Amazon Echo ($99.99)
While I rarely stray from Apple’s product ecosystem, the Amazon Echo
has a permanent place on my kitchen counter. The value proposition is
just so good—its smart assistant Alexa can connect to thousands of
third-party apps so I can listen to the news, start a 7-minute workout, or
rev up playlists from Amazon’s music library, all for a third of the price of
Apple’s HomePod. If you have smart home products though, you may
find the HomePod’s Apple integrations worth the extra money (page 32).
Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3 ($199.99)
You’ll be hard pressed to find a better waterproof
speaker than UE’s Megaboom 3. Its sound quality
is best in class, as is its rugged build. Ideal for pool
parties or a soak in the tub, the Megaboom 3 can float
with you while pumping out 360-degree sound. The
sound is clear and undistorted even at full volume,
and the power of the bass is pretty shocking. Borrowing from tech used in electric cars, UE’s latest battery
lasts up to 20 hours on a single charge!
Anker Soundcore Flare ($59.99)
Perfect for a college dorm or teenager’s
bedroom, the Anker Soundcore Flare is
not only affordable but also fun, thanks
to its bass-driven lightshow (hence the
name “flare”). You can check on the battery
levels, adjust playback, and daisy chain
other speakers using the Soundcore app
on your iPhone. If lights aren’t your thing,
save some extra cash and buy the Anker
Soundcore Motion Q Speaker ($45.99).
Both speakers are waterproof and deliver
nice sound at moderate volumes.
DRUM UP SOME NOISE WITH THESE TOP PICKS
BY DONNA CLEVELAND
JBL Clip 3 ($59.95)
The Clip 3’s superpower is its usable design; it’s highly portable, built to fight the elements (including water), and easy to pair for a flawless Bluetooth connection. JBL speakers
sound a little muddy in the mid-tones, but for a mini speaker, the Clip 3’s audio quality and
volume is impressive. You’ll also be hard pressed to find a full 10 hours of playtime in another mini, and the built-in carabiner makes it easy to stow on your backpack during outdoor
adventures! If you don’t mind shilling out more for better sound, try my personal favorite,
the Ultimate Ears Wonderboom ($99.99).
Marshall Woburn ($549)
The Woburn is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. This leather and
brass amp-style speaker looks understated—until you turn it
on and the sound comes out roaring. You can adjust the bass
and treble with brass knobs on the top, making it perfect for
hosting parties or jamming out on your own. I love that it includes not only Bluetooth capabilities, but a 3.5mm jack for a
wired connection, as well as an RCA input to hook up a record
player and enjoy music the old-school way.