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CU Exposed 2013: Top 3 speakers

Manufacturers from all over the world descended on Covent Garden in London this week, flexing their tech muscles and enjoying a good old fashioned flaunt of their latest products at CU Exposed 2013.

Keen for an ogle, ITProPortal joined the assembled companies on the ground floor of the London Film Museum, but the afternoon would become as much about what was heard, as what was seen. The event had a strong audio influence, with industry heavyweights Sennheiser, Sonos, and Bang & Olufsen featuring among the pack, so we cut through the cacophony of noise to pick out the three audio devices that impressed us the most. Would any of those big boys make the cut?

Scandyna SmallPod Bluetooth speakers

Pulsing away in one corner of the room we had the SmallPod Bluetooth speakers from Denmark’s Scandyna, which, admittedly, drew us over by virtue of their appearance rather than sound. Bright, bold and shiny, the SmallPods instantly catch the eye - and while they would perhaps look a little out of place in a classically furnished country cottage, a modern urban flat would provide a fitting stage.

But this isn’t to say the visual emphasis means Scandyna has forgotten about the sound here. A strong spec-sheet sees a 4in Kevlar woofer and 3/4in tweeter inside each speaker cabinet, output power of 2 x 40 watts RMS, frequency response rated at 20Hz – 20KHz, and a >85dB signal noise ratio. This helped deliver a crisp sound that sliced through the competing noises of the show floor, and the ability to play music wirelessly from your PC or Apple device is an obvious bonus.

Measuring up at 157 x 256 x 160mm (W x H x D), weighing 1.8kg and available in black, white or red, a pair of Scandyna SmallPods will cost you £598.

Braven BRV-1 rugged portable speaker

But what about a speaker system I can drag through snow, throw at walls and take for a splash in the bath?, I hear you ask. Well luckily Braven had you covered at CU Exposed; the emerging firm showing off its BRV-1 rugged portable sound system.

Keen to spell out its waterproof capabilities, the Braven team spent much of the afternoon liberally splashing a bottle of water onto the BRV-1, and the plucky speakers manfully churned out surprisingly decent sound throughout. The solid 115 x 60 x 85mm device sports a molded rubber finish and an aluminium grill designed to deal with heavy knocks and extreme temperatures, while it can also act as a portable charger and a speakerphone when taking calls.

Such was the array of features packed into the model, there was scarcely enough time to scratch the surface of these speakers (not that we’d be able to anyway with that rugged finish), so check out our full, freshly-published review of the Brazen BRV-1, which is expected to hit UK stores imminently priced £149.99.

Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay A9

Having so far brought you an affordable and middle-range offering from our speaker inspection, it’s only right we round off our top three with something at the premium end of the scale. And engaging both our eyes and ears at the London Film Museum was the Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay A9.

In the A9’s armoury is an 8in subwoofer, two 3in midrange drivers, two 3/4in tweeters and 480W output which work together to produce a pretty ferocious sound, aided in no small part by the scale of the beast. The giant circular speaker has a diameter of 701mm and a depth of 213mm, and can be hung on the wall or stood on three wooden legs to make a chic and striking room feature. Wireless connectivity is enabled through Wi-Fi and Apple Airplay.

Liking the look of the Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay A9? Well you better have some spare cash lying around, as the set will cost you £1,699.