Q: I’m looking for a small speaker that fits unobtrusively in a purse or bag, and I want the highest quality. What do you recommend?
A: Soundmatters has three speakers to consider. The first is the Moment. It is especially small, about the size of an iPhone but thicker. It is designed for listening up close. If you’re looking to fill a big area with sound, the foxLv2 and foxL DASH7 models are a better choice. All the Soundmatters speakers have the solid feel of a smoothly finished (yet lightweight) block of metal.
The prices for these speakers range from $129 to $179, but Soundmatters (soundmatters.com) is having a site-wide sale until the end of April with the coupon code SAVE15, good for 15 percent off your order.
Speaking of Soundmatters, the company recently teamed up with Level 10 to create a speaker called the UPstage 360. It is getting rave reviews from the most respected and influential names in the high-end audio world. It is a three-way speaker that can produce as much deep bass as a large bookshelf speaker, yet is compact enough to fit on a tabletop. It spreads sound in a 360-degree stereo pattern so the entire room receives the full effect. It has a dock that can hold an Echo Dot, allowing you to convert the UPstage 360 into a smart speaker.
As for its appearance, it has a sky-high “cool” factor. It somewhat resembles a Bang & Olufsen BeoLab 5 (speakers that cost more than $20,000 a pair) in cylindrical form, with a hint of can opener thrown in at the top. If you are a classic sci-fi fan like myself, think of something plucked out of the Krell lab in “Forbidden Planet.”
The ZVOX Kickstarter promotions I have mentioned in the past have been very popular because they make it possible to pre-order products at a significant discount. Though it is called a “pledge,” you actually are preordering the product. A limited number of UPstage 360 speakers are available at a discounted price via a similar program. The regular retail price will be $499, but until April 17 you can purchase it for $369. You can see the promotion by going to tinyurl.com/upstage360 or searching online for Upstage 360.
Earphones for athletes
I tried out the Sbode Bluetooth Sport Earphones and came away quite impressed — especially because they’re only $23.99. Their wonderful sound is clear and natural without a hint of hiss or noise, and there is enough bass present that the earphones do not sound thin. A semihard case and charging cable are included.
The earphones are very comfortable and stay in place easily. The ear tips are soft and pliant, and the substantial body of the earphones and flexible yet firm ear hooks balance them perfectly on your ears. The ear hooks have a soft finish, which contributes to the overall comfort. A large and easy-to-activate button calls up Siri for iPhone users, and phone call clarity from the microphone is excellent as well.
I tried them while using a stationary bike at the gym. Once the music started playing, the noise of the outside world was kept at bay. For under $24 you can’t go wrong. Sbode has a Facebook page with weekly giveaways and a store on Amazon.com where you can see their products.
Send questions to Don Lindich at email@example.com. Get recommendations and read past columns at soundadvicenews.com.