This story is a part of our end-of-year sequence This 12 months in Gear rounding up probably the most notable releases of 2021. For extra tales like this, click on right here.
This was a banner 12 months for audio merchandise, particularly audio system, soundbars and residential theater techniques. There are extra audio system that assist high-resolution audio (and there must be, on condition that lossless audio boomed this 12 months). Dolby Atmos soundbars and encompass sound techniques obtained extra innovation and extra reasonably priced. And simply all the largest audio producers — Sony, Bang & Olufsen, Bowers & Wilkins, Sony, JBL and extra —all appeared to announce quite a few cool new devices.
JBL L52 Basic
The JBL L52 Basic are the corporate’s latest vintage-inspired bookshelf audio system. They’re successfully a smaller and cheaper model of the corporate’s $2,500 L82 Basic, which have been launched final 12 months. They’ve the identical walnut wooden veneer enclosure and putting foam grille (obtainable in black, blue or orange), solely the L52 Basic might be sufficiently small to really match in your bookshelf. They will go on sale someday this fall.
Q Acoustics Idea Collection
The British audio firm Q Acoustics is greatest recognized for its excessive performing but reasonably priced bookshelf audio system, and it has introduced that very same mantra over to its house theater vary. The brand new set of Idea audio system — Idea 30 (standmount, $1,299/pair), Idea 50 (floorstander, $2,999/pair) and Idea 90 (middle channel, $999/ea) — deliver over applied sciences from its high-end Idea 300 and 500 audio system, and put them in a extra reasonably priced package deal.
The brand new Idea house theater audio system might be obtainable on the finish of October.
Value: $999 — $2,999
Bowers & Wilkins 800 Collection D4
Bowers & Wilkins has up to date its flagship 800 Collection Diamond vary of loudspeakers. The fourth era sequence — aka “D4” — have a brand new cupboard design, a brand new suspension system, and a redesigned housing for the tweeter, all of which are supposed to additional remove distortions and ship a lifelike and unmatched sound. Like with the earlier D3 line, the D4 line consists of seven audio system (two standmounted, three floorstanding and two middle channels) that vary from $5,500 to $35,000. These are severe audiophile audio system.
Value: $5,500 — $35,000
Klipsch Forte IV Loudspeakers
The Forte IV are the most recent addition to Klipsch’s famed Heritage Collection. They’re an improved model of the unique Forte loudspeakers, which have been first debuted in 1985 and one of many firm’s greatest promoting audio system of all time. The Forte IV have a vastly improved sound due to a number of acoustic enhancements, however they nonetheless have the traditional wooden exterior that make them look timeless. You should purchase them in 4 finishes: American Walnut, Pure Cherry, Black Ash and Distressed Oak.
Sonus faber The Lumina II and The Lumina V
The Italian luxurious hi-fi firm Sonus faber has added two audio system to its reasonably priced line of Lumina audio system. There’s the Lumina II, a brand new pair of bookshelf audio system that price $1,200, and the Lumina V (pictured), a brand new pair of floor-standing audio system that price $2,800. Each are high-performing and beautifully-designed audio system that can be utilized as a stereo pair or built-in in a bigger multi-channel house theater system with the corporate’s different Lumina audio system.
Value: $1,200 — $2,800
Q Acoustics M20
The M20 is a wi-fi music system consisting of two bookshelf-sized powered audio system. It is not as massive or as costly as the corporate’s latest Q Energetic 200 audio system, nevertheless it does carry over some related options, reminiscent of Level to Level (P2P) cupboard bracing expertise and assist for high-resolution audio (as much as 24bit/192kHz). Possibly most significantly, it homes each wi-fi (by way of Bluetooth 5.0)and analog connections (by way of optical and minijack) so you’ll be able to simply stream music or join it on to your TV or turntable. There is not any built-in Wi-Fi or HDMI connection.
Kanto YU Passive Bookshelf Audio system
Kanto launched two new units of passive bookshelf audio system, each of which price lower than $200. There’s the YU Passive 5.25″ ($199/pair), which includes a 5.25-inch Kevlar woofer and 1-inch silk dome tweeter, and the YU Passive 4″ ($159/pair), a 4-inch woofer and 1-inch silk-dome tweeter. The 2 units of audio system look mainly an identical, aside from the YU Passive 5.25″ being barely bigger, and being passive bookshelf audio system, they’re additionally very versatile. You should utilize them as desktop audio system should you a DAC/amplifier, or you need to use them as TV or stereo audio system with a receiver. Out there now.
Value: $159/pair (4″); $199/pair (5.25″)
Pioneer DJ VM Collection of Energetic Displays
Pioneer DJ introduced a brand new line of energetic near-field speaker displays which are designed to emulate the sound of a studio or membership, however in your personal area. There are three different-sized fashions: VM-50 ($169), VM-70 ($229) and VM-80 ($289). Every speaker might be decked out with a 4 mm-thick aluminum entrance baffle, Class D amplifier, Aramid fiber cones and Vortex Bass Accelerator, all of which, based on the corporate, are designed to “precisely reproduces sounds, together with deep low-end frequencies whereas chopping out undesirable vibrations.”
JBL 4309 Bookshelf Audio system
The JBL 4309 studio displays are primarily smaller and extra reasonably priced variations of the corporate’s high-end 4349 studio displays, which run for $7,500. Every 4309 loudspeaker is decked out with the corporate’s 1-inch tweeter, 6.5-inch mid-bass driver and twin-firing reflex ports, in order that it sounds as dynamic as its bigger sibling. And every speaker appears to be like beautiful, with a blue baffle, wood veneer (both walnut or black walnut) and material grille — they’ve already been given a 2021 Purple Dot Design Award.
Polk Audio R200 Bookshelf Speaker
Polk Audio introduced the Reserve Collection, its new line of high-performing loudspeakers that take many applied sciences from its flagship Legend Collection (reminiscent of Pinnacle Ring Radiator tweeters and Turbine Cone Midrange drivers) and put them in a extra reasonably priced package deal. The Reserve Collection is comprised of varied different-sized floor-standing audio system, centre channel audio system and bookshelf audio system, in addition to a top module to finish the Dolby Atmos house theater system. All audio system can be found now.
(Pictured: The R200 is the bigger of the 2 new pairs of bookshelf audio system within the Reserve Collection. The R100 bookshelf audio system are smaller and $100 cheaper. )
Fluance A-Collection Bookshelf Audio system
Fluance is a Canadian-based audio firm that is greatest recognized for its line of reasonably priced but high-end turntables. This week, it introduced two new pairs of powered bookshelf audio system that may associate these turntables. There’s the Ai41 and Ai61, the latter being the marginally bigger, extra highly effective and better-sounding of the 2 — however in addition to that, they’re mainly an identical. Each audio system could be linked to any turntable with a built-in preamp. They’ve built-in Bluetooth so you’ll be able to stream straight out of your smartphone or pc. And you’ll even use them as TV audio system by way of an optical or RCA connection. One of the best half? Each pairs price lower than $300.
Value: $249/pair (Ai41); $299/pair (Ai61)
Bang & Olufsen’s latest high-end wi-fi speaker, the Beosound Emerge, is designed to mix in with the opposite books in your bookshelf (though it form of appears to be like a little bit like a shrunk down model of the Flatiron constructing). It is a comparatively small powered speaker helps numerous wi-fi connectivities, together with AirPlay 2, Spotify Join, Chromecast and Bluetooth. It may be set as much as work as a sensible speaker that responds to “Hey Google” voice instructions, too. It will likely be obtainable this fall in both black or gold (the latter will price an additional $200).
Bang & Olufsen BeoLab 28
Bang & Olufsen’s BeoLab 28 is a pair of luxurious floorstanding audio system that promise wonderful sound and copious connectivity choices. Every speaker has three 3” full vary drivers, a 1” tweeter on the entrance, and a down-firing subwoofer, they usually’re filled with applied sciences that will let you calibrate the sound to your particular room. The audio system assist AirPlay 2, Chromecast, Spotify Join and Bluetooth, in addition to wired connections reminiscent of Ethernet and line-in/optical. The opposite cool factor is that the audio system include a replaceable connectivity module, which the corporate claims make them primarily future-proof.
Symfonisk Image Body WiFi Speaker
Sonos and Ikea added a brand new speaker to their current Symfonisk line. The all-new Symfonisk Image Body WiFi Speaker is designed to hold in your wall and appears like a chunk of artwork. (The speaker additionally has rubber ft so that you lean it up towards a wall, in case you do not wish to dangle it.) As for sound, speaker will work equally like a Sonos One SL; there is not any built-in mic or voice assistant. It may be stereo paired with one other Symfonisk Image Body Speaker, or grouped with some other Sonos or Symfonisk multi-room system.
Syng Cell Alpha
The Cell Alpha is a high-end spaceship-looking wi-fi speaker that is been designed by an ex-Apple engineer who labored on the HomePod (in addition to an unlimited variety of different Apple merchandise). In accordance with the corporate, it is the world’s first “Triphonic” speaker, which means it is in a position to play spatial dynamic audio that is far more immersive than conventional stereo. It supposedly sounds nice by itself, however the firm truly recommends pairing three collectively in a room for the very best sound — which is a really costly proposition. The speaker helps Spotify Join and AirPlay 2, and it has twin USB-C ports for analog connections.
Devialet Phantom I
We have been massive followers of Devialet’s beautiful-yet-alien-looking wi-fi audio system for years, and we obtained a brand new one: the Phantom I. It nonetheless appears to be like and works the identical as the corporate’s earlier Phantom audio system — its two opposing woofers pulsate towards each other, in good symmetry, with out ever touching — however the French audio firm has made the Phantom I extra energy environment friendly, so it supposedly sounds means higher. In addition they gave it assist for AirPlay 2 and a flowery new bodily distant. As for worth, effectively, it is nonetheless costly. The Phantom I is available in two variations — 103dB or 108db — they usually price $2,200 and $3,200,
Bang & Olufsen Beosound Discover
Bang & Olufsen introduced a brand new ultra-portable Bluetooth speaker known as the Beosound Discover. The speaker is designed to be tremendous rugged and drop resistant, and it’s due to its onerous anodised aluminium shell. It additionally comes with a small carabiner so you’ll be able to connect to your backpack. Aside from its distinctive design, the Beosound Discover’s standout characteristic is battery life — it guarantees 27 hours playtime, which is fairly unbelievable given its measurement. The speaker is accessible in three completely different lovely finishes, together with black, inexperienced and grey. Out there now.
Bang & Olufsen Beosound Stage
The Beosound Stage is a singular take of the moveable house speaker as a result of, effectively, Bang & Olufsen expects that it’ll final you a very very long time. Like many many years. It has built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, just like the Sonos Transfer, nevertheless it additionally has what B&O is looking a “modular design.” Principally, it is designed in order that it may be taken aside and that its varied parts could be changed, just like the chipset or the battery, after they turn into antiquated sooner or later. It is also designed to sound and look nice for years and years. The Beosound Stage might be obtainable in late April.
The Sonos Roam is the corporate’s smallest and most moveable speaker ever. It is primarily a a lot smaller model — about 1/sixth the dimensions — of the Transfer, which Sonos launched in late 2019. However whereas the Transfer prices an intimidating $399, which is greater than most individuals are keen to spend on a conveyable speaker, the Roam is available in at a surprisingly reasonably priced $179.
JBL Flip 6
The JBL Flip 6 is a brand new and improved model of the fan-favorite Flip 5 moveable speaker. It has a extra rugged design (IP67 vs the Flip 5’s IPX7), some up to date internals and a redesigned JBL brand on its facet. It is obtainable now in numerous completely different colours.
The Sony SRS-XB13 is the corporate’s smallest moveable Bluetooth speaker — it is successfully half the dimensions of a soda can. It is the next-generation model of the SRS-XB12, which appeared an identical, however the SRS-XB13 now fees by way of USB-C and delivers true 360-degree sound. Aside from that, the SRS-XB13 continues to be moveable speaker for individuals in search of a small and reasonably priced possibility. For those who’re in search of extra room-filling sound, we advocate spending a little bit extra on Sony’s SRS-XB23, which you’ll decide up for slightly below $100.
Sony SRS-RA3000 and SRS-RA5000
Sony has formally launched its first wi-fi audio system that assist the 360 Actuality Audio, which is the corporate’s immersive sound expertise (just like Dolby Atmos); beforehand, you had to make use of a special firm’s speaker, like a Echo Studio, to reap the benefits of this audio format. Each of Sony’s audio system, the SRS-RA3000 and the SRS-RA5000 (pictured), the latter being the higher sounding and costlier model, assist Wi-Fi and Bluetooth streaming. And so they have a built-in microphone that permits them to self-calibrate for the room in order that they sound greatest. For those who’re in search of a robust and premium wi-fi speaker — that is not moveable — that may play true 360-degree sound, think about these certainly one of your greatest bets.
Value: $298 (SRS-RA3000); $698 (SRS-RA5000)
Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin (2021 Mannequin)
Bowers & Wilkins launched a brand new and improved model of its iconic Zeppelin speaker. The final iteration of the speaker, the Zeppelin Wi-fi, was launched in 2015 and this new model retains largely the identical feel and look, with the distinction being that the brand new model is totally wi-fi — there aren’t any analog connections — and it helps AirPlay 2 and comes built-in with Alexa (similar to an Echo) for voice controls. It helps each Wi-Fi and Bluetooth (AptX) streaming, and it is in a position to be built-in in a multi-room system with different new Zeppelin audio system, B&W’s current line of Formation audio system, in addition to different AirPlay 2 audio system.
The brand new B&W Zeppelin is accessible in the present day in both mild or darkish gray.
Bose SoundLink Flex
Bose introduced a brand new reasonably priced, rugged and ultra-portable Bluetooth speaker known as the SoundLink Flex. It is actually waterproof and sturdy — IP67 rated — and it will even float, within the occasion you drop it within the pool or tub. Bose guarantees unbelievable sound in comparison with different similarly-sized audio system, due to a customized transducer and dual-opposing passive radiators, too. It lacks Wi-Fi connectivity, which means there is not any voice assistant, however you’ll be able to sync it with different Bose audio system and soundbars that you’ve got in your own home (by way of a companion app) to provide the multi-room impact.
LG Xboom 360 RP4
The Xboom 360 RP4 is LG’s latest moveable occasion speaker. It is not a small speaker, weighing almost 13, nevertheless it’s in a position true 360-degree audio and output a hefty 120-watts of energy. It has an built-in deal with and, most conspicuously, a lantern that may be custom-made (by way of a companion app) to shine no matter shade you need the occasion vibe to be.
Bose Sensible Soundbar 900
Bose launched its newest flagship soundbar, the Sensible Soundbar 900, and it is the corporate’s first ever soundbar that helps Dolby Atmos (lastly!). The brand new soundbar — which replaces the Bose Sensible Soundbar 700 within the firm’s lineup — has a HDMI eARC connection, helps a number of streaming strategies over Wi-Fi (together with AirPlay 2) and Bluetooth, and it may be built-in to assist Alexa and Google Assistant so you’ll be able to summon music together with your voice. At $900, that is very a lot a competitor to the Sonos Arc.
Sonos Beam (Gen 2)
Sonos introduced the second era of its Sonos Beam soundbar, notable for being a Dolby Atmos succesful soundbar that is available in below the $500 mark. At half the worth of the flagship Sonos Arc (which is now $900 after a worth hike that affected numerous Sonos audio system), the Beam makes for a comparatively reasonably priced entry into Dolby Atmos for the comparatively finances acutely aware, or these with small rooms to fill. With out the upward-firing drivers of the Arc, it will not have fairly the identical high quality (or amount) of sound, nevertheless it’s undoubtedly a worthwhile addition to many a Sonos system for its measurement and worth.
The Sony HT-A5000 is the corporate’s latest Dolby Atmos soundbar, and it is primarily a smaller and $400-cheaper model of the corporate’s HT-A7000 soundbar, which was not too long ago introduced in July. The HT-A5000 is a 5.1.2-channel soundbar (as an alternative of a HT-A7000’s 7.1.2) and helps all the identical applied sciences, together with Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and 360 Actuality Audio. It has one HDMI 2.1 (eARC) connection (as an alternative of HT-A7000’s two), making it an awesome possibility for individuals with new TVs and next-generation consoles.
JBL L75ms Music System
The JBL L75ms has related retro vibes to the corporate’s L52 Basic, nevertheless it’s a way more fashionable system. It is truly a five-channel powered speaker system — two tweeters, two woofers and a midrange driver — that is able to streaming high-resolution audio (as much as 32-bit/192kHz). It is also extraordinarily versatile. You possibly can connect with your TV (by way of HDMI ARC) or your turntable (due to its built-in phono preamp). It additionally helps a spread of streaming choices, together with AirPlay 2, Chromecast or Bluetooth.
Sony HT-A9 Speaker System
The Sony HT-A9 is an progressive house theater system that does away with the soundbar utterly. As a substitute, it is comprised of a management field, which you plug into your TV, and 4 wi-fi audio system that you just place across the room. The 4 audio system — which act devoted proper, left, rear-right and rear-left channels — speak to one another wirelessly and are in a position to ship an immersive encompass sound expertise that helps Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, Sony’s 360 Actuality Audio. The system will assist Chromecast, AirPlay 2 and Spotify Join for simple music streaming, as effectively.
Sony HT-A7000 Soundbar
The Sony HT-A7000 is the corporate’s latest high-end Dolby Atmos soundbar. It is 7-channel soundbar with two HDMI 2.1 with eARC connections, which means it will work with the latest-and-greatest 4K and 8K televisions in addition to the most recent era consoles (just like the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Collection X). It might probably stream high-resolution audio, together with Sony’s immersive audio format, 360 Actuality Audio; it additionally helps Apple AirPlay 2, Chromecast, Spotify Join. The Sony HT-A7000 soundbar prices $1,300 by itself. You add the corporate’s latest SA-RS3S satellite tv for pc audio system for an additional $350, or $400 or $700 on personal of its two new subwoofers.
TCL Roku TV Wi-fi Sound Bar
TCL has been within the enterprise of reasonably priced 4k TVs for years and it has made varied traces of soundbar-and-subwoofer techniques to pair with these TVs, too. The corporate’s latest soundbar, the Roku TV Wi-fi Soundbar, is its first “wi-fi” soundbar, which means in contrast to its earlier soundbars, the Roku TV Wi-fi Soundbar does not have any HDMI or different audio ports. You plug it, pair it to your Roku TV over Wi-Fi and it simply works. It is designed as a easy resolution for individuals who wish to get higher sound out of their Roku TV with out having to pay an excessive amount of.
Klipsch Cinema 1200 and 800 Soundbars
Klipsch introduced its first two Dolby Atmos soundbars. The Cinema 120o ($1,499) is a 5.1.4 encompass sound system (which is ready to decode Atmos in full 7.1.4) and the Cinema 800 ($799) is a extra conventional soundbar-and-subwoofer combo. Aside from the dimensions and energy of the soundbar and wi-fi woofer (and the truth that the Cinema 800 does not with satellite tv for pc audio system), the 2 techniques are very related. They each connect with your TV by way of an eARC-enabled HDMI 2.1 port (which helps the passthrough of as much as 8K HDR and Dolby Imaginative and prescient). And so they have built-in Bluetooth and assist Alexa and Google Assistant.
Value: $799 — $1,499
The SB-600 is an entire 5.1.2 that prices lower than $500, making it one of the vital reasonably priced encompass sound techniques you should purchase. It has a number of connectivity choices, together with coaxial, optical, USB and a 3.5mm line-in jack. It additionally has built-in Bluetooth for streaming music when not watching TV.
Bluesound Pulse Soundbar+
The Bluesound Pulse Soundbar+ is a Dolby Atmos soundbar that is very a lot a competitor to the Sonos Arc. It prices the identical ($899) and has just about all the identical connections and skills; Bluesound is understood for its ecosystem of wi-fi multi-room audio system, similar to Sonos, so the Pulse Soundbar+ can simply be constructed out into a real encompass sound system. It is obtainable in both black or white finishes, though the later prices $100 further.
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