Archives For Audio


By way of the FCC, we learn that Dr. Dre intends to up the ante with the Beats Pill XL. Like Jambox, they’ve supersized their initial portable Bluetooth speaker design for bigger sound (at a bigger price). Whereas Jambox styling was once fresh and fun, I find it a bit garish these days… and, by contrast, dig the original Pill’s rounder aesthetics. Although from the limited imagery, it’s hard to tell how the Pill XL scales. Continue Reading…


Within the last week, both Sonos and Nest released new products. And, while each is somewhat compelling in its own right, I can’t say I’m in the market for either.

First, Nest has beautified and modernized another mundane home appliance. But the connected Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide detector runs a lofty $129 and, with 5 existing detectors, I don’t care enough to spend the kind of money needed to outfit my house. Further, unlike the Nest Thermostat, there’s no potential energy savings to offset and perhaps mentally justify the cost. Lastly, for reasons unknown, my Nest Thermostat has a tendency to reboot and the motion sensor hasn’t been very responsive — neither of which motivates me to entrust my safety to Nest, despite the Protect’s imminent UL endorsement.

Sonos, by comparison, has released a $199 speaker… which almost makes the multi-sensor Nest Protect appear a reasonable proposition. But Sonos has never been inexpensive and the connected speaker market has featured outrageous pricing across the board these last few years. But ya gotta pay to play, and like my TiVo Mini, I’ve been willing to drop the cash on the best solution irrespective of a company’s profit margins. If I hadn’t recently outfit a couple more rooms with the $299 Play:3, I’d have saved some coin and went with the new and more attractive Play:1.

But what if these two companies hooked up… Continue Reading…

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


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…


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.