Getting tired of portable speakers trying to fit your gadgets inside them? What about one that attaches to it, instead? The Zooka Wireless Speaker ($90) is designed to do exactly that. Connecting over Bluetooth — or via 3.5mm jack, if necessary — this slim-line sound tube sports a rechargeable battery, speakers on either end, and a silicone exterior that provides great grip while managing to not scratch whatever you've put it on, whether it be an iPad, phone, or even laptop.
If you're as worried about the looks of your audio system as how it sounds, you should probably have your head examined, and you might just be in the market for some pieces from the Mark Levinson 40th Anniversary Collection ($6,000-$25,000). Created to celebrate the legendary audio brand's 40th anniversary — surprise! — the lineup includes the No. 52 Reference Dual-Monaural Preamplifier, the No. 585 Integrated Amplifier, the No. 519 SACD Disc Player and the No. 560 Digital Audio Processor, all of which arrive with gorgeous, minimalist designs that would look as normal in a museum as they will in your home theater cabinet.
Bang & Olufsen, purveyor of pricey AV products, has announced a new brand and the offshoot's first product — the B&O Play Beolit 12 Portable Music System ($800). Designed by Danish designer Cecilie Manz, the Beolit 12 features sleek looks topped off with an Italian full-grain leather carrying strap, and packs in Apple's AirPlay technology, a built-in power supply, and a rechargeable battery that's good for 8 hours of use. Its 120 watt amplifier system individually drives two 2-inch tweeters and a 4-inch woofer.
High-end speaker house Klipsch is getting into the AirPlay speaker game in a big way with these Klipsch Stadium Speakers ($TBA). Apart from the aforementioned, Apple-friendly Wi-Fi audio streaming capability, this tabletop system features two one-inch, horn-loaded tweeters, dual three-inch midrange drivers, and two 5.25-inch subwoofers to deliver fantastic sound. They've got brushed aluminum cabinets, and no-nonsense style that's surprisingly suitable for a variety of decors.
We've been fans of Eton's sun-powered speakers in the past, but unfortunately direct sunlight equals quick overheating messages from most devices. The Eton Rukus Solar ($150) takes care of this problem by acquiring its audio over Bluetooth, letting you store your device safely in the shade — or in your pocket. Other features include an easy-to-grip handle, an E Ink display, the ability to run off AC or solar power, dual 2.25-inch speakers, and an aux-in jack. Sunlight not included.
Turn your dad's old school speakers into AirPlay-enabled wonders with Griffin's Twenty Audio Amplifier ($TBA). Just add an Apple Airport Express to this white brick, and it takes your existing non-powered speakers and lets you stream lossless audio from iTunes or any other AirPlay-enabled iOS device. The Twenty offers a 2.1 channel sound system with 20 watts output per channel with support for a powered subwoofer, and sports a big aluminum knob for adjusting the sound. Because who doesn't like playing with knobs?
Tired of dime-a-dozen speakers for your iDevice? Then the Samsung Audio Dock ($TBA) should be a breath of fresh air. Offering compatibility with the iPad, iPhone, iPod, and Samsung Galaxy S devices, this upscale speaker dock features hybrid vacuum tube amplifier technology to combine the clarity of digital amplification with the warm sound of tubes, a 2.1-channel speaker setup with built-in subwoofer and 100 Watts of sound, analog and USB inputs, and support for AllShare, AirPlay, and Bluetooth wireless audio streaming.
Sometimes a speaker design is so striking that you might mistake it for art, and then there's the MinuSkull (€1,600; roughly $2,150), a piece of art that just so happens to be a speaker. Vaguely recalling a cartoon skeleton head, this spooky skull — available in warm walnut or with a black or white piano lacquer finish — packs two Fostex Fe-83 speakers and a mini subwoofer into its head, along with a custom-made 50W Mosfet amplifier to ensure high-quality sound. A pair of RCA-style connects serve as inputs, and allow you to use one MinuSkull as a standalone speaker, two as a full-on Hi-Fi, or five (or more) as an incredibly expensive, The Enchanted Tiki Room-style surround system. [via]
We like it when products combine multiple ideas into one — so integrating a speaker into a giant volume knob is pretty much the best thing we've ever seen. Okay, so maybe it's not that amazing, but the Hidden Speaker ($120) is pretty damn cool. Powered by rechargeable internal batteries offering over 30 hours of play time, it uses Bluetooth for wireless streaming audio support, and also offers a built-in AM/FM radio, and a 3.5mm input for technologically challenged audio sources.
Okay, so it's not really real yet, but they plan on building it, which is close enough for us. The People People Speaker ($TBA) is designed to free interior designers from the tyranny of home audio lovers — or vice versa — by building powerful speakers into a clear box that's large enough to produce great sound but allows its surroundings to shine through. Other features include a small, headphone jack-connecting Wi-Fi antenna to stream audio from nearly any source, and a package that includes everything you need minus the glass, which is sourced from local glass repair shops, making the rig both interior- and eco-friendly.
Let's face it: the speakers built-in to our phones and tablets aren't really cutting it for anything more than the random speakerphone call or video chat. For times when you want to rock out on the go, you need something a bit more substantial — something like the Logitech Mini Boombox ($100). Powered by rechargeable battery good for 10 hours of jamming, it features a specially-designed acoustic chamber for enhanced bass, Bluetooth A2DP for wireless audio streaming and control via the backlit touch controls, a 3.5mm input for less advanced audio sources, and even a built-in mic and Bluetooth Hands-Free support for taking better-than-normal speakerphone calls. All that's missing is a (smallish) bag to carry it in.
Its name might lead you to think it was a music venue, but the Cantata Music Center (£6,000, roughly $9,700) is actually one of the world's best — and most expensive — USB-based Digital Audio Converters. Able to handle a variety of sources, from CDs via the built-in player to digital audio files stored on your Mac, PC, or NAS, the Cantata can also handle wireless or wired links via the Pont Neuf add-on, outputting its pristine audio over XLR or RCA outputs. The worst part? It'll probably end up in an entertainment center, where the gorgeous body and LED display will be hidden from view.