Archives For Audio


It’s come to my attention that Bose will soon launch the next entrant into their QuietComfort range of noise cancelling headsets. However, unlike the current QC 15 and QC 3, the incoming QuietComfort 20 moves to an in-ear design. While I’d have preferred an update to the on-ear or around-ear models, I’m told the QC20 have redesigned tips that are über comfortable and imagine the frequent flier set will eat up these up despite the $300 price point (and battery/controller appendage that sits about 2″ from the plug).

soundlink_miniIn other unreleased Bose product news, it appears the SoundLink Bluetooth speaker will be revised with two new models — following in the footsteps of Jambox, by releasing both a handheld Mini ($200) and a larger unit to replace the existing model ($300). And, speaking of Bluetooth, we’re told future iterations of the Bose home theater lines will incorporate streaming capabilities. But the time horizon on those is a bit longer… and probably won’t satisfy my immediate need for enhanced TV sound in our new home.


The Sonos Soundbar has arrived. Could it be the Sonos home theater solution we’ve been pining for? First uncovered via a FCC filing late last year, the Sonos Playbar is now ready for its closeup.

According to Heise Online, the Playbar consists of 9 speakers contained within about a 35″ long handsome enclosure. Of course the requisite wireless capabilities are included, but the Playbar incorporates optical connectivity to receive audio directly from a television or other video source. Related, as with some of our favorite compact audio solutions, Sonos will relay your remote IR commands through the Playbar and out the back… should the soundbar happen to obscure your televisions IR receiver. Further, it’s quite likely the Playbar will recognize your television remote volume controls. Additional details come to us via Sempre Audio, who have the Sonos Playbar clocking in at about 12 pounds and indicate it can be wirelessly paired with a Sonos Sub and Play:3 units for a true 5.1 home theater experience – although one wonders about latency (and breaking the bank). Continue Reading…


After two years of buildup, it seems a Sonos home theater solution is nearly upon us. The “Playbar”, as uncovered via a number of FCC filings, has been kicking around their labs since at least June. While it’s not entirely clear what the Playbar is, we’re hoping it’s more soundbar and less Jambox – to complement my new Panasonic HDTV. If our assumptions are correct, the Playbar would also benefit from the room filling wireless Sonos Sub ($700) — meaning this wouldn’t be a budget system. But, for many, the versatility of Sonos’ whole home audio is priceless. Continue Reading…

Jawbone Jambox

It’s been a while since I bothered with any Bluetooth accessories, but this year’s Christmas gift of a Jawbone Jambox has me back on the bandwagon. The portable speaker pairs via Bluetooth or connector cable to any phone, computer, tablet, etc. I tried mine out this evening with my smartphone, and the wireless connection was a cinch to configure. Once I set my phone to discover the Jambox, and clicked the speaker’s side switch to the up position, the two devices were ready to pair. One more button push on top of the Jambox, and speaker and smartphone were automatically hitched.

As Dave has written before, the Jambox is convenient both for playing tunes, and as a speakerphone for conference calls. Given how often I do both, it’s the perfect accessory for my work-at-home life. My personal Jambox is blue, but the speaker also comes in black, grey and red. Amazon has the Jambox on sale now for $150.

From the spec sheet:

  • Dimensions: 5.95 x 2.25 x 1.6 inches
  • Weight: 12 ounces
  • Output capacity: 85 decibels
  • Battery life: about 10 hours of continuous play
  • USB: microUSB for charging
  • Stereo input: standard 3.5mm jack

Continue Reading…


Out looking for a couch, we swung by the neighboring Bang & Olufsen whilst percolating our seating options.  And, boy, were we wooed by B&O’s relatively new BeoPlay A3. Labeling this product an iPad “dock” doesn’t do it justice — not to mention, we hear the dock is dead. This BeoPlay is basically a speaker chasis for your iPad, that kindly integrates a 6-hour rechargeable battery. While B&O is quick to point out the audio quality (3 tweeters, 1 woofer) of this device, being shallow, I’m most impressed by its good looks… with flush tablet fit and multiple display orientations/positions. The A3 ships with two iPad sleeves (to account for all three iPad generations) and, when mated with a tablet, easily pops out of the device using the B&O button on the rear. This would make the most killer kitchen TV. But I’d prefer a few more color options. And perhaps a lower price of entry… At $549, it’s more costly than many iPads it would encase. No one said looking good is economical.


If the FCC is any indication, JBL’s compact “Soundfly” Bluetooth speaker should be hitting store shelves in short order. Unlike the rechargeable and portable Jawbone Jambox ($200), the Soundfly essentially mounts directly onto an AC outlet. I can’t imagine the Soundfly produces killer audio given its diminutive stature, but could make a nice kitchen or travel accessory for streaming tunes from our smartphones… Assuming it clocks in at a reasonable price point. And, related to cost, I’m hoping for the best as JBL has dropped Apple AirPlay capabilities (with associated licensing fees) since printing up their CES flyer (which had indicated a “spring” launch).

Slacker on Roku 1

As of today, the streaming music service Slacker is an official channel in the Roku Channel Store. If you have a Roku box and a Slacker account (you can get a basic one for free), all you have to do is add the channel from the Roku channel menu, log in with Slacker, and you’re ready to go. The service works in both the U.S. and Canada.

When the press release crossed my inbox this afternoon, I went straight to my own Roku XR, added the Slacker channel, and signed in with my account. Other than a couple of attempts at trying to remember my password, it was an easy set-up. The interface is basic, but it does the job, and I had immediate access to my custom pre-sets and playlists in addition to Slacker’s genre-based stations.

To some extent, the Roku is a silly platform for Slacker given the lack of visual elements. Continue Reading…


TiVo isn’t the only game in town when it comes to merging subscription television with Internet content via a set-top. And DISH Network is next in line to offer Pandora music streaming from their new Hopper, whole-home DVR. It’s the same Pandora you know and love – create or sign into an account and stream personalized “radio” stations. For now it’s just the Hopper hub with access, but Joey extender support is expected in June and DISH tells me they’re looking at possibly bringing tunes to the ViP 922. If you don’t have DISH, DirecTV and Verizon are other providers who offer Pandora. Which, I suppose, is less threatening to their business model than say Netflix access.