Listening to music should be simple — no setup, no worrying about where to plug things in, no connecting multiple devices, and no fumbling around trying to come up with the perfect song or playlist to suit the moment. And with the Cone Music Player, listening is as simple as it gets. This beautiful wireless speaker system features eight hours of battery life, and lets you play music by just touching the front (press it again to pause, or twist the grill to queue up a new song). It works with a range of music services, and learns your musical preferences the more you listen. And if you want to listen to your own music, Cone also supports Airplay, so you can play through your Mac or iOS device.
Odds are, you care just as much about how a product looks as you care how well it works — and the Grain Audio Passive Bookshelf Speakers combine the aesthetics of solid wood with the performance of professional-grade speakers. They use FSC certified solid walnut in each of their speakers, so no two look exactly alike, while also adding heft and helping contribute to their acoustics. A solid MDF enclosure helps your audio sound excellent each time you listen, regardless of your musical preferences. Each speaker features 25 to 75 watts of power and a five-and-a-quarter inch mid bass woofer with neodymium magnets and CCAW voice coils.
It's not always easy to find an audio system that looks good in your room. But you know what nearly always looks cool? A bulldog. So why not combine the two? At least, that appears to have been the thinking behind the AeroBull. This unique speaker features a 5.25-inch subwoofer, dual 2.25-inch satellites, 100W of total power, an iPod/iPhone dock, Bluetooth for wireless streaming, NFC, and a line-in for other audio sources. But the best part? It looks like an all-black dog wearing sunglasses — and that will match anything.
It might not look futuristic — in fact, with its American Walnut cabinet, slew of buttons, and rotary volume control, it looks quite the opposite — but you'd be hard pressed to find a system more ready for linking to modern-day sources than the Revo SuperConnect Radio. Like any true radio, it features tuners for DAB, DAB+, and FM broadcasts, but also boasts built-in Wi-Fi for connection to thousands of Internet radio stations, Spotify, and local DLNA streaming sources, and Bluetooth with aptX for high-quality wireless streaming directly from your devices.
Just because you want to listen to music wirelessly around your home or apartment, doesn't mean you need to go and replace all the speakers you've accumulated over the years. With Beep — a small Wi-Fi enabled device that connects to any stereo or speaker system with an RCA jack, auxiliary input, or optical input — you can play music to any connected speaker or group of speakers from your iOS or Android phone. With the ability to synchronize music across a range of Beeps, you can play your music throughout your place, or choose different music for different Beeps. While it only currently has built in support for Pandora, plenty of other app support is on its way.
What's the worst thing about karaoke? Well, depending on the company, it's typically your friends' voices. Give them a much needed boost with the Singtrix. This all-in-one karaoke solution is powered by advanced audio technology that can strip/lower the vocals in any song and then let you sing over top using one of 350 effects. A special "Hit" effect button on the main unit and custom mic provides on-demand 4-part vocal harmonies, and an included 2.1 stereo speaker makes sure everyone can hear you loud and clear. And while it can work with pretty much any audio source with a headphone output, it's best when paired with the Singtrix app.
Is it a TV stand? Or a speaker system? In fact, the Geneva XXL Sound System is both. In development for several years, this beastly system is designed to hold TVs up to 65 inches in size, while providing plenty of audio oomph via seven speakers — including an 8-inch sub — with matching Class D amplifiers. There's room inside for a set top box or two, complete with an IR repeater so they can remain hidden, and getting audio into it is no problem, either, thanks to both AirPlay and Bluetooth support. And unlike most systems, its sleek body and piano-lacquered finish will blend well with even the most modern of decor.
In case you've ever wished you could have a soundtrack to your life — and not just music that played along, but a tune that actually responded to your activities — there's the Jalapeno Beat Maker ($200). Made with adventure sports in mind, including snowboarding, skiing, skating, and BMXing, this small red device attaches to your board, ski, bike, whatever, and actually remixes music as you ride and execute tricks. Able to mix up to four layers at a time from the Beats Farm music library, tracks you make yourself, or music from your digital library, this device is durable enough to withstand just about anything you could put it through. Listening to music while you hit jumps, carve slopes, and more will never be the same.
Picture a remote in your mind. What did you see? A long, rectangular black box with some rubbery buttons on it? Because that's what 99% of audio systems ship with, despite the fact that the iPod proved long ago that's not a good interface for controlling your music. The Bang & Olufsen Beosound Essence ($1,000) is closer to what it should be. This Nest-sized remote can sit or hang nearly anywhere, controlling a hideaway box that offers power for a set of stereo speakers, as well as Wi-Fi for AirPlay and DLNA streaming, and direct connection to Spotify, QPlay, and other Internet radio sources. An ideal companion for B&O speakers.
The most impressive thing about the JBL Authentics Speakers ($600-$1,000) isn't their looks, though they are gorgeous in walnut or gloss black finishes — and it's not their sound, though they do sound great with either four or six speakers and 30-50 watts of power. The most impressive thing isn't even hardware, it's software: Signal Doctor by Harman software. This tech allows the speakers to instantly repair the audio signal from digital music in real time, letting your MP3s and other compressed media sound their absolute best. Additional features include wireless connectivity over WiFI, DLNA, AirPlay, and Bluetooth, USB charging ports, and the JBL MusicFlow app that lets you easily control playback on iOS or Android.
Representing the latest innovation in home audio technology, the ClearView Clio Speaker ($350) features a nearly-invisible acrylic glass stereo transducer. Its unique curving shape, and its ability to emit sound through its edges (rather than from the rear like normal cones) lets it fill any space with sound in multiple directions. It uses Bluetooth connectivity to interface with a range of devices, including your mobile phone, letting you play music from whatever source is at hand. Available in silver, dark bronze, and charcoal, this speaker looks great in any space, while providing an engaging centerpiece for any room.
There are already plenty of ways to connect your mobile device to your car stereo — whether wirelessly, over USB, or using an auxiliary input — letting you listen to music, take calls, and more. But the Sony XSP-N1BT Smartphone Cradle Receiver ($250) is the first system that turns your device into the interface for your infotainment. Its unique clamping system grips your phone in landscape orientation, and when combined with their AppRemote for iOS and Android devices, functions as the complete input for your stereo. Wireless connection is available for Android devices, while iPhones will still have to connect over USB, which also charges your device while it's in use.