$50 Bluetooth speaker … is it any good? [Review]

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Bluetooth Speaker
Want a cheap speaker that can blow your socks off? Look no further.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

The speakers in our iPhones and iPads keep getting better and better, but they’re not close to replacing Bluetooth speakers just yet. If you’ve just splashed out hard-earned dollars for a new iPhone 7 or 7 Plus, a low-priced, quality speaker may come as a welcome relief.

There are a few rare finds out there that deliver good bang for buck, and the $60 DKnight Big MagicBox is one of them.

Check out the full video review below.

Nyne’s big, bulky speaker is a boombox for the Bluetooth age [Review]

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Nyne's new boombox is the biggest Bluetooth speaker we've ever seen. It's called -- what else? -- the Rock!
Nyne's new boombox is the biggest Bluetooth speaker we've ever seen. It's called -- what else? -- the Rock!
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

As a teenager in the 80s, I love a good boombox. The bigger, the better, like Radio Raheem’s.

That’s why I was keen to check out Nyne’s new Bluetooth Boombox, called — what else — the Rock. It’s the biggest Bluetooth speaker I’ve ever seen, promising to put out 65 watts of raw music power.

But does it rock — or not?

Ear-hugging headphones deliver good jams for your dollar

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Lust List JLAB
Sometimes what you really need is a well-built pair of inexpensive headphones. Jlab's Flex fills that bill perfectly.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Best List: Flex headphones by JLab Audio

If you are on a budget and routinely trash your headphones, JLab Audio’s Flex is just what you have been looking for: a decent pair of cans built to withstand regular abuse.

The Flex headphones come folded down compactly into their included case, and for $70 deliver pretty impressive sound quality.

Review: Sonos Play:5 speaker is a rumbling, room-shaking rabble-rouser

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The new Play:5 speaker is a great update to Sonos' top-of-the-line box.
The new Play:5 speaker is a great update to Sonos' top-of-the-line box.
Photo: Traci Dauphin/Cult of Mac

The flagship speaker from Sonos has been revamped, redesigned and relaunched. The result is awesome.

The new Play:5 is a big, beefy speaker that sounds absolutely wonderful. It’s available in stores today, and although it’s not cheap, I’d recommend you go out and get one. Or two. Stereo is even better.

Rugged, great-sounding earbuds might outlive your iPhone

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These earbuds are so rugged, you'll love them a long time.
These earbuds are so rugged, you'll love them a long time.
Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Best List: AudioOHM RNF earbuds by GOgroove

My kids are constantly breaking their earbuds. Whether a pair of Apple’s pack-in EarPods or a $40 pair of neon green ‘buds from Best Buy, anything they use ends up with frayed and broken wires.

These ruggedized earbuds from GOgroove, however, withstood both teens — and I’m still able to use them. Plus? They sound really great for the price.

Shelf-size stereo delivers massive sound from a tiny footprint

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So much sound in such a small package.
So much sound in such a small package.
Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Now that we’re in the era of the portable Bluetooth speaker, it’s hard to justify spending money on a stereo that just sits on a shelf at home.

That perception is exactly what this tiny stereo system from German audio giant Thonet and Vander aims to fight, though. The Rätsel brings old-school stereo sensibility to the modern age, with an absolutely room-filling sound in a tiny, tiny package. Why not have something that sounds this great right there on your shelf?

Retro turntable skips the one feature it really needs

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Right at home in any environment.
Right at home in any environment.
Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

You’ve got to love a big, gorgeous hunk of wood, right? The Signature Vinyl Record Player Classic Turntable Hi-Fi Stereo System from Electrohome is all that, plus a delicious vintage-styled bag of chips, and it’s almost perfect.

The dark, solid-wood cabinet is like a throwback to your mom’s stereo furniture of the 1960s, with deep grain and resonating power like you wouldn’t believe. Plus, you can play CDs, listen to AM and FM radio stations, and plug your iPhone into the auxiliary input for some modern tune action.

All of this makes for a fantastic package, but there’s one essential thing missing that may have you looking elsewhere for your all-in-one stereo system.

Bowers & Wilkins P7 headphones will dazzle your ears and your eyes

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Bowers & Wilkins' P5 headphones bring a glorious audio experience.
The Bowers & Wilkins P7 headphones sound as sexy as they look.
Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

It’s ludicrous but true: How headphones look can be nearly as important as how they sound. Luckily for anybody who slides a pair of Bowers & Wilkins P7s over their ears, these high-end headphones do double duty. They will bamboozle your ears as well as your eyes.

With a stylish design and sturdy construction of gleaming metal and luxurious sheepskin leather, these aren’t a pair of big, cartoon-like plastic puffballs for your head. The P7s whisper quiet refinement rather than screaming “look at me.” If Beats Electronics’ brightly colored models are like those candy-colored iMac G3s from the ’90s, the P7s are like this year’s stunning iMac with Retina 5K display.

But really, looks are only skin deep. When it comes to music at its most intimate — when the sounds are piped straight from the source and directly penetrate your ear canals — it’s the quality of the audio that matters most.