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Sound Advice: The best Bluetooth speaker for $100 or less

Don Lindich, Tribune News Service on

Published in Tech Advice

Q. You recently wrote about a multi-purpose Bluetooth speaker but commented you would not buy it as a primary music speaker. What I want is the best Bluetooth music speaker I can buy for $100 or less. What would that be?

D.A., Manchester, N.H.

A. The best sound quality under $100 is definitely the new OontZ Angle 3 Ultra, which sells for half your budget at $49.99. Longtime readers are familiar with the line of OontZ speakers, the first of which I reviewed in summer 2012. The original OontZ was soon accompanied by the OontZ Angle and OontZ XL, with successive models following the Angle form factor. Today, the OontZ Angle 3 is the best-selling portable speaker on Amazon, with almost 22,000 reviews and a 4.4-star rating.

I recently received a phone call from Craig McHugh, COO (Chief OontZ Officer) of the manufacturer, asking me to try the new OontZ Angle 3 Ultra ($49.99) and OontZ Angle 3XL Ultra ($119.99.) He enthusiastically told the story of how they were able to dramatically improve sound quality without raising the price. "We really want you to hear this," he said. "It represents a significant step up for us, and we are anxious to hear what you think of it."

A few minutes of listening made clear why they were so ready for me to hear the new speakers. OontZ speakers achieved market dominance by offering good sound at very affordable prices. The new Ultras go far beyond good, with high-end, top-shelf sound at the same very affordable prices. It is almost too cheap for what you get, and they sound fantastic with every genre of music from rock to classical, 1970s instrumental pop to R&B. As I listened, I kept thinking you could write Bang & Olufsen or Bose on the Ultras and double or triple the price, and people hearing them would say, "Wow, those high-end speakers are expensive, but it sure is worth it!"

The OontZ Angle 3 Ultra has ample, tight and satisfying bass, a nuanced, natural midrange, clear, clean treble, surprising spaciousness, near-perfect tonal balance and an extremely satisfying musical character that made it hard for me to turn it off and stop listening. If you want to spend all of your $100, you can buy two Angle 3 Ultra speakers and pair them as a left/right stereo pair for truly room-filling sound. You can also pair them as independent stereo speakers and provide music in two rooms. I was able to verify the claimed Bluetooth range of 100 feet, which makes multiroom music a definite possibility. (I actually got a lot further than 100 feet away, but your results may vary.)

If you can bump your budget to $120, the larger Angle 3XL Ultra provides all this sonic goodness and then some, sounding more like a full-sized, $300 wireless sound system than a portable speaker with a rechargeable battery. Two Angle 3XL Ultras can also be paired together as a left-right stereo pair or to provide multiroom sound.

I want to finish by saying that over the years I have received a few emails from readers who prefer the original iterations of the OontZ speakers over more recent models, saying they prefer the originals' warmer sound quality. If you are one of those diehard fans of the originals, I understand where you are coming from but rest assured, the Ultras are better in every way, and this is an upgrade you don't want to miss.

(Contact Don Lindich at www.soundadvicenews.com and use the "submit question" link on that site.)

(c)2017 Don Lindich

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 

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