AirPlay speakers Stories May 18, 2016

When a well-respected audiophile brand known for an amplifier costing a cool $150k launches an AirPlay speaker system, you can be sure of two things. One, it’s going to be pretty special. Two, it’s not going to be cheap.

Sure enough, Naim’s first wireless offering – the Mu-so which I reviewed earlier this year – came in at $1500. I did, though, consider it worth every penny. It’s a true replacement for a hifi system, delivering room-filling sound that I couldn’t fault. The design is fantastic, build-quality first-rate and it offers every input source you could ever want: AirPlay, Bluetooth, UPnP, Spotify Connect, Tidal, wired Ethernet, USB, optical and 3.5mm analog.

If you liked the sound of it but thought that $1500 was pushing things a little, there’s good news and bad …

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AirPlay speakers Stories January 29, 2016

Naim Audio isn’t a household name outside of audiophile circles, but this British company has for many years made some of the most respected amplifiers in the business. Naim long had an informal partnership with Linn, and if the standard audio system fitted to Bentley’s ultra-expensive cars isn’t good enough for you, the optional audio upgrade is to a Naim system. You’ll also find it available through the Apple Store.

The company is notoriously conservative when it comes to new technology, refusing to even consider making a CD player for most of the 1980s, relenting only in 1989, when it felt the technology had developed sufficiently to allow it to deliver the quality it sought. It’s therefore no surprise that Naim has waited so long to launch its first wireless speaker system, the mu-so – nor that it has done the job properly when it finally did so.

The price is also no great surprise …

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Sylvania HomeKit Light Strip

AirPlay speakers Stories December 23, 2015

Portable Bluetooth speakers are a dime a dozen these days – Amazon lists more than 37,000 of them! Though our shootout should help narrow the choice if you’re in the market for one. But portable AirPlay speakers are rather rarer, pretty ones even rarer and the Sugr Cube goes one step further in its bid to stand out from the crowd: it offers gesture-based control.

You tap the top of the speaker to pause/play, tilt it 45 degrees left to return to the previous track or 45 degrees left to skip to the next.

When I saw this on our sister site 9to5Toys, I wondered whether this would be a gimmick that you use a few times, or a genuinely useful form of control. There was only one way to find out, so I took delivery of one earlier this month to put it to the test …

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AirPlay speakers Stories January 23, 2015

AirPlay isn’t dead as a wireless speaker standard, but it’s not exactly healthy: many models have been discontinued, and new releases have all but stopped. Having previously gone all-in with AirPlay, Danish designer speaker maker Libratone is now rolling out updated versions of its circular Loop, tube-shaped Zipp, and triangular Live systems that augment AirPlay rather than ditching it. The new Libratone Loop ($500) modestly tweaks the prior version to add Bluetooth 4.0 support — a feature that radically increases Loop’s compatibility. Though its high price tag will continue to keep this model out of reach for most consumers, long-awaited and substantial discounts on the prior-generation models (Loop here, Zipp here, Live here) may bolster their appeal.

Having tested the new Loop, my personal feelings are mixed: I applaud Libratone for consistently releasing speakers that look distinctive, working both as design objects and audio systems, but the MSRPs remain somewhat hard to justify given the sonic performance…

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