Amazing $2,000 speaker is worth every penny

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Looks, power, and ease of use - what more do you need?
Looks, power, and ease of use - what more do you need?
Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Best List: Phantom speaker by Devialet

A whispered conversation in a library is about 30 decibels. A normally loud chat comes in at around 65 decibels. A jackhammer at 50 feet is 95 decibels, and also the loudness at which our ears can get damaged with prolonged exposure.

The Phantom speaker I’ve been using as my main television and Bluetooth speaker for the last couple of weeks tops out at 99 decibels. This sucker gets loud, without any distortion, real quick. It’s easy to use, looks amazing in any room, and will change your experience of music and movies from the moment you turn it on.

While it looks like something out of the future depicted in a Kubrick film, has an ungainly outdoor-style power cable, and is heavier than you’d think, the Phantom is simply the best home speaker I’ve ever encountered.

For two grand, it had better be.

UE Boom 2 brings the jams anywhere, anytime

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With the UE Boom 2, Ultimate Ears makes a great speaker even better.
With the UE Boom 2, Ultimate Ears makes a great speaker even better.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Best List: UE Boom 2 by Ultimate Ears

We loved the original UE Boom and the new 2.0 version is even better. The UE Boom 2 is stain-resistant, stylish, shock-resistant and completely waterproof. We’re not sure who is trying to listen to their tunes underwater, but if that’s your jam … you are good to go.

The new Apple-infused Beats Pill+ goes on sale

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beats-pill-plus-apple
Go get your prescription: the Beats Pill+ is out.
Photo: Beats

The latest entry to the Beats line of speakers and the first one under Apple’s supervision, the Beats Pill+ is now available. At $229, it’s $30 more expensive than its predecessor, the Beats Pill 2.0, but it has much more to offer. This Bluetooth speaker apparently has improved sound quality, a tweaked design, and unsurprisingly charges via Lightning cable.

Apple Music coming to Sonos, but there’s bad news

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Soon you'll be able to blast Apple Music through your Sonos speakers.
Soon you'll be able to blast Apple Music through your Sonos speakers.
Photo: Sonos

There’s good news and bad news for Beats Music and future Apple Music users alike. Apple has confirmed that the new music service will arrive for Sonos apps and speakers, but unfortunately not right away. It turns out integration won’t be ready in time for the big launch tomorrow, June 30, but the two companies are working together to bring Apple Music to Sonos as soon as possible.

Supercapacitor-powered Bamboo speaker charges in minutes and lasts for hours

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This speaker charges in minutes, plays for hours. Photo: Blueshift
This speaker charges in minutes, plays for hours. Photo: Blueshift

A few years ago, Portland resident Sam Beck built a bike-powered speaker that wouldn’t cut off when he stopped pedaling at stoplights. He accomplished such a feat with an amazing new technology: supercapacitors.

Instead of stopping there, however, Beck decided to bring his vision to the portable bluetooth speaker market, and his company — Blueshift — was born. Crowd-funded and open sourced, these gorgeous bamboo speakers charge in minutes and sound amazing for hours. The original unit, called Helium, is a big, bold bamboo speaker that packs a ton of sound.

Beck is releasing a second generation speaker called Hydrogen on crowd-funding site Crowd Supply. This new boombox is smaller and a little less loud, but it’s the same quality and design as its larger sibling, and a little less pricey.

Part of the appeal, for Beck, of figuring out this entirely new way of powering a speaker was the inherent challenge of doing something that no one else had.

“It seemed like such a good idea,” he told Cult of Mac over the phone, “I wondered why no one else was doing it. I saw that there was another way to do things that no one else was doing.”

Check out the video below for more details on this gorgeous high-tech portable speaker cabinet.

Best List: Gear so great we can’t stop talking about it

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If you don't have a dedicated roadie or one of those robotic tuning guitars, there's no easier way to tune your ax than with a Snark. Just squeeze the thumb-size mount and slide your headstock between the rubberized grips. Then press the little button on the front of the Snark's colorful LCD readout, pluck a string and get your instrument ready to play.


Lightweight and accurate, the Snark SN-2 All Instrument Tuner works with acoustic or electric guitars and basses, mandolins, banjos, whatever. It's perfect for situations like in-studio radio shows, where you don't want to drag around a stompbox tuner or a large amp that might have one built-in tuner. It also boasts pitch calibration, which lets you tune to something besides A-440, and a metronome that I can't complain about because I've never used it. The Snark SN-2 is a great buy at $39 list (and a steal at Amazon's price of $12.99). — Lewis Wallace


Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

If you don't have a dedicated roadie or one of those robotic tuning guitars, there's no easier way to tune your ax than with a Snark. Just squeeze the thumb-size mount and slide your headstock between the rubberized grips. Then press the little button on the front of the Snark's colorful LCD readout, pluck a string and get your instrument ready to play.

Lightweight and accurate, the Snark SN-2 All Instrument Tuner works with acoustic or electric guitars and basses, mandolins, banjos, whatever. It's perfect for situations like in-studio radio shows, where you don't want to drag around a stompbox tuner or a large amp that might have one built-in tuner. It also boasts pitch calibration, which lets you tune to something besides A-440, and a metronome that I can't complain about because I've never used it. The Snark SN-2 is a great buy at $39 list (and a steal at Amazon's price of $12.99). — Lewis Wallace

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac


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Ultra-compact studio monitors deliver huge sound

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Big sound, small package. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac
Big sound, small package. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

If you make music of any kind, or are just looking to upgrade your sound system from the decent-yet-not-audiophile Bluetooth speakers you currently use, you know you want a set of speakers that can handle the highest of highs, the deepest of lows and everything in between without sounding muddy or overly tinny, middy or bassy. You want a speaker set that can handle the deep boom of drum ‘n’ bass and the sweet, high melodies of a Mozart concerto along with any type of loop you can throw at it from your own collection.

Studio monitors are a big deal when making music, as they offer up sound that is as true to the source as possible. You want to hear everything going on in your mix so you can make sure to create the sound that best captures your musical vision, whether during the recording, mixing or mastering phase.

The Reveal 402 studio monitors from Tannoy promise to deliver unparalleled sound and fury without a huge footprint, letting you create music properly on today’s ultra-portable MacBooks. They also let you just plug in any sound source, from XLR to mini-audio jack, with ease, making these ideal for both music creation and plain old rocking out while you’re working.

Gadget Watch: New gear to trick out your iPad, your bike and your camera

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Whether the weather is wet or dry, we've got you covered this week. Waterproof headphones and speakers, and some nonslip bike pedal covers, will let you carry on in the rain or in the lake. And a flash-booster, replacement keycaps and a big twisty knob will keep you entertained indoors. Don’t forget your umbrella (or sunglasses)!

Whether the weather is wet or dry, we've got you covered this week. Waterproof headphones and speakers, and some nonslip bike pedal covers, will let you carry on in the rain or in the lake. And a flash-booster, replacement keycaps and a big twisty knob will keep you entertained indoors. Don’t forget your umbrella (or sunglasses)!


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