What are the holidays without music? The highway travels and happy gatherings in front of a fire call for “Jingle Bells” and the crooning of Nat King Cole on “The Christmas Song.”
Fill the house with the season’s songs, or let the symphony play only to your headphones. But who wants to tangle with more wires and cords while stringing a tree or hanging decorations?
These wireless gadgets help you keep your holiday soundtracks on a loop so you can focus on finding a place for the mistletoe.
• The Monster iSport Freedom on-ear headphones will give you a tight-fitting hug. That makes them perfect for a workout, in sweat-resistant plastic and rubbery material that won’t jostle when you jog. And they do just as well for leisure and light holiday chores.
These completely cover your ears and are powerful enough to produce a thud inside the head with too much volume. That’s something that doesn’t happen with $29 iPhone EarPods. These cost $250 and give you 10 hours of playback time per charge.
Comfort has to be taken into account. On-ear headphones can squish your ears against your frames if you are wearing glasses, but I can appreciate not having to worry about yanking my headphones off accidentally by snagging the cord. http://bit.ly/1881vBx
• The little brother to the Sonos’ Play:3 and Play:5 speakers, the Sonos Play:1 wireless speaker packs a big, immersive sound in a package the size of a pickle jar for $200 each.
Unlike Bluetooth speakers, Sonos speakers run over Wi-Fi and need to be plugged into a power outlet. Through the end of the year, the company is throwing in, for no extra charge, a $50 Bridge adapter to attach to your router. You can free yourself from having to plug an Ethernet cable into at least one speaker.
You can play digital tunes that you own or use streaming services such as Pandora and Rdio. I found Sonos’ Wi-Fi connection to be far more consistent than using other speakers with Bluetooth, which can cause skips now and then.
The speakers are designed to disperse sound in a wide radius and fill a room. When two little Play:1s are paired for stereo sound, they deliver big time. http://bit.ly/1a8OqIr
• Beats Pill 2.0 is a Tylenol-shaped beat box that puts out a decent sound.But to me, it’s remarkably tinny for the Beats brand.
This year’s model, however, adds some cool features for the $200 price tag. A near-field communications chip lets you pair two Pills for stereo sound. If you are on the road, you can lift a tab to reveal a full USB port, which you can use to charge your mobile phone if you don’t mind giving up some of its seven-hour playback time. On a full charge, it can replace two-thirds of an iPhone 5S battery.
But the Pill is indeed round and will roll, so give it some type of anchor. http://bit.ly/HT69JJ
• Marley Get Together is what you want when you go on a picnic with your hippie friends. It’s even made of hemp.
No kidding: The cloth enclosure is made of recycled hemp, organic cotton and recycled plastic. Its natural bamboo front gives this an Earth-loving, yet luxurious polish. Two big woofers and two tweeters on the front reassure you that you’re not compromising on sound.
Playing Bob Marley over Bluetooth on this modern boom box just seems right. It has eight hours of battery life and costs $200. It has a USB port on the back that can be used for charging mobile devices. http://bit.ly/18wIepV
• Soundcast Melody is an indoor-outdoor speaker that uses Bluetooth technology to connect with your mobile devices and broadcast sound through the room or the house. Control the volume and other features from Melody’s keypad.
A speaker grill encircles a body that is shaped like a rice cooker. You can approach the device from any direction and still feel the sound coming your way.
This chunky, 9-pound box is for people who want some mobility from a speaker system and see weight as no issue. With a full charge, it’ll play up to 20 hours at low volume compared with just two hours if you’re blasting it.
At $450, it’s pushing the upper end of wireless speakers. But it’s an attractive travel companion with its speakers pointing in all directions, quality sound, lengthy battery life and car-lighter charger attachment. http://bit.ly/17yQ6Mx
• HMDX Jam Plus has stubby speakers the size of a tumbler glass that are perfect companions to a Bluetooth-enabled laptop or tablet.
Pairing two of them for stereo sound is a snap, thanks to a switch on the bottom that designates which one is right and left. The speakers have comically short USB cables for charging; they’re no longer than a foot. Provided you have USB ports on both sides of a laptop, insert one on either side for stereo sound.
Mind you, the USB port doesn’t act as an audio connection if your device isn’t Bluetooth-ready. Unplugged, they should give you six hours of listening.
That the speakers point straight up isn’t a deal-breaker somehow, as the sound is dispersed well. Priced at $60 each, a pair of these would make a small holiday gathering merrier. http://bit.ly/1eR3b6s
The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.
Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email firstname.lastname@example.org to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.Read moreRead less