Audio & Speakers
Spotify’s Car Thing is the company’s first foray into hardware. The “thing” is a voice-controlled device/display for use in the car; a Bluetooth-connected “remote” for enjoying Spotify without the need for a phone. Which will be useful in older and classic cars without infotainment & connectivity. The dash-mounted device features 2 tactile buttons allowing you to easily, safely control Spotify manually as well as by voice command. It will only be available to wait-listed Premium subscribers selected at random.
To get the absolute best-quality audio you can between your device and your headphones, the Onyx DAC from THX makes it easy. This tiny USB dongle plugs in to deliver clean DAC with 4 options for sound: standard, high resolution, Direct Stream Digital (DSD) and Master Quality Authenticated (MQA). Works with PC, Mac, Android & iPad.
Danish audio innovator Bang & Olufsen is calling its flagship Beoplay HX headphones, “outstanding.” We won’t disagree. With premium materials throughout—like aluminum, lambskin, and memory foam, they’re built for long-lasting comfort. Add Adaptive ANC, B&O’s 40mm drivers & 35-hours of battery life & the HX sounds pretty good to us.
With punchy, full-range sound delivered by 11mm Beryllium drivers, the MW08 ceramic earbuds from high-end audio brand Master & Dynamic feature not just killer audio but advanced ANC. Aluminum, nano-bonded external antennas ensure flawless connectivity, while Ambient Mode keeps you aware of external sounds—as little or as much as you like. Battery life is a respectable 10 hours, with a total of 40-hours of playback from the charging case.
The very pocketable USB-C DAC from premium audio brand Astell&Kern debuts. It’s a cable bridge that plugs in between your USB-C Android device & headphones to bring you robust, distortion-free sound. The converter is a Cirrus Logic CS43198 MasterHiFi that supports native DSD256 playback plus 32-bit audio files. This lightweight & compact DAC is encased in a zinc-alloy housing for stylish durability.
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As the first Sony speakers to feature the brand’s 360 Reality Audio format, the new 360 Reality Audio bluetooth speakers deliver immersive 360 soundscapes. There are 2 models: the RA3000 and RA5000, both are compatible with Alexa & Google Assistant, Alexa Cast in Amazon Music HD, and feature built-in Chromecast for effortless streaming.
As it marks its centennial, Germany’s iconic Braun brand has created a unique collab with global design influencer Virgil Abloh. From deep in the Braun archive, Virgil unearthed and updated the 1965 Wandanlage hi-fi audio wall unit; a stunning & fully functional Dieter Rams-designed sound system with a fresh chrome finish.
Powerful enough for room-filling sound at home while small enough for all-around portability, the Roam speaker from SONOS is a versatile little noisemaker. It’s the audio brand’s smallest and most affordable speaker yet but the feature set is impressive. SONOS is known for premium quality sound & fit the Roam with dual Class H amps and an arcing “racetrack” mid-woofer. The battery delivers over 10 hours of playback & the IP67 rating keeps it weather-protected in the great outdoors.
Marshall’s first entry into the realm of true wireless earbuds is called the Mode II. These loud little earphones feature 6mm dynamic drivers, Bluetooth 5.1 connectivity and IXP4 water resistance. The buds offer just over 7-hours of playback while the charging case provides 4 full charges for up to 25-hours of continuous play. Adjustable EQ, touch controls & voice assistant make them equally adept for work and play. Available for pre-order now.
Seeking to extend the effective life of its high-end connected home speakers, Bang & Olufsen’s Beosound Level is a battery-powered speaker with a modular design that uses advanced chip technologies designed to handle software updates far into the future. The speaker streams via AirPlay 2, Chromecast, and Spotify Connect & supports Google Voice Assistant. Battery offers 16-hours continuous playback & recharges via USB-C.
High-end French audio brand Devialet has just released the latest evolution of its infamous stand-alone speaker, the Phantom. The new & carefully upgraded Phantom I retains the same smooth, spherical design & with the luxurious good looks comes enhanced single-chip audio processing, Heart Bass Implosion (HBI) tech, and Apple AirPlay2 streaming support. Choose matte black or gloss white/rose gold.
When it first launched more than 40 years ago, Korg’s miniKORG 700S was an overnight sensation—bringing studio-quality synth sounds to home players & touring acts alike. Today, the iconic analog monosynth returns as the miniKORG 700FS, featuring modern function and key classic features like a secondary detunable oscillator for thick bass plus an arpeggiator, spring reverb and aftertouch. Korg has not yet announced a release date.
Fender’s Mustang Micro is a compact, portable headphone amp that plugs directly into an electric guitar, giving players a wide range of 12 different amp emulators and 13 pedal-like effects, making it a versatile practice and recording gadget. Powered by a USB-C rechargeable battery.
Four years back when Jeep’s all-new Wagoneer was still just a concept car, the plan was hatched to develop a McIntosh sound system for the luxurious new lineup. Offered in the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L, the McIntosh MX950 Entertainment System brings high-end audio & handmade craftsmanship to the in-motion sound experience. A 17-channel amplifier delivers up to 950 watts of power & the system boasts a LD/HP speaker design to lower distortion while Power Guard ensures exceptional clarity even at very high-volume.
As the first noise-cancelling headphone from V-Moda, M-200 ANC retains the distinctive design of the original with a tech upgrade that includes Active Noise Cancelling technology plus Bluetooth 5.0 with Bluetooth codec support. In addition to SBC codec that all audio devices use, these also have aptX HD for high quality streaming and AAC for iOS devices.
Utilizing the same runner-friendly audio tech as the Bose Frames glasses, the brand’s new Sport Open Earbuds won’t block-out ambient noise, providing safety & improved situational awareness. The bud design features no tip, rather the earbud sits above your ear canal—providing a customizable mix of your audio & noise from the outside world. They feature 16mm drivers and are IPX4 splash-resistant, offering battery life up to 8 hours at 50% volume.
Los Angeles-based audio hardware startup Syng—creators of Apple’s HomePod speaker—are rolling out a Spatial Audio speaker of their own. The orb-shaped Cell Alpha delivers immersive, room-filling sound with 7.1 channel surround. The 360º speaker array consists of a pair of chunky woofers, a 6-pack of tweeters & mid-range drivers, plus three microphones which function to continuously “tune” the audio to the space.
With voice detection and ANC powered by machine learning, the Olive Pro wireless earbuds combine the best of mobile audio with an FDA-registered hearing aid, allowing users to hear clearly by reducing ambient sounds while focusing enhancement on a specific sound source—like the other person’s voice. 18-hour battery life & rich hi-fi audio make “affordable hearing for all” sound really good. A funded Kickstarter.
Just when you thought Apple might exit 2020 with a fizzle, they unveiled AirPods Max, their new flagship over-ear & noise-cancelling headphones. Boasting 40mm drivers and “custom acoustic design” for rich, full-spectrum audio, they offer adaptive EQ and transparency mode as well as spatial audio and audio sharing. They feature aluminum construction with a soft & breathable knit mesh in the headband & ear cups. Battery life is 20 hours. Available in 5 colors December 15.
For the latest update to their Hammerhead earbuds, Razer bumped up performance, adding Active Noise Cancelling & THX Audio. With Hi-Fi sound and noise isolation, the Hammerhead True Wireless Pro also features a low-latency mode for improved sound/video sync while gaming.