Holiday 2015 Guide for Bluetooth Speakers and Soundbars

Well, its that time of year. You’re thinking about what to get your husband, boyfriend, father or brother for Christmas. You’ve thought about some speakers for the TV or maybe a Bluetooth speaker is something they’d really enjoy. If you’re not well versed in the audio world, you’re going to get caught up by marketing and buy something that under performs while being overpriced.

I’m here to help you avoid falling for marketing pitfalls and get you the perfect gift. You only have to follow three easy rules.

My 3 Rules of Beating Audio Marketers
1. Don’t spend more than $20 on stuff made of plastic
2. If they aren’t known for making audio equipment (Vizio, Samsung, etc), don’t buy from them
3. The smaller the speaker, the worse it sounds

If you follow those three rules, you won’t fall for the marketing tricks. Rule 3 is less important than the other two, though. Big plastic speakers will sound worse than small quality speakers. But large quality speakers beat small quality speakers 9 times out of 10.

Now that you are armed against marketing tricks, let’s look at some gear.

Small Audio Gift
If you’re looking for something little, check out the small cell phone speaker from my summer audio article. It’s just $12, is completely wireless, requires no Bluetooth syncing, and is loud enough sound for a group of people sitting next to each other.

In fact, unless you’re willing to spend $100 for a Bluetooth speakers, the little one is the way to go. The lack of Bluetooth syncing makes it very social to use; just take your phone off the top and put someone else’s on, and you’re set.

Bluetooth Speakers
The stuff they try to sell you for $50-$120 is just bad sound in nice packaging. Don’t buy it.

At $150, go ahead and buy a Fluance Fi30, available in black, white or bamboo.

If you want to spend $200 on a Bluetooth speaker for your living room, go with a Fluance Fi50 in Black, also available in white

For $300, you can buy the AudioEngine B2, available in Black, Walnut and Bamboo.

Don’t spend more than that on Bluetooth speakers.

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Fluance Fi50, $200

Soundbars
If at all possible, avoid soundbars. They are not designed thinking about making great sound, they are designed to pad profit margins of TV companies.

There are good alternatives, or you could go for an awesome home theater, but it may be too much work to figure it all out for a Christmas present.

However, the marketers did well, and the soundbar is here. Some smart, audio centric companies have come up with soundbars which seek to reclaim audio quality for this product group. I’ve previously given my list of recommended sound bars, so pick one from there and get going.

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