Our favorite speaker you can buy? The Aether Cone, a gorgeous, perfectly designed piece of art that also happens to be produce glorious sound. The design team behind the project did an incredible job creating an aesthetic that has an old-timey gramophone look but with a modern execution.
The problem with most bluetooth speakers is that it needs to be tethered to your phone. So every time you get a notification buzz or phone call, your tunes are rudely interrupted. There's also the fact that it takes at least five minutes to ever get connected to the thing, as pairing is a total pain, and run-of-the-mill bluetooth speakers have batteries that die faster than your GameBoy circa 1994.
Enter--the Aether Cone. It ditches bluetooth for WiFi, much like Sonos, but it does so in a sharper, cooler package. Looks wise, it's unmatched, and the packaging and setup process is straight out of Apple's playbook: minimal, crisp, and easy.
There's no app or remote needed, everything is done via voice control (expect for the volume buttons) and works well but not perfect--probably on par with Siri. It's a better experience than fiddling with an app every time you want jams to come on the stereo, but no company has completely cracked voice command yet, including the team at Aether.
The brain of the device is wildly cool, and will adapt to your listening habits over a few days. So if you turn the thing on in the morning, and normally listen to jazz while you read the paper and drink coffee, it'll blast some jazz. If you like rap music on Saturday nights, it'll figure that out too. With 30 million songs at your fingertips, it's really nice and relaxing having the "choice" done for you.
It does this by exclusively connecting to Rdio, the Spotify and Apple Music competitor. Rdio is an outstanding service that's beautifully designed and works lovingly with the Aether Cone--but you don't ever feel it's there as there's no direct interface with the program. It all just sort of works out of the box and doesn't feel any different than listening through another service.
If you're a die hard Spotify playlist builder or Apple Music nut, you can still connect to the Aether Cone via bluetooth, but the ideal and recommended experience is via the built in WiFi system and Rdio. It can also connect to Stitcher if you're a podcast kind of guy. Rdio, like Spotify, is totally free, but plays ads. If you want the ad free experience, you will have to cough up a few bucks a month, which is definitely worth it if you listen to music all day.
Overall, it's a gorgeous look that adds value to your home, can be taken on the go with ease, and produces solid, quality sound. You can snag one here for $399. We like the white/silver one best, but there's a definite cool factor to the black/bronze color combo too.