Well, we didn't see this one coming. The Samsung Vacuum Tube Soundbar ($TBA) packs a decidedly audiophile feature — an integrated vacuum tube — into the un-audiophile sound bar form factor. While the goal is warmer, more natural sound, other features — like a gyroscope to optimize sound quality based on height, rotation, and slope and a wireless subwoofer — will likely make a difference too. In keeping with the wireless theme, it also offers Bluetooth for cordlessly connecting your smartphone, tablet, or even TV if it supports that kind of thing.
No matter where your travels take you, the Geneva WorldRadio ($300) should be able to find some music to play. Based on the idea of the classic world receiver, the WorldRadio features a digital color display with touch controls, a digital FM tuner with RDS and auto-search, a digital clock, a 3-inch full-range driver for full sound, Bluetooth 2.1 for connecting to a smartphone or tablet, and a 3.5 mm line-in for other audio sources. Available in black, red, or silver.
Tired of using various devices to access your music that's undoubtedly spread across multiple services and drives? Olive One ($400-$500) is looking to help you out. This networked digital music player arrives in a decor-friendly glass and aluminum enclosure, and promises to consolidate your media in one place. It features Bluetooth 4.0 for direct connection to your smartphones and tablets, fast Wi-Fi for UPnP streaming, built-in access to Spotify and Pandora, and an optional internal 1TB drive for local storage. And how are you going to get all this audio out? Via the audiophile-quality dual HD amplifiers, or via Wi-Fi Miracast. Estimated launch: July 2013.
No, it's not a speaker for your shoes. Instead, the Jabra Solemate Speaker ($160) gets its name from its sneaker-like rugged bottom tread. Powered by a rechargeable battery good for 8 hours of continuous play, the Solemate pairs with your devices via Bluetooth 3.0, and features built-in DSP for optimal sound, three front-facing speakers, a 3.5mm input for non-wireless (dumb) devices, and an included sound bag for added protection when jamming outdoors.
Wireless, full-home audio has been getting more realistic for a while now, but until recently, if you wanted that convenience you were also filling your home with fairly large speaker systems. The JBL SoundFly ($180-$200) is here to change all of that. Boasting 20 watts of power, this diminutive speaker plugs right into an outlet, leaving your tables and countertops empty. The Wi-Fi-enabled, AirPlay-compatible version can link with up to three other units for true whole-home audio, while the Bluetooth model will let you wirelessly jam in any room you stick it.
Less than 2 inches tall and around 7.5 inches long, the Beats Pill ($200) promises sound bigger than you'd expect given its minuscule size. It relies on Bluetooth, so you'll be able to change tracks directly from your phone or iPod without needing to visit a dock, and you'll be able to take calls easily using the built-in microphone. As you'd expect from any highly-portable speaker, it boasts a rechargeable battery good for all-day listening, but you might not expect the carabiner on the included carrying case, which makes it easy to clip onto a bag and go.
We've been more than happy with Joey Roth's Ceramic Speakers, but if you're looking for a bit more oomph than what they can provide, pair them with his new Ceramic Subwoofer ($700). Sporting the same clean white design as the speakers, the sub contains a 6.5-inch driver that's complemented by a passive radiator and is powered by a 50 watt Class D amplifier that sits in the simple stainless steel base. Available on its own or paired with the speakers for an extra $400.
Nope, it's not a new low-calorie menu item from McDonalds — although they could probably stand to introduce such a thing. The McIntosh McAire ($3,000) is a standalone speaker system designed to let you enjoy your media wirelessly via AirPlay. The unit includes both Wi-Fi and Ethernet hookups, as well as a USB port for charging and an RCA input for non-AirPlay devices, but its the dual 4-inch woofers, 2-inch midranges, and .75-inch tweeters that are the star of the show, along with the unit's classic, premium looks.
It takes skill to create a DJ console that looks as good in your house as it would in a club. The Bad Habits Made-To-Order DJ Console (£750; roughly $1,200) boasts such a look, with a simple base that harkens back to classic setups from clubs like Studio 54, plenty of racking for mixers and other components, and your choice of finishes, materials, and either two or three turntable slots.
Producing great sound is one thing; looking good while you're doing it is quite another. The B&O Play A9 Speaker (€2,000; roughly $2,600) manages both feats thanks to a unique, saucer-like design that begs to be left out for all to see. Good looks can only get you so far, but the A9 backs them up with a two 3" midrange speakers, two .75" tweeters, an 8" woofer, and three separate amplifiers to power them. And thanks to built-in AirPlay and DLNA wireless streaming, you won't need to sully the proceedings with unsightly wires.
You would think that with all the money Apple pours into the iPad, they could make the speaker sound decent. Instead, the rear-facing abomination needs friends like the Boast Sound Reflector ($15) to help it out. The Boast is made of polypropylene homopoly, hugs your iPad using neodymium magnets, and redirects the sound from the rear/side of your iPad to the front — where it belongs.
Old school looks meet modern tech inside the Lasonic Bluetooth Boombox ($160). Resembling the shoulder-mounted boomboxes of yore, this system offers Bluetooth for wireless audio streaming, a 3.5mm input, a USB input, and an SD card reader, dual 15W full-range drivers, a real-time clock display, EQ, full-function remote, an alarm, and, of course, an AM/FM radio. Vintage hip/hop mixtape/playlist not included.