts Bluetooth aptX for quality streaming, a Hi-Fi DAC, and 18 hours of battery life, more than enough for just about any event.
Learn more at Bowers & Wilkins – $350
The iPhone’s 6 speakers may be better than its predecessor’s, but that doesn’t say much about either. If you value portable sound, Amp is for you. This snap case adds a bit of height to your device but more than makes up for it with two powerful 14 x 20 mm drivers that pump out immersive audio in a manner not unlike some wireless speakers. Moreover, Amp also packs along a Cortex-M4, a 24-bit DAC, a headphone amp, and Dynamic Noise Reduction to improve audio quality piping through your headphones while compensating for noises in your environment. And to avoid shortening playtime, Amp boasts a built-in backup battery to power its electronics and your device, actually extending battery life by 25%.
Preorder at Amp Audio – $70
Parrot’s original Zik headphones were already impressive what with their combination of Bluetooth capabilities, active noise cancelation, and a jawbone conductor for cleaning up sound quality. With subtler looks once again designed by Philippe Starck, Zik 2.0 is 17% lighter than its predecessor and even more impressive. Features include noise cancellation that’s driven by six microphones around the headset, seemingly magical touch sensitive gesture recognition on the right faux-leather cup to control music or place calls without fiddling around with buttons, and uncompromising sound quality thanks to 32 bit digital audio processing plus 40mm neodymium drivers. Its app is also getting a makeover, now boasting a highly customizable equalizer — which can even be tuned for individual songs — and their optional Concert Hall effect that simulates more natural, directional sound. And since driving all these features takes a lot of juice, Zik’s removable li-ion battery lasts up to 18 hours in flight mode and charges up from zero to full in two and a half hours.
Check out the full lineup of colors at Parrot – $TBA