Archives For Audio

Amazon Prime Music Arrives!

Dave Zatz —  June 12, 2014

amazon-prime-music

After months of rumor and speculation, Amazon Prime Music has arrived. And, as with other Prime benefits, the streaming service is effectively free for existing Prime members ($99/yr). At launch, Amazon’s collection pales in comparison to other streaming music services, such as Spotify. Yet, as The Verge notes, it doesn’t have to compete head-on. Prime Music is a just-nice-enough perk that it’ll surely replace my $4/mo Pandora and provides another reason to stick with Prime (despite LaserShip’s ongoing delivery challenges).

As to the service itself, it’s an interesting ad-free hybrid of albums, tracks, and playlists… with favorites ending up cross-pollinating your library of Amazon music purchases. In fact, anything tagged Prime can be downloaded for offline listening. Sadly, Amazon “Cloud Player” joins “Unbox” in the digital media dustbin as the e-tailer goes with the clear, yet dull, “Amazon Music” app branding for iOS and Android. Regarding app distribution, Fire TV support remains notably absent and my Sonos connected speaker system hasn’t yet been updated. Soon?

gboom-vs-jambox-mini

There is no shortage of Bluetooth speakers today. From pocket-able speakers such as the JBL Micro Wireless to extravagant models like the Harman Kardon Aura, there is a size and price point that seems to fit everyone’s need. With so many options, you really must ask yourself what’s the primary purpose of the speaker you’re buying. Does it need to be portable? Do you need extra charging abilities for devices? Do you need big booming bass or do you want a more natural sound? How loud does the speaker need to get? Answering questions about how you want to use the speaker will help narrow the field and the more happy you will be with your purchase.

So where does the G-Boom fit? If you are looking for a rugged speaker that can be moved from room to room or outside in the harsh environments of a backyard BBQ, the G-Boom just might fit the bill, especially at the $99 price point. Continue Reading…

Yahoo will stream a live concert every day for one year

sonos-network-diagram

Amen. Sonos has finally concluded that, under most conditions, they can provide reliable music streaming over existing WiFi networks without requiring their $50 Bridge. Not only does this represent a cost savings for potential new customers, but it also provides a far simpler conceptual approach for civilian consumers who may be most familiar with Bluetooth speakers. Sonos can now (or soon) be described simply as a WiFi speaker (with whole-home benefits). And, of course, some neurotic folks such as myself will just be happy with less clutter. Beta testing commences in the next few weeks – register your interest here.

Apr 6

new-sonos2

After what seems like a million years, Sonos has begun to refresh their app interfaces with something a bit more modern (and flat). Along with the updated visuals, organization is vastly different as well. And, having only spent a day with the beta Android app, I’m not quite ready to pass judgement. The app opens to a screen headlined by a listing of music sources and paired with new search functionality, spanning multiple services. Pinned to the bottom of the home screen, is a speaker – by clicking that, you bring up a Now Playing screen. To see other speakers/rooms, you’d tap the current room’s name in the upper right. It doesn’t appear all features are in place yet, as you might expect from beta software, and I’m not sure flipping between white and black backgrounds is the best approach – but I had no problems getting my music going. iOS iPhone and iPad updates, along with the final Android app, are expected later this spring.

dlink-audio-extender1

By way of the FCC, we learn that D-Link intends to build upon their diminutive WiFi extender (DAP-1320)… with newfound home audio capabilities housed within the upcoming DCH-M225 WiFi Audio Extender. In addition to expanding one’s wireless network to perhaps the far reaches of your home, the 81 gram plug-with-benefits also incorporates an audio-out jack – similar to Apple’s Airport Express. And, while we can’t say with any certainly that D-link has licensed AirPlay, the pre-release manual suggests the Audio Extender will indeed relay AirPlay tunes from Mac or iOS device to whatever speaker you may have wired up. Just as interesting is the far more agnostic, baked-in DLNA streaming functionality. Of course, as we opined earlier today, we’re big Sonos fans and prefer our speaker and streaming hardware are one and the same.

Continue Reading…

beep-cables

Beep is latest entrant in whole-home audio. But, unlike Sonos‘ key products, their music streaming technology isn’t currently embedded within a speaker enclosure. And we suspect the potential market of people looking to network traditional speakers is rather modest. The $99 Beep appendage is sharp looking blinky, clicky dial … that’ll ratchet up your clutter in the form of dual power and audio cables. But unlike a standalone Bluetooth speaker, Beep quite cleverly implements the DIAL protocol, like Chromecast, to turn your iOS or Android device into merely a remote control – versus a music source, with Pandora streaming directly from the cloud to the Beep. On the flip side, unlike Sonos, Beep is content to use your existing wireless network rather than requiring a dedicated network hub (at additional expense). While Beep is taking pre-orders now (in copper or grey), for an anticipated Fall launch, we suggest those interested wait until they line up a few more streaming partners. Or just take the Sonos leap.