Kevin said: The B2 is a nifty little box, with substantial Bluetooth range and the great sound of the A2s. For our little corner of paradise, which lacked only music, it’s a lifesaver.
The gist: Two Audioengine bookshelf speakers in one box.
Al said: Bluesound’s Pulse Flex offers refined sound and a staggering amount of flexibility in a compact package. The connectivity options alone put the Pulse Flex and its brethren at the head of the pack of Wi-Fi multiroom speakers, eclipsing even Sonos in that regard. Compared to other Wi-Fi speakers I’ve heard at similar prices, the Pulse Flex’s bass and dynamic capabilities are somewhat limited, though Bluesound successfully retained the clarity of voices across a wide range of volumes.
The gist: Put one of these in each room of your house.
Price: $249.99 per pair
Rad said: If you want Bluetooth connectivity but don’t want just a single speaker that either collapses a stereo soundstage or mixes it down to mono, Grace Digital’s BT Bluetooth speakers might be just right for you. They can play loud and clean, and sound relatively transparent without omitting the punch of a pair of good bookshelf speakers.
The gist: Real stereo separation from a portable Bluetooth system.
Rad said: With the X2, Grace Digital has produced a serious threat to Sonos at a fraction of the cost.
The gist: One of many new portable Wi-Fi speakers hitting the market.
Rad said: thought of as a triple-threat device -- a USB charger, a terrific flashlight, and a Bluetooth speaker useful for background listening, biking, or hiking; all of it waterproof, and durable enough to take abuse and keep on ticking -- it’s good value for the dollar, and deserves a solid B+.
The gist: Speaker for the survivalist.
Rad said: The speaker’s waterproofing makes it a great poolside companion -- one that can withstand lots of splashing, or even the occasional dunk. Its sound was good enough for background listening, but not for use as a primary listening source.
The gist: Great choice for the outdoorsman.
Rad said: The KEF Muo is a serious music-reproduction tool intended for those who listen to music seriously, not just as background. Because it was such a joy, I listened to a lot more music than I’d expected to, and found the Muo up to anything I threw at it.
The gist: Classic KEF sound in a little portable Bluetooth speaker.
Rad said: The Sonica had the most tonally even sound, from top to bottom of the audioband, that I’ve heard from a speaker its size. The sound was transparent, focused, and without coloration. A single Sonica was impressive enough; I imagine a stereo pair would be even better.
The gist: Oppo gets all the details right on their first speaker.
Rad said: All in all, the Philips Shoqbox BT2200 Mini, at $49.99, is good value for the dollar. (As I write, Amazon offers it for $47 with free shipping.) If all you need is a little speaker for background music that you can toss in a bag or a cupholder, there’s little to find fault with here.
The gist: Decent sound is getting smaller and smaller.