Bluetooth Speaker Reveiws

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Bob Ankosko  |  Sep 26, 2018  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $330

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Excellent sound quality
Compact and well-built
Easy to set up and use
Great value
Minus
No Wi-Fi streaming
No visual feedback
No grille cover

THE VERDICT
Kanto’s SYD is a simple, high-performance Bluetooth speaker that will wow you with rich, powerful sound that belies its size.

I could tell SYD was a serious speaker the moment I heard Joni Mitchell singing “A Case of You” from 1971’s Blue. Her angelic voice was mesmerizing in a way I didn’t expect from a speaker this size, not to mention a 47-year-old recording — and I was streaming from my phone.

Bob Ankosko  |  Dec 27, 2017  |  0 comments
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $799

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Solid build quality
Handsome fit and finish
Easy setup
Good overall sound quality with bountiful bass
Minus
No Wi-Fi streaming
No tone controls
Disappointing phono preamp

THE VERDICT
Klipsch’s beautifully crafted Sixes deliver fine sound with the bonus of onboard power, but vinyl playback is shortchanged by its pedestrian phono preamp.

I’ve been talking about pulling my old turntable out of mothballs since I moved to my current home, oh…20 years ago. Which is why I jumped at the chance when asked if I had any interest in auditioning The Sixes, the latest entry in Klipsch’s Heritage Wireless series and big brother to The Three, the superb all-in-one wireless music system we reviewed in May. I know what you’re thinking: What does reviewing speakers have to do with setting up a turntable? Bear with me.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Dec 22, 2017  |  1 comments

Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $480

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Phono, line, optical, Bluetooth inputs
Subwoofer output
Wide choice of colors
Minus
USB not PC-friendly

THE VERDICT
If you’re looking to plug your turntable directly into a good-looking and functional pair of speakers, the Kanto YU6 will make it work—and sound great.

Why shouldn’t life be simpler? If there’s one thing your studio apartment, dorm room, bedroom, or guest bedroom doesn’t need, it’s an audio rack with a tangle of cables. But going without music would be barbaric. So how simple do you need to get? If a bare-bones Bluetooth speaker isn’t enough, a pair of powered speakers might make more sense. You’d have a stereo soundstage without the fuss of an outboard amp and rack.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Dec 18, 2017  |  0 comments
Smart speakers are all the rage at the moment, and companies can’t afford to let customers slip away. I had a chance to check out the new Amazon Echo ($100, currently discounted to $80) complete with the updated software that improves audio performance.

Rob Sabin  |  Nov 21, 2017  |  0 comments

Arena Wireless Speaker
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value

Festival Wireless Speaker
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE Festival, $499; Arena, $249

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Excellent build and sound quality
Chromecast, AirPlay, Bluetooth built-in
Away mode and optional battery for portability
Minus
Chromecast multiroom interface

THE VERDICT
Riva Audio continues a tradition of excellent sound quality with the WAND series, the company’s first wireless multiroom speakers.

I first met Riva Audio founder Rikki Farr and chief engineer (now also president) Don North in the fall of 2014 when they marched into Sound & Vision’s New York City conference room to demo their first product, a Bluetooth speaker called the Turbo X. North was a youthful, glasses-wearing geek who had just enough of the right credentials and tech swagger to suggest he really knew what he was doing.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Nov 20, 2017  |  0 comments
A week ago, if you had asked me if I could love a $550 portable speaker, I would have laughed you out of my listening room. Yet here I am, just days later, completely smitten with the Oslo speaker from Vifa, a Danish speaker manufacturer. It’s uniquely stylish, massively overbuilt, and the sound is amazing. I am in love with the Oslo.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Nov 06, 2017  |  0 comments
Voice-activated speakers are hitting the market hot and heavy with everyone vying to be the only system you’ll invest in. Amazon is hoping you’ll pick Alexa, and Cortana is hoping to get some traction in the market. Once you’re a Google family, odds are you’ll stay there. To that end, JBL just released a new line of Google Assistant voice-activated speakers, and the LINK 20 is the perfect balance of features, sound quality, and portability. Yup — that’s right — a voice-assistant that’s not only portable, it’s waterproof too so it can go anywhere.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Oct 23, 2017  |  0 comments
When a company known for making very good speakers and receivers comes out with the first Cortana-based smart speaker, it better sound good. Did it? Nope — it sounded great!

Bob Ankosko  |  Oct 11, 2017  |  0 comments
Audio Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $200

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Multiple streaming options via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
Chromecast built-in
Remote control
Minus
Lackluster sound quality

THE VERDICT
The Mondo+ is a versatile internet radio that offers easy access to a multitude of streaming sources, but we expected better sound quality for the price.

My first thought was “clock radio” as I lifted the Mondo+ out of its box. It’s tough to gauge the heft of a product from a picture, so I guess I was expecting something a bit more substantial. Even so, the plastic-encased Mondo+ is nice and compact—about the size of a loaf of bread—and attractive with a smooth gray finish and large color display that serves as a gateway to wireless streaming options and system settings, including—you guessed it—an alarm clock.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Jun 20, 2017  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $399 pr

AT A GLANCE
Plus
For desktop or in-room listening
PC-friendly USB and line inputs
Class A/B analog amp
Minus
Limited (but adjustable) bass

THE VERDICT
Audioengine, always a champ in powered compact speakers, sweetens the deal on this one with a PC-friendly USB input and headphone jack.

Twelve-year-old Audioengine is best known for active compact speakers, though the company also makes passive compact speakers, a subwoofer, a small amplifier, a USB stick DAC, and a couple of streaming DACs. The HD3 loudspeaker is more or less an amalgamation of most of those products, infusing a sweet little speaker with a Class A/B amp, DAC, Bluetooth streaming, and a couple of less common features that just might make it irresistible to those in the market for a pair of small wireless speakers.

Rob Sabin  |  Jun 09, 2017  |  1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $800

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Superb sound quality
Impressive, weather-resistant build quality
Bluetooth stereo pairing
Minus
Pricey

THE VERDICT
Soundcast’s new flagship outdoor Bluetooth speaker carries a substantial price tag, but if you’re headed for the backyard or a tailgate party, you’ll get what you pay for in sound quality, ease of use, and reliable operation.

Ever since the introduction of the first battery-driven transistor pocket radio, we’ve been taking our music outside and on the go. (By the way, that was the Regency TR-1 in the fall of 1954; visit regencytr1.com for a retrospective maintained by Don Pies, son of Regency cofounder John Pies.) Of course, any conversation today about “outdoor audio” needs to be placed in modern context. We’ve gone from being grateful for a tinny AM broadcast of “The Roy Rogers Show” played back over a tiny, underpowered speaker to expecting potent, high-quality audio in our backyards, at the beach, or in the parking lot as we tailgate before the big game.

Bob Ankosko  |  Jun 01, 2017  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $900

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Elegant design
Impeccable build quality
Compact form factor
Terrific sound quality
Minus
Limited streaming options
Expensive

THE VERDICT
The Mu-so Qb is pricey, but it’s impeccably built, offers a number of wired and wireless playback options, and is one of the best-sounding compact wireless speaker systems I’ve heard.

I was trolling for high-bit-rate internet radio stations when I stumbled upon Incubus performing “Love Hurts” on Alternative Times Radio out of Prague. I’d never heard the song before but was immediately captivated by the richness of Brandon Boyd’s voice and how realistic the kick drum and snare sounded. And the stream was only 128 kilobits per second…

Mark Fleischmann  |  May 31, 2017  |  1 comments

MusicCast WX-010 Speaker
Performance
Build Quality
Value

MusicCast WXA-50 Amplifier
Audio Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $500 (amp); $200 (speaker)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Streams to MusicCast devices
Wi-Fi, AirPlay, Bluetooth
55 watts per channel, Class D
Minus
No headphone jack on amp
No analog input on speaker
Loaded PC may freeze app

THE VERDICT
The Yamaha WXA-50 has a clean and lively sound, a space-saving form factor, and the ability to stream to devices using the company’s MusicCast system—including the reasonable-sounding WX-010 wireless speaker.

If you are the intended audience for the Yamaha MusicCast WXA-50 amplifier, you find A/V receivers too big, black, and boxy. You are happy with two-channel sound but turned off by doghouse-sized stereo amps sitting on the floor. Soundbars may give you Bluetooth, but that isn’t enough. You’re willing to accept the architecture of a conventional home audio system—amp, speakers, sources—but on a more modest scale. And because you live in more than one room, you want a system with multiroom smarts. That’s the WXA-50 stereo integrated amp and MusicCast multiroom system in a nutshell. To make things interesting for this review, we threw in a couple of Yamaha’s latest WX-010 wireless speakers in additional zones.

Bob Ankosko  |  May 25, 2017  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $400

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Impeccable fit and finish
Streaming via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
Excellent sound
Solid bass
Remote control
Minus
App could be more intuitive
Wish there was a display window

THE VERDICT
The Three melds retro style with modern sound in a beautifully crafted tabletop stereo.

I’m not gonna lie. When I first saw a press photo of the Three, I was immediately taken with its elegant retro styling—the wraparound grille, the walnut top…those copper control knobs. I wanted one.

Evoking what Klipsch calls the “mid-century” design legacy of its late founder Paul W. Klipsch, the Three boasts impeccably finished walnut panels, a knit grille, and a copper strip with two knobs—one for volume, the other for source selection—plus something you don’t expect to see on modern gear: a toggle switch. Positively retro. Behind the classic façade is a stereo pair of 2.25-inch drivers that flank a 5.25-inch woofer. Klipsch has also incorporated two 5.25-inch passive radiators—one on each end of the enclosure—to boost bass output.

Rob Sabin  |  May 11, 2017  |  1 comments
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $1,000 ea

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Classic McIntosh styling
DTS Play-Fi compatibility
Excellent sound quality
Minus
Quirky Play-Fi app
Grille isn’t acoustically transparent
No Bluetooth
Pricey

THE VERDICT
It’s hardly cheap, but McIntosh’s wireless speaker will satisfy your inner audiophile in more ways than one.

My UPS delivery guy—after having me sign for a pair of McIntosh RS100 wireless speakers, whose brand labeling was plainly evident—couldn’t resist commenting before walking off with a wink and a smile: “Have fun with those!”

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