THE TRY OUTS: A REVIEW OF 5 BLUETOOTH WIRELESS SPEAKERS TO ROCK YOUR WORLD

by Marisa Marcantonio

Its no secret that I love music, and when my Bose Sound Dock died last year, I was left without an easy way to tap into my Pandora and Spotify playlists. This lack of a sound system at home led me on a quest to find the best Bluetooth wireless speaker. I have written about the mini Jambox before-- I love its Yves Behar design, but it left me wanting in the sound department. A little tech and sound research later, I discovered 5 portable speakers across varying price points that fit the bill for their design worthiness and sound capabilities that also function as speakerphones.  The beauty of these is that they are small enough that you can use them in pairs around a room, for an even bigger, better wall of sound throwback stereo system effect.

Photo courtesy of Native Union

The Switch, Native Union

, $150

PROS:

A great minimal design encased in rubber from a company that wins awards for design. You know them from their phone handset that was all the rage 2 years ago.

CONS

: I wish there were speaker grills on each side for better sound delivery

THE DESIGN

: A volume knob at the top is reminiscent of old school stereo knobs, and the device can be used horizontally or upright,  hence the name, Switch

THE SOUND

: Three speakers and a sub woofer

PLAY TIME

: 14 hours on bluetooth with a lithium-ion rechargeable battery that can also charge a cell phone.

OVERALL

:

Nice design for those that prefer something hyper-modern sleek

Photo courtesy of Stelle Audio

Dwellstudio for Stelle Audio Pillar

, $399

PROS

: It talks to you! Turn on the device and it says hello, in an unexpected British accent. Turn it off and it says goodbye.

CONS

: A speaker on the top of the column means sound comes from the top, not every side.

THE DESIGN

: A super stylish limited-edition design created by Dwellstudio, with little gold triangles set against a sleek black column is decor aware, and The DwellStudio for Stellé Audio Pillar has off-axis speakers at the top and subwoofer on the bottom that provide 360 degree sound

THE SOUND

: Good, but doesn't handle the bass as well as others

PLAY TIME

: 15 hours on Bluetooth with a lithium-ion rechargeable battery. An added bonus: it comes with international adapters so you can listen globally, but with the pillar weighing in at 3 pounds, it takes up precious space in luggage

OVERALL

: Fun design and shape

Photo courtesy of Bose

Bose Soundlink Mini Bluetooth Speaker

, $199

PROS

: A tiny speaker at 1.5 lbs that delivers huge sound. There are so many new speakers on the market that work with your iPhone and iPad, and I was looking to find one that had better sound than Bose, especially when it comes to the bass. Hands down, Bose delivers without sounding tinny, and a speaker on both the front and back of the device. Their reputation precedes them for good reason.

CONS

: The way it looks. It's just not as chic as it should be. Maybe if it was all white?

THE DESIGN

:I like clean 90 degree angles on corners, so the curved cube shape didn't thrill me. I also wish the speaker was monochromatic and a bit more high design. It comes with a charging cradle that is easy to use.

THE SOUND

: Amazing for its small size

PLAY TIME

: 7 hours, it takes 3 hours to fully charge an empty battery, which flashes red on the top control panel when it is running low

OVERALL

: The best of the bunch

Photo courtesy of Lowdi

Lowdi Speaker

, $129

PROS

: A cool slightly retro design and free delivery

CONS:

You can only order it through Amazon, and they have a 30 day return policy if you aren't happy with the product

THE DESIGN:

The brainchild of a Dutch design firm and a French company, the Lowdi has 2 speakers and fits in the palm of your hand

THE SOUND

: Good, but more appealing for its good looks than blow your socks off sound

PLAY TIME

: It comes pre-charged to play 8 hours and takes 3 hours to fully charge, through a supplied USB cable or your computer

OVERALL

: I like the retro aesthetic but unless it is easier to find at retail, or at least listen to, it might be hard for them to gain a steady following

Photo courtesy of Braven

Braven 850

, $299

PROS

: The newest of the Braven bunch, they make a wide range of well-designed Bluetooth speakers for portability and indoor outdoor use.  This is the big brother to their best selling mini 600 series.

CONS

: Heavy at 3.5 lbs, so probably not going in your suitcase for that vacation

THE DESIGN

: The aluminum wrapped design is sleek and looks at home next to your Macbook, it can also charge other devices

THE SOUND

: Pretty good-- big, bold sound, especially for its large size, with 20 watts of audio

PLAY TIME

:  20 hour battery life

OVERALL

: Nice clean design that you don't want to hide, I would rate this second to the Bose

BRIGHT NOW

by Marisa Marcantonio

Right now we are being wowed with wonderful bright hues, from punchy primaries to electric fluoro brights. The array of loud color is amazing-- a rainbow is peeking through for an early spring. Be it color blocking, stripes, or just saturated and unabashed, bright is so right now.

A wall of color at West Elm separating red, yellow, green and blue.

Photo courtesy of Kate Spade

Paint the town any color you want, as long as you pick a color. Say thanks for a colorful night with Paint The Town Notes from Kate Spade. Mais oui.

Photo courtesy of Stampa

Artist Sirichai's #17 Tongue is a nod to the great graphic 1960's pop art. He worked for fashion minimalist Geoffrey Beene, can you tell? Check out Stampa for their stable of fresh artists prints available with or without a frame.

Photo courtesy of DVF

An all-over red and white confetti pattern makes this DVF Square Dot tray a party-must.

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Adler

Throws always do the trick on the back of a sofa. This mohair number from Jonathan Adler in spring green is smile worthy.

Photo courtesy of Currey and Company

Better off red with Currey and Company's racing red Lombard Chest.

Photo courtesy of Pantone

A world of color is at your fingertips with Pantone Universe. Their espresso cups in reds and pinks will surely brighten your day.

Photo courtesy of West Elm

The lemon yellow of the Martini Table from West Elm is a tart treat.

Photo courtesy of CB2

For your favorite knit wit, a knitted pouf in electric pool blue from CB2.

Photo courtesy of Dwell

Stripe it rich with Dwell's chic cotton and wool Draper Stripe Rug in persimmon.

Photos courtesy of Anya Hindmarch

The Mini Grace bag in a color grid I am endlessly inspired by British handbag designer, Anya Hindmarch. Every season she finds cultural, architectural and artistic influences that act as her muse. These color - based vignettes she has created for her newest saturated collection incorporate found, everyday objects to tell the color tale beautifully, in a cabinet of curiosities way I just love.

Show your love for the big apple with a glittering green minaudiere.

With a pop of white to accent all the crazy color, the Huxley Tote tones things down.

The classic Nevis Tote in playful multi-hued rubber is beachy keen.

GLAMOUROUS LIFE: BRASSY IS CLASSY

by Marisa Marcantonio

Photo courtesy of Kelly Wearstler
Kelly Wearstler's home accessories collection for Bergdorf Goodman Decorative Home is brass heavy.

Brass is back. The warm metal, whether with a patina of age or bright and new, can add a mellow golden hue in the way silver, nickel and chrome can't. With a nod to Kelly Wearstler, who opened the door for more, today's brass is sexy and suave. Whether you are going for 70's Italian, Studio 54, or 80's redux, the glint of brass adds a glamorous glow.

Photo courtesy of Flair
Flair Home Collection has a Vintage French Screen with teal and gold lacquer that is the tops.

Photo courtesy of Oly
Amelia, a bombe chest from Oly is wrapped in brushed brass. Place it in a front hall as a statement piece or in a living room with a pair of great lamps on it.

A small drinks table from Jayson in brass with an x base and cut corners is just the spot for something small. Place it next to a sofa or by a cozy chair for some luxe gleam.

Photo courtesy of Jayson Home and Garden
Spindly brass wall flowers have a fun slinky - like movement to them that will make you smile. Available through Jayson Home and Garden.

Photo courtesy of Made Goods
Links of polished brass make this light and airy lidded box from Made Goods a gorgeous decorative element.

Hammered brass box and vase from Studio A has grooved texture that gives it the metal a softer look.

Photo courtesy of Urban Electric Company
The Travers sconce, designed by Amanda Nisbet for Urban Electric, mixes brass, etched glass and cherry wood for a subtle shadow play.

The stunning Baroque Lamp with high relief swirls from Laura Kirar for Arteriors is a little bit art deco a little bit disco.

Dwell for Global Views spiky ball is the sort of decorative object every coffee table should have. Consider it the modern day equivalent of the Moravian star Albert Hadley loved to use.

Brass and ebony iron accents make this mixed material orb with large studs an object of interest. From Dwell for Global Views.

Photos courtesy of Global Views
Make a tablescape even better with a piece that has a bit of height. Marble and brass in this dynamic piece from Dwell for Global Views has a Brancusi feel.

Tom Dixon created The Etch Pendant for DWR out of digitally cut and etched brass. It casts a radiant glow.

Photo courtesy of Made Goods
A dodecahedron in gold ceramic from Made Goods has many facets that all look great. From a bookshelf to a side table they are unusual additions.

Perch on this spun gold garden seat from Waylande Gregory or use it for a side table, whatever purpose it suits, it will be gorg.