Rad Bennett, a writer for the SoundStage! Network for the better part of two decades, passed away in Harper’s Ferry, VA, on March 10, 2022. A versatile reviewer, Rad covered movies, music, and equipment. He was the kind of writer who could take a $79 Bluetooth speaker through its paces and craft an article from it that was both compelling and accurate—a rare skill in this industry. Rad’s main focus, though, was entertainment—Rad was an expert on classic films and classical music, and wrote authoritatively on both. His many writings can be found on multiple sites throughout the SoundStage! Network.
The model-designation number of the Flip 6 tells us that this popular speaker has been around for quite a while. And this time, it appears that JBL is turning over new models fairly rapidly, as I just reviewed the Flip 5 last August. At first glance, this new version looks much like the previous one, but there are in fact quite a few differences and upgrades. At $129.95 (all prices USD), the Flip 6 is still a bargain, even when you consider that the price of the Flip 5 has been reduced to $109.95. Is the Flip 6 worth the extra $20? I think so, but a lot depends on the needs of the buyer.
For the past seven months, I’ve been on a bit of a roll reviewing portable Bluetooth speakers with light shows—LEDs that dance to the music. The latest of these is the Anker Soundcore Flare 2, another cylindrical design that’s shorter than most JBLs and other brands of Bluetooth speakers, yet provides pretty good sound along with a user-adjustable light show. At $79 (all prices in USD), it’s a strong contender if you’re looking for a really small speaker with decent sound. And you can usually get your hands on one for far less than the list price if you shop around.
I confess I knew little or nothing about Furrion before starting this review, but after doing a little research, I discovered that they’re a huge corporation based in Hong Kong that makes a wide variety of products. In entertainment, their focus seems to be outdoor equipment, and their product lines include a vast selection of marine gear and outdoor televisions. The LIT is their only Bluetooth speaker, and it’s available (in black or white) as a standalone product, but the Adventure Kit throws in some interesting mounting equipment at considerable savings. Furrion lists the LIT and Adventure Kit at $140.95 (all prices in USD). The speaker alone is $119.95. If you bought the accessories separately, it would add up to $48. It’s an interesting design that will appeal to many outdoor enthusiasts—with one big caveat.
Two years ago, I reviewed the initial Tribit StormBox, predicting a bright future for the company and its products. It’s been a long wait, but now Tribit has added the StormBox Pro to its lineup, and this new speaker’s performance signals that the company’s future looks just as bright as ever. At $129.99 USD, the speaker outperforms most of the contenders in its price and size range and is on par with a number of other heavy hitters in the portable Bluetooth niche.
JBL started its PartyBox lineup with the huge floorstanding PartyBox 300 speaker that I reviewed a little over a year ago. Since then, the company has added speakers of various sizes to the line, the latest being the PartyBox On-The-Go model, which is portable and can play from its internal battery without having to be plugged in. At $349.95 (all prices USD), it’s not inexpensive, but you get a lot for your money: a very good-sounding PA/disco/guitar/karaoke/party speaker with lots of neat features.
Continuing on the topic of compact Bluetooth speakers, a category I’ve been delving into in my past few reviews, I’ve encountered a worthy candidate from Sony: the SRS-XB33. It’s waterproof, dustproof, rustproof, and shockproof, and should prove to be a good companion for outdoor activities. Moreover, it operates in real stereo, sounds pretty good, and has a mesmerizing light show with DJ effects. At $148 (in USD), it’s a strong contender in its price and size class.
Bose is a legendary name in the world of audio speakers. The company has diehard fans. Having never experienced a Bose product firsthand, I determined that I should try one. In this case, it was the Bose SoundLink Color II. Though I found a few things to quibble about, this little speaker mostly lived up to the Bose hype. At $129 (all prices USD), it is a strong contender for purchase if you’re considering a speaker in its size category.
Back in 2013, I had a strong relationship with Logitech because I was reviewing most of its pioneering Bluetooth speakers. Somehow, likely due to a change in personnel, I regrettably lost touch with the company. My first impressions of its products were highly positive, and I followed their progress online as the firm re-established itself as Ultimate Ears. Recently, I made contact with them again, and I’m happy to review the Wonderboom 2, the smallest Bluetooth speaker in the manufacturer’s line-up. At $99.99 (all prices USD), it’s an attractive, affordable companion for outdoor activities.
It’s back to the familiar JBL cylindrical design this month with their newest addition to the Flip series, the Flip 5 Bluetooth speaker. As you might have guessed from the number, this popular series has been around for some time. The new model comes with a few improvements over the outgoing Flip 4, although it loses a few features as well. Still, at $119.95 (all prices USD), it’s one of the best little Bluetooth speakers around.