Q: You recently wrote about a multipurpose Bluetooth speaker but commented you would not buy it as a primary music speaker. I want a Bluetooth speaker that I can use for music. I'd like to keep the cost at $100 or less. Any recommendations?
A: The best sound quality under $100 is definitely the new OontZ Angle 3 Ultra (theoontz.com), which sells for half your budget at $49.99. Longtime readers are familiar with the line of OontZ speakers, the first of which I reviewed in 2012. The original OontZ was soon accompanied by the OontZ Angle and OontZ XL, with successive models following the Angle format. Today, the OontZ Angle 3 is the bestselling portable speaker on Amazon, with almost 22,000 reviews and a 4.4-star rating.
I recently received a phone call from OontZ asking me to try the new Angle 3 Ultra ($49.99) and Angle 3XL Ultra ($119.99). I was enthusiastically told how they were able to dramatically improve sound quality without raising the price. "We really want you to hear this," the caller said. "It represents a significant step up for us." After just a few minutes of testing them, I agreed.
OontZ speakers achieved market dominance by offering good sound at affordable prices. The new Ultras go far beyond good, with high-end, top-shelf sound at the same prices. They sound fantastic with every genre of music, from rock to classical, instrumental pop to R&B. As I listened, I kept thinking you could put a Bang & Olufsen or Bose label on the Ultras and double or triple the price, and people hearing them would say, "Wow, those high-end speakers are expensive, but it sure is worth it!"
The Angle 3 Ultra has ample, tight and satisfying bass; a nuanced, natural midrange; clear, clean treble; surprising spaciousness; near-perfect tonal balance, and an extremely satisfying musical character that made it hard for me to stop listening. If you want to spend all of your $100, you can buy two of them and pair them as left/right stereo speakers for truly room-filling sound. Or you could use them as independent speakers and provide music in two rooms. The claimed Bluetooth range is 100 feet (although in my tests, it was more than that), which makes multiroom music a definite possibility.
If you can bump your budget to $120, the larger Angle 3XL Ultra provides all this sonic goodness and then some, sounding more like a full-sized, $300 wireless sound system than a portable speaker with a rechargeable battery.
Over the years, I have received e-mails from readers who prefer the original iterations of the OontZ speakers over more recent models, saying they like the originals' warmer sound quality. If you are one of these die-hard fans, I understand where you are coming from. But the Angle 3s are better in every way, and this is an upgrade you don't want to miss.
Send questions to Don Lindich at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get recommendations and read past columns at soundadvicenews.com.