“My background is as a designer/musician,” said Hiro Ogura, CEO of Voiz LLC, talking about his AiRadio Duo VR-80. “Since I was a boy, I loved building my own radio with a good speaker. But I did not like FM broadcasting’s compressed sound and noise and unstable signal condition -- but finally Wi-Fi radio solved the problem.” The AiRadio Duo VR-80 will fulfill many buyers’ needs, and will look gorgeous while doing so. You’ll have to balance your own needs and desires against its somewhat high price of $299 USD, and I have a few nits to pick -- but the VR-80’s superior sound, tuned by Andover Audio’s Bob Hazelwood, is certain to win you over.
Depending on their size and shape, most waterproof speakers can be taken into the shower, where they can be safely splashed. Looking for one specifically designed for use in the shower, I found the Jensen SMPS-626. This mighty mite has many appealing features, and, at only $34.99 USD, could represent true value for the dollar.
Portable Bluetooth speakers come in all sizes and shapes, but Grace Digital has come up with a unique design for its EcoEdge model -- basically, a square box with big, protruding, squared-off corners that Grace calls bumpers. In Grace’s ads, the EcoEdge’s main selling point is its claimed toughness, and it looks the part -- like a bulldog pup. At $79.99 USD, it might well appeal to a user who wants a small, virtually indestructible Bluetooth speaker but isn’t picky about sound quality.
Two months ago I gave very high marks to Tribit’s MaxSound Plus speaker. The young company then sent me a review sample of their StormBox, which conclusively proves that the MaxSound Plus was no fluke. Tribit makes quality compact Bluetooth speakers that sound good and cost a lot less than the competition -- in this case, $65.99 USD.
Experience has taught me that, no matter how small their Wi-Fi, waterproof, and/or Bluetooth speakers may be, Grace Digital consistently lavishes on their design and manufacture the same high level of care and quality. The EcoPebble Lite ($39.99 USD) is their next-to-least-expensive EcoXGear speaker, after the even-smaller EcoDrop ($29.99) -- the two smallest models in the ExoXGear line. But don’t sneeze at this little guy. As Grace CEO Greg Fadul puts it, the EcoPebble Lite is “tiny but mighty.” I decided to put it through its paces.
Bluetooth-enabled portable speakers have advanced to the point that we’re no longer amazed when such small boxes produce such big sound. Tribit has now upped the ante with a real speaker priced lower than any I’ve seen, and sold through Amazon.com ($55.99 USD).
Other than its AC power connection, the latest and smallest member of Harman/Kardon’s Citation line of Wi-Fi speakers is truly wireless. You can send it music via a Chromecast-enabled app, Bluetooth, or Google Assistant -- it has no input of any kind for a wired device. The Citation One seems a bit pricey at $199.95 USD, but Amazon and other dealers offer significant discounts -- even Harman/Kardon currently sells it for $159.95.
JBL’s mammoth PartyBox 300 speaker is aptly named. It stands 27”H x 13”W x 12.7”D, weighs 34 pounds, plays really loud, and has microphone and guitar inputs for karaoke. Two PartyBoxes can be set up for stereo, and the LEDs that encircle its woofers light up with an impressive show of mesmerizing color patterns. It’s physically imposing -- but does it justify its price of $449.95 USD?
It’s refreshing to see a speaker system that has a model name instead of a number. The Tuk ($799.99/pair USD) comes from the Canadian company Kanto Distribution Inc., and is named for Tuktoyaktuk, a remote village on the shores of the Arctic Ocean, where the aurora borealis is particularly spectacular.
I remember when Grace Digital launched their first EcoXGear model -- a small, waterproof Bluetooth speaker. Now the line has swollen to more than 20 speakers of all sizes and prices, and something for everyone. One of the most recent is the mighty EcoTrek ($229.99 USD). Weighing 19.2 pounds and measuring 17”H x 15”W x 10.2”D, it falls midway between the EcoBoulder ($249.99) and the EcoXplorer ($169.99), both of which I’ve reviewed -- but the EcoTrek is the only stereo model of those three. Or you can link two EcoTreks, set up as much as 30’ apart, for two-speaker stereo.