InnerFidelity's "Wall of Fame" Portable and Table-Top Speakers

Bluetooth speakers are one of the fastest growing categories in all of consumer electronics. According to this press release, BT speakers are expected to grow at an annual rate of over 38% through 2019. Expect to see lots of innovation and cool features coming along in this category.

InnerFidelity's focus is primarily on headphones and headphone amplifiers, and as such, the Bluetooth speaker Wall of Fame is not intended to represent the absolute best in these categories. Rather, the speakers show here are the known best performers of the speakers we've tested. There may be better available, but the speakers on this list are surely solid buys.

The list is divided into two sections: A.C. wall powered speakers intended for home use, and battery powered speakers that can be used portably.

Table-Top A.C. Power Speakers
This section contains speaker systems that are powered by an A.C. wall socket and do not have internal batteries.

Peachtree Deepblue2 ($399)
WoF_Photo_PeachtreeDeepBlue2Looking for a full-range speaker that can fill a room and deliver tight, well extended bass? This may be your ticket. The Peachtree Deepblue2 includes a 440 Watt amplifier, a 6.5 inch woofer, two 3 inch mid-range drivers, and two 1" tweeters. At 14"x9"x6" and 16 lbs., the Deepblue 2 is a bit large, but the built in carry handle makes moving it from room to room fairly easy. Deepblue 2 will take bluetooth, optical digital, and analog inputs. A remote control is included.

Read InnerFidelity review here.

Wren Sound Systems V5 ($399)
WoF_Photo_WrenSoundV5With a simple, elegant look, the Wren Sound V5 is available in both dark and light wood and plastic finishes. This speaker is a good choice for folks desiring a sophisticated look to complement their decore. Sound is good, a bit mid-centric, and, like most players of this size, has limited bass response.

Models are available with compatibility with various wireless source protocols: Wren V5AP for Airplay; Wren V5PF for Play-Fi, Wren V5BT for Bluetooth; and the Wren V5US for compatibility with all three protocols. An analog input is available on all three models.

Read InnerFidelity review here.

Amazon Echo ($179)
WoF_Photo_AmazonEchoWith a bit above average sound quality, the Amazon Echo is not going to slay the competition with its sonic performance. Sound is mid- to upper-mid centric with very good speech intelligibility; music listening, though, suffers a bit from lack of low bass—like virtually all speakers of this size.

But the Echo does far more than just play music, it's a terrific voice actuated personal assistance—think Siri or Google Now in a Pringles can on you kitchen counter. For best experience you need to become an Amazon Prime member.

"Alexa" is it's wake-word. Say, "Alexa, play Barney Kessel," and shazzam, the Echo plays his music from Amazon Prime. Say, "Alexa, add bananas to my shopping list," and by the time your phone is out of your pocket and the Alexa App is turned on, the bananas are on your list. Many other features are currently available from local weather, to national/international news briefings, to traffic reports and travel time estimates for your daily commute, with many more features now appearing regularly from Amazon and third party vendors.

Read InnerFidelity review here.

Portable Battery Powered Speakers
This section contains speakers that have internal batteries and can be used portably.

Riva Turbo X ($299)
WoF_Photo_RivaTurboXHere's a little speaker built by audiophiles for audiophiles. The Riva Turbo X has lots of digital signal processing going on, but it's all there just to deliver outstanding sound quality from a box this size. Surround and Turbo modes are available too increase a sense of space and play clean at loud levels respectively.

One of the most unexpected features of this speaker is the ability to play very loud with very little distortion. This is a very good choice for those wanting a work-site speaker that will over-fill a room and project sound to a wide area.

No other tone controls are included; audio inputs are bluetooth and analog. Also available separately is a very nice carry case; highly recommended for those who expect to be traveling significantly.

Read InnerFidelity review here.

Infinity One ($299)
WoF_Photo_InfinityOneHere's a portable speaker that really knows how to put out the thump! The Infinity One is about the size and shape of a football and constructed within a ceramic coated aluminum body. Very nice. It has four drivers—two front-facing and two rear-facing—driven by a 25 Watt amplifier, and two passive radiators at either end. This unit has more bass response than any other BT speakers of the same size. I would characterize the bass response as somewhat one-note, but it does manage to project a surprisingly stout thump—even outdoors.

Inputs are Bluetooth (with NFC pairing if desired) and an analog input. The unit can be charged rapidly with the included 13VDC dedicated power supply, or may be charged, though more slowly, with a standard USB phone charger. The internal battery and rear panel USB connections can also be used to charge smartphones and pads.

Read InnerFidelity review here.

UE Boom ($199)
WoF_Photo_UEBoomHere's one for the teens to try to break. Ha! The UE Boom is built like a brick—extremely durable and even splash proof, it also comes in a wide variety of festive colors.

The UE Boom takes both Bluetooth and analog inputs. An iOS and Android app is also available for advanced features, which include the ability to tie two UE Booms together for stereo reproduction. Sound is clear and moderately loud, bass response is limited as usual. (Caution: the UE Megaboom is larger and more expensive, but has very poor tonal characteristics with a really muddy bass.)

Read InnerFidelity review here.

FoxL V2 ($149-$229)
WoF_Photo_FoxLV2For those desiring a very compact BT speaker, the FoxL V2 is a superb choice. Though amazingly compact at 5.6" x 2.2" x 1.4", this little dynamo puts out much better sound quality than one could reasonably expect. Sound is certainly mid-centric, but is tastefully balanced. The FoxL will have a hard time filling a room, but placed neatly in front of you on a hotel room desk it delivers a surprisingly good audio image and satisfying listening experience.

Also available from Soundmatters is a companion sub-woofer called the FoxLo ($179-$219). I was a little disappointed by this product and do not recommend it.

Read InnerFidelity review here.

Creative SoundBlaster Roar ($99)
WoF_Photo_CreativeRoarHere's a BT speaker with tons of features ripe for some time on the desk of a busy business person. The Creative Soundblaster Roar plays music from Bluetooth, USB, and analog inputs, and can also play music from a micro-SD card inserted in the rear slot.

Maybe its coolest feature for some will be the ability to act as a hands-free headset for your smartphone, and, with a Micro-SD card mounted, can record your phone calls. I've struggled with smartphone apps for recording interviews, and the Creative Soundblaster Roar makes quick and easy work of it.

The original product has now been superseded by the Creative Soundblaster Roar 2 ($199), which has not been tested by InnerFidelity as yet. Fortunately, the current price of the original has been cut in half making it a steal.

Read full InnerFidelity review here.

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