Whether more enjoyably passing the time at the office or simply relaxing at home, we're always on the lookout for the most visually striking wireless speakers that pump out the finest quality audio from atop our desktops, side tables and bookshelves.
The ones we've compiled below include our favorite five as of late. Each is at least $500, delivers amazing audio and exudes a unique style and feature set that distinguishes it from every other speaker out there.
Devialet refers to their quirky spheroid Phantom as an "implosive sound center," describing how its dense innards are hermetically sealed with 1.2 tons of pressure and drive a mighty bass response with 66 pounds of thrust through its two symmetrically fluttering lateral woofers.
Adding to the original Phantom (750 watts, $2,200) and Silver Phantom (3,000 watts, $2,650), Devialet recently announced a way more powerful Gold Phantom (4,500 watts, $3,300) that features 22-carat pink gold-plated sides and will begin shipping a week from today. Though not much bigger than a bike helmet, each weighs about 25 pounds and pumps out a supra-human range of room-filling sound with virtually distortion-free finesse.
In fact, our only problem with it (the 750-watt version) was a little extra effort involved in connecting through Wi-Fi via its Spark app. But Bluetooth was easy. (It doesn't have an audio jack or any other ports or controls right on it, just a power button.) And hey, no complaints at all about the audio.
Whereas the other speakers in this roundup go on a desktop, Fluance's Fi70 is the desktop.
Based on its size (shown close to scale in the collage at top) and the fact that its houses dual eight-inch woofers, it's no surprise that it completely rocks the freakin' block. What is shocking is the audio crispness it puts out at every volume—and that at $500, this six-speaker Bluetooth system is actually the best bargain of the bunch.
If you have the space for it (and don't mind its vaguely WALL-E-like appearance), it's actually got some strikingly cool features. Our favorite: the touch controls built into the wood paneling on its top. But it also offers a radio, alarm, analog and digital audio inputs, USB port for charging your device, and a handy remote to control the track, volume, input, bass and treble.
From the biggest of the lot to the smallest, Mass Fidelity's palm-sized Core ($600) is the only one here that can run off its own battery power.
Aside from traveling, that portability comes especially in handy around the house when throwing parties, because the multi-room functionality works just as advertised, with just the touch of a button right on the speaker. (No app necessary.)
Its other big feature touted is holographic "better than stereo" sound. Although the fullness of the audio imaging is certainly quite impressive for a literally pint-sized unit and we could detect some separation, it didn't sound as good as or better than two separate well-spaced speakers. But perhaps it'd do better in a more optimal placement relative to the walls.
Other than that, we like all its connectivity options, from home automation control to analog and digital outputs to a dedicated sub woofer jack, for which it can dynamically retune its output.
Naim's Mu-so Qb is no boring cube. Beyond its colorful, wavy grills, it boasts unexpectedly phenomenal power—300 watts, which is more than the Fluance Fi70 shown above—and perhaps the best clarity of these five speakers.
It can play just about anything. Not just from a phone or tablet, but a computer, USB stick, Internet Radio, the Spotify Connect and Tidal streaming services, and (through analog and digital inputs) pretty much every other audio source in the galaxy.
It's super easy to use too, with an intuitive input select button and large volume control dial that lights up as you turn it. It also does multi-room, in combination with other Qb or its much-heralded big brother Mu-so speakers.
Though it retails for $1,000, making it the second-most expensive speaker here, it's definitely worth a listen.
Lastly we have the ZEMi Aria. The product of sound sculptor Francesco Pellisari and high-end designer Ron Arad, this speaker features an iconically spherical shape and mesmerizing spiral pattern on its stainless steel grill.
More importantly, whether receiving a signal from an analog input, Bluetooth device or Apple AirPlay source, it delivers a tight, rich, room-filling sound.
It's not the heaviest, loudest or most expensive. But it's amazingly adept and quite the fashion statement. Also, not for nothing, it comes with a simple 3-button remote and handy circular stand that lets you optimally angle your music accordingly.