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Pins and toilet paper roll for iPod speaker? Try these instead

April 24, 2013 at 2:04 PM ET

The iHome iD55 speaker dock is big enough for an iPad.

A DIY idea that has ping-ponged around Pinterest and other social media suggests you can fashion a speaker for a smartphone or MP3 player from nothing but a few pushpins and a toilet paper roll. That’s right -- a toilet paper roll. Although this may cost basically nothing and boost the volume a bit, it won’t exactly impress with its style or sound quality. On a $100 budget, you still won’t get a 100 percent audiophile-approved speaker system, but you can certainly find one that will blow a TP speaker out of the water.

Below are Cheapism.com’s top picks for affordable iPod/iPhone speakers.

  • The iHome iD55 (starting at $76) is a dock wide enough to accommodate an iPad yet small enough to be portable. The 30-pin connector accepts most Apple devices, although not the latest generation with the newer, narrower Lightning connector. Expert reviewers admire the dock’s sophisticated design, which features a sliding cover, and solid audio performance. (Where to buy)
  • The JBL Flip (starting at $85) is a wireless speaker that connects to Bluetooth-enabled MP3 players, smartphones, tablets, and computers. It has earned rave reviews online for loud, clear sound, especially given its small size. A built-in microphone and call-answer button let it double as a speakerphone for FaceTiming, Skyping, or talking on the phone. (Where to buy)
  • The JBL OnBeat Micro (starting at $100) beat many competitors to market with a Lightning connector for the newest iPod Touch and iPod Nano, as well as the iPhone 5. This small dock pleasantly surprised reviewers with its considerable volume and well-balanced audio. (Where to buy)
  • The NuForce Cube (starting at $99) is a 2.3-inch block that plugs into a headphone jack or USB port. Its tiny size and eight-hour battery life make it the most portable speaker on this list. Don’t expect deep, thumping bass, reviewers say, but the sound is pleasingly crisp and detailed. (Where to buy)

Consumers looking for a speaker dock should note whether their devices use the older, wider 30-pin connector or the smaller Lightning connector. The specs for most speakers include a list of devices they support. If you find yourself unsure which generation of iPod you have, this page on the Apple website can help you sort out the different models. Although only compatible devices can be docked and charged on the iHome iD55 and JBL OnBeat Micro, or connect wirelessly to the JBL Flip, all the speakers on the list above have 3.5 mm inputs on the back where users can plug in most any device, including a computer or a non-Apple MP3 player.

Every one of the speakers on this list is small and light enough to carry with you on the road. Battery power, whether it be from AA batteries, AAA batteries, or a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, makes it possible to listen even outside or away from an outlet.

Related content from Cheapism:

Full report on cheap iPod speakers

Cheap MP3 players buying guide

Best cheap headphones

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