Sonos PC controler revamp

Sonos has just announce a revamp of their Sonos Controller apps for Mac and PC. Their newest software gives you a fresh GUI with greater flexibility to control your music, with streamlined search, handy drag-and-drop functionality. Try it out today by following the update prompts on your existing desktop controller, or download it for free here. Maybe the next step for Sonos is to develop a dedicated android tablet app?

New WD TV Live comes with Spotify and wifi


The WD TV series has always been competent at playing audio and video. The first versions lacked network connection but has now evolved into including even wireless (802.11n). The increasing focus on streaming abilities has also brought a full implementation of Spotify. With full i mean also the ability to make and update Spotify playlists, which most other implementations actually don’t have yet (Boxee, Squeezebox and Sonos). It has HDMI, Optical and analog output. It can play almost all audio formats from either an attached disk or one on the network.

What it don’t have yet is a powerful remote app that can remote all this from your phone or other without using a TV for its on screen display menu. If this non existing app also had the ability to control multiple devices as different zones, you would have a full fledged multi-room music solution which also could play video and other things as Facebook.

As it stands now, the WD TV Live probably has one of the most competent one zone audio player but cant even compete when it comes to multi-room and is also dependent on a screen for displaying its menu.

Onkyo TX-NR609 review


If you are serious about your sound, you will need a dedicated receiver in one or more zones in your multi-room solution. Probably in the living-room, hocked up to surround speakers, your zone player of choice, a big screen tv, a HTPC media center (or Tivo or other) and a game console (Xbox or PS3) . The receiver needs to have multiple input types like coaxial and optical digital (SPDIF), hdmi and a couple of RCA and 3.5mm analog inputs. It is also important that the receiver can decode audio through the hdmi inputs, not only pass it trough to a tv.

So what kind of a receiver fits those requirements? Well the Onkyo NR609 does. So lets take a closer look at it. The NR09 is Onkyos middle-class model and has all of the above and more like:

* 7.2 surround support for the latest HD audio formats.

* iPhone and Android remoting app that lets you control what source to play, volume, bass, current playlist (if using DLNA, Spotify or other supported streaming service) and more.

* Spotify support. The receiver has an integrated built-in spotify player that requires a premium account. Spotify can be remoted by the Onkyo Android app or through the on screen display.

* Automatic audio setup for multiple listening positions.

* Network ethernet input which enables DLNA streaming from your local network and firmware upgrades trough the Internet.

* Two zones support. It is possible to have a set of speakers for an additional zone attached to the NR609.

* Auto turn of when idle for a specified time.

I have been using the Onkyo for three weeks now and can conclude that it delivers great sound and it does so intelligently. It adapts its settings automatically between digital surround and stereo. The calibration lifted the sound even more and the android app finally got Spotify support on October 31. The receiver also looks great and has a smooth light ring around the volume control when turned on. The on screen menu structure feels a little strange at first. The receiver does not support Airplay, so not the optimal solution for an Airplay based multi-room system.

Is Boxee with Spotify ready for multi-room?


The latest firmware brought Spotify support to Boxee which makes
“the box” interesting from a multi-room audio perspective. The D-Link Boxee Box
DSM-380 has a very competitive price, currently around 180$ and is also great
for playing movies in various formats. But we will focus on the audio
functionality. It plays virtually any audio format and has both digital and
analog outputs.

Boxee plays audio from network shares or from an attached hard drive through USB. It
also has many apps for playing Internet radio and services like Pandora and
Last.fm. That combined with the fresh Spotify support makes it a great device
for playing audio, in one location. But what about multi-room? Well the Boxee is
not designed for controlling multiple zones from one remote without an
additional display, like the Squeezebox and Sonos are. Instead Boxee requires an
attached display for showing menus which in turn requires you to be in that
actual room to make choices for it. Once started, next and paus type of
manouvers can be performed but you cant switch from Internet radio to Spotify
without using the display.

But, the Boxee also has AirPlay support which makes it an ideal part of an AirPlay multi-room solution. So even though Boxee is not really for true multi-room music solutions on its own, it fits great in an AirPlay setup and is also great at playing music
and movies remoted in the same room.

Audio pro

Audio pro has a new wireless multi-room product line caled the living series, which is aimed at providing a complete multi-room solution. According to Audio pro it is not evolution, it is a revolution. So lets go through some facts about the system architecture.

1. Own dedicated network. As with Sonos, the Audio pro devices communicates (mainly streams audio) through a separate Audio pro wireless network. This makes the installation easier and the music distribution more reliable.

2. Sending music is done through the WF100 dongle that can be attached to a Computer through USB (where it replaces the system sound card) or with any music device that has a line out.(TV, Android, iPhone, iPad, stereo). So great source support BUT the mayor drawback is that your source can’t send different streams to different zones at the same time. So you can’t play Spotify in zone one and internet radio in zone two simultaneously if your only source is a PC. You need a second source to achieve that. Like going to your stereo and start a cd that is streamed to zone one and then go to your computer and start Spotify that is played in zone two.

3. Receiving music is done with either Audio pro speakers with built in receiver for this system. Or it can be done with the RX100 receiver attached to a line in at any audio system.

4. Given the architecture of the system there are no remoting apps that can control what are played in multiple sources like the ones that exist for Sonos and Squeezebox. This is of course a major drawback. Audio pro recommends using the iPad app Splashtop remote (which is a remote desktop app that clones your computer desktop) for controlling what your computer plays in one zone.

Compared to Sonos and Squeezebox, Audio pro lacks a unified remote system for controlling what will be played in which zone. It cant play Spotify in different zones at the same time with the same account, as Sonos and Squeezebox can. But if you are looking for an easy way to stream music from your old stereo across the house or to stream from your computer, Audio pro could be what you need.

Sonos play:3


Sonos new Play:3 is a  smaller, lower-priced edition of the popular Zoneplayer S5 speaker. The Play:3 has three integrated speakers (the S5 has five) and three digital amplifiers.

It features three Class-D digital amplifiers and three drivers – one tweeter, two 3-inch mid-range and one passive, rear-firing bass radiator for rich sound.

Features

Like the S5, the Play:3 can play music wirelessly via the Sonos Player software, which integrates Spotify as well as digital radio and your own MP3s; there are also free Android and iOS apps to control the music from your phone or tablet. You’ll need a Sonos Bridge (sold separately) to connect your router and the speakers, however.

Works together

You can have just one Play:3, but two can also creating a stereo sound, or place them in multiple rooms, which we like here! The Play:3 can be wall mounted, and has feet both on the long side and the short side so you can position it portrait or landscape.

The Zoneplayer S5 has been rebranded to the Play:5. Existing Sonos users will also see an update to the Sonos Software which simply adds Play:3 support and some minor updates to the Android app.

AirPlay with Sonos in Party Mode


If you’ve got a Sonos music system and an Apple AirPort
Express, you have an AirPlay compatible multi-room Sonos system, sort of. You
can play your music in one or many zones synced. But not target different
specific zones, if they do not have separate AirPort Expresses.

Plug in your Apple AirPort Express into your ZonePlayer’s line-in (3.5mm and ethernet)
and the music can be played across multiple systems across the house — so-called
Party Mode.

“Sonos improves the AirPlay experience with party mode so a
music lover can send a song from his iPhone or iPad to all the rooms in a home
with perfect synchronization,” said John MacFarlane, founder and CEO of Sonos.
Sonos System Software 3.4 or later is required.

You can have your Autoplay Zone mapped to one or many
zones.
Read more at Sonos

Spotify released in USA

The full Spotify press release, announcing its U.S. launch.

Hello America. Spotify here.

Spotify, the largest and fastest growing music service of its kind, is available from today in the US. We’re massively excited to be here.
Spotify is a new way to manage your music, discover new tracks and share songs and playlists with your friends. Now you can enjoy music whenever and wherever you like.

More than 10 million Europeans can’t be wrong, surely?

OK, so they are wrong when it comes to spelling ‘favourite’ and ‘doughnut’. But they know a great music service when they see it.

Spotify was launched in Sweden in 2008 by Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon, out of a desire to develop a better, more convenient and legal alternative to music piracy. Spotify is now the second single largest source of digital music revenue for labels in Europe (IFPI, April 2011), making sure that artists get a fair deal.

Spotify has more than 10 million registered users and more than 1.6 million paying subscribers across 7 countries in Europe; the US marks the 8th territory. With a ratio of well over 15% paying subscribers to active free users, Spotify is the largest and fastest growing service of its kind.

One lean, green, music machine

Spotify gives you on-demand access (with no buffering) to a library of more than 15 million songs. What’s more, you can import the MP3s you already own with just one click, to create a mighty music player. And with Spotify, there’s no need to skip tracks you don’t like. Why? Because you choose the music in the first place.
It’s super simple to create and manage all your playlists with Spotify – our users have made and shared over 250 million of them so far. You can also discover the most popular playlists on sites like www.sharemyplaylists.com and www.bbcify.com, or use clever sites like www.spotiseek.com to create playlists of new music based on your favorite artists.
Music is made for sharing. Simply drag and drop music to your Spotify friends, or share with them via Facebook, Twitter, email and SMS. See your friends’ top tracks, artists and playlists via their Spotify profiles, subscribe to their playlists and drop tracks into their Spotify inbox. How very sociable.
Take your music with you by installing Spotify on your cellphone or iPod Touch. Wirelessly sync your MP3 playlists to listen offline and subscribe to Spotify Premium to combine your own music with access to our catalogue of over 15 million tracks. It’s the perfect music player.

The Land of the Free, the Unlimited and the Premium

During our invite-only beta phase, Spotify offers three great services, from absolutely free to paid subscriptions. All of Spotify’s services include the features listed above.

Spotify Free – the unsurpassed free music service. With an invite, enjoy on-demand, buffer-free access to over 15 million songs on your computer, great social features, manage your own music files through Spotify, and sync with your cellphone or iPod. Features occasional advertising.

Spotify Unlimited – all the special features of our free service but with uninterrupted, ad-free access to Spotify on your computer. All for only $4.99 a month.

Spotify Premium – the all-singing, all-dancing, top-of-the-range Spotify experience. Premium gives you access to all the music, all the time. Listen online or offline, on your computer, your cellphone and a whole heap of other devices. Enjoy enhanced sound quality and access to exclusive content, competitions and special offers. Premium costs just $9.99 a month (that’s the equivalent of a few fancy coffees).
Daniel Ek, Founder and CEO of Spotify, said: “We believe that music is the most social thing there is and that’s why we’ve built the best social features into Spotify for easy sharing and the ultimate in music discovery. Even if you aren’t a total music freak, chances are you have a friend who is and whose taste you admire. I’m looking forward to connecting with some of you in Spotify and discovering some cool new tracks.”

Spotify’s US launch is in partnership with some of the biggest and most pioneering brands in the world, who want to help us spread the word of Spotify in the USA. Our exclusive launch partners are Coca-Cola and Sprite, Chevrolet, Motorola, Reebok, Sonos and The Daily. These brands will all be launching innovative campaigns in partnership with Spotify in the coming weeks and months.

Ken Parks, Chief Content Officer and Managing Director of Spotify North America, said: “Spotify was founded as a better, simpler alternative to piracy. So making sure that the people who create the music prosper is hugely important to us. We have full catalogues from all the major labels and a raft of independent labels including those represented by Merlin, which means all of their artists are being fairly compensated for their creativity every time people enjoy music through Spotify.”