The latest round of Bluetooth speakers include a Fluance model that could double as a home’s main stereo system, while iHome plans a model designed for use as a clock radio. Models from Philips and Onkyo retransmit a Bluetooth stream to other speakers in a house via proprietary wireless.
Here’s what’s coming:
Fluance: The Niagara Falls, Ontario, company launched its largest Bluetooth speaker to date, the $499 floorstanding AConly Fi70. The three-way stereo speaker, with included floor pedestal, features hand-made wood cabinet, Bluetooth AptX, AM/FM tuner, optical digital input, analog input, and 2x140-watt (continuous) amp that drives a pair of 8-inch woofers, 5-inch woven-glass-fiber midranges, and 1-inch neodymium tweeters. It delivers bass to 20Hz and comes in black ash, bamboo and natural walnut finishes at Fluance.com and Amazon.
The speaker measures 29.5 by 11 by 23.2 inches without stand and 29.5 by 11 by 36 inches with stand.
iHome: Multiple new Bluetooth speakers include the iBT37 portable IP67-rated water-and dust-proof rechargeable speaker with speakerphone, shock resistance, carry strap and carabiner clip at an expected suggested $39.
The iBT682 True Wireless rechargeable speaker features LED lighting that changes color, ability to use two as a stereo pair, and built-in speakerphone at an expected suggested $59.
The Kineta K5 Bluetooth dual-alarm clock radio with speakerphone comes with pop-out removable battery pack to charge devices. The expected suggested retail is $69.
All ship in the second quarter.
Music Wrap: The Los Angeles startup launched a Kickstarter campaign to pay for the development of the $69 M25 combination Bluetooth speaker and headphones. Its flexible headband can be bent in different positions, allowing it to be placed upright on a flat surface for use as a freestanding portable stereo speaker. The headband can also be wrapped around handbags and wrists.
Onkyo: The first Onkyo-branded Bluetooth-only speakers, available through Gibson Innovations, are tentatively scheduled for a June launch. They are the X9 at $349, X6 at $199, X3 at $179 and T3 at $129. All are portable models with ability to charge mobile devices.
The X9 steps up to add a USB audio input to play high-res music files from a connected PC. It features 40-watt RMS output, two-way design, and dual passive radiators.
The portable speakers join Bluetooth-equipped mini systems and a home speaker with iPod dock and Bluetooth.
Also new is the X500 wireless multiroom high-resolution audio speaker, due in September at $349 through Gibson Innovations. It is a Bluetooth speaker and then some. It retransmits a Bluetooth stream to up to four other models up 10 100 meters away via proprietary technology that doesn’t tap into a home’s Wi-Fi network.
The speaker will also retransmit music from sources connected via USB, optical input, or aux input.
Like multiple Philips-brand speakers from Gibson Innovations, the X500 uses Izzylink multiroom technology to broadcast the same music to other Izzylink speakers in the house. Users press the group button on one speaker to share the same music with other speakers. No Izzy multiroom app is needed.
The X500 packs 50-watt amplifier (with less than 1 percent THD), two tweeters, one midbass driver, and two opposing force-canceling passive radiators. It delivers frequency response out to 40kHz from wired sources.
Philips: The Philips-brand Bluetooth speakers equipped with Izzy wireless multiroom technology (see above) are $129 BM5, available at Best Buy and Amazon, and the $179 BM6, launching in June. It adds internal battery and IPX rating.
Sony: Two new Bluetooth speakers expand the company’s selection of Bluetooth speakers that can be used in wireless pairs to widen the stereo sound stage. In the 2015 lineup, only one Bluetooth model could be used in pairs to widen the stereo stage.
Both products are also the first Bluetooth speakers in the company’s Extra Bass (XB) series, which consists mainly of headphones and which is designed to deliver extra loud bass.
Both models also feature proprietary wireless LDAC technology, launched last year in Sony Bluetooth speakers for the first time. With LDAC, the speakers stream music over Bluetooth with near-high-resolution quality from LDAC-equipped high-res Walkman portables and select Sony high-res smartphones.
LDAC is also incorporated in select Sony Bluetooth headphones, soundbars and A/V receivers. LDAC’s maximum transfer rate of 990Kbps is about three times the data rate of conventional Bluetooth.
The two new speakers, due in the spring at unannounced prices, are the IPX5-rated splash-resistant SRSXB3 and SRS-XB2. Both also can be used as USB power banks, and both feature two 48mm full-range drivers and two passive radiators. The top model features 24-hour battery life, and the other features 12-hour battery life. Both are in the Extra Bass series of products that include headphones and a new XB7 floorstanding high-power Bluetooth speaker that can be used in wireless pairs for parties. Pricing wasn’t announced.