Apple HomePod speakers getting radio streaming and ambient music mode

Apple have announced a bunch of new features for the HomePod after staying silent on their Smart Speakers at the recent iPhone launch.

Following silence at Apple’s press event last week on their flagship streaming speakers, we now have some updates for the HomePod. Amongst them, live streaming of over 100,000 radio stations will be an available feature by the end of the month.

The new feature, called ‘Siri Live Radio’ gives the HomePod access to over 100,000 radio stations. All stations available from services like iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and will be included to stream on-demand. Some stations are already available in certain territories but the full launch should be global by the end of September.

A newly announced feature coming to Apple’s HomePod is an Ambient Sounds feature. ‘Relax with Ambient Sounds’ will bring a new option for users to tune in to the relaxing sounds of oceans, birds, rainfall, and more to tune out with. It’s a good move as ambient music and sounds on streaming services are becoming increasingly popular.

The final feature which Apple promise will come later in fall is ‘Music Handoff’. This allows you to quickly switch between Apple devices to move your music streaming experience. So if you’re listening on your iPhone, you can take it up to your HomePod and hold it close to be presented with the option to transfer the stream over.

Here’s Ikea’s €15 remote control for Sonos, coming soon

Ikea’s partnership with Sonos will soon include a remote control designed for their special SYMFONISK speakers.

Sonos have made a name for themselves as all-in-one stereo systems that need no remote. You use your mobiles, tablets or computers to control them and that’s how they got famous. But following the launch of their speakers in partnership with Ikea this year, they’re releasing their very first dedicated remote.

The partnership bred some weird looking speakers that are designed to fit the “home” aesthetic. To do that Ikea and Sonos built light-up speakers that work both as lamps and as Smart, connected music players. They named their range of furniture blended speakers SYMFONISK.

The SYMFONISK speakers are getting a simple one button remote that looks like an oversized mint to accompany the range. The controller is essentially one big button. You press it once to pause, and again to play; push it twice to go skip a track or three times to go back a track. It also rotates as a dial to increase or decrease the volume.

For just €14.99 you can get your hands on the remote control in the UK and beyond from October 1st. There’s no announcement of a release date for the US yet.

Ikea have promised many more connected devices to come as they commit themselves to accommodating the Smart household. Check out their Symonisk range here.

Mix SoundCloud tracks in Pioneer DJs rekordbox

rekordbox are the latest software for DJs to get the SoundCloud treatment with millions of tracks for mixing.

SoundCloud have revealed their latest in a long line of DJ partners. Pioneer DJ have now built SoundCloud integration into their rekordbox DJ performance software, offering DJs and endless supply of tracks to mix and flip.

It’s SoundCloud’s second partnership with Pioneer DJ after adding their library into their WeDJ app. Now with rekordbox integration SoundCloud music will be available to snatch and stream on any Pioneer hardware.

Any SoundCloud Go+ subscriber can now start mixing with millions of tracks in their rekordbox DJ app. It’s as simple as this:

  1. On Wi-Fi, download and log in to rekordbox.
  2. Enable SoundCloud within the app and sign in to your account (you need to be a SoundCloud Go+ subscriber).
  3. Restart your rekordbox app to pull in tracks from your SoundCloud playlists, and to search, mix and stream from SoundCloud’s catalog of official releases, emerging creator content, and everything in between – directly from the app, in real time.

This year SoundCloud have made a big push to make their giant library of music available to DJs. With a massive catalogue of user uploaded music on top of the label music available on traditional streaming services, SoundCloud have an advantage of scope with 125+ million tracks on offer.

Earlier this year SoundCloud also partnered with Traktor DJ 2, DEX 3, Virtual DJ and Serato DJ. SoundCloud are still planning more integrations with leading DJ applications before the end of the year.

Sony are really hoping nostalgia pays off with their new Walkmans

Sony have unveiled 40th anniversary Walkman players that will offer less than a smartphone at a higher price, but with MQA support.

Sony have unveiled their NW-A100TPS Walkman 40th Anniversary Mp3 player in the hopes it will light up the eyes of the middle aged with a nostalgia combined with a love for high quality portable music. It shouldn’t be a tough sell then…

At first glance you might be convinced that Sony have really taken the leap and launched a tape player for £400 in 2019. But you’d quickly realise your foolish mistake and that their supposed anniversary edition Walkman loses it’s relation to the original as soon as you lift the soft cover.

Lifting up the screen cover it then reveals an Mp3 that resembles nothing like it’s 40 year old ancestor. Now it’s not like anyone was expecting, or even wants, a portable tape player now.

However, what Sony have launched is a brand new Mp3 player in the guise of a throwback – probably hoping that that will forgive how pointless the device is. Though they do promise the 40th anniversary version comes with a UI and screensaver resembling the cassette tape so that your digital screen looks like a tape…

It’s an android powered Mp3 player with a touchscreen. So, it is essentially an Android smartphone with less power and functionality that still costs £400 / €440 or $599 AUS dollars. You can get some of the most powerful smartphones around for that, and they have space for music and inputs for headphones!

What the new Walkman does offer to entice music lovers for that price is Master Quality Audio. So there’s the potential for a top quality listening experience on the go – okay, that’s not too bad is it? *Except* for the fact that it only comes with 16GB of memory!

16GB of memory is pretty poor for an expensive music player regardless. But, if your primary selling point is high quality audio then you *need* decent storage space because – and this may be news to you Sony – HQ audio takes up a lot of memory.

You can always add an external micro SD card, as it includes a Micro SD slot. But come on Sony… they cost you so little why not just put a bigger card in there to start with?

Fortunately for Sony though, next to their WM1Z Signature Walkman Series players this is a steal! For 256GB of Hi-Res audio on the go, one of those babies will set you back a simple £2,500. So at less than a grand you’re getting a bargain with the 40th Anniversary Walkmans.

Perhaps I’m being harsh. Perhaps there are music lovers with small libraries of high resolution audio for whom £400 is a reasonable experience to take that their experience on the go in superior quality. If MQA is something you desire then this probably is pretty great, but MQA is a questionable format in some respects.

Personally, why this couldn’t have just been a phone case designed to look like a Walkman tape player.

These 3 stringed guitars are helping kids learn to play

There are many more ways to learn instruments these days than to just pick it up and practice for years and Loog are back with some unique guitars for aspiring guitar heroes.

Loog guitars are recreating the guitar so that kids as young as 3 can start playing and hone their skills to build up to the six stringed sword they’ll eventually wield. With a new Kickstarter project they’re hoping to give fledgling axe-wielders a new way to get started.

The Loog guitars start at a miniature 3 stringed version for kids 3 and up. The guitars are sized so that younger players can handle the instrument without it towering over them, allowing them to scale up as they grow themselves.

Next in line is the medium sized 3-stringer for 8 year olds and older. Then it eventually moves up to the Loog Pro VI, the company’s only 6 string version aimed at teenagers as young as 12.

The guitars come with a built-in amplifier and speaker so there’s no plug in required. Kids can start jamming out and learning the ropes wherever they are thanks to it’s wireless playability.

Loog have created a companion app to really help kids get on their way with unique and fun learning tools. Flashcards teach chords, educational games make learning fun, a play-along songbook gets them playing along with songs using tutorials to guide them through, and more. There’s even an augmented reality feature that uses the selfie camera to guide kids.

The Loog Mini Electric Guitar is available for $99 on Kickstarter, offering the guitar aimed at ages 3+ as well as chord flashcards and access to the full app. It’s then $149 for the Pro and then $199 for the the six stringed Pro VI.

Head over to their Kickstarter now to find out more and inspire a child to start playing guitar now.

UNDRGRND Sounds are offering a massive sample pack FREE

There’s nothing better than a free sample pack to get those cogs turning with inspiration and the DAWs loading up with potential again.

What’s better than getting 500MB worth of incredible loops, samples and synth presets that cover some of the best and broadest genres in electronic music? Getting them all for free of course.

UNDRGRND Sounds are offering up a major pack of goods for music producers and creators to splice, chop and splash into their projects. It’s the third in their Label Sampler series and takes it’s varied selection of sounds from 12 of their great sample packs.

UNDRGRND Sounds says about their offering: “Comprising of cutting-edge genres and much-loved classic sounds, expect a host of analogue, digital and crisp audio recordings tailor made for electronic music.”

The sounds come from comprehensive sound packs like: Strictly Lo-Fi, Classic Deep House, Junglist Rave Techno, Leftfield House, Retro Memories, Raw Dub Techno, and many more.

Get your free sample pack now or check out what you’re getting with their demos of the sounds below.

Save up to $100 on Ableton Live

Ableton are offering a massive saving when you upgrade to Standard or Suite for the best music production experiences at a low price.

Until September 3rd you can grab yourself a full version of Ableton for up to $100/€100/£80 less than usual. If you’re an Ableton Live Lite or Intro user you can get a discount on upgrading your package to the full lauded suite of music recording and production tools that Ableton offers.

Live 10 Standard and Suite give you unlimited tracks and scenes, more sounds, instruments and effects, and more ways than ever to make music. If you’re wondering whether to take the plunge or not, here’s Ableton’s own 10 best reasons to upgrade:

Head here to check your upgrade prices now.

A Bluetooth, portable Sonos speaker has leaked

Could Sonos be looking to take their famed Home Speakers outside of the home? This battery-powered leak suggests they could be.

At the end of this month Sonos intend to reveal a big new product at an official event. Unfortunately for lovers of a good surprise the cat may well be out of the bag, as leaks suggest Sonos have a battery powered, Bluetooth speaker on the way.

Leaks so far include images showing the sleek, compact design with a curve in the back to work as a handle. The photos seem to reveal a toggle switch for flipping between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi modes for playing music through the speaker. There is also a USB-C port for charging the device.

It will reportedly be called the Sonos Move and will be the first speaker in the Sonos range that is fully portable. Leaks suggest that the speaker will be just a little bigger than the Sonos One, likely using the extra space for the battery.

Like other recent Sonos’ speakers it will have Alexa and Google Assistant support via an integrated microphone and works with AirPlay 2. Auto Trueplay also comes in-built so that the speaker can tune its sound to the surroundings for the best output possible.

Sonos’ event later this month will no doubt feature the big product reveal where we’ll have confirmation of the speaker and all of its features.

Humble Bundle offers $747 of music software for as little as $1

Humble Bundle are back with a musical package like no other from MAGIX, offering software for creating, recording, mixing and producing music.

$747 worth of awesome music software like ACID Pro 8, Music Maker EDM Edition, SOUND FORGE Pro 12 and much more is up for grabs in the latest Humble Bundle. For as little as $1 you can get some of this awesome bundle and for just $25 you can get the entire package.

For those who don’t know about Humble Bundle; they team up with creators, developers, and companies to offer a range of games, software, books and more at incredible prices. It’s a pay what you want process with a minimum for different tiers of the bundle.

The money you pay then gets split between charities, the developers/publishers, and Humble Bundle themselves. You get to decide yourself what percentage of the money goes where.

Check out Humble Bundle’s The Beat Goes On bundle right now and get some of the top music software and start creating at a massive discount.

Sonos speakers come as a lamp now

Sonos helped to blaze the trail of ‘Home’ speakers that are like part of the furniture, and now they are lamps.

Sonos and Ikea announced last year that they were combining the forces of music and furniture. We’re seeing that come to fruition in the shape of Sonos’ bizarre new lamp / speaker hybrid which will illuminate rooms with both light and sound.

SYMFONISK is the name of Ikea’s new range of WiFi speakers that have the task of being both furniture and quality home speakers. The bookshelf speaker has been meticulously designed to look good as a lamp, whilst retain the best possible quality in it’s speaker all at an affordable price.

According to Sonos they experimented with hundreds of different fabrics to find the perfect cover for design and sound. Sonos’ Audio Technology Product Manager, Hilmar Lehnert said: “I’ve learnt more about knitting than I was ever planning to, but it was fascinating.”

He continues: “What types of thread you use, thread patterns, thread tensions, breadth, cleft. That all needs to be understood – what they can do and what they can’t do, what affects the sound.”

Sonos’ Senior Product Manager, Sara Morris explained the SYMFONISK range, saying: “You can have your art. You can have your carpets. And you can put your own spin on the way your house sounds. People can come over and you can show them, audibly, ‘This is who I am.'”