Archives For Audio

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Photo by Robert

By way of the official Sonos forums, we learn that the connected audio company is currently beta testing a variety of mobile software improvements… including the ability to control Sonos from an Android Wear smart watch like the Moto 360. Shown in the Notification Drawer, pause, forward, and back functions are available while volume controls are not. Further, we have indications that a long overdue iOS lock screen widget is similarly en route for iPad and iPhone owners. No word yet on Microsoft band support. ;)

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Intro

Back in March, Plantronics announced the BackBeat Fit ($130), a sportier version of their Backbeat Go 2 Bluetooth headphones designed to withstand the abuse of regular fitness workouts (and confirmed sweaty lawn mowing! :-). I’ve been evaluating these headphones the past few weeks and wanted to share a rundown of features and my overall opinion.

Product Info

When you unpack the BackBeat Fits, they come with the headphones themselves, a carrying pouch that doubles as an armband for your phone, and a micro USB cable and charger. The headphones use Bluetooth 3.0 for connectivity which gives you a range of 33ft from your device. As with most new Bluetooth devices, the pairing process was easy with an iPhone 5s. You simply go to the Bluetooth setting page, turn on the BackBeat Fit which goes into pairing mode, and then select the headphones to pair. The BackBeat fit can also remember up to 8 different devices for pairing so it’s easy to switch between multiple sources if needed. Continue Reading…

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For several hours this weekend, the Sonos website featured an unexpected “Light-1″ menu option. Combing through the FCC and USPTO, along with the requisite, tho cursory, Googling, has turned up squat. Is this nothing more than a textual error? Or is Sonos getting into the lightspeaker game? Another possibility, assuming this is something more than a coding mistake, could be programmatic light+music synchronization as seen from the likes of SyFy and Philips Hue. We love a good mystery almost as much as we love Sonos whole home audio.

Meanwhile, the Sonos Boost streaming enhancer must near release given a large number of live support documents and updated product imagery, while the Sonos Playbase remains shrouded in mystery.

(Thanks Mike!)

Soundfreaq Pocket Kick Review

Adam Miarka —  October 10, 2014 — 1 Comment

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Previously on ZNF, we had the opportunity to review two Bluetooth speakers, the massive, if not questionably looking, G-Boom speaker, and the Pringles shaped Logitech Ultimate Ears Boom. Both of these speakers had their pros and cons depending on your situation. The G-Boom was great for parking in one place and letting the music rock. The UE Boom on the other hand offered a smaller package, great sound, and the ability to update features via firmware updates. Today we’ll be looking at an even more compact – the $100 Soundfreaq Pocket Kick.

Hardware and Setup

Compared to the sharp corners of the G-Boom or the circular shape of the EU Boom, the Soundfreaq Pocket Kick features a slab design with rounded off corners. The speaker grills are made of a steel featuring a nice pattern with the Soundfreaq logo in the middle. The outer edges of the of speaker feature a nice rubber material that makes the Pocket Kick easy to hold without slipping out of the hand.  The rubber sides also allow the speaker to stay put on any surface while the music is jamming. Speaking of size, the Pocket Kick is the smallest of the three speakers we’ve had the chance to review. It’s roughly the size of an iPhone 5s from a surface area perspective, and about 3 times as deep. Continue Reading…

As expected, Sonos is out with app and firmware updates this week that do away with the Bridge requirement. Now smaller scale Sonos deployments in homes with solid WiFi can more simply network their speakers without physically connecting hardware to one’s router. Having said that, Sonos does suggest that folks with a Bridge already in play leave well enough alone and take advantage of the existing mesh network (despite the clutter). Not to mention folks with more than three rooms or running 3.1/5.1 theater sound still require a Bridge intermediary. And, perhaps ironically, as the Bridge is decommissioned (for some), a higher powered replacement in the Boost is announced.

Available later this year for $99, the BOOST applies over a decade of learning about the varying needs of our customers and offers enterprise-grade wireless capabilities to serve even the most challenging home WiFi environments. Look for the BOOST’s official launch in the coming months.

Speaking of new fall hardware… we’re still wondering what the Sonos Playbase is all about.

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As Sonos consolidates amidst IPO speculation, by discontinuing the matte Black Sub and shortly dropping the wireless Bridge requirement, we’ve latched onto two new products.

From a source comes the screengrab above, which is the first reference I’ve seen to a Sonos Boost. While it could be an entirely new device, I wonder if might simply be a rebrand of the Connect products (used to network existing speakers) or even the Bridge itself given its Settings positioning. The only reference we’ve been able to dig up is this 2013 trademark filing. Which in turn…

…revealed the Sonos Playbase. Like the Boost, I can only guess what it might be (or when it will hit). Could this be an all-in-one speaker TV stand like the Bose Solo or Zvox line? Or some sort of dock for the portable, rechargeable Sonos speaker I want so badly?

Meanwhile, I’ve seen a few existing Sonos models take a second trip through the FCC – suggesting upcoming inline upgrades to bring beefed up wireless capabilities.

Ultimate Ears Boom Review

Adam Miarka —  July 22, 2014

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Intro
A few weeks back, we put the G-Boom rugged Bluetooth speaker through its paces and concluded that it packs some impressive sound in a distinct looking package. This time around, we’re looking at the competing Ultimate Ears Boom ($200) which offers some unique features not seen on the G-Boom, while shrinking the overall speaker size.

Hardware
The UE Boom, by Logitech, reminds me of holding a can of Pringles, but slightly smaller and definitely less salty. The circular shape is intended to allow sound to travel 360 degrees from the speaker. On one end of the tube, there is a power button and Bluetooth pairing/switching button. The UE Boom supports Bluetooth up to 50ft and NFC pairing. I can attest to the range using my iPhone 5s and Chromebook. Having the speaker out back for a bonfire, I was easily able to move around the yard without any issues in streaming. Continue Reading…