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Chromecast Audio

At $35 the Chromecast Audio is almost a no-brainer. It enables users to stream their phones to any old speakers and because it uses Wi-Fi it doesn't have the same issues as Bluetooth such as battery drain, dropouts and poor sound quality.

Published:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET

UE Megaboom Bluetooth speaker

While away from home a student can untether his or her speaker system with the UE Megaboom Bluetooth speaker. It's a tiny waterproof unit that gets IPX7 certification for extra toughness from the elements.

Published:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET

Logitech X300 Bluetooth speaker

If you're shopping for a Bluetooth speaker and size is a factor, the super-compact Logitech X300 is definitely worth your attention.

And at just $70 online, it's light in your hand and on your wallet. Who doesn't appreciate that?

Published:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET

Sonos Play:1 wireless speaker

The Sonos Play:1 is a big step up from your average wireless speaker. It's offered in both white and blue options, and both support streaming music services including Spotify, Amazon Cloud Player, Google Music, 7Digital, Deezer, Soundcloud and Napster.

Published:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew

Pro-Ject Elemental turntable

The most affordable Pro-Ject turntable, the Elemental, is a step above the "toys" you see in the sub-$200 category. This record player features striking looks and a decent cartridge as well, for just $229.

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LG SH7B sound bar

The LG SH7B is a wireless sound bar and subwoofer combo which offers excellent performance and wealth of connectivity options.

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Jawbone Mini Jambox Bluetooth speaker

Jawbone has proven itself a valuable addition to the family. It's not cheap but it proves its worth with excellent sound quality and volume, nine different colour options, and a super-lightweight (9 ounces/255 grams!) build.

Published:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET

Audioengine A2+ speakers

The original Audioengine A2 set the standard for affordably priced, audiophile grade desktop speakers. The A2+ ($249/pair) sounds the same, but adds new features such as a built-in USB digital converter and better quality connectors.

Even in this highly competitive market, Audioengine stayed the course and the little A2+, standing a mere 6 inches tall, always sounds sweet. Granted, it probably won't satisfy headbangers' lust for power, but the A2+ will smooth over any grit or nastiness from cruddy-sounding MP3s or YouTube videos.

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ELAC Uni-Fi UB5

The $500 ELAC Uni-Fi UB5 is one of our favorite speakers right now, so if your student is a budding audiophile these are the models to get.

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Dragonfly DAC

From left to right, the original DragonFly, DragonFly Black, DragonFly Red.

The Audioquest Dragonfly DACs improve the sound of both a PC and a smartphone from $99.

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Pioneer SP-BS22-LR

The Pioneer SP-BS22-LR offer ridiculously great sound quality and value at $129 a pair. Add the Yamaha R-S202 for a complete system under 300 bucks. Get 'em while you still can.

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Airmotiv 5s

Forget plasticky PC speakers, and go with the Airmotiv 4S ($299/pair) or the 5S (349/pair).

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Yamaha R-S202

If you are looking to buy separate speakers for your grad they'll need something to drive them. At $150, the R-S202 offers most features they'll need, including Bluetooth streaming.

See all our back-to-school recommendations here.

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