CES 2014: New Bluetooth Speakers A - H

01
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808 Hex XL

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Brent Butterworth

Voxx Internatinonal's 808 line launched last year with some cheap but fairly decent headphones. This year it's expanded into a whole audio line, more or less. (No turntables yet.) The 808 Hex XL is the largest of the company's new Bluetooth speakers, with two full-range drivers plus a downfiring active subwoofer (not a passive radiator). There's also the $79 Hex powered by 8 AA batteries, and the $59 Hex SL.

To go to CES 2013 Bluetooth Speakers I - M, click here.
To go to CES 2013 Bluetooth Speakers N - X, click here.

02
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Altec LifeJacket

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Brent Butterworth

The Altec name's being resurrected once again, this time for a line of iPX7-rated waterproof Bluetooth speakers. The LifeJacket has two active drivers in the front and a passive radiator in back. The outer jacket is interchangeable so you can change the colors if you want; each one comes with a red jacket and a black jacket. About a dozen colors will be available.

03
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Altec iQS 560

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Brent Butterworth

The iQS handle is both a brand and a technology. The iQS processing is an all-analog surround virtualizer -- don't gag, it's good! -- that as I understand it does pre-processing on the audio signal to make sure the relative phase of the left and right channels is matched, then does some crosstalk cancellation to make the fake surround. Sounds cheezy, right? But it works. The compact, $199 iQS 560 shown here threw out a pretty huge soundstage without losing the center image and without introducing the nasty, phasey sound that many virtualizers produce. It uses two 2-inch drivers in the front, one more on each side, and two 3-inch drivers for bass.

04
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Amps & Watts BeatBlock Tiny

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Brent Butterworth

Newcomer Amps & Watts has come up with a beautiful line of new Bluetooth speakers, priced from $249 to $599. All come with a conventional, comfortable remote control that includes bass and treble controls. Old school! The orange one and the white one are the BeatBlock Tiny. Each has two 3-inch active drivers and two 3-inch passive radiators. The company says the faux leather covering is scratchproof and actually more expensive and difficult to apply than real leather.

05
of 14

AR for Her ARS140

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Brent Butterworth

Probably the most misogynistic moment during Press Day at CES was Voxx International's introduction of the AR for Her line. Fresh off a PowerPoint slide that represented high-income customers with an icon that had a man front and center and a woman off to the side in the background, Voxx launched AR for Her by deriding other manufacturers for doing nothing more special for women than making pink products. Then it showed the AR for Her line, which prominently included pink products, but claimed that the products were actually in "cayenne," which is apparently Pantone's preferred shade of pink this year. Then it offered women candy as an enticement to come to the booth. Whoever came up with this should immediately resign and run for Congress. Seems a good fit.

Anyway, the clutch-shaped ARS140 Wireless (Bluetooth) Speaker shown here costs $79. That's the Wireless Minispeaker in the background.

06
of 14

Beats Pill XL

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Brent Butterworth

Read my full review of the Beats Pill XL here -- complete with lab measurements.

You'd have to have been hiding under a rock not to have seen Beats' ads for the Pill during the 2013 holiday season. I'm no fan, but from the brief listen I got to the new $299 Pill XL at Beats' suite in the Encore Hotel, it sounds like the XL is a zillion times more robust and useful. Its two-way design, with forward-firing 3-inch woofers and 1.25-inch tweeters, puts out a lot more sonic power than the tiny Pill. There's also a roughly 3 x 3-inch passive radiator in back for bass reinforcement. Two Pill XLs can be paired for left/right stereo or run in dual mono for multiroom use. You can also assign each one a different Bluetooth tag name, to make pairing easier if you have several Pill XLs scattered throughout your home.

07
of 14

Boomphones Portable Speaker and Pocket Speaker

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Brent Butterworth

Boomphones started out making headphones with speakers on the outside, too, which I recall were pitched to my colleague Geoff Morrison with the immortal marketing line, "Dude, you could, like, totally snowboard in these, yo!" They still have those, but they also have a refreshingly different line of Bluetooth speakers: the $99 Pocket Speaker and the $249 Portable Speaker. Each side of each speaker has two active drivers plus a passive radiator, making for real 360-degree sound. They'll do Bluetooth stereo pairing -- where one does the right channel and the other does the left. And when you pair them, the right speaker announces "right" and the left speaker announces "left." Very cool! And the company's amiable pitchmen didn't even say "yo" or "dude." Not in my presence, anyway. Maybe I should have brought Geoff by.

08
of 14

Braven BRV-X

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Brent Butterworth

The BRV-X is a larger, presumably louder version of Braven's very-nice-indeed BRV-1 waterproof Bluetooth speaker. It's $249 and the company says it's EQ'ed for outdoor sound. Sadly, the booth was so loud I couldn't really hear it, and the real deal isn't coming out until Q3 of this year.

09
of 14

Braven Vibe

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Brent Butterworth

Those great-looking silvery speakers are the Vibe, Braven's shot across the bow of Sonos. There wasn't much info available on them, but I gather they work off a WiFi hub like Sonos does. But they have Bluetooth and internal rechargeable batteries, which Sonos doesn't (yet).

10
of 14

Cellaris Encore

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Brent Butterworth

What do I know about the $129 Cellaris Encore? Well, it looks like a milspec Jawbone Jambox. Otherwise, little info was available. The manufacturer says its 3-wpc stereo amp can drive the speaker to a bass extension of 40 Hz. My gut says otherwise. It does look cool, though.

11
of 14

Edifier M6

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Brent Butterworth

Edifier was so intent on pitching me their other stuff that I forgot to ask about the M6, which is apparently the replacement for (or supplement to) the M5, which was apparently the Asian market name for the company's excellent Extreme Connect. Thus, I didn't get any into on the M6, but no prob -- I did a Google search and it's all here. If you can read Mandarin.

12
of 14

Felt Audio Nomad

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Brent Butterworth
Felt Audio called the $119 Nomad the "smallest wearable pocketable Bluetooth speaker" when it showed the product at the Digital Experience event on Monday night. Of course, only 50 feet away was another booth with a smaller speaker, but still, the Nomad looks pretty robust for such a little guy. The waterproof speaker has one powered driver and one passive radiator for bass reinforcement.
13
of 14

Fugoo Style, Sport and Tough

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Brent Butterworth

Fugoo's $199 Style and the $229 Sport and Tough are all basically the same speaker. The trick is, you can slide the cover off and replace it. They're all waterproof to 3 feet for 30 minutes, and  the design is drop-tested 20 times from 6 feet. Various mounts, such as a bike handlebar mount, are available. The Sport cover is rubberized; the Touch is made from metal plus rubberized plastic. The Sport includes a wearable Bluetooth remote with a bottle opener on the bottom. Mmmm ... beer, a pool and Bluetooth. Does it get any better?

14
of 14

iGlowSoundPro

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Brent Butterworth

I don't know much about the $129 iGlowSoundPro, except that those balls flash in different colors in time to the music. I just included it here for your amusement.

To go to CES 2013 Bluetooth Speakers I - M, click here.
To go to CES 2013 Bluetooth Speakers N - X, click here.

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