Two items I’ve recently added to my gear bag are a battery-powered stand light and a Bluetooth speaker. I initially purchased each of these items for specific purposes, but have found them so useful on a day-to-day basis that I thought it would be worth sharing. Click on the image or name of each product for a link.
I originally bought three of these to use for our brass trio recording back in January. Most stage lights make noise, so the lighting during a recording session needs to be minimal. They came in very handy for the session, and for several other performances afterwards. The multiple LED bulbs have two brightness settings, and the battery life is quite good, several hours per charge. Charging takes a few hours, and it comes with a USB charger and A/C adapter. One note about these lights is that they should NOT be operated while plugged in, as it can damage the battery. The base includes a large clip for attaching to a music stand, but it is also sturdy enough to allow the light to stand on its own for table or desktop use. For the price these are great lights!
I picked up this speaker to use in a “Smart” classroom that was having technological difficulties with the sound system. It was a bit of an impulse buy, and I wasn’t entirely sure what I was getting. I wanted something powerful, but still portable enough to stick in my bag and lug back and forth to various classrooms. This was the first Bose product I’ve owned, but the company is well known for their high end speakers and noise-cancelling headphones. I also figured that if the speaker turned out to be a dud or simply not right for my purposes I could always return it. As it turns out, this device has become one of my most-used pieces of technology. Its dimensions (3.87″ H 3.87″ W 1.37″) make the SoundLink Micro incredibly portable, and the rubberized outer layer protects it from the inevitable bumps and scrapes that come with frequent use. It is advertised as waterproof, but I have not had the opportunity to put that claim to the test. In addition to classroom use, I use it regularly in my practice sessions at home, as well as in sectionals and chamber music rehearsals to play my metronome and tuning drones. It connects very quickly to a smartphone and/or laptop. Battery life is excellent, and setting up the Bluetooth connection is fast and easy. However, the best feature of this speaker is the sound. You really do need to hear it to believe the size and volume that it can produce. It will fill a room – not as well as a full-blown stereo system, of course – but what it lacks in power it more than compensates for in portability. One drawback to the SoundLink Micro (and all Bose products) is the price tag, which is significantly more expensive than other similarly-sized Bluetooth speakers (see the JBL Clip 2). I would be interested in comparing the JBL Clip 2 to the SoundLink Micro. My suspicion is that the Bose sound would be superior to the JBL, but maybe not by much. Regardless of the pros and cons of this particular product, I highly recommend a Bluetooth speaker for any serious musicians. I’ve used mine so much over the past several months that I replaced my office stereo system at school with a larger Bluetooth speaker, the JBL Charge 3. It’s less portable than the Bose, but since it will primarily stay in my office that’s ok with me.