Billboard’s Picks for the Top Consumer Electronics – Billboard
Written by GRB on 07/09/2023
All products and services featured are independently chosen by editors. However, Billboard may receive a commission on orders placed through its retail links, and the retailer may receive certain auditable data for accounting purposes.
BEST RETRO SPEAKER
JBL Authentics 500
This portable speaker looks old-school, but both it and its little brothers, the “200” and “300,” are all-new inside, with audio technology like Dolby Atmos. This is the big boy, with three one-inch tweeters, two 2.75-inch mid-range woofers and a 6.5-inch down-firing subwoofer that deliver 270 watts of 3.1 channel sound – in immersive Dolby Atmos if the music warrants it. Like the 300, the 500 has nearly eight hours of battery life and can move from room to room on a single source of sound.
BEST SPEAKER THAT RUNS ON SUN
The aptly named Urbanista Malibu runs on sun — literally. After introducing over- and in-ear headphones, the company is now launching a Bluetooth speaker that can play until the sun goes down and well after. Its battery can store enough power to work for 30 hours. When the weather turns, it can charge with a USB-C cable — better performance than most similar products — and an IP67 water-resistance rating means it works in the rain.
BEST HOMETOWN HERO
Teufel Ultima 25 Aktiv
IFA has grown so big that some companies now organize their own events, including the Berlin audio company Teufel (which translates to “devil” in German), which shows new products in its headquarters in the center of what was formerly West Berlin. Among this year’s highlights were the Teufel Ultima 25 Aktiv speakers, which will sell for about $500, the powered counterpart to the popular Teufel Ultima 20 bookshelf speaker (a “passive speaker” that gets electricity, along with signal, from a speaker cable). The speakers even have HDMI output and input so video can play on a screen, but audio can “pass through” the TV and go to the speakers.
BEST SMALL SOUNDBAR
Sennheiser Ambeo Mini
After some tough years during the pandemic, the German audio company Sennheiser is coming back with an exciting addition to its soundbar portfolio, the AMBEO Soundbar Mini, which is designed for smaller rooms. Thanks to “7.1.4 virtualization technology,” the device creates a stunning 3D sound in virtually any room,” according to a statement by Sennheiser AMBEO Soundbar Product Manager Maximilian Voigt, “all from a single box.” It supports Dolby Atmos and can be paired with serious subwoofers if you’re ready to rumble. At about $800, it’s not the least expensive soundbar out there — but it could be the best for smaller spaces.
BEST MUSIC MOVEMENT
Sonos Move 2
Sonos’ Move speakers were the first that could work with the brand’s systems over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, and often topped lists of smaller speakers with serious sound. Now Sonos is making the Move 2 available with new colors, more battery life, and stereo functionality. Like Sonos’ Era speakers, they have a USB-C ports that, with the right adapter, can play music from a turntable or CD player — or play music from a phone while recharging it. But the biggest changes are in battery life, which now lasts up to 24 hours instead of 11, and the stereo functionality that comes from packing in two tweeters in each box.