independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

Stay tuned in and on song with high-quality wireless speakers

Music on the Tablet PC
Music on the Tablet PC

Stereo. For some, it evokes a couple of rectangular black box units with large dials, a few small green or red lights and accompanying speakers. But in an age of Spotify and iTunes, this is an increasingly quaint notion.

These days, a decent sound system has more to do with finding a reasonably high-quality way to get one's tunes off an iPod, tablet or smartphone, where most of our music now lives.

This is where wireless speakers come in. The basic format to these devices is the same: a stereo speaker that connects to your phone, tablet or MP3 player via a wireless Bluetooth signal. (Some high-end models can also play music over wifi, but this is a more complicated home set-up process.) Most are designed to be portable, too.

Here are four such wireless speakers that I have found to be of decent quality.

The power option

Sony BTX500 speaker (€350)

Sony's high-end wireless speaker is loaded with tech and boasts a pretty good sound. Its tech credentials come from its inclusion of NFC, meaning quick connection to most (high-end) smartphones. It can also act as a speakerphone if you really need it to.

Its audio prowess comes courtesy of a dedicated sub-woofer and a couple of passive radiators: these give out just about the best sound in its class, even at high volume. Its rechargeable battery lasts about six hours and slim design rounds off a nice speaker

The classic option

Bose Soundlink 2 (€300)

Bose has a reputation for being both pricey and high-end. I found the Soundlink 2 lived up to both claims.

While €300 is a lot to spend on something that is little more than half the size of Sony's BTX500, it's fair to say that its audio quality is genuinely exceptional. The Soundlink 2 also has the advantage of being the best-looking speaker on the market with a beautiful leather cover that facilitates easy movement around the house. Its rechargeable battery lasts around seven hours. This is the speaker you would treat yourself to.

The outdoors option

Logitech UE Boom (€200)

While either speaker from Sony or Bose can be taken on the road for company, both may need a little looking after against rain or dirt.

They also have a relatively modest battery life. Logitech's robust UE Boom is designed to overcome these considerations. First, the cylindrical device can take a little wetness or rough-and-tumble while still belting out whatever your phone has to offer over Bluetooth. It also has an above-average (rechargeable) battery life of 'up to' 15 hours, which means a reduced need for chargers. The design – with its oversize volume buttons – emphasises its simplicity. This doesn't quite match the classic speakers for quality, but it's not far off at €100 cheaper.

The budget option

Philips Shoqbox (€80)

While Philips may have faded from view in TV shops, it is still making some decent electronics accessories.

The small Shoqbox is designed to be a 'rugged' Bluetooth speaker that can travel around with you. In this vein, it has a relatively high degree of water resistance and shock-proof casing. But for the money, it also happens to stand out as a superior wireless box for its audio quality alone. It does this despite its relatively diminutive size: just seven inches by three inches. It has some nice technology under the hood too, with a 'smart sensor' that allows some hand-gesture control.

Irish Independent

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