Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now


Portable, Home Speakers Ride Bluetooth Tide

NEW YORK – Portable speakers, many with water- and dust-resistant designs, might dominate the Bluetoothspeaker market, but there’s still room for desk-bound Bluetooth speakers if recent product introductions are any indication.

Braven, Nyne and TDK Life On Record are among the companies unveiling new portable models, but home-audio supplier Polk is coming out with AC-only active speaker pair equipped with Bluetooth and USB audio input for a PC connection.

The products, particularly the water-resistant models, will float on a rising Bluetooth tide that this year will lift U.S. factory-level sales of Bluetooth speakers by 52 percent to 8.86 million units, Futuresource Consulting statistics show.

Here’s what some of the latest products offer:

Braven’s $99 Mira water-resistant portable has begun shipping with integrated kickstand that doubles as a hook for hanging in the shower or other locations. Its IPX5 water-resistance rating makes it home in kitchens, boats and poolsides. It delivers 10 hours of playback time.

Mira is available in black and silver, comes with a builtin noise cancelling microphone for hands free use, and features 3.5 mm line in. Mira will also be available in additional colors in the coming weeks.

Nyne plans fall availability of two limited-edition Royal Series versions of its popular Cruiser portable speaker. They’re available in black and white with rose gold accents. The luxury, fashion-oriented versions feature adjustable mounting clips for bikes, exercise machines and strollers.

They feature Bluetooth 4.0, 10 hours of playtime, builtin microphone for hands-free phone calls, and built-in powerbank for mobile device charging.

Polk’s $399 Hampden is the brand’s first active speaker pair equipped with Bluetooth and first with USB audio input.

When connected via USB to a computer, the speakers bypass a computer’s built-in DAC for the speaker’s own DSP-equipped DAC. When connected to sources via Bluetooth, the speakers let four people at a time jointly create a playlist. The speakers also stream Bluetooth with AptX.

The biamplified 80-watt RMS Hampden features allwood cabinets with curved teak wood veneer, all-white front, glass-filled nylon bezels and angled-up baffle. It’s part of the Heritage Collection whose retro design “captures the essence of a classic pair of Polk speakers,” said Michael DiTullo, chief design officer of Polk parent Sound United, a DEI company.

Each bass-reflex speaker features 1-inch, soft-dome silk/ polymer tweeter, 4.5-inch polypropylene woofer with rubber surrounds, and downfiring port. Frequency response is 50Hz to 22kHz. A four-pin cable connects the two speakers together.

TDK Life on Record’s Imation brand expanded its selection of portable Bluetooth speakers with two new water- and dust-resistant models, both featuring NFC.

They are the $199-suggested Trek Max stereo model and the $79 Trek Micro, a mono model that is also the company’s smallest speaker to date. Both are available on Amazon.

The company also plans spring availability of a $249 water-resistant speaker that is cube-shaped to deliver 360-degree sound, the company’s website shows.

The $199 Trek Max and $79 Trek Micro are IP64 rated like the previously available $129 Trek and $199 Wireless Weatherproof Speaker. The rating signifies protection against dust and splashing water coming from all directions.

The planned cube-shaped Trex 360 will feature an IPX3 rating, signifying resistance to spraying water arriving at angles up to 60 degrees. The existing $349 Wireless Charging Speaker is also IPX3-rated.

The Trek Max front full-range drivers, one subwoofer, NFC, built-in play/pause/skip controls, speakerphone, 3.5mm aux in, eight-hour rechargeable battery and a 1-amp USB charging port to charge mobile devices.

The Trek Micro mono speaker measures 3.25 by 3.25 by 1.14 inches and comes with carabineer. Two Micros can be paired via Bluetooth to deliver stereo sound.Other Micro features include NFC, one front 1.5-inch fullrange driver, a rear 2-inch passive radiator, rechargeable battery lasting up to six hours, 3.5mm auxiliary input, and a 3.5mm aux output to turn an existing sound system into a wireless Bluetooth receiver.

The $249 Trek 360 features AAC streaming over Bluetooth, a full-range driver on each side and a subwoofer. The power rating is 4×2 watts plus 1×15 watts. The rechargeable battery lasts up to six hours. It also features a 3.5mm aux input.