Editorial Reviews

Editor's Choice Best of the Top Mp3 Speakers

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We’ve Pulled Together the Best Mp3 Speakers for Your Dollar.

Why read five different sites with one review each?
What we’ve done is scavenged the web of editors top picks, from CNET to ZDNet and given you a one stop web review experience.

Quick Top Pick:

Editor’s Choice Mp3 Players
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Editor’s Choice Headphones
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How to Choose Mp3 Player Speakers:

iPod Only iPod and Everything Else
Most mp3 Speakers out there are for iPods only. These act as a docking station, charging your iPod and allowing you to access the iPod’s functionality via the speaker system. Some have other added functionality like alarm and FM tuner. The main benefit of these is that you don’t have to worry about charging your iPod, it does it for you. All other mp3 player speakers are basically just multimedia computer speakers. You can connect your player to them via a 1/8th headphone jack and you get the functionality of your player, on your player, and that is it. Bluetooth is the other way to connect your player to speakers, but this still doesn’t charge your mp3 player like a dock does for the iPod.
You know the great thing about portable mp3 players? You can take them anywhere, except most of the time you can’t share. The solution to the problem, mp3 player multimedia speaker system. Some are portable, and some must stay plugged in at home. But how do you choose what is right for you?
First, if you have an iPod, your choices are substantially large. You only need to consider if you want a portable speaker system like the Think Outside Boomtube or stationary dock system like the Chestnut Hill Sound George. Remember, stationary systems that plug into a wall and are intended for indoor use only sound substantially better than portable outdoor systems that typically don’t have enough power to throw down a party.
For those of you who don’t have an iPod, your selection for speaker systems specifically for mp3 players are much smaller. Most systems will not act as a dock for your player which ultimately means that you’ll need an electrical plug for the speakers and another for your mp3 player if you want to charge it while playing through the speaker system. But beyond this particular issue, the selection of high quality speakers is very good and the functionality of Bluetooth in a lot of mp3 players other than the iPod, almost makes a dock system seem old school.
Choosing a non-iPod specific speaker system for your mp3 player basically breaks down to how much you want to pay, and if you want to use Bluetooth. Bluetooth is pretty great but sometimes the range can be an issue, and walls can block the Bluetooth. Price mostly determines the quality of your speaker, though remember, most mp3s aren’t encoded so well and the better your sound system, the more flaws in the encode you will notice. So spending $600 on a speaker system might not be the best idea if your mp3s are not all high quality.
Experts may all agree on the advantages or shortcomings of any product they review but, at AudioReview.com, we believe that the average consumer can best summarize all the details a product has to offer… So read what users have to says!

Think Outside – BoomTube H201 – $99

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Specs:

  • Portable
  • # of channels: 3
  • # of satellites: 2
  • Separate subwoofer: Yes
  • Power rating front satellite: 12 watts RMS per channel
  • Power rating subwoofer: 24 watts RMS per channel
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    PCMag says: The audio quality is impressive and very full, thanks to dual subwoofers (2.2-inch drivers, 24 watts), two powerful satellites (2.2-inch drivers, 12W per channel), and integrated MaxxBass technology. The system’s output is plenty powerful for small gatherings—it provides the most bang for its size of any portable we’ve seen so far.

    CNET Says: The overall design of Think Outside’s Boomtube H201 might be unique–even cool–but we could have done with a bit more boom.

    ZDNet Says: The two remote speakers sounded reasonably rich, with fair detail in the soaring strings, and we were able to crank the volume to bone-rattling levels with little distortion, thanks to the Boomtube’s output of 20 watts per channel. However, bass response was disappointingly subtle, even with the bass control cranked all the way up.

    Read more details and find out prices here.


    Bose – SoundDock Digital Music System – $200

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    Specs:

  • iPod Only
  • # of channels: 2
  • # of satellites: 1
  • Separate subwoofer: No
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    Digital Trends says: The Bose SoundDock is an excellent option if you are looking for a simple speaker dock away from your computer for your iPod or iPod Mini. While the unit lacks some of the features that the competition boasts, potential buyers should consider whether they will ever actually use those features. In the sound quality category, the SoundDock comes out on top.

    PCMag Says: The SoundDock isn’t an audiophile speaker, but it gives even our favorite desktop models a run for the money above 80 Hz. It’s a triumph of engineering and a shoo-in for Editors’ Choice.

    MacWorld Says: If you’re using the SoundDock in the types of environments for which it’s intended—on a desk, or in a bedroom, office, or kitchen—you’ll be rewarded with good sound in an eye-catching package.

    Read more details and find out prices here.


    Harman/Kardon – SoundSticks II- $169

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    Specs:

  • Product Type – PC multimedia speaker system
  • # of channels: 3
  • # of satellites: 2
  • Separate subwoofer: Yes
  • BNominal Output Power (Total) – 40 Watt
  • 2 x Satellite speaker – 10 Watt – Wired, 1 x Subwoofer – 20 Watt – Wired
  • Power adapter – External
  • 1 x Audio line-in ( Mini-phone stereo 3.5 mm )
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    CNet says: Harman Kardon bridges the platform gap, allowing anyone with a 1/8-inch minijack input to take advantage of the SoundSticks II and their fantastic output.

    DigitalReviews Says: …these speakers are for those who place a little more emphasis on sound and design over total output power. The only thing I would have liked to see with these speakers is a headphone jack on the satellite speaker and possibly a volume meter for the volume control buttons.

    ilounge Says: …we wouldn’t hesitate for a minute to add a set of the Soundsticks to an iPod or computer setup. They look great, sound great, and won’t kill your wallet.

    Read more details and find out prices here.


    Parrot – BOOMBOX (w/ Bluetooth) – $200

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    Specs:

  • Portable – Power supply – Internal
  • Connectivity Technology – Wired – Bluetooth 2.0 EDR, Wireless
  • Transmission Range – 98 ft
  • Speakers Included – Speaker – 2-way – 60 Watt – 50 – 20000 Hz
  • Driver Details – Speaker : 2 x Tweeter driver, Speaker : 1 x Woofer driver
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    CNet says: The Parrot Boombox wireless Bluetooth speaker system ably combines elegant design, minimalist aesthetics, and better-than-average sound quality at an affordable price.

    IT Reviews Says: Given the speaker’s abilities and audio performance alone it’s not overpriced, and if you think you’ll get a decent amount of use from the Bluetooth support it comes in as a bit of a bargain.

    TrustedReview Says: If you use your phone as an MP3 player and want something to play your music on then the Parrot Boombox is an excellent option. Sound quality was excellent, besting the iPod Hi-Fi comfortably with little loss of quality when streaming via Bluetooth. The only caveat is the slightly disappointing Bluetooth range…

    Read more details and find out prices here.


    iLuv – i199 Bluetooth (with BluePin) – $199

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    Specs:

  • Plays back your Audio CDs and MP3 CDs with the slide-in CD loading mechanism
  • Digital clock display with dual alarm
  • Plays MP3 files stored on a USB storage device, such as USB MP3 players with USB connector
  • BluePin audio transmitter / receiver
  • Connector type – 1 x Docking station, 1 x USB, 1 x Headphones
  • Receive and play the music wirelessly from your audio device with Bluetooth wireless technology, such as MP3 music players, MP3 mobile phones, laptops, etc
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    LaptopMag Mag says: With the module in place, you can stream music from a phone to the i199′s speakers or transmit sound from the unit to a wireless headset. Though the Bluetooth function isn’t built in, exactly, pairing was painless, and the sound was excellent.

    CNet Says: The impressive iLuv i199 provides a dizzying array of features–including iPod compatibility, CD player, AM/FM clock radio–you’ll be hard-pressed to find on any other tabletop audio systems at this price.

    Ngadgeti Says: Among this feature-heavy iPod speaker’s many talents is the ability to play MP3s from USB thumb drives, as well as dock and pump out tunes from iPods. It has a slot for regular and MP3 CDs, a radio, and even an alarm clock. The iLuv’s sound is pretty decent, too. It’s a shame that operating it is such a pain.

    Read more details and find out prices here.


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    • Dylan says:

      I suggest that they also try the Kicker iK500 Ipod or Zune dock. I believe that it is much better than the “Think Outside Boom Tube” dock.
      The Kicker iK500 has very clear mids and highs, and very defined lows due to its 6×6″ passive radiator…

      Just another opinion

    • sam says:

      I am actually looking for a speaker large enough (size of iluv i199) where I can plug my mp3 and play. I would be pleased if such a speaker can hold some power to run when unplugged. Can anyone recommend me one within the price range of $50 to $125?

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