Archives For Audio

Unannounced Sonos Play:1 wireless speaker already on sale for $199.99

atv-itunes-radio

For a few short hours last week, Apple TV software update 6.0 was available. However, due to a variety of glitches, had been pulled. The patched software has made its triumphant return today, featuring iTunes Radio along with a few playback and synchronization enhancements. While iTunes Radio is frequently compared to Pandora, it feels more like a platform to merely sell tracks – given prices displayed all over the place. And if I wanted to listen to music through my TV, I’d head over to the way more visually stimulating VEVO — MTV for the digital age. Of course, Airplay remains unrivaled… although Google’s $35 DIAL-powered Chromecast dongle looks real promising. But I’m still holding out hope for a more powerful aTV, sporting a full fledged app store and the ability to take advantage of iOS’ new gaming controller API – I think you know where I’m going here. Folders for ‘My Apps’ versus the current Roku-esque clutter would also be an appreciated enhancement.

From the release notes: Continue Reading…

dj-clipart

Via Rich DeMuro, we learn that Apple is on the hunt for Music Programmers to curate content for their new iTunes Radio service. Potential digital DJs are expected to have 5 years experience and a willingness to attend concerts on the clock with:

a strong understanding and background in how the music business operates. Experience and knowledge in retail, radio, A&R, editorial, record labels, and/or any other music related field(s) is a requirement. We’re in pursuit of an individual who can merchandise new releases in these genres, introduce new music to very knowledgeable communities, come up with creative ways to promote and present music; and program various station formats, within these genres, for iTunes Radio.

Of course one of the reasons we prefer Slacker over Pandora is the human intelligence behind genre playlists and suspect Apple’s new service will similarly benefit from experts in the field. However, unlike competing services and despite a looming shakeout or consolidation, Apple is uniquely positioned to prosper given track and album upsell via their existing, strong retail music business. Being preloaded onto every iPhone, Mac, and Apple TV doesn’t hurt either.

slacker-shades

Since Al Gore invented the Internet, Mari and I have been Slacker fans. Unlike Pandora which generates playlists based on musical properties and whatnot, Slacker has taken a more radio-based approach in streaming professionally programmed genre stations. And was one of the first to implement offline playback. Beyond the massive redesign, 2013 also ushers in a new army of “Slacktivists” – Slacker’s top 1% of listeners… who they intend to reward and mobilize as brand ambassadors. Via the CEO’s email blast:

In the coming months we’ll be hooking you up with limited edition Slacker gear, access to new content before anyone else, and a ton of exclusive perks. Stay tuned for more details in the weeks ahead. It’s free and you don’t need to do anything…just enjoy the benefits of being a Slacktivist with our gratitude! On the flip side, it’s not just about you listening to us. It’s about us listening to you. Email me any time

(Thanks Tim!)

vizio-soundbar-tivo

Since dismantling our projector-based home theater in 2005 and embracing something of a nomadic lifestyle, we’ve been sadly lacking in the surround sound department. But, having recently purchased a new home (and new television), we’re finally ready to get a bit more serious with our audio. Yet, I wasn’t motivated to recreate the elaborate config we once sported and have been fixated on soundbar-esque solutions — improved acoustics over the TV’s speakers, yet minimal clutter without fishing wires through the walls.

Of CNET’s top 2013 pics, I went with the (horribly named) Vizio S4251w-B4 for several reasons. Continue Reading…

bose-qc20

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.

sonos-playbar

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…

sonos-home-theater

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…