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Audio Reviews


Wren V5US Review: A Truly Great Speaker With Bluetooth, AirPlay, And Play-Fi Support, But It Has A Really Steep Price

I had the opportunity a couple of years ago to review the V5PF (Play-Fi) Wireless Speaker from Wren. The sound quality was absolutely immaculate, and everything about the physical product more than justified its fairly high price tag. The one unfortunate dark spot in the nearly perfect experience came from software – an Android app built by DTS to run its proprietary Play-Fi protocol. It was ugly, amateurish, and unreliable. Two years have passed, and Wren has released the V5US, a new model that not only fixes some minor issues from previous products, but it also combines the features of its three existing variants to produce a single speaker with support for Play-Fi, AirPlay, and Bluetooth.

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Ultimate Ears BOOM 2 Review: Better Than The Original, But No Longer The Best

Back in July of 2014, a speaker came out that changed the way I thought of Bluetooth speakers: the Ultimate Ears BOOM. At the time — and for many months after — this speaker was the benchmark by which all others were judged. Then came the MEGABOOM, a damn-near double sized BOOM. Again, benchmark-quality stuff. The ROLL is the smallest entry from Ultimate Ears, but that didn't stop it from also being incredible. Needless to say, Ultimate Ears has been putting out some of my favorite speakers over the last two years.

Then JBL came along and changed the game again.

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[Hands-On] Ultimate Ears Releases 'Block Party Mode' Update For The MEGABOOM, BOOM 2, And ROLL

Ultimate Ears makes some of the best Bluetooth speakers on the market today, but what's almost as notable is the company's consistent updates. The BOOM speakers are already some of the most feature-rich when combined with the app(s), and today they're getting even better with a new feature called "Block Party Mode."

Basically, this allows up to three devices to connect to the speaker at the same time and take turns playing music. Everything is controlled by the "host" (the person who started the Block Party), which allows them to play/pause music on any of the connected devices, as well as change the volume of the speaker and boot users who don't want to play nicely.

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Fluance Fi50 Bookshelf Bluetooth Speaker Review: Great looks, Good Sound, And A Few Oversights

Sometimes you want a speaker that can go with you. But other times, you want something loud and powerful for use at home, and oftentimes those speakers aren't one and the same — if it's small enough for travel, it's rarely powerful enough for home use. Conversely, if it's powerful enough to fill the house, it's not really suited well for travel. And of course, that all goes without mentioning the stylistic differences between speakers made for on-the-go use and those designed to spend most of their time on a shelf.

While I've spent the majority of my time with Bluetooth speakers designed for portability, today we're going to take a look at a super sexy bookshelf speaker made for use around the house or at the office: the $200 Fluance Fi50.

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JBL Xtreme And Flip 3 Review: Competition, Destroyed

When it comes to Bluetooth speakers, there are a few brands that I find to be consistently awesome. After spending a few weeks with the Xtreme ($299) and Flip 3 ($99), I think JBL may have made itself a mainstay on that shortlist of manufacturers that make great speakers, because these are two of the most impressive pieces of Bluetooth audio equipment I’ve ever laid, um, ears on.

Seriously — I was not expecting either of these speakers to be as awesome as they are. Let's start with the big one.


I like to put BT speakers into a few categories: ultra-portable, portable, boombox, and bookshelf (or non-portable).

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Creative Labs Sound Blaster Roar 2 Review: A Killer Successor To One Of The Best Speakers I've Ever Heard

Back in June of last year, I took the Creative Labs Sound Blaster Roar for a spin (and loved it). When Creative pinged me about the Roar's successor, I naturally couldn't wait to get my hands on it - and with a tagline like "Smaller, Lighter, & Sexier," I hoped that it would be even better than its predecessor.

Spoiler: it is. This thing is legit. And for a starting price of $170, it's hard to deny that it's one of the best speakers around right now.

Appearance and Features

From an aesthetic standpoint, the Roar 2 looks a lot like last year's model. No surprise there, really - what would be the point of completely changing the design and keeping the same name?

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[Hands-On] Plantronics Announces The BackBeat SENSE, A Smart Bluetooth Headset With 18Hrs Of Music Playback

I may have more than half a dozen Bluetooth earphones lying around home and at work, but my personal preference is almost always skewed toward Plantronics. The BackBeat GO 2 has been a mainstay in my purse for almost two years, and the BackBeat Fit is my absolute favorite workout headset. Both provide a great balance of features, battery life, and portability that fits with my needs. That's why I was eager to see what the company has in store with its newest foray, and the BackBeat SENSE didn't disappoint me. But before I go into my thoughts on this pair of headphones, let's start with the specs.

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Inateck MercuryBox Bluetooth Speaker Review: Like Stuffing A Speaker In A Pile Of Wet Socks

I've reviewed a lot of Bluetooth speakers over the past few years. So, so many speakers. In fact, I've even written about the best speakers that money can buy in a national magazine. I feel like, at this point, I have an excellent idea of what's out there, and what's good for the money. Historically, $99 has been my starting price point when recommending a good speaker, as I haven't really been impressed with anything below that price point.

So, when Inatech reached out to me about the MercuryBox, a compact, waterproof, $55 speaker, I had my reservations. But it's been a while since I've checked out anything in this price range, so I figured this would be a good unit to see how far more affordable speakers have come.

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UE ROLL Review: Rock'n And Roll'n Its Way To The Top Of The $99 Speaker Market

It's no secret that I love Ultimate Ears' Bluetooth speakers - the BOOM was my absolute favorite speaker for nearly two years. Then the MEGABOOM came out, and UE once again impressed the hell out of me with the amazing sound it can get out of such a portable package. Today, the company announced the smallest in what I still think can be classified as the "BOOM Family" - the UE ROLL. (OK, it doesn't necessarily have BOOM in the name, but c'mon - it's clearly part of the family.)

The ROLL is made to take the place of the UE Mini BOOM, which was the smallest member of the family.

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Nyne Aqua Bluetooth Speaker Review: A Floating Speaker That Sinks In The Sound Department

If there's one market I've seen change dramatically over the last three years or so, it has to be the portable speaker scene. It went from being a category with a few mostly niche products that you had to convince yourself to spend a couple hundred bucks on to something pretty incredible - there's easily something for every type of person, lifestyle, and budget on the market right now. And really, it keeps getting better. More features, better sound quality, improved portability, and increased battery life are all things that we continuously see these days.

While we've looked at waterproof (or completely submersible) speakers in the past, the Nyne Aqua stands apart from the crowd with one very unique feature: it's not only waterproof, but it also floats.

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