Wireless Speakers Gone Wild - Twice

Wireless Speakers Gone Wild

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NEW YORK – Whether they’re packing Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, or both, wireless tabletop speakers for home and portable continue to proliferate with new suppliers entering the market. Existing suppliers continue to upgrade their products to stay competitive.

Here’s what select companies announced recently:
Bose: The company plans June 21 availability of its SoundLink Mini Bluetooth II speaker, adding more power and new features compared with its predecessor while maintaining the same size and $199 price point. The new model adds hands-free speakerphone, extends battery life to 10 hours from seven, adds ability to connect two Bluetooth devices simultaneously, and adds voice prompts for easier pairing.

Devialet: The audiophile supplier is bringing its spherical multiroom-audio Wi-Fi speakers to the U.S., launching preorders through its website on June 18 and planning to bring the models to its U.S. dealers and a planned Devialet store in New York City’s SoHo district. Fall availability is planned.

The high-resolution tabletop speakers, which stream 192kHz/24-bit audio, are the $1,990 Phantom and $2,390 Silver Phantom, both with stainless-steel side panels.

Each speaker can be used as a stand-alone speaker to stream music from a tablet, PC or smartphone via Wi-Fi 801.11a/b/g/n or via HomePlug AV2. When used with an optional Dialog hub, multiple speakers up to 24 can be used to deliver multiroom audio. Also with the hub, two can be paired to deliver stereo. The hub also adds streaming of Deezer, Qobuz, Tidal and other planned music services.

Naim Audio: The high-performance component audio supplier is using its first tabletop wireless multiroom- audio speaker to expand its dealer base to stores that don’t traditionally sell high-end component audio.

The product will help Naim attract a younger group of consumers ages 25 to 45 who are style-conscious and “into the experience” rather than into the “nuts and bolts” of audio technology, said Naim managing director Paul Stephenson.

The $1,499 Wi-Fi/Bluetooth Mu-so is available in more than 100 Apple stores in the U.S., select flagship Nordstrom stores, the Herrington catalog, music and audio-equipment e-tailer Music Direct, and BestBuy.com. The company continues to court untraditional audio retailers such as premium lifestyle stores as well as more traditional A/V specialists to sell the device.

Mu-so’s aluminum-clad wood cabinet packs Wi-Fi, AirPlay, UPnP, Ethernet, Bluetooth AptX and Spotify Connect.

Sony: Three new portable Bluetooth speakers from Sony include the company’s first two with proprietary LDAC technology to stream “near-high-resolution audio” over Bluetooth from the company’s $1,199 highres NW-ZX2 Walkman portable music player.

LDAC is also incorporated in $399 Sony Bluetooth headphones and select soundbars and A/V receivers.

The two Bluetooth speakers with LDAC are the $129 SRS-X33 and $179 SRS-X55. A third new speaker is the $69 SRS-X11. The $69 and $129 models are available in multiple colors.

The new models, which began shipping, are also said to be smaller in size than their predecessors yet deliver higher output.

Thonet & Vander: The German company marched into the U.S. market with its $199 Kürbis Bluetooth speaker pair, available through Amazon. The speakers must be wired together to deliver stereo. Each speaker features wood-cabinet with dual 5.25-inch woofers and 1-inch tweeters.

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