By Don Lindich
Week 32, 2018
The best audio deal I have ever seen: Several years ago I wrote about the Bluetone 100 Bluetooth speaker from British audio manufacturer Cambridge Audio. (Not to be confused with American manufacturer Cambridge SoundWorks, producer of the OontZ speakers.) The Bluetone 100 sold for $299 and I considered it to be the best-sounding Bluetooth speaker under $300. That may be because the Bluetone uses exotic BMR full-range drivers like the $1,300 Cambridge Audio Aeromax speakers I raved about earlier this year. The Bluetone 100 must be plugged into the wall because it does not have a battery, making it more of a home music system than a portable speaker.
While doing research to answer a reader question I stumbled across the Cambridge Audio Air 100 on the Cambridge Audio website. The Air 100 is essentially a Bluetone 100, but adds Network capability over Wi-Fi or Ethernet. In addition to Bluetooth you can use a free app to listen with Spotify Connect, Apple Airplay and Internet Radio. Regularly $399.99, the Air 100 was on sale for only $144.99. The larger, more powerful Air 200 was on sale for $189.99, reduced from $599.99.
I contacted Cambridge Audio to see if it was an error, and they assured me it was not. They are introducing a new line called Yoyo and are clearing out the Air speakers.
My next question was if they had ample inventory, or just a few units. One of my least favorite things in the world is telling readers about a deal, only to have them turned away empty-handed.
They said they had less than 50 Bluetone 100 units available for $129.99, which would not be enough for me to feature it in a newspaper column that runs nationwide. With the Air 100 and Air 200 they thought they had sufficient inventory to fill orders if I told my readers about the deal.
Dear readers, this is one of the best deals I have ever had the pleasure to tell you about, not just in terms of the extreme discount but also for the value and quality equation. Even if you never use the network functionality of the Air 100 or Air 200, at under $200 you can’t get within a light year of the sound quality when using them as Bluetooth speakers. You get the panache of a revered high-end brand, too.
You can find the Air 100 and Air 200 deal under the Speakers tab on the Cambridge Audio website. The special offer is only available through their website, and includes free shipping and a 30-day return policy if not satisfied. cambridgeaudio.com
Q. I want to get a new home theater receiver for my 5 speakers plus sub-woofer. I want something that is easy to set up and easy to use between normal TV programs, sports and movies. Do you have any suggestions for something that costs between $500 and $700?-J.Y., Tracy, Ca.
A. I am partial to Marantz receivers for home theater applications. They have outstanding sound quality, clean exterior design, and a user interface that is simple and easy to use. In your price range the Marantz SR5012 would be a good fit. It sells online for $599, offers network capability and works with Amazon Alexa, too.