There are lots of streaming music clients competing for your business and it is now much easier to watch movies and TV shows on your smartphone and tablet. With all of this media content, it is great to have a nice set of headphones, earphones, or an external speaker to enjoy the content since smartphones and tablets generally give you a mono speaker with limited performance. Over the past several months I have had a chance to try out many products and wanted to round them all up and share my recommendations with you as you finish your last minute shopping and look for gifts.
You will find an amazing assortment of speakers at retail electronics stores, your wireless carrier store, and online. I can't recommend or discount any speakers I haven't personally listened to so am only covering the speakers I had to test out this year. Here is a list of the external speakers I evaluated:
Logitech UE is back in a big way this year while Beats shakes off the Monster partnership. I had two favorite compact portable speakers; the Beats Pill thanks to the slick form factor, NFC, and audio performance while the Braven 650 impressed with design, audio performance, ability to charge devices, and line in/out. I loved the Libratone Zipp, but it is very expensive and limited to iOS for full performance. Thus, my favorite larger speaker is the Big Jambox.
I personally don't wear these type of large headphones often, but I do like to travel with a pair of active noise-canceling headphones when I go on business trips or vacations. These are the different models I tested this year:
It was easier for me to choose a favorite in this form factor and that was clearly the Logitech UE 9000 with top notch performance, cable or Bluetooth connection option, ability to perform with or without ANC enabled, integrated rechargeable battery, and attractive looks and design.
I personally prefer to use in-ear earphones/earbuds most of the time during my daily commute and while out exercising.
I honestly wasn't expecting much from a $50 pair of earbuds sold by RadioShack, but was pleasantly surprised by the Auvio quality and performance. The RHA MA450i impressed me even more so there are a couple of great choices at the $50 price range. However, if price is not an issue, the Logitech UE 900 earphones are definitely the top earphone for the serious audiophile at a price of $400.
There are lots of great options for mobile audio today. In general lower priced devices don't sound as good as the higher priced models, but there are some treasures out there too. The Auvio and RHA products are all quite good with low prices. While I like the Beats Executive quality, design, and performance, the Achilles heel of requiring power to work is something to consider. Ultimate Ears (UE) has always impressed me for the higher end and their new Logitech UE products are all outstanding. There are many more audio products available, some more are headed to me for evaluation, and if you have some recommendations I would appreciate you sharing those with readers as well.