What are floating speakers?
Floating speakers, or levitating speakers, appeared on the market in 2014 as a cool new alternative to regular Bluetooth speakers, which at the time were starting to flop because of the lack of design and innovation. The first gadget of this type made available to the public is the Om/One – this didn’t have the best implementation or reviews, but the idea was brilliant and other manufacturers were quick to pick it up. Now, the floating speaker is a worldwide phenomenon, not just for tech enthusiasts, but also for the average music lover.
How do floating speakers work?
Like the name would suggest, floating speakers levitate in midair while at the same time playing music. It may sound like magic, but it’s not – it’s just physics and clear engineering.
Floating speakers consist of two elements: a magnetic base unit and a levitating speaker, which is kept in the air by magnetic repulsion. This gadget is battery operated and it uses Bluetooth 4.0 technology, which means that you can pair it to a smartphone, laptop or other Bluetooth-compatible device.
Using a levitating speaker takes a bit of getting used to, because you’ll have to position the orb above the magnetic base unit until you find the best angle.
In addition to playing music, some speakers also have built-in microphone capabilities, so you can answer calls while playing your tunes.
What’s all the hype about?
Floating speakers have received many innovation awards at tech conventions and they’ve also become very popular among tech enthusiasts, for two reasons in particular:
- Levitating speakers are beautiful pieces of technology that look amazing on their own. The first gadget had an orb-shaped speaker that gave a futuristic planet effect, and manufacturers improved this idea by creating dozens of stunning similar designs (including a Death Star version). If you don’t like the planet shape, you can also buy speakers shaped like flying saucers or that have minimal, Zen designs. Some speakers are simple, but the most eye-catching models out there also have multi-colored LED lights. This way, floating Bluetooth speakers turned from audio utilities to interior design items. Plus, they’re very fun to use and look at!
- Improved sound quality. If you’ve ever owned a Bluetooth speaker, you probably know that the sound quality isn’t the most impressive and won’t make your tunes sound that impressive. Levitating speakers, however, improve things considerably. Because the speaker levitates in midair, you get an immersive 360 surround effect, which reduces distortions and allows for clearer music. Higher end speakers also come with a sub-woofer, so you can show them off during your next frat party. Of course, realistically speaking, they do have their limitations in terms of volume, but they pack quite a punch for the size and price. So, if you find regular portable speakers boring, you’ll definitely find the floating version a breath of fresh air.
Reasons to buy a floating speaker
Considering that they’ve only been on the market for a couple of years, these sound systems have a higher price tag than their traditional counterpart, so you may be wondering how they are superior and what makes them worth the investment.
If the benefits mentioned by tech magazines and floating speaker reviews don’t convince you, here are some extra reasons to enable you:
- They are great items of minimal and futurist design that can become the center of attention in any room
- The perfect gift for your tech enthusiast friend who has it all
- Better sound quality than regular portable speakers
- Some models have Zen sound effects that can be used for Yoga and meditation
- Easy to use and set up
- Fast charging time
- You can remove the base and use the orb as a regular Bluetooth speaker if you want to
Brief floating speaker buying guide
Bluetooth levitating sound systems are unique on the market and they can cost up to several hundred dollars, so it’s always a good idea to be informed and know exactly what to look for in a gadget and make the most out of your purchase.
Decide what shape and color you want the orb to be. If you’re into the minimal design trend, then you probably need the classic planet shape, but if that is too futuristic for you, have a look at the Iceorb Harmony Bluetooth speaker, which is more Zen-like.
As impressive as the design might be, a speaker is still a speaker and you need something that has at least decent audio quality, otherwise you won’t be able to enjoy your music. For impressive sound quality, pick a speaker that also comes with a subwoofer.
One of the most practical benefits of a Bluetooth speaker is that you don’t need to keep it plugged in and you can take it with you to places where you don’t have access to a power socket, such as a picnic. Gadgets with longer battery life are preferable, so make sure you read some reviews to find out if your favorite speaker has what it takes to keep music playing for up to eight hours or will shut down after just three. For even better results, buy a speaker that charges quickly via USB.
Ease of use
By far the most common complaint that people have about levitating sound speakers is that the orb is extremely difficult to position in the right angle and that they simply can’t get it to float. This does indeed take some getting used to, but, if you don’t want to spend a few seconds to position the orb before you press play, get a speaker that is shaped like a saucer or like an egg, because it holds its balance much easier. Also, look for a device that doesn’t take more than a couple of seconds to pair with your smartphone or tablet.
Connectivity and compatibility
For the best experience, invest in a speaker that is compatible with both iOS and Android and has 2 USB hubs. You can get at-a-glance compatibility details by looking at the seller’s page.
Floating sound systems can cost a lot of money, so you need to make sure that they last. Unfortunately, not all manufacturers use premium materials, so look for user reviews to find out if your favorite speaker can withstand a few falls without breaking.
Lastly, there is the matter of price. Compared to regular Bluetooth speakers, levitating sound systems cost more, but there are high and low options for all pockets. The cheapest option is the Music Angel, retailing for less than $100, while speakers like the Mars by Crazybaby can cost as much as $300. You can find some considerable discounts from time to time, but since the technology is still a novelty, you shouldn’t expect prices to drop too much in the following year.
Top 7 floating speakers in 2016
Mars Levitating Bluetooth Speaker
The Mars Levitating Bluetooth Speaker deserves the top spot on our list not only because of the amazing sound quality (the only floating speaker in the worth equipped with a subwoofer), but also because of its flawless flying saucer design. It is also the most expensive option, but you are getting your money’s worth, because the speaker is easy to balance and the build quality is impressive. It measures 4.8 x 4.8 x 1.5 inches (12.1 x 12.1 x 3.8 cm), it’s waterproof and it’s available in black, white and grey.
ICEORB – Read our review
ICEORB is one of the most popular devices of its type and a nice all-rounder that you can buy at a reasonable price. It has a nice, sleek design and a planet-shaped spinning orb that will give your room an awesome sci-fi feel. It measures 5.9 x 3.7 x 2.6 and although it is more difficult to balance, it looks great and does not disappoint.
Hellosy Star Wars Death Star – Read our review
This floating speaker from Hellosy doesn’t have outstanding specs, but it’s all about the design. A perfect miniature replica of the Death Star, it will make any Star Wars fan squeal with excitement and impress even non-fans with its sci-fi design. The Death Star even glows in the dark and has 360 degrees rotation. It’s not exactly affordable, but it is one of the must-have gadgets that every Star Wars fan should own.
MUSIC ANGEL – Read our review
The Music Angel floating speaker is one of the best-selling Bluetooth speakers, mainly because of the price. It costs less than $100, which makes it the most affordable entry on our list, but the quality doesn’t leave to be desired. Sound quality is more than decent and the speaker shaped like a disco ball is perfect for parties. The build quality could be better, but this is understandable considering the price and it’s a perfect entry-level option if you don’t want to rush into an investment.
In addition to their classic, orb-shaped speaker, ICEORB have also created an innovative one, with a more romantic look. The Harmony is shaped like an egg that gives off a relaxing, yellow glow. This new shape helps it cater for other rooms, so it’s a refreshing alternative if you are not a sci-fi fan. The egg measures 5.4 x 5.4 x 4.7 inches and thanks to its style it can be incorporated into your yoga or meditation sessions.
Do you like the practicality of the ICEORB Harmony, but you’d still want it to have a more futuristic look? Meet the Hontech levitating speaker! Having the same interesting egg shape, it is even easier to levitate thanks to a helping tool for levitating that is included in the box. The top of the egg is covered in grey wire and underneath it is a display that changes colors. it measures 8.4 x 8 x 7.4 inches and has wireless as well as traditional charging.
Combine the shape of the Death Star with the cool disco visual effects of the Music Angel and you get the Fineway levitating speaker. The 85mm orb is easy to pair with any tablet or smartphone via Bluetooth or NFC and the volume is very impressive for the sound. This gadget is one of the new to update to Bluetooth 4.1 technology and so far it has stellar user reviews.
Bonus tips & tricks
- Have you found the perfect levitating Bluetooth speaker and plan to use it during your next party? Before pressing play, make sure you turn off your notifications. Otherwise, songs will be interrupted by the sound notifications. Also, to get the best signal, make sure no one is standing between the speaker and the paired device.
- Most levitating speakers have audio control buttons right on the floating unit and touching them could make them lose their balance. To change songs and adjust volume without doing this, buy a remote.
- If you don’t want a remote, look for a floating speaker that has an app, such as the Mars one, which lets you shuffle music, change the proximity volume, select multi-room play and more.
- If you want to move your conversation to speakerphone, but aren’t satisfied with your smartphone’s capabilities, use the levitating speaker and the sound will be louder and clearer!
- Waterproof floating speakers may sound unnecessary, but they are a must if you frequently use your gadget at parties or if you listen to music by the pool.
- Don’t be tricked by the battery life advertised by manufacturers. The number of hours they mentioned is usually the maximum one, which you can only get to by listening to music at very small volume or just by using the gadget as a speaker during calls. The realistic battery life that you can get by playing loud music at parties is of 4-5 hours at most, even less if you also turn on sound effects.
- If you don’t have enough songs on your smartphone, buy a levitating sound system that lets you connect to online audio services such as Pandora, Spotify or Google Play Music.