We hope you get to go to the coast (or even just the pool) this summer. We really, truly do. Alas, all our travel plans are out of our hands just now; but regardless of whether you’re travelling afield or staying put, a good speaker is a must – even if it is just for all those barbecues we hope you’ll be having. These hardy, noisy little lives and souls of the party will keep you grilling to any playlist or podcast of your choice.
But not all wireless speakers are created equal, so we’ve rounded up a handy list to ensure your hardware does the job this summer — whether you want something drink-splashingly waterproof or extra, pina colada-shakingly bassy.
For stylish innovation: Bang & Olufsen BeoSound Emerge
Size isn’t everything; and never more so than with this almost disconcertingly slim speaker. It’s hard to believe that a speaker of this size could fill a space; but that’s the point. This is a speaker that can be discreetly slotted into a bookcase, or tucked away in a quiet corner of the kitchen; and then, contrary to its slender exterior, it’ll fill the room with its full-range sound.
Bang & Olufsen have long been masters of innovative design, and this speaker is no exception. But although we’d love to keep waxing lyrical about the aesthetic (for one second, we really did think it was a book), it would be remiss of us not to mention the omnidirectional low frequencies that can fill a room with sound no matter which direction the speaker is pointing, or the active room compensation, which acoustically optimises the sound of the speaker based on the room it’s in. You’ll never need to worry about carpeted floors again; and it’s presumably a treat to play while you’re in the shower. Just think of the acoustics.
Bang & Olufsen BeoSound Emerge
For efficiency: Amazon Echo Smart Speaker & Home Hub
If you’ve managed to resist the allure of Alexa thus far, you’re a stronger man than most. But now could be your moment. This 4th Gen Echo doesn’t only have Alexa to recommend it (though asking her to play your favourite tunes at a barbecue would certainly be convenient, if you’re trying to grill several different kinds of meat at once).
With premium sound, its speakers can deliver deep bass or more delicate high frequencies, depending on what the party calls for; and that’s in addition to its built-in Zigbee smart home hub and even a temperature sensor. This is the ultimate efficient speaker — so long as they’re compatible with Zigbee, you can use it to manage smart lights, plugs and locks. Now that’s what we call efficient.
Amazon Echo Smart Speaker & Home Hub
For durability: Bose SoundLink Resolve II
With its lack of decoration and minimalist design, this looks like a Very Serious Speaker. And it is, in that it comes equipped with a speakerphone (for all those office calls you’ll be making) and its voice prompts to keep you organised. But it’s also not averse to a party or two; in fact, it actively encourages boisterous, over-excitable partying, because its durability is second to none. This is a speaker that can handle the rough and ready treatment.
Take its water-resistant design, for example — no need to worry about dive bombing into the pool while this speaker’s playing. It’s able to cope with the odd bumping — if you drop it, knock it against the side of the table or set it down that little bit harder than you meant to, there’s no need to worry. It’ll bounce right back. And its shape is carefully designed for a ‘grab and go’ situation: perfect for when you’ve been sent inside to grab the nearest available speaker to get that pool party going.
Bose SoundLink Resolve II
For impromptu parties: Bowers & Wilkins Formation Wedge
Who doesn’t love an impromptu party? COVID permitting, impromptu (and, indeed, promptu) parties will be all the rage this summer; and when your spontaneous guests are begging for a hastily put together dance floor and a room filled the very best tunes, this is the speaker that will make that happen.
A speaker with ‘wedge’ in the name doesn’t sound overly attractive, but this speaker is surprisingly unobtrusive. In fact, it looks almost like a piece of modern art; a bit like an aesthetically pleasing, artfully chiselled rock. But don’t mistake a rock-like appearance for a lack of sound. At £899, it’s not cheap — but this speaker can fill a room, to say the least: with five precisely angled drivers providing the stereo sound and the potential to be controlled by your iPhone, whether that’s with Spotify Connect or the Bowers & Wilkins app. Get that party started.
Bowers & Wilkins Formation Wedge
For all of the above: Ultimate Ears MEGABOOM 3
Super-styled, tough, great-sounding and portable? This MEGABOOM 3 speaker from Ultimate Ears might have it all. No, it actually might. It’s waterproof, drop proof and dustproof. There’s an Amazon Alexa hiding in there, Bluetooth capability and you can carry it around as easily as your phone (only without all those annoying Spam emails).
And that’s before we even get to the sound. Immersive and bold, this blazing red offering packs a serious ear-drumming punch for its size, with spatial 360° sound and a thundering bass that’s 50% deeper than its BOOM predecessor. If this isn’t a speaker of champions, we just don’t know what is.
Ultimate Ears MEGABOOM 3
More of a book man? Here are the classic Hollywood biographies to read this summer…
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