What’s the point of Spotify if you don’t have audio equipment to do your playlist justice?
Finding music is easier than ever, with a dozen services competing for your ears. and how you listen to it can be a very personal choice, with a multitude of options. From style-conscious Beats to high-end headphones from Bose or Sennheiser, you can immerse yourself in a private, intimate musical space.
But sometimes you want to share the love and fill the room with rich, booming sound.
Perhaps the most familiar name in desktop Bluetooth speakers is Jawbone, with its Jawbone Jambox. Reasonably powerful and portable (thanks to an internal battery), they’re a decent buy for $150. But you might want to step up to the Bose SoundLink series.
While Bose-shaped sound isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, it’s hard to deny that the company’s specific brand of acoustic magic makes most people sit up and take notice. Now in its third generation, the $399 SoundLink III has twice the battery capacity of its predecessor (for a half day of music) and even better sound.
There’s a standard 1/8-inch auxiliary input jack, which is a plus, but the SoundLink doesn’t function as a speakerphone, which can be a minus.
Want to go bigger? Check out the Marshall Stanmore. Th is Bluetooth speaker sounds like a gothic New York hotel, and it kind of looks like one. Not surprisingly, Stanmore is built by the same people who construct speakers for rock concerts, and this box will demand attention in any room.
Priced at just under $400, the Marshall Stanmore is barely portable at 11 pounds, and without a battery, it likely won’t travel much anyway. But the distinctive Marshall design—trimmed in leather and cloth with brass panels—certainly can serve as a piece of interior decor (especially if you have guitars mounted on your wall).
Finally, if you want to rock your whole house and have fine control over where and how sound travels, look no further than the Sonos Wireless Wi-Fi System.
Now under the esteemed Crutchfield brand, a Sonos system will let you deploy speakers in every room of your house and easily control them from your computer or smartphone. And while hardware and connectivity are major ingredients in the Sonos recipe, the software is also best in class. You can listen to all the music you want (be it from your library or streaming services like Spotify) as you move around your home—without missing a beat.
The good news? Setting up a Sonos system is remarkably easy, considering all the different components involved. Th e bad news? You’ll quickly find yourself investing in additional speakers as you fall more and more in love.
Start with at least two speakers. Th e entry-level option is the $200 desktop Play:1. And while Sonos can piggyback on your existing Wi-Fi network, it’s better to use its BRIDGE to create an independent wireless mesh network that isn’t affected by your Netflix streaming or Skype calls. Th at’s another $50. Want to incorporate a Soundbar under your big-screen TV? Th e PLAYBAR Soundbar costs $700. A solid, dual-drive subwoofer goes for the same price.
The total price of a Sonos Wireless Wi-Fi System can balloon from less than $300 to more than $1,000. But if you love music, it’s absolutely your best option.
Photos courtesy brands