The search for fantastic wireless speakers

Published On: Dec 02 2012 08:53:24 PM EST   Updated On: Dec 03 2012 06:20:00 AM EST
Wireless speakers

Looking for a great gift this holiday season? Consumer Reports just tested wireless speakers. They make it easy to stream music from your smart phone, tablet, or computer without a bunch of wires.

Consumer Reports tested eight wireless speaker systems that cost $200 to $650. They use either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth technology. 

Bluetooth speakers work with lots of portable devices, and generally they’re pretty easy to set up. They are designed to work in the same room as the device that’s playing your music. But if you want to play your music in different rooms, you will want speakers that work with a Wi-Fi network. You can listen in the kitchen while someone else listens on a second speaker in another room.  

But almost all Wi-Fi speakers require that you already have an existing home wireless network, and you have to make sure that the speakers are compatible with the devices that you plan to use them with.

The big question: How is the audio quality? Testers evaluate the speakers in Consumer Reports’ audio lab. Monster’s Clarity HD Micro speaker sounded only fair.

But the top speakers have very good audio. For Bluetooth, Consumer Reports recommends the stylish Edifier Spinnaker speaker system for $350.

The top-rated Wi-Fi choice is also $350. It’s the Sonos Play:3 system that includes a speaker and wireless adapter. And you can get even better audio quality if you pair two of those speakers, which would bring the cost to $650. Another plus with the Sonos Play:3 Wi-Fi speakers is that you can stream music from dozens of online music services, such as Pandora and Spotify.