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.
With plans of taking a shot across Sonos' bow at the upcoming International CES, Samsung has added another weapon to their multi room wireless audio arsenal, the Samsung Shape Speaker System ($50-$400). Combined with the already-existing Shape M7 Speaker, the smaller and less-expensive Shape M5 gives you a flexible solution for audio across your home or apartment. With the optional wireless connectivity hub and Samsung's iOS or Android app, you can play music through these speakers from a range of services, including Amazon Cloud Player, Pandora, Rhapsody, and TuneIn Radio, as well as connectivity over NFC and Bluetooth.