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.