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18 Excellent Dopp Kits
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5 Best Straight Razors
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30 Best Duffel Bags
Stylish, functional and across a range of prices.
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10 Great Hiking Shirts
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The best gets better

Tested: Audioengine A2+ Powered Speakers

Audioengine’s original A2 speakers launched in 2008 and were immediately showered with praise. They were sized to feel right at home on a desk but also boasted smart design decisions and spectacular sound quality, both of which were more in line with traditional bookshelf speakers or studio monitors. The newly updated Audioengine A2+ ($249) retains its predecessor’s baseline of quality but builds upon that wide range of usefulness with notable improvements for a variety of audio setups.

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Music to His Ears

12 Guys of Christmas: The Mediaphile

Thought purchasing a Christmas gift for your in-laws was tough? Try shopping for someone who knows everything about media gadgetry and can’t abide anything but the best. The Mediaphile’s affinity for films, games, music, and yes, eBooks, goes beyond the bounds of reason and continues to expand as the consumer market welcomes the latest tech innovations daily. Best believe he’s on top of everything from next-gen gaming consoles to popular subscription-based apps. This presents a problem, because you think HDMI, DSLR, DAC and WAV are medical tests and/or prerequisite exams for grad school applications. Don’t run to the Geek Squad yet. We’ve pulled together some awesome media-primed options worth your coin this holiday. He’ll thank you — and then you won’t see him for a couple months, save for Doritos runs and the rare bathroom break.

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Bump the bass -- and finish that report

Front Row Seat: 10 Best Desktop Speakers

The majority of us have become extremely comfortable with the mediocre phonics that ooze through the speakers of our laptops and PCs or the less-than-stellar resonance produced from our headphones. This is sad, seeing as how providing a significant audio boost can transform your desk into the ultimate home entertainment console.

For those seeking a more potent and louder alternative to their built-in receivers or noise-canceling cans, we assembled this collection of awesome stereo monitors sure to have your ears ringing. No, they don’t have to break the bank (though they certainly can, if you’re the splurging type). From portable blasters to music studio amplifiers, each is Bona fide audio hardware powerful enough to enliven any Netflix, Spotify, or Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 sessions at the computer counter. Now get jammin’.

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Speakers that speak for themselves

Design Spotlight: Joey Roth Ceramic Speakers & Subwoofer

Pursue perfection. Some people — people at the top of their games — consider it a personal mantra. That theory holds for the design world, too, and it’s why industrial designer Joey Roth recently released a third version of his celebrated speaker system. Apparently, he just wasn’t satisfied yet.

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Nocout Punch

Tested: Nocs NS2 Air Monitors

There’s no shortage of speakers vying for your computer’s affections. The trouble is, most have land grab aspirations that put Ted Turner’s to shame. Nocs NS2 Air Monitors ($450) are precisely designed to suit even the “coziest” of desktop environments, but like any child of the information age, prefer not to be pigeonholed by any single role.

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Air superiority

The Best AirPlay Speakers

Originally designed to play music on only their own products, Apple’s AirPlay technology now allows users to stream multimedia from iPhones, iPads and computers to any enabled HDTV or speaker system via wi-fi. Because Apple now allows third parties to use their tech, myriad standalone speaker systems designed specifically for AirPlay are on the market: some are better than others, and they all span the price and design spectra. Here are our 10 picks for some of the best AirPlay speakers available.

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Look nice for twice the price

Symbol Audio Tabletop Hi-fi

The Symbol Audio Tabletop Hi-fi ($1,800) speaker is positioned as an attractive and space-saving solution for discerning listeners in search of better home audio. The console includes two 4-inch full-range drivers, which boast titanium cones, paired with a down-firing 1/4-inch sub, and is powered by a 2.1 channel class D amp; this is capable of pushing 8 watts to the stereo drivers and 15.5 to the sub.

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Cloudy with a chance of tunes

Teenage Engineering OD-11

The damn Cloud. Everything’s going there. Pretty soon, you’ll have to go to the Cloud to change your underwear. But for now, you’ll have to settle for the OD-11, the world’s first Cloud speaker — just introduced at CES 2013 — by the incredible folks at Teenage Engineering. If the nomenclature and design look familiar,…

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Tubes for your tube

Samsung HW-F750 Vacuum Tube Soundbar

Samsung’s crush on vacuum tube amplification started with the DA E750 Vacuum Tube AirPlay Dock announced at last year’s CES. Now it’s a full blown love affair — complete with rewards club memberships at the local Shag-a-Day Inn. According to the tech giant, the newly announced HW-F750 Vacuum Tube Soundbar and paired wireless subwoofer is…

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Boom Barrel

Joey Roth Subwoofer

Joey Roth’s desktop speakers ($495) made a splash with both the audio and design set thanks to their ceramic construction and striking silhouette. Now he’s released a matching companion subwoofer ($695+), expanding the system’s frequency response down to 40Hz. Just like the speakers, the Joey Roth subwoofer is crafted from simple, refined materials including stainless…

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Putting off aires

McIntosh McAire

While iDevices flipped the consumer audio industry ass over tea kettle in a brush of a click wheel, the audiophile world stubbornly weathered the storm for years, hoping the digital compression nightmare might just vanish away in time. The introduction of the McIntosh McAire hints that convenience is gaining ground with the stuffy, stubborn niche…

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Sonic boom

KEF X300A

Look around at today’s computers and you’ll see exactly where companies are putting their money. Better-than-high-def screens with touch-sensitivity, ThunderBolt this and that, blisteringly fast graphics cards — it’s all about the visuals. And while we’re not ones to complain about amazing picture quality, it does get pretty difficult to enjoy lightning without any thunder,…

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Wi(reless)-Fi

Audyssey Wireless Speakers

Looking back on the past twenty years, we’ve made some pretty big strides when it comes to consumer technologies. But with all these advancements, why are we still listening to music through the same speaker wire our dads used? Up until now, the only way to get decent sound quality was through being hardwired; yes,…

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Pro sound, amateur setup

Aperion Audio Intimus 4T Summit Wireless System

The thought of cleanly wiring an audiophile-grade home theater system has deterred many a man-cave-pimper, until now. The Aperion Audio Intimus 4T Summit Wireless System ($2,999+) is so simple to set up, you don’t even need a receiver. Instead, each of the seven speakers and the subwoofer houses an individual digital receiver and dual amplifiers….

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Well read? TED well.

TED Books

Five years ago, Mexicans who sold tacos out of the back of a van were targets of the health department. Now, kids from suburbs buy trucks, sell mashup tacos, and get their own TV shows. How did they do it? The inspiration they received from TED. Building on the millions who have absorbed the ideas…

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Sound, barrier

Eclipse TD508 Mk3 Speakers

If these speaker look like they belong on the side of a jet fighter, then you haven’t heard anything yet. Despite their stratospheric look, the Eclipse TD508 Mk3 can faithfully mimic the sounds of terra-bound sonics using a proprietary Time Domain technology that ensures listeners are ensconced in the heart of a live performance —…

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Free Bass'n

Sonos Sub

Sonos’ Play:3 wireless HiFi speakers were a huge hit when they were first released in the middle of last year. Great sounding audio quality from a wireless product isn’t always guaranteed, but the Play:3 did the trick. The one the portable wonder did lack, however, was the added punch of top-drawer bass. Now with the…

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Cut the cords, keep the sound quality.

Dynaudio XEO 5 Wireless Tower Speaker

As the anchor of the world’s first true wireless high end loudspeaker system, Dynaudio’s XEO 5 Towers ($4,500) break new ground. They’re designed to be used with virtually anything that plays music, including iPhones and iPads, and can be placed up 100 meters away from other audio components — perfect for those of you living…

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Everything you need to live it up

Roundup: Memorial Day Weekend

Looking to make your extended weekend celebration extra memorable? Well, our editors have culled through our latest posts to help provide some last minute inspiration for your Memorial Day weekend, whether the festivities are at your place, or elsewhere. You can thank us by throwing another burger on the grill. Two slices of cheese, please….

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See right hear

Well Rounded Sound

Some of the best sounding speakers could use a pleasing aesthetic touch. A basic black box is nice and simple, but also a tad boring in the realm of desktop audio. If you have a desire for high fidelity and high-end looks, look no further than Well-Rounded Sound. Using full range drivers with 100 Hz…

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Long live the clock radio

Geneva Sound System Model XS

The radio alarm clock business has never been a particularly sexy one, not counting, of course, the occasional technological breakthroughs in snooze technology (we set ours at 9 min). But Geneva is waking up the sleepy clock radio industry with the Geneva Sound System Model XS ($250), a slick ultra-compact bluetooth audio system and the…

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Loud and Studious

Adam ARTist 5 Monitors

Ask any studio engineer worth his ponytail about Adam speakers, and they will tell you their monitors have populated some of the best recording facilities in the world for years. The reason for this is a passion for forward thinking design and revolutionary use of materials, such as carbon fiber diaphragms and ribbon transducers. While…

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Dare to Stream

Logitech UE Air Speaker

Logitech has a new dog in the iOS speaker fight. Teaming up with Ultimate Ears — best known for the ubiquitous in-ear monitors you see worn by everyone from Bono to Bieber — the Logitech UE Air Speaker ($400) is a single-unit sound system whose engineers are out to prove that it has equal parts…

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Roombox

Arcam rCube

The Arcam rCube is another high-end iPhone dock to hit the home audio market along the lines of the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air. What sets Arcam’s offering apart from the rest is the Sonos-like ability to wirelessly network up to four rCubes throughout the house, using an included USB dongle, for a complete home…

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Home sweet home theater

Gift Guide 2011 | 10 Picks for the Home Theater Buff

As rabid movie, music fans and gamers, we’re always on the hunt for gear that can push our home entertainment experience to 11 (much to our better half’s chagrin). This roundup includes some of our favorite home theater products out today that we’d love to host in our living room. Continues after the jump.

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Can-do attitude

Kickstarter: Hidden Radio & Bluetooth Speaker

We credit the Rams’-like looks of the new hidden radio & Bluetooth Speaker on Kickstarter for catching our eye this morning — despite our luke warm feelings about most Bluetooth audio. The monolithic can avoids spoiling its clean lines with external buttons by incorporating a simple but effective twist top design. The first twist turns…

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Tower Records

Revo K2 Digital Radio

Shrouded in gleaming aluminium and molded rubber, the Revo K2 ($470) tower not only out-looks other, plebeian docks, but also offers access to virtually every radio signal under the sun including old-fashioned over-the-air and internet streaming stations including last.fm. Perfect for your morning dose of NPR. Besides a dearth of plastics, the K2 also features…

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Boom Stick

Yamaha YAS-101 Soundbar

Most TV speakers have the acoustical chops of a cowbell orchestra. We put up with them simply because alternatives are pricey, bulky, and a pain in the ass to install in a clean and proper manner. The Yamaha YAS-101BL Front Surround System improves on these common drawbacks in several ways. It’s relatively easy on the…

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The (True) Sound of Music

Paradigm Studio 10 Reference Speaker (v.5)

Believe it or not, there is an entire generation of ‘audio-orphans’ who have never known that music isn’t meant to come out of undersized, mass-produced, plastic boxes. And standing right behind them is a slightly older generation who may know better the virtues of quality speakers, but have been caught in the spell of ‘digital…

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Slow Speaker Movement

Blumenstein Ultra Fi Orca Speaker

The result of four years of R&D, the handmade all-wood Blumenstein Ultra Fi Orca Speakers ($550) are designed with a singular purpose: deliver bone-tingling sonics from a bookshelf speaker without a wallet annihilating price. Hi-Fi buffs (and common sense) will tell you that one of the best ways to make this happen is to reduce…