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Speakers for travel, better than the usual Bluetooth ones?


BnG_Murphy
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I travel all the time, have a nice Hi-Fi at home and listening to it is one of the best things about going home. But traveling I just use the Bluetooth speakers by the likes of JBL. Since recently discovering places like this forum and Hi-Fi via my phone with a DAC AMP, the JBL speakers sound even worse.

 

Can you think of anything that would be suitable to consider?  

 

Ideally under 1KG as that is the weight of my JBL charge and I left it at home this time as it wasn't worth the weight and bulk for the average sound quality. I don't need loud, just good. Price-wise a couple of hundred bucks, less is best. But I am prepared to pay a lot if need be as I travel so much. I have looked at all the Bluetooth options from Sonos, Sony etc... in comparison videos and they all seem fairly compareable. They have features I don't need like being waterproof, 360 degree sound and being hard wearing. Sound isn't the only concern for them. 

 

I don't need Bluetooth, but it would be useful at times. Batteries are a plus but not essential. A mini Hi-Fi system would be fine. I have seen the little amps online but not any little speakers. The only small speakers I can think of are PC speakers, but they seem to be all about gaming. I would prefer a natural, realistic sound. Or a single portable speaker which is very good would be nice, but they seem to get too big when the price goes up. 

 

Any suggestions will be appreciated, even just pointing me in the right direction to look. Thanks.

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9 hours ago, BnG_Murphy said:

Since recently discovering places like this forum and Hi-Fi via my phone with a DAC AMP, the JBL speakers sound even worse

Hello,

 

Can you clarify the above statement a bit more? Do you intend to use the phone as your source? If so, does the statement above mean you also have some kind of external DAC that is used with the phone that you will want to connect to this new speaker? If yes, what kind of physical output options does this DAC offer?

 

I assume you are also open to a stand alone, one box solution based on what you wrote in your first post. Have you ruled out a headphone rig for your purposes or would you rather use this new setup while walking about the Hotel room or elsewhere without wires being attached to your head?

 

All the above would help someone provide a better answer to you

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Hi cjf,

 

I currently have an iBasso DC03 DAC AMP dongle. It's a dongle with small jack to plug in and USB C into phone (lkus adapter for normal USB). But it's trash with my phone and tablet (I have to unplug it ~7 times for it to work and/or restart). Doesn't work with my MacBook but should be OK with my Windows PC. I have a VE Odyssey HD on the way which is apparently similar but looks more like an adapter i.e. no dongle. I am guessing it won't have the sane power.

 

I got some KZ IEMs, open headphones and have the VE Monk Plus earbuds on the way. 

 

I was expecting to need to start fresh. Wasn't sure if there are speakers I can plug a dongle/adapter into (just seen it mentioned once so far).

 

I could use my Samsung phone or tablet, or a Mac or Windows laptop as the source. 

 

It's just for the convenience of not having to put headphones on, so I can move around easier. We stay in AirBnB apartments so it would be nice to have on whilst pottering around e.g. I work on a laptop, make a lot of tea, a bit of OCD about washing hands, take a break on sofa or bed reading tablet. Currently I just listen if I have a long break, it would be great to have a speaker on all day. And just use headphones when I want to crank up the volume or travel.

 

I am definitely open to a stand alone solution. 

 

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I think these KEF's here would be ideal for what you want but the price and size may be more than you want. I'll link to them anyway so you can have an idea of whats possible if nothing else.

 

https://us.kef.com/lsx-wireless-music-system.html

 

A few more alternatives in progressively fewer dollars order:

 

https://www.bowerswilkins.com/formation/wedge

 

https://www.technics.com/us/products/premium-class/ottava-s/sc-c50.html

 

https://www.bowerswilkins.com/formation/flex

 

 

 

 

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Not much of a choice for travel, since bass out of a small speaker is difficult. Tried:

Sony XBS

JBL ( various)

KEF MUO

B&O

 

Out of the lot, the KEF sounds the best Bluetooth speaker for music, the battery lasts about a day. It can also be paired for a stereo image that has some height to it. 

It is the most fiddly to connect, but maybe this has been improved. Can also be wired to a 3.5mm plug system.

 

The Sony needs the app  to EQ, since without it's anaemic in the bass. 

 

B&O is best for speech,  like movies/docs.

AS Profile Equipment List        Say NO to MQA

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Ruark Audio MR1 Mk2 supports optical, Bluetooth and regular aux input. Can be used as a speaker pair, or just a single mono unit. Optional battery pack.

 

Audio Pro Addon C10 does Wifi, Bluetooth, Ethernet LAN and has RCA connections. No battery though, that's in the smaller C3 model.

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Thanks all. This has given me some good options to look into. 👍 I think buying a pair may be too heavy and bulky as I only use a medium size suitcase, 24 inches. And I already have some extra items (cameras, Adidas NMDs and teas). The pairs of speakers seem to start at 3.5kg, but I think they need an amplifier so it might be 5kg with that, or I saw some studio monitors that were powered and 5kg. Quite happy to go for a flat sound as it will encourage me to make music.

 

There are just some basic electronics stores in my current town and I tried the JBL Flip 5 yesterday. I have to say I was very tempted to buy it, on sale a third off, weighing just 500g (1.2 pounds). We have been using 2 of the next one down (JBL Clip) which have no bass. The Flip definitely had some bass and as I will usually be close by, I might grab it, at least just for now. The 1kg JBL Charge was left at home for being too heavy, the Flip might be the perfect balance of weight and bass for now (it wasn't mid and high heavy like I expected). Light green though. 😁 

 

We will be visiting a big city (Hanoi) soon, so I will have much more choice there.  Plus it will be easy to sell the Flip for just a bit less than the price paid. From what's been mentioned so far the KEF MUO looks like it will be the best option. Or the Audio Pro Addon C3 is just 2KG and looks like a beast compared to the standard Bluetooth stuff. So I will be looking for shops that have items like that and maybe the small speaker pairs. Buying electronics online isn't great here, there aren't any KEF MUOs available. At 0.8kg that might be a sweet spot.

 

I have seen mention of Bluetooth 5.2 (need to read up on it), so maybe it's fine to get something temporary like the Flip until that becomes the norm, as it sounds like it will be worth upgrading devices for. Tempted to dip my toe in already with the KZ AZ09 5.2 Bluetooth IEM module/s, which are cheap. My KZ IEMs have made one ear feel like it has a blister (taking them out too much), so maybe Bluetooth is a good way to go so they can stay in longer.

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Got the JBL Flip 5. Someone had taken one back yesterday as they wanted the bright one, so I got to buy a nicer dark green one. For movies on the bed and casual listening, it will do for now. It has bass but nowhere near hi-fi clear sound, so will definitely still look for a better option long term.

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3 hours ago, BnG_Murphy said:

Got the JBL Flip 5. Someone had taken one back yesterday as they wanted the bright one, so I got to buy a nicer dark green one. For movies on the bed and casual listening, it will do for now. It has bass but nowhere near hi-fi clear sound, so will definitely still look for a better option long term.

Wish I could delete that now. Took it back almost immediately. Broken, someone was lying about the return reason. I was having to mess with EQ too much anyway as it's bass heavy, like muffled. Will hold off for one of the better options. It was also only something like Bluetooth 4, need to read up on the different types.

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Worth looking to vifa. The sound of the larger units is surprising and build quality is excellent. Bluetooth 4 though for Oslo. I’ve had one for years as a portable, never felt the need to upgrade, with exception of naim muso but those are plug in.

 

https://www.vifa.dk/pages/copenhagen-2-0

 

https://www.vifa.dk/pages/oslo


https://www.naimaudio.com/mu-so

 

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Those look great, thanks. The Oslo looks the perfect size, bit expensive and heavy but will check it out. I think that is the sort of thing I will be happy with for a long time. Could be a solid investment.  👍

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On 9/30/2021 at 12:47 PM, BnG_Murphy said:

Thanks all. This has given me some good options to look into. 👍 I think buying a pair may be too heavy and bulky as I only use a medium size suitcase, 24 inches. And I already have some extra items (cameras, Adidas NMDs and teas). The pairs of speakers seem to start at 3.5kg, but I think they need an amplifier so it might be 5kg with that, or I saw some studio monitors that were powered and 5kg. Quite happy to go for a flat sound as it will encourage me to make music.

 

There are just some basic electronics stores in my current town and I tried the JBL Flip 5 yesterday. I have to say I was very tempted to buy it, on sale a third off, weighing just 500g (1.2 pounds). We have been using 2 of the next one down (JBL Clip) which have no bass. The Flip definitely had some bass and as I will usually be close by, I might grab it, at least just for now. The 1kg JBL Charge was left at home for being too heavy, the Flip might be the perfect balance of weight and bass for now (it wasn't mid and high heavy like I expected). Light green though. 😁 

 

We will be visiting a big city (Hanoi) soon, so I will have much more choice there.  Plus it will be easy to sell the Flip for just a bit less than the price paid. From what's been mentioned so far the KEF MUO looks like it will be the best option. Or the Audio Pro Addon C3 is just 2KG and looks like a beast compared to the standard Bluetooth stuff. So I will be looking for shops that have items like that and maybe the small speaker pairs. Buying electronics online isn't great here, there aren't any KEF MUOs available. At 0.8kg that might be a sweet spot.

 

I have seen mention of Bluetooth 5.2 (need to read up on it), so maybe it's fine to get something temporary like the Flip until that becomes the norm, as it sounds like it will be worth upgrading devices for. Tempted to dip my toe in already with the KZ AZ09 5.2 Bluetooth IEM module/s, which are cheap. My KZ IEMs have made one ear feel like it has a blister (taking them out too much), so maybe Bluetooth is a good way to go so they can stay in longer.

Bluetooth speakers that are able to play CD resolution audio will be released next year, in the mean time you can use the aux input on current bluetooth speakers for best sound quality.

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28 minutes ago, Rexp said:

Bluetooth speakers that are able to play CD resolution audio will be released next year, in the mean time you can use the aux input on current bluetooth speakers for best sound quality.

I was guessing there was about to be a level up. Thanks for confirming my suspicions. Will try the AUX input trick and just stick with over ear headphones more often for now. Just getting into this audiophile stuff so I want to try various IEMs and whatnot anyway, so no rush. 👍

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Sony used to make nice Bluetooth speakers, then they got roped into the whole ruggedized, waterproof, with flashing, colored LED BS.

 

I was shopping for a Bose Bluetooth speaker a couple years ago, and was about to pony up for their big one. Lo and behold! right next to the Bose display was a Sony display, and their SRS-X5 sounded a lot better than the competing Bose. The Bose seemed to be missing all the mid tones and some of the highs and bass was a bit muddy, but the Sony SRS-X5 had all of it. Its standard coupling is Bluetooh, but it has an AUX input jack, 1/8" mini-phono. Sometimes, I use that to play my old tapes from an equally old Walkman. :-)

 

The way these are built is that they have a powered subwoofer in the middle and one full-range driver on each end.

 

Anyway, I wound up with the Sony SRS-X5 and have been really happy with it for the last 4+ years. Sony doesn't make anything like it any more, the and the built-in Li-Ion battery life is starting to go*, so I might be shopping again soon. Top choice so far is the big Marshall one that looks like one of their guitar amps.

 

I considered JBL, but none of their stuff has any bass until it gets really big.

 

Those separate speaker systems don't seem like they'd have any lows to speak of. For a portable rig, you won't need it thump really hard, but you don't want to just not have any bass either.

 

* this point, with a built-in, proprietary Li-Ion battery is a killer. If they're built in and not able to be replaced, then you're basically considering products costing many hundreds of dollars that will be done in 5 years. My Sony also plugs in with a separate power supply, (and it has better bass while plugged in) but if the battery is totally dead, I'm not sure it'll work.

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On 10/9/2021 at 1:37 AM, Smaug1 said:

... I wound up with the Sony SRS-X5 and have been really happy with it for the last 4+ years. ....

Thanks, I will keep an eye open for one. Even if old and battery bad they look good. I was delusional about fitting my camera gear, teas, supplements, and a decent speaker(s) in my 24" suitcase. Might have to leave my open headphones behind (they are only the cheap Superlux  HD 681B). But this Sony looks like a nice slim size and similar weight to my JBL charge (not a fan - too much "pow" and not enough "ahhh"). Would be worth losing some supplements and teas over.

2016487761_Screenshot2021-10-10165700.jpg.7fc0cb9ff03019c4f4dd2ebcd487def6.jpgSony opened up, just 1.2Kg

 

 

Currently got 2 JBL clips which are useless, but both together are a massive improvement if sat in the middle. If only their Flips could be used as a subwoofer in the middle I think it would be a great portable stereo system. And very versatile for travel. 

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Sounds like you're the air travel equivalent of a ultralight backpacker. :-)

 

Or are trying to be, but are struggling with leaving behind some creature comforts, hehehe. If it were me, I think I'd either pack nice headphones OR a nice speaker, but not both. This is probably sacrilege, but I like my Bose QuietComfort over-the-ear headphones for traveling. While on the plane, they cancel out the white noise of the plane engines and they sound really good to me. You may tire of wearing them in the hotel, though. Maybe a set of the in-ear noise canceling 'phones, then you'd have room for a Bluetooth speaker of your choice?

 

Supplements are going a bit off topic, but every doctor I've spoken to told me that if I eat a balanced diet, I shouldn't need supplements. The only exception is that I need Vitamin D because I'm a melanoma survivor who avoids sun most of the time. I used to take a multivitamin, but all it seemed to do was make my hair and fingernails grow too fast. I do take Vitamin C and Zinc if I feel a cold coming on and I find it shortens the duration. I take a Vitamin B12 once in awhile, as I tend to get cold sores, which indicate a lack of this vitamin. (and/or sleep)  Geez, I guess I AM a supplement kook...

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On 10/11/2021 at 8:46 PM, Smaug1 said:

Sounds like you're the air travel equivalent of a ultralight backpacker. :-)

 

Or are trying to be, but are struggling with leaving behind some creature comforts, hehehe. If it were me, I think I'd either pack nice headphones OR a nice speaker, but not both. This is probably sacrilege, but I like my Bose QuietComfort over-the-ear headphones for traveling....

Exactly. The protests in South America threw me off 2 years ago (kept changing plans). Plus I took a stupidly big rolling hold-all. Now we slow travel - a few months here, 6 months there etc... It's just so convenient to have a 24" suitcase that can be turned into a backpack in seconds. I think the term is "flash packer😁

 

I am not really enjoying the cheap headphones I have and I found some hi-fi shops today in Hanoi, so will see if they have your Bose headphones and speakers mentioned. Only space now for very small single speaker I think. Unless I can let my beloved suitcase backpack go for a while.

 

Just added a mini midi keyboard today, another luxury item. So may just go back to a pair of studio headphones. Will studio headphones be what people call neutral and flat on this forum? I think those Bose ones would be a bit too complimentary to my music. Thanks.

 

Yeah, I need to cut down on supplements too. Should just use 1 multivitamin. But I get carried away - just had first jab so have been taking garlic gel caps (nasty) and Vitamin E to minimize chances of clotting. Then may as well have D, magnesium and zinc, plus the medication people don't like to talk about (I would probably get banned if I mentioned it) 😁. Then if you have all those it makes sense to have Vitamin C and a multiple vitamin B, would seem silly not to.  After "this" is all done, I will try and stick with a multi, and Vitamin C to blast at any illnesses.

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On 10/11/2021 at 9:06 PM, stefano_mbp said:

Why not a couple of Genelec 8010A? They are active monitors, not a lot of bass of course but anyway nice sounding

https://www.genelec.com/8010a

… a specific bag is available

https://www.genelec.com/accessories/8010-424-soft-carrying-bag

These look great for me as I just started making music today. I am going to re-think my suitcase size. Thanks. I want to get a track played on a small radio station, so I will need something like these at some point.

 

It's such a shame there aren't more suitcases that you can turn into backpacks. Places like Asia and South America almost need these, yet there are barely any available. So many people struggle down unpaved paths, cobbled streets, beaches, up stairs etc... Every time I just stroll in comfortably. Then in airports and cities I can look like a "normal" as it looks like a standard suitcase.

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Started testing speakers in shops today and was very impressed with the tiny Marshall's Emberton. It was better than bigger, more expensive speakers. I am just waiting for some opinions on whether it is neutral enough for making music.

 

Definitely worth twice the price of the JBL Flip. Killed the terrible Bose rectangle one they renewed. It was on par with the more expensive B&O Beosound, but that is a flat speaker so next to it sounds crap. The Marshall directs music to you properly. It was also on par with the bigger square Marshall one with the handle.

 

They did have a Marshall without batteries which I am going to test, nice size mini speaker. Much bigger than the emberton. But it might also be similar as it is the Uxbridge "Voice" i.e. meant for using Alexa and whatnot in your kitchen. 

 

I Googled "Emberton audiophile forum" and there were zero results. I even searched Emberton on 5 audiophile forums and it hasn't been mentioned once on any. Weird.   

 

 

 

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