IT doesn’t matter if you’re a Netflix junkie, a cinemaphile, or a Spotify Premium user. What is more important is how your sound is delivered to your ears. Yes, we have headphones, but they don’t give us that same room-filling thump and bass satisfaction. Speakers, on the other hand, elevate your immersive experience, no matter what media you’re using. Plus, you can actually have a proper conversation even while streaming music or a television show from a speaker.
If you happen to be in the market for new audio equipment, here is a list of the best speakers you need to get your hands on this year. Disclaimer: We only have our eyes on standalone speakers, not surround sound systems.
For the Indoors: Devialet Phantom Reactor
Mention the name Devialet, and immediately its signature egg-shaped speakers come to mind. Devialet recently shrunk its flagship product into a smaller form factor in the Phantom Reactor. Sitting at just 4.3kg, it’s not exactly “portable”, but it’s still less than half of what the OG Phantom weighs. We recently spent a week with the 900W variant of the speaker, and we can safely say that it is the best indoor speaker you can get this year.
Firing it up takes about 40 seconds, but with its connectivity options (Airplay, Spotify Connect, Bluetooth, and the classic aux cord), listening to your favourite tunes is easy as just pressing play.
Bass is still the core of the reactor through its proprietary Heart Bass Implosion (HBI) tech. Listening to thumpers like It’s Only by Odesza and Bad Liar by Imagine Dragons will have you shaking in your bones.
However, the Reactor fell flat, especially with songs like Shallow by Lady Gaga. As Gaga (or Ally, whichever you will) reaches a crescendo in the chorus, we were expecting a peak in her voice. But that never came; instead, the song’s full dynamic range was suppressed by the speaker. It worked better with melancholic songs like Better by Khalid and Ghostin’ by Ariana Grande, where the mellow tunes flowed through the front-facing drivers.
Don’t get us wrong. The Reactor is a superb speaker that will fill whatever room you put it in. If you’re ever hosting intimate soirees or house parties in your abode, there’s only one speaker you need to put out some background tunes.
The Devialet Phantom Reactor retails at S$1,890 for the 600W version and S$2,390 for the 900W version.
For the Outdoors: Sony PG10
The good thing about Singapore having summer all year-round means we can have barbeques and pool parties anytime we want. And what’s an outdoor blowout without some good pulsating tunes? Here’s where the Sony PG10 wireless outdoor speaker comes in.
Making its debut in CES, the PG10 isn’t your ordinary portable speaker. On first sight, it looks like a traditional boombox from the ‘90s, but the top opens up so that the sound goes further.
Oh, did we mention that the top panels can even store up to four cups of beverages besides functioning as volume enhancers? That’s not all. It’s also splash proof, so you won’t ruin the PG10 even when you’re drunk.
The PG10 has up to 13 hours of battery life, depending on how loud you play your music.
For the Road: Beoplay A1
The Beoplay A1 is more than just a portable speaker. Its beautiful, brushed aluminium design lends a dash of sophistication to wherever it is placed.
This circular speaker doesn’t stick out like conspicuously like other products with their bright colours and zany shells. Instead, the A1 blends in surreptitiously, but at the same time drawing the gaze of anyone who looks at it. There are five colours available: sandstone, natural grey, black, moss green, and late night blue, which was added just this year.
The A1 is not just a pretty face. It also packs a punch, with the engineers and Bang & Olufsen drawing on their expertise to bring their signature True360 sound into a smaller frame with the A1.
For a device that fits snugly into the palm of your hand, the A1 delivers some mighty punchy bass, although not as powerful as the full-sized speakers. And in the spirit of being truly portable, the grill-like enclosure prevents unwanted splashes of water and dust from getting into the cage.
The Beoplay A1 retails at S$400.
For the Home: LG SL9YG
For all you Netflix fiends who still enjoy watching your favourite shows on a bigger screen with superb sound, you don’t have to pay and install a massive sound system when just a nifty soundbar would do.
The LG SL9YG soundbar was introduced at CES just two months ago where it snagged the Best in Innovation award.
The SL9YG’s feature-wise is a consumer’s dream. Not only does it support Google Assistant, it also has Dolby Atmos and DTS:X for more immersive sound. You can choose to either wall-mount the speaker, or just place it on the television console.
You can also use the soundbar to stream your favourite tunes in your entertainment area. The SL9YG can play audio at a high-resolution rate of 24-bit/192kHz. While your ears might not be able to gleam the difference, audiophiles will surely appreciate the option.