Back to school speaker and headphone guide

Well, it’s happened again. Another one of time’s brutish inevitabilities has come down, and it looks like school is determined to start-up again, like it or not. But fear not, students, as the dawn of September also marks a great time to lobby for some cool new gear for the dorm room or bedroom to help you, uh, study your way towards that holiday break.

To help you find the best value for your green, we’ve put together this list of some of the baddest gear this side of the $300 line. We’ve included speakers of all shapes and prices to fill your halls with sound, as well as a nice stash of headphones to help you cruise to class, or block out that weird neighbor who won’t stop playing Minecraft at an exceedingly high volume. So check out our vault of booty, and get jacked for the next step in your scholastic career.


JBL Pebbles plug and play stereo computer speakers ($60)

JBL Pebbles plug and play stereo computer speakersIf you’re after computer speakers, you’ll have a hard time finding a better set for the price than these spherical little JBLs. These speakers look cool, belt out the sound, and are powered via USB, allowing you to plug them into a laptop, saving an outlet for that super-important lava lamp.

IK Multimedia iLoud portable Bluetooth speaker ($224)

IK Multimedia iLoud portable Bluetooth speakerEasily the most versatile choice on our list, the iLoud is perfect for the budding musician. Not only does this wireless beauty crank out the sound via Bluetooth (loud enough to live up to its namesake), add an app and a few cables and you’ve got a badass little practice amp on your hands, perfect for electric guitar, bass, and even keyboards.

Ultimate Ears Mini Boom wireless Bluetooth speaker ($83.09)

Ultimate Ears Mini Boom wireless Bluetooth speakerFor the student on the go who can’t bear to be without some tunes, the UE Mini Boom is a great choice. Mini in size only, this little wireless portable offers an incredibly rich, full sound for its size, as well as a 10 hour battery, and some cool features through its dedicated mobile app. If there’s a speaker out there that rocks out better sound for the size, we haven’t found it.

Edifier e25 Luna Eclipse 2.0 Bluetooth speakers ($170)

Edifier e25 Luna Eclipse 2.0 Bluetooth speakersWith a modern design straight out of a Daft Punk video, the Luna Eclipse make a striking impression in any setting. But more importantly, these things also sound fantastic. Loud, punchy, and riddled with detail, the Luna can wirelessly stream music from your phone or computer, or plug-in via headphone cable. The speakers come in three shades, including black, red, and white, all of which will add some style to your digs while they kick out the jams.

TDK Trek Max A34 wireless weatherproof speaker ($130)

Photo_TDK-TREK-Max_For those en route to less temperate climates, the Trek Max may be the portable speaker of choice. This wireless number is built to take on the elements, and it holds its own with a burst of unexpectedly powerful sound. Equally setup for a late night study session, or a rain-soaked tailgater, the Trek Max has you covered for just about anything that comes your way.

Harman Kardon Onyx Studio wireless Bluetooth speaker ($156)

Harman Kardon Onyx Studio wireless Bluetooth speakerPossibly the best deal on the list, the Onyx Studio is portable, wireless, and unleashes sweet-yet-powerful audio that edges towards hi-fi. We loved the speaker when it was a whopping $400, though we found that price a little steep. Now the Sputnik-shaped bomber is less than half that price, and should be considered a prime choice to fill your room with tunes.

In-ear headphones

Shure SE112 sound isolating earphones ($50)

Shure SE112 sound isolating earphonesIf you need something to get you from end to end, the Shure SE112 are a great choice. Priced far lower than they sound, these bulbous buds block out a ton of exterior noise, and offer pure, detailed sound on par with headphones costing much more. Their only real issue is their lack of an on-board mic or volume control, so those planning to make a lot of long calls back home may want to think twice. However, for awesome sound on the cheap, the SE112 fit the bill.

Klipsch R6i in-ear headphones ($100)

Klipsch R6i in-ear headphonesThe R6i are a bit more expensive than your average throwaway buds, but their audio quality is well worth it. These buds offer a clear, punchy sound, with plenty of bass, and also boast all the fixings you’d expect from a top-tier set of ‘phones, including an inline control microphone, and sleek style.

On-ear headphones

V-Moda XS on-ear noise-isolating headphones ($200)

V-Moda XS on-ear noise-isolating headphoneWhether you’re taking them on the road or blasting beats to get you through those late night study sessions, the V-Moda XS are a stellar choice. Designed to be as travel-friendly as in-ears, but with much bigger sound, these high-grade ‘phones fold down into a tiny case that easily fits into any book bag. The design is modern, but also very robust, adding a double shot of style and durability for a versatile and eye-catching addition to your musical arsenal.

Sol Republic Tracks HD on-ear headphones ($76)

Sol Republic Tracks HD on-ear headphonesSol Republic’s Tracks HD pack quality performance into the company’s signature modular design, which breaks down into three pieces for travel. The virtually indestructible headband is interchangeable, allowing you to change up the style, and the “sound engines” (i.e. ear cups) are as comfy as they are unique.

That’s our back-to-school list of audio gems. We’ve added something for just about everyone, so dig in, get your playlist ready, and find the item that best fits your style and budget to help make that first day a little bit smoother.

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