With the new Sound Bar Flex, LG didn't make the world's best sound bar. It's actually a bit of a stretch to call the modular, three-piece speaker system a sound bar at all. And at $899, the (mostly) wireless setup isn't quite a bargain either. You know what, though? The Sound Bar Flex sure is fun to use.
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Sonos's latest speaker is built not to go around your TV, nor in front of it. It's built to go underneath, and to blend in with your existing furniture more than any Sonos speaker before it. It's only built for a certain kind of TV, but that doesn't mean you're not going to want to try it out anyway.
Bang & Olufsen's younger, funkier BeoPlay brand has really been kicking some goals recently; I haven't met a BeoPlay speaker that I haven't loved. The same is true even of this latest P2, a pint-sized USB-C-powered travel companion that makes perfect sense for anyone with a new Android phone to take with them in backpack or purse wherever they go. It sounds so much better than your phone's tinny speakers, but fits away in even the smallest bag.
Sonos speakers already live all around your house — your living room, your bedroom, your bathroom. You might already have a Sonos speaker in the same room as your TV. You might already have a Playbar. If you don't, though, it might be because you don't have room underneath your TV — maybe it's not wall mounted, maybe it lives on a skinny entertainment unit. That's why Sonos has a new speaker for your TV, designed to live underneath it. It's called the Playbase.
B&O Play is the Danish audio brand's more accessible, younger, funkier sibling, and it has a new wireless speaker to take on Sonos in your home. Design has always been a hallmark of Play and its much more distinguished older brother, and accordingly the new M5 is an utterly beautiful device — probably the most stylish I've ever seen.
The LG FH6 Freestyler is a floor-standing, all-in-one stereo speaker system — it's basically a modern day boombox. But it's modern in more than just its looks — it can hook up three phones simultaneously over Bluetooth, it can supercharge your TV sound, and it's one hell of a karaoke machine. Here are six things that you can try to turn the all-in-one system into a speaker that's equally good at movies or music.
Sure, you can buy small, portable, battery-powered Bluetooth speakers that you can take with you wherever you go. In a pinch, they'll do a decent job for a small house party. But if you want to do things right, you want a big Bluetooth speaker. One that can draw enough power to dim the lights in your neighbourhood every time the bass kicks in. LG's FH6 X-Boom Freestyler — yes, that's its name — is a floor-standing speaker or horizontal boombox with a ridiculously large amount of audio power, and a bunch of LED lights on the front that you can set to flicker on and off in any colour you desire.
The Devialet Phantom's been around a while, but the Apple Store in the US has recently started selling the basic-but-still-very-expensive version of the speaker. Fans will be tempted, but you never want to buy something just because it's in the Apple Store, so we gave it a try. Everything about the speaker seems impressive. It's wireless, incredibly powerful, yet compact, and it plays bass so low you can only feel it — all while looking like an H.R. Giger creation. It also costs $3000.
If you want music playing in every room of your house, there's only one easy way to do it: buy a bunch of wireless audio speakers. Samsung is really stepping up its wireless audio game, and the new R1, R3 and R5 speakers are the first salvo in what is set to be a big war against Sonos, as well as other wi-fi speaker competitors like LG and Sony.
Your smartphone or tablet is a gateway to tens of millions of music tracks, of audio playlists and podcasts and internet radio stations. The only problem is that your smartphone's speaker is not great — and that's where wireless sound systems come into their own. And sure, you can hook up a Bluetooth speaker for a temporary high, but if you're listening at home then you can do a lot, lot better. Sonos's new Play:5 speaker is about the size of a regular bookshelf speaker — the kind that you'd have paired up next to your TV, for a small home theatre setup — but it packs so much more power.
Back in 2013, we were blessed with the launch of the UE Boom — a small, portable, waterproof speaker that sounded great for its size and had enough battery life to last a full day at the beach. But that was two years ago, and since then we've had the UE Roll and the Megaboom — a smaller speaker and a larger one. Since then, we've been waiting for a new Boom. The second incarnation of one of the best Bluetooth-toting portable speakers we've ever used is here, and it's better in every single way.
We really, really like the Sonos Play:5 — it's incredibly easy to set up and use, and gives you smartphone- or tablet-friendly access to dozens of different streaming music and internet radio services. And now it's even better, optimised for stereo listening and with a wider soundrange, clearer treble and more powerful bass. And that's not the only announcement; Sonos has a new top-of-the-line wireless speaker to show off, but some fancy new software tricks that can make it sound even better.
I loved, and continue to love, the UE Boom. It's a great little speaker — water-resistant, surprisingly powerful, just the right size, versatile Bluetooth. After a couple of years, Logitech and Ultimate Ears have a new one — it's (unsurprisingly) called the UE Boom 2, it's more powerful, more waterproof, with new controls, and new software.
If you have a gaming PC or home-office machine that lives on a workdesk or in a study, it makes sense to invest in a good pair of speakers. But on my desk, I also have two smartphones, an iPad, and a constantly revolving suite of wireless devices. It makes more sense, then, to invest in a good set of speakers that also have Bluetooth. Edifier's Luna Eclipse speakers, new to Australia, are made for everyday PC usage but are equally at home playing back your favourite tunes wirelessly.
Buying a speaker with omnidirectional sound may sound a little pointless, but unless you're always sitting in the same spot to listen to your music or watch your movies it actually makes sense. We're seeing more and more 360-degree speakers come out, but now Samsung has two new glossy obelisks that will project sound all around your living space.
Bluetooth speakers are a dime a dozen these days. Some are definitely better than others, but most of the wireless hi-fi units on the market are made by electronics companies rather than heritage audio companies with a foremost interest in sound quality. There are some longtime audio brands out there that take their time and do things right, though. Bang & Olufsen's first ever Bluetooth speaker, the BeoPlay A2, is actually one of the best you can buy.
There are dozens of Bluetooth speakers available in Australia today that follow a standard template: internal rechargeable battery, Bluetooth, microphone for handsfree calls, and a set of mono or stereo speaker drivers to make the best use of that precious remaining chassis space. Harman Kardon's Esquire Mini doesn't pack the outright punch of its bigger brother, but it's significantly more portable and makes a great hotel room companion for those short overseas trips. (OK, get your mind out of the gutter.)
Melbourne design team Studio Proper is best known for its Wallee mounts for iPad and iPhone. (They're not terrible, either, according to you.) But they've branched out from cases and mounting systems, dipping their toes in the waters of technology with a novel, circular wireless speaker. It's called the PA2 — that's for Proper Audio, by the way — and it's actually the second Bluetooth stereo that Studio Proper has designed and prototyped.