Do you have a big audio budget? Do you have multiple iOS devices? Do you want a multi-room system based on AirPlay? Do you want to draw speaker cables across the house from a centralized point? Then look no further, AirHome is the answer to your needs.
AirHome has a central that is loaded with up to five amplifiers. Each amplifier is connected to speakers in a room through wired speaker cables. So basically you get up to five AirPlay zones that you AirPlay to from apps or iTunes on a PC. You can play the same song on all zones in party mode or one zone at a time from an iOS device. If you have more than one iOS device, they can AirPlay to one zone each. AirPlay does not support playing different music on different zones from one iOS device (no matter what fuzzy marketing texts say).
AirHome5 is the central unit where the amplifiers are inserted. It costs 699$ without any amplifiers. So you cant play anything with it alone.
Amp40 is for playing stereo music. Plug it into one of the five empty slots in the AirHome5. Then install speaker wires from it into the room where you want to play music. No speakers included. It costs 340$.
Amp5.1 is for playing up to 5.1 music or movie sound. Installed in the same way as the Amp40. It costs 440$.
Polk audio has a new Wireless Music System, Omni. Coincidentally the same name as Harman Kardon’s new Omni line. The multi-room market is so crowded that it’s running out of names, almost. Well, back to this Omni line. It consists of five product that maps the Sonos lineup quite well.
Omni S2 ($179): A small wireless speaker for smaller rooms. It has two 2-inch drivers and two passive radiators. There is also an USB plug to charge your phone. Omni S2 is a competitor to Sonos Play 1.
Omni S2 R ($249): A rechargeable version of the S2 speaker that can be moved around without the need for a power source. It will play for up to 10 hours.
Omni P1 ($299): An adapter that connects to an existing system and turns it into a Omni zone. You can also connect external players to it and use them as a source to play on other Omni zones. P1 is a competitor to Sonos Connect (ZonePlayer 90).
Omni A1 ($399): A 75 watt-per-channel amp that you connect speakers directly to. It also has a phono input. A1 is a competitor to Sonos Connect AMP (ZonePlayer 120).
Omni SB1 ($699): A soundbar with a wireless sub. The SB1 has three drivers and features that are designed to help you hear dialog. The sub has an 8-inch driver. Obvious contenders to Sonos Playbar and Sub.
The Omni line has a gap where Sonos has their Play 3 and Play 5 speakers.
The system is controlled with smartphone apps for Android and iOS. It uses DTS Play-Fi technology over your existing network.
The Omni app currently supports Pandora, Songza, iTunes and Deezer, with Spotify on the way.
If you just want to play Spotify on your speakers and nothing else. Then Philips has two new speakers for you. You remote the speakers from Spotifys own app with their Spotify Connect technology.
You can also group up to four speakers and play the same music on them all. Usually called party mode. I read a customer complaint about not being able to play music on the individual speakers when they have been grouped in SpeakerSet. So switching from party mode to individual requires a small configuration task.
Named SpeakerSet is for configuring the speakes and exists for both iOS and Android.
The sound quality is specified at CD-quality 320 kbps.
The SW750M has four drivers that deliver 20-W and two bass ports for expanded low-frequency bass. Price £150.
The SW700M has two drivers that deliver 4-W and two bass ports for expanded low-frequency bass. Price £100.
Spotify connect has an advantage over Bluetooth and AirPlay in that the smartphone remote app only tells the speaker what to play, which the speaker then streams directly from Spotifys server. So the smartphone does not stream the music to the speaker, which would take a toll on the phones (or tablets) battery.
Given its limited support for music sources, it is rather far fetched to compare it with Sonos, that supports so many more sources. But if we look at only Spotify in a multi-room setting, then there are pros and cons with both platforms.
Philips has the better app for playing Spotify, which is Spotifys own.
Sonos can play different Spotify songs in different zones at the same time, which is somewhat of a killer feature.
Both can play in party mode.
Philips has a lower price.
Sonos has a broader offering with both stand alone speakers and integrated with existing HiFi.
It probably comes down to if you are really sure that you do not need support for other sources than Spotify now or in the future.
The Harman Kardon Wireless HD Audio System consists of the Omni 10 speaker, the Omni 20 speaker and the Adapt, for connection to an existing Hi-Fi system. They are controlled with the Harman Kardon Controller App for iOS and Android. As always, Sonos is the biggest contender that comes to mind.
Omni 10 and Omni 20
The Omni 10 is a Wi-Fi and Bluetooth speaker. It fills small to medium sized rooms with music up to HD quality. The Omni 20 is for larger rooms. Both supports 24bit / 96kHz HD audio streaming. They also got a 3.5 mm audio input.
Connect a device to one speaker via Bluetooth and it can re-stream the same song through every other speaker in the system. Or play it on just one speaker.
The system supports up to 6 speakers which can be played individually, or linked together.
Place two Omni speakers in the same room and link them together for 2.0 stereo sound, or add more speakers for a full 5.1 surround configuration. Future software updates will support more multi-channel configurations like 2.1 and 5.0.
Deezer and MixRadio are integrated on launch. Music on devices through Bluetooth.
They will be released soon and has the following target prices: Omni 10, 199$. Omni 20, 299$. Adapt 129$.