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Speakers

The Azur 851E preamp and the Azur 851W power amp from Cambridge Audio

The UK's Cambridge Audio is taking some new products to Las Vegas in January for the Consumer Electronics Show. Its existing Azur 851A Integrated Class XD Amplifier and 851C Upsampling DAC, CD Player & Preamplifier, which were launched at CES 2012, are to be joined by three new Azur 851 Series siblings – the E preamp, W power amp and D digital to analog converter. An Azur 651 power amp, some Minx bookshelf speakers and a concealable ceiling speaker are also set to make their debut.  Read More

The supercapacitor-powered Helium Bluetooth speakers from Blueshift

Sharing music with friends through laptop or smartphone speakers can be less than satisfying, which perhaps goes some way to explaining the overwhelming choice of portable Bluetooth speakers that come into view as you enter a consumer electronics store. Such offerings all suffer the same problem, though. Just as you're getting your groove on, the built-in battery dies and you have to wait hours while it juices up from a wall socket. What mobile music lovers like me need are wireless speakers that can charge in minutes, and then last for hours. An impossible dream? Sam Beck from Portland's Blueshift doesn't think so. He's developed mono and stereo portable Bluetooth speakers powered by supercapacitors. Helium users can look forward to a super quick charge time, hours of full volume playback and years of recharge cycles before needing to consider a supercap refresh.  Read More

The Korus Wireless Speakers from Core Brands LLC

Playing music without having to run a cable between speakers and smartphone, computer or media player has great appeal, but is not without issues. Bluetooth technology is well supported, but has limited range and pairing can sometimes be a real test of character. AirPlay or Wi-Fi give a little more freedom to wander, but you're tied to a router and all the finicky logins and security settings that go with that particular territory. The Korus wireless speakers from Core Brands use a wireless audio protocol called SKAA that promises increased range, easy setup, almost latency-free high fidelity playback.  Read More

Solar energy powers the ZingBox

What's cooler than a boom box for loads of street cred? A boom box powered with solar energy, of course. Aron Zingman, a designer from Cambridge, Massachusetts, has created just that – an updated version of the 80s music-playing icon. He named the unit after himself (ZingBox), which should make him quite popular in the outdoor party circuit.  Read More

The iLoud portable speaker for musicians and audiophiles

Thanks to mobile audio processing and recording apps, composing on the road has never been easier. Showing off your latest killer riff to the rest of the band through tablet or laptop speakers is less than satisfying, however. There are a good many battery-powered micro amps out there which might help a little, but the output is often, to put it delicately, sub-par. Italy's IK Multimedia demonstrated a wired/wireless audio thrower at the Winter NAMM show back in January that promised studio monitor sound quality in a portable, chunky tablet-sized package. Developed specifically for musicians and audiophiles, the 40 W iLoud has now been released.  Read More

The new Wall of Sound 2 iPod dock

Have your iPod dock speakers ever been found wanting? Perhaps the background noise was a little too loud? Well this should do the trick. The Wall of Sound 2 kicks out at a spritely 8000 watts and 130dB; as loud, apparently, "as an F-15 jet with its afterburners on at 100 meters". Or, in layman’s terms, to permanently damage hearing.  Read More

The new Immaculate Wireless Sound BeoLab speakers from Bang & Olufsen

As promised earlier this month, Denmark's Bang & Olufsen has officially moved into the wireless speaker market with the launch of three new WiSA-certified BeoLab digital active speakers. Undeniably stylish and capable of streaming high fidelity, uncompressed audio, the Immaculate Wireless Sound range comprises the BeoLab 17 bookshelf speaker, the BeoLab 18 column floor-standers, and the BeoLab 19 subwoofer.  Read More

The gesture-controlled PACO concrete speaker from Digital Habit(s)

Visitors to the homes of audio buffs might well be surprised to find weighty blocks of concrete breaking up the living room's otherwise colorful designer decor. These high-end music lovers have turned their backs on the unwelcome distortion and color that can be caused by oscillations of MDF, wood or plastic speaker cabinets, and plumped for drivers housed in concrete. If you can't afford, or don't have room for, large commercially-available floor-standing units like the exquisite N1 loudspeakers from Germany's Concrete Audio, Italy's Digital Habit(s) design house has created a gesture-controlled, Bluetooth-enabled tabletop speaker called PACO, which can be built at home using open source plans, or bought fully assembled.  Read More

The Sonos Play:1 compact wireless speaker

I think it's fair to say that not all wireless music systems are created equal. One of the best streaming speakers I've heard is the Play:5 from Sonos (formerly the Zoneplayer S5), but at US$400 a pop, a multi-room setup can get very expensive, very quickly. Sonos is now offering a cheaper way to enter its world of Hi-Fi audio streaming with the introduction of the Play:1 compact wireless speaker.  Read More

This is a speaker, believe it or not (Photo by Eliza Grinnell, SEAS Communications)

Audio speakers are showing up in a variety of unusual forms these days, from the incredibly tiny to the eye-catchingly bizarre, but a research group at Harvard University may have trumped them all with a new one that's as clear as glass. Scientists at the college's Engineering and Applied Sciences branch recently built a flexible speaker out of ionic gel that is almost invisible to the naked eye and can produce high-quality sound ranging across the full audible spectrum. In doing so, they also provided a proof of concept for electronics that can transfer electric signals in a similar manner to the human nervous system.  Read More

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