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10 of the Best Portable Speakers that Put Music First

Smart home devices may rule the headlines, but these speakers stick to doing one thing really well…

Aerosphere

The best music takes you on a journey, so there’s no reason the best music players shouldn’t be able to accompany you on your own journeys—whether out and about or just around the house. Smart countertop devices that respond to user voice commands like Google Home might get all the press, but there is still a burgeoning ecosystem of wireless speakers with only one or a handful of features. These devices are solely focused on producing high quality sound without the added frills of popular smart home gadgets. Audiophiles would argue that all additional circuitry beyond audio functions detracts from the purity of sound and distracts the developers from focusing on sound quality first. That said, the availability of smaller, more efficient audio technology and the demand for quality sound has spurred the market of high-end countertop systems that add a dimension of portability to music. In this lineup, we have compiled a collection of the best tabletop and portable audio players from top manufacturers and boutique firms. Some plug into the wall for convenient home listening, while others are battery powered for on-the-go experiences. Either way, these portable speakers address the needs of listeners who care about sound first.

Bowers & Wilkins T7

Bowers & Wilkins T7 Wireless

Bowers & Wilkins has a decades-long proven track record in the loudspeaker market, so it has no need for hyperbole when marketing its recent T7 Wireless portable audio product. At just over 8 inches wide, the T7 contains a large bass radiator flanked by two small, custom-made Bowers & Wilkins drivers. The secret ingredient that elevates this Bluetooth speaker to truly notable levels is the honeycomb-shaped structure surrounding the drivers, which provides surprising rigidity and resonant properties to ensure exceptional sound for its size. The T7 comes in two colors, black and gold, and can be purchased direct from the manufacturer’s website for $350. (bowers-wilkins.com)

KEF Muo

KEF Muo

You can easily spot a KEF product across a room by its unmistakable following contours, and the Muo is no exception. Even though it is the smallest KEF product, it shares the same designer as its giant, top-of-the-line Muon loudspeakers. The Muo is housed in an acoustically inert aluminum shell built with maximum rigidity in mind. A single $350 speaker will sync effortlessly with virtually any mobile devices, and users can purchase two Muos for stereo operation. With 12 hours of battery life and a variety of colors to choose from, the KEF portable is not afraid of competition. The manufacturer offers a test file on its website and challenges customers to play it back on the Muo and other portable speakers to hear the difference. (us.kef.com)

Libratone Zipp

Liberatone Zipp

Delivering 360 degrees of room-filling sound and a laundry list of features, the Liberatone Zipp is an easy whole-home audio solution. It offers wireless portability, the ability to stream music from popular online services, and personalization through multiple cover styles and colors. The $300 Zipp also features 10 hours of battery life and both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities. What really sets the Zipp apart from its competition is the ability to pair multiple units, which the manufacturer recommends be placed in each room in the house for completely seamless audio. If the Zipp is too big, the company also sells three smaller products that offer even greater portability. (libratone.com)

Dali Kubik Free

Dali Kubik Free

Power and precision seem to be the guiding principles behind the Dali Kubik Free, the Danish company’s first foray into the wireless portable market. The speaker uses an impressive 100 watts of energy to power two drivers—a wood-pulp woofer and a tweeter—unlike its competitors, which typically rely on a single driver for full-range frequency response. The Kubik Free is also intended to be a stationary countertop system, so it includes a variety of physical inputs as well as the latest Bluetooth compatibility. It is offered in 9 different colors and retails for $995 from Dali dealers. (dali-speakers.com)

Bang & Olufsen Beolit17

Bang & Olufsen Beolit 17

It was inevitable that a Bang & Olufsen product would show up on this list at some point. Simply put, the brand’s devices are as beautiful as they are functional. Up until recently, any mention of a portable wireless player from B&O would have been in reference to its popular Beoplay A6. However, a recent addition to its lineup, the $500 Beolit 17, is a new portable speaker that offers full 360-degree sound in a tiny form factor. The drive units contained within the speaker are so efficient that the unit can operate for up to 24 hours on a single charge. The list of the Beolit 17’s is so long that it is well beyond the scope of this article. Most notably, it includes standard wireless music playback as well as use of B&O’s mobile app for alarm features, auto-shut off, and connectivity to a variety of popular streaming services. (beoplay.com)

Klispch The Three

Klispch The Three

With a design that harkens back to the golden age of audio, the mid-century modern Klipsch The Three ($400) brings a classic touch to the present-day wireless speaker. A feature-rich device—equipped with standard analog and digital inputs as well as wireless functions—The Three even includes a phono stage for connecting directly to a turntable. It is available in Walnut or Ebony finishes and mostly functions as a countertop system, since it requires access to a wall outlet. (klipsch.com)

Geneva Sound Aerosphére

Geneva Sound Aerosphére

Looking like a futuristic orb clad in black, red, or white, the Geneva Aerosphére Small’s minimalist design is nothing short of unique. AeroSphere’s impressive performance stems from three core characteristics: each speaker includes a dedicated woofer and tweeter custom designed by Geneva, there is a variety of wireless and wired input options, and finally, a well-designed mobile app that ties all the features together. The AeroSphere includes multi-room support, and two units can be paired together for stereo use. Connectivity with all popular online streaming services makes the $388 AeroSphere a modern-day audio Renaissance man. (genevalab.com)

Audio Pro Addon T10 GEN2

Audio Pro Addon T10 GEN2

You might not be familiar with Scandinavian manufacturer Audio Pro, but your eardrums will certainly remember the bass put out by their new Addon T10 GEN2. Audio Pro approaches audio design with a bass-first focus, as evidenced by their own marketing materials, which boast of “bass that will knock your socks off.” If that isn’t enough for the most discerning bass head, this $340 tote-able speaker also includes a subwoofer. As a portable product, it factors in a USB port for easy mobile device charging, and inputs include Bluetooth and a standard auxiliary jack. (audiopro.com)

Monitor Audio Airstream S150

Monitor Audio Airstream S150

The Monitor Audio Airstream S150 is just about as compact as portable tabletop speakers come. This small speaker won’t tell the weather or respond to voice commands, but it will play music cleanly and astonishingly well considering the compact nature of its design. It connects to sources via Bluetooth or auxiliary jack inputs, and it is equipped with three drivers in total: two mid-bass woofers and a single tweeter. Its simplicity may be a drawback in some ways (for instance, it must remain fettered to an AC outlet), but with a price point of about $170, the S150 accomplishes its mission of offering no-compromise sound with a small, tabletop form factor. (monitoraudiousa.com)

RIVA Turbo X

Riva Turbo X

Riva Audio—founded by Rikki Farr, whose storied history in the music industry includes working with bands such as Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd—has introduced a new product that almost defies categorization. Riva Audio Turbo X includes 7 audio drivers and a software technology called Trillium, which splits stereo music into three channels for a wide, deep concert-like sound. The Turbo X also includes a wide range of features, such as wireless connectivity, a mobile app, a phono input for vinyl playback, and over 26 hours of battery play time. Priced at $300, this product that carries on the legacy of rock legends may be worth a listen. (rivaaudio.com)

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