Google Assistant is getting added to Bose headphones

Bose and Google have teamed up to bring Google’s assistant into the first pairs of headphones ever.

Google Assistant is your computerised PA that helps you out with any questions, keeps track of your plans, find the latest news and more in your smartphones, home speakers and more. Bose are now taking the Assistant further and putting Google’s helper on your head, in the shape of their QC 35 II headphones.

With their new partnership you can connect Google Assistant via Bluetooth to Bose QC 35 II headphones from the app to set it up. After that all you have to do is press and hold down the action button on the headphones to start talking with your assistant and finding what you need to know. Not just great for convenience this integration boosts your privacy as you can hear emails, messages, calls all within your headphones.

Here are the great things you’ll be able to do with Google Assistant on your bonce:

  • Stay connected to what matters: Hear your incoming messages, calendar events and more, automatically, right from your headphones. So if you’re listening to your favourite song and you get a text, your Assistant can read it to you, no extra steps.
  • Listen to music, news and more: Now it’s easier to access a playlist, skip a track or go to a new song when you’re listening to music-and the music experience will continue to get better over time. You can also keep up with news while you take walks, jump in a cab or go for a run. Just ask your Assistant to “play the news” and you’ll get a read-out of the current hot topics. You can choose from a variety of news sources, like CNBC, CNN, NPR and others.
  • Keep in touch with friends: You can make a call with just a few simple words – “call dad” – take the call from your headphones and continue on your way. No stopping or dialing, just talking.

Google say: “We’ve worked together with Bose to create a great Assistant experience on the QC35 II – whether you’re on a crowded street or squished on a bus, Bose’s active noise cancellation will help eliminate unwanted sounds around you, so you’re able to hear your Assistant, your music and more.”

Teaming up with Google seems like a great move for Bose who will be able to enhance their future headphones with AI capabilities. It certainly seems a more promising future for the audio manufacturers than they’re latest product – the SoundWear Companion Portable.

The Assistant on the QC35 II will be available in the U.S., Australia, Canada, Germany, France and the UK.

Would you wear speakers on your neck? Bose say yes

Bose have unveiled one of their strangest endeavours yet, a device that “revolutionises” personal music listening.

Forget about headphones, if you could you would get a speaker and wrap it around your neck right? If you ask anyone at Bose the answer is apparently yes as their latest innovation is a travel pillow with speakers built in.

The SoundWear Companion Speaker is the questionable solution to a non-existent problem. In their own words Bose say:

Sure, you want music with you at all times. But you don’t always want to slap on headphones and shut out everything else around you. You don’t have to. The new SoundWear Companion speaker was designed for you. This wearable speaker offers the best of both worlds—convenience and connection—in a way that allows you to be present with your music as well as your surroundings. It rests comfortably on your shoulders, with sound that is full and clear to you—yet minimizes the sound for others. And with legendary waveguide technology at its core, that performance is easy to trust.

Whilst the concept behind the wearable speaker makes sense – sometimes you want to listen to personal music and be able to hear what’s going on around you – what they’ve come out with really doesn’t seem like something I can see appealing to, well anyone. Does it at least look good? Well, Bose literally say themselves: “With some wearables, it’s fashion before function. Not in this case.” Fair enough when your function has a purpose.

Beyond it being ridiculous the SoundWear Companion Speaker does actually feature some good stuff inside of it. It features two 11 inch waveguides travelling between the two speakers on either side of your head, boosting a rich sound around your head. The speakers are planted facing upwards so that you get the maximum sound whilst minimising the noise spread to others. Despite their emphasis on how it’s still a personal listening experience I can’t imagine these not being incredibly annoying – you thought that tinny sound from earphones was bad? Try a bus full of people playing their music out loud to their ears.

The SoundWear’s portability does actually make it quite convenient, particularly as a Siri connected assistant. With a built-in “advanced microphone” and Bluetooth capabilities you can take calls and talk to Siri. But I don’t think that the supposed “freedom from your devices” and being “closer to your surroundings at the same time” makes for a convincing package, at least not for something I have to slump on my shoulders.

Bose soundwear speaker wearable neck music headphones device

Despite my own reservations Bose seem fairly convinced that this is going to revolutionise music listening in some way. Bose emphasised this belief in their bold statement:

It’s interesting, when you look back on it. Stereo speakers that reproduced more sound from the back of the speaker than the front. Compact, single-speaker stereo systems that replaced stacks of equipment. Noise cancelling headphones that changed just about everything. These are just a few of the breakthroughs we’ve introduced in our long history of innovation.

Until you tried one of these, you likely couldn’t know how much of a difference it would make. And that’s why we push-to make products that make your life better in ways you can’t imagine.

The SoundWear Companion speaker is just the latest example. Try it-then try to imagine a day without it.

If you’re seriously interested in this bizarre-o speaker it’s available for $299.95. You can find out more and buy your own here.

Transform the world through music and colour with just a ring from Specdrums

This Kickstarter project innovates music playing in an entirely unique way combining colour and the world’s largest tool – the world itself.

Specdrums is the name of these new “instruments”, developed by students hailing from Cornell University and CU Boulder. Specdrums come in the shape of rings, yes – for your fingers, that sense colours and creates a new sound for every shade and tone. Tap them on a wall, tap them on tv, your clothes, your cat, whatever you want becomes its own instrument with Specdrums (it’s not recommended that you use your cat as a pseudo-drum-kit).

Speaking on their inspiration, founder and Cornell graduate Steven Dourmashkin says: “Growing up as a drummer, I would tap on everything whenever I was away from my drum set. I was determined to create the most portable drumming machine, capable of turning my taps into real percussion sounds. But what we’ve created is more than just a drumming tool – it’s a new instrument that makes musical creation in general more accessible, welcoming, and fun.”

Specdrums kickstarter initiative funding instrument cool startup fun creative music

So what’s the big deal? Here are your answers:

  • Unprecedented portability: By turning any coloured physical object into a sound trigger, Specdrums give you the freedom to make music anywhere. Instead of tapping on a screen, users can reliably drum on real objects in any configuration they desire. The rings can also be connected to other apps such as GarageBand or Ableton Live for more advanced musical composition.
  • Smart, connected musical tool: Because they’re low storage, low-budget, and immdediately enjoyable to children, Specdrums can be used in the classroom as a new music education and STEAM tool. Children can learn musical pitches with the help of colour recognition, arrange colours in order to play a song, and create their own instruments by colouring sketches or cutting out constructions paper.
  • Democratising music: Specdrums turns ordinary tapping into music, allowing people of all ages and musical backgrounds to create beats and melodies. Users can record sounds into a loop, which can be saved and shared with others who can then contribute to them, enabling a collaborative musical experience.
  • Open-source applications: Specdrums has provided an open-source iOS app and MAC OSX & Linux Python library, making the rings a programmable Bluetooth LE sensor suite.

It took two years of meticulous design work to create the Specdrums and after nine major versions of the rings they are ready to be played by you. Their Kickstarter has already gone and completely smashed its goal by over 10x and only has a few days left. If you want to get your hands on the first round of Specdrums from Kickstarter before they are shipped you have until September the 15th, 1.44 PM BST.

Roland make the sexiest instrument in the world digital and it looks insane

Saxophones, undoubtedly the hottest instrument to ever exist, are getting a 21st century makeover from Roland with their new Aerophone.

Today Roland announced the Aerophone AE-10, a digital wind instrument that revolutionises saxophone playing. With traditional saxophone fingering the instrument opens up loads of new opportunities with a bunch of in-built sounds that let you play baritone, soprano, other instruments like the trumpet, even synths.

The Aerophone AE-10 is an incredible feat of design with a realistic breath sensor that allows you to play with all the versatility and cadence of a real wind instrument. Roland assure that seasoned saxophone players will feel right at home playing the Aerophone with a traditional button layout, reactive pads, and “responsive SuperNATURAL sounds”.

The digital woodwind instrument features built-in speakers to output your playing, the ability to run from battery power, and something pretty revolutionary for this kind of instrument – DAW connectivity. Using breath control with MIDI recording creates a whole new dimension to music production. It also features a mini-jack stereo input so you can plug your devices in and play along to your favourite tunes.

Roland have created a companion app named the Aerophone Editor which allows you to completely customise your sound. You can set the instrument, its octave, create tone lists from four layers, and alter the parameters of the instrument to suit your environment no matter where you may be.

Watch Spanish sax player Llibert Fortuny show just some of the potential to be unlocked within the Aerophone:

Find out more from Roland’s website: www.roland.com/global/products/aerophone_ae-10/features

Hey Alexa, you’re in Motorola phones now?

Motorola are still making phones (who knew, huh?) and soon they’re launching the X4, an Amazon Alexa powered smartphone.

Amazon have been revolutionising home-life with their deeply intelligent AI Alexa, aiding people in everything from music, planning, current affairs, reminders and much more.. Motorola were so impressed with the voice-powered artificial intelligence that they’re putting her into their next phone to provide a 24/7 assistant in your pocket.

Motorola revealed their plans for Alexa integration back in February, however at the time it was a basic level of support provided through a “Moto Mod” providing the correct mic setup. Now the Motorola X4 will ship with 3 microphones built-in and full Alexa functionality, one of the first phones in the world to come with Amazon’s popular AI assistant.

Alexa will act like many existing phone assistants such as Apple’s Siri or Microsoft’s Cortana however with even deeper functionality. For example Alexa can be asked and answer questions even while your phone is locked, you don’t even need to touch it.

Another pretty awesome feature of the X4 is support for multiple speaker connections via a new Bluetooth from French startup Tempow. This will allow you to play music through multiple speakers or headphones at the same time which is incredibly unique for a smartphone. If Alexa is capable of setting up these connections via voice control as well the X4 is on track to replace your home speakers.

Beyond Alexa support is an incredible front-facing camera, dual-camera on the rear, powerful water resistance, octa-core performance on the inside and more. Motorola’s X4 is due to release later this year in the states and will release this month in Europe for €399 / $416.

Marshall are going multi-room connected with their speakers

Marshall, famous for their face-melting amplifiers, are bringing their crystal sound and booming power to Bluetooth speakers all around the house.

A few years ago Marshall expanded their company to create Marshall Headphones, a new speaker manufacturer for playing music rather than instruments. With the famous Marshall quality and sound their headphones and speakers have become a raging success, and now you can connect them to each other for a multi-room setup.

Three of their most popular Speaker models are being upgraded to work in a multi-room setup by connecting to each other. The Acton, Stanmore, and the Woburn will all receive Wi-Fi connectivity to link up with other Marshall amps in the house and sync music through different rooms.

The 3 speakers chosen for promotion will feature a new control panel, containing a dial for selecting between Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections as well as Internet Radio and Spotify stations. The speakers will all also support Chromecast, Spotify Connect and AirPlay connections. Despite Apple’s best efforts the aux input still exists and is available on all 3 of the speakers, the Woburn also featuring an RCA jack.

The upgrades come with a bit of a price bump for each speaker with the Acton going for $350 / £319, the Stanmore for $450 / £399, and the Woburn for $600 / £539. They are due to begin shipping on the 21st September and pre-orders are already available from Marshall’s site: www.marshallheadphones.com/mh_uk_en/speakers/multi-room

Sonos soon to announce smart speaker with multiple voice assistants

Sonos are ready to take on Amazon and Google by making their multi-room, Wi-Fi speakers go smart with voice control.

Shortly after references to a smart speaker by Sonos were found in the FCC, Sonos sent out a bunch of invitations for a media event in New York City on the 4th of October. I’m not one for assumptions, but you have to be in this industry, and assumably the event will focus on Sonos’ new smart speaker.

Sonos have been dominating the multi-speaker setup arena for a few years, but with the advent of smart speakers that are getting better and better in quality it’s about time Sonos caught up with their competitors like Amazon Echo and Google Home. Whilst Sonos is a speaker system and smart speakers have multiple functions like PA, weather updates, etc. – As the both have become synonymous with streaming music online through speakers seamlessly and wirelessly, smart capabilities were a given for Sonos to survive.

The speaker is currently nicknamed S13 and features integrated voice control. As information is limited about the S13 currently it isn’t known how far it’s voice functions will go. It may not go so far as to feature Smart Speaker features like diary planning and weather updates but we can safely assume it will at least feature voice search and playback abilities.

What is more interesting about the S13 speaker is that it lists support for a variety of voice platforms rather than a singular one. It’s not clear what this means but will likely relate to Sonos’ support of music services owned by various Smart Speaker makers, like Amazon Music, Google Play Music, and Apple Music. Of course there are also multiple music services that are supported on the speaker and by its voice controls.

Sonos smart wireless multi room speaker event announcement

At the moment the only clues revealed by Sonos themselves as to what the event will entail is a bold, red pair of lips plastered onto the invitation. This could suggest an emphasis on vocals, a rocky horror show tribute, a kissing party? Who knows – find out October 4th.

Got $1,999 spare for Audio-Technica’s new No.1 headphones?

Audio-Technica bring another pair of luxury headphones to a market filled with mediocre quality music.

Audio-Technica have unveiled their new flagship headphones in the Audio Technica high end luxury headphones music listening top rangeshape of the ATH-ADX5000. The luxury headphones come with a luxury price-tag of $1,999 – it may be expensive but you get a fancy little suitcase to carry them around in.

The headphones are the next in line of Audio-Technica’s “Air Dynamic” series. Past models have been lauded by users and critics for their high-end audio but have never had such a high cost. Whilst the ATH-ADX5000 model may be the latest in a series Audio-Technica have worked from the ground up to create an entirely new pair of headphones with these.

The ATH-ADX5000’s will feature new 58mm tungsten-coated drivers under the shell. The ear-cups feature an open back design like many of it’s predecessors

The ATH-ADX5000’s feature an open back design on their ear cups like many of it’s predecessors. Under the shell of the ear cups are new 58mm tungsten-coated drivers delivering phenomenal audio straight to your ear holes. With an impedance of 420 ohms these headphones pack a serious punch, but their punch is so powerful that you will need an amplifier for the best experience.

Audio Technica high end luxury headphones music listening top rangeThe headband takes on a strange new look with two bands that go over your head, though it looks comfy and less invasive than one big cushioned band. The ear muffs also have a new covering, with an Alcantra covering over the padded cushions.

Audio-Technica are clearly going after total audiophiles with their latest release with super high end specs for crystal sound, but is it worth $1,999? They aren’t the first to give a pair of headphones such a high price, and certainly aren’t the most expensive, but with the abundance of standard-quality music out there I don’t know how much £1000 will make to your experience except when listening through the finest of players, to your rare MQA audio that is being outputted through your signal amplifier to your next-level quality headphones – but I guess then you’re truly listening… right?

The Audio-Technica ATH-ADX5000 will go on sale in November this year at £1,990, $1,999, and €2,190. The headphones will also be available to check out and listen to at IFA next week in Berlin.

IK Multimedia unveil their incredible all-in-one music making controller

Finally, a solution to having hundreds of pieces of kit to record your music the iRig Keys puts recording and creation into one box.

The iRig Keys I/O is the new controller from IK Multimedia that combines the capabilities and versatility of a MIDI controller/keyboard with an audio interface for recording live instruments/effects. It’s available in 25 and 49 key versions, setting itself apart from the crowd not just in function but also quality and options.

The iRig® Keys I/O series evolves the concept of traditional controllers as the only one available on the market that integrates 25 or 49 full-sized keys together with a fully fledged professional audio interface featuring 24-bit audio up to 96kHz sampling rate, balanced stereo and headphone outputs, plus a combo input jack for line, instrument or mic input (with Phantom power.)

IK Multimedia music MIDI controller audio interface

Together with an audio interface, iRig Keys I/O also packs all the controls you would expect from a premium controller including velocity sensitive multicolored pads and programmable touch-sensitive sliders, buttons and knobs for unique expressiveness and fast workflow.

Both iRig Keys I/O 25 and 49 are also the smallest full-sized keys on the market making them the best solution for working in small spaces and ideal when it comes to having a controller for traveling musicians, in addition to the consideration that they are the only truly mobile devices that can also work on AA batteries.

IK Multimedia music MIDI controller audio interface Being certified Apple MFi keyboard controllers (“Made for iPod, iPhone, iPad,”) iRig Keys I/O are guaranteed to work out of the box with all iOS devices including the latest generation of iPhone 7, that does not have an audio output, thanks to the on-board audio interface. The included Lighting cable allows for straight plug-and-play with Apple iOS devices, the USB cable connects Mac and PC computers.

Plus with over $/€550 (25) and $/€750 (49) worth of IK Multimedia full software and apps they include an unmatched selection of everything that is needed to make complete, finished productions out of the box like the full SampleTank 3 sound and groove workstation, Miroslav Philharmonik 2 CE orchestral workstation, Syntronik Pro-V vintage synthesizer, T-RackS Deluxe mix and mastering suite and more, as the ultimate music production station.

FeaturesIK Multimedia music MIDI controller audio interface

  • All-in-one, fully portable, ultra-compact MIDI controller with 24-bit / 96kHz capable input/output audio interface for iPhone, iPad, Mac and PC
  • Available in 49 or 25 keys versions with full size keys and smooth, velocity-sensitive, synth-action keyboard
  • Smart, ultra-compact, elegant design
  • Easily transportable, fits anywhere
  • MFi certified by Apple (“Made for iPhone and iPad”) includes Lightning Cable
  • Includes mobile device support stand
  • Comprehensive controls: 2 slider strips for pitch and modulation (user programmable,) octave, program change and transport controls, 5 programmable touch sensitive knobs, 8 velocity-sensitive multi-colored assignable pads
  • Neutrik® combo input jack for line, instrument or microphones
  • 48V phantom power button
  • Balanced stereo and headphone outputs
  • Powered by USB, 4 AA batteries or optional external power supply (charges your iOS device)
  • Comes with the most comprehensive collection of software instruments and pro studio processors on the market: a value of over $/€ 550 (25-keys model) and $/€ 750 (49-keys model) for software and apps

Find out more on the IK Multimedia website.

This Fusion guitar has an iPhone dock, amp, speakers built-in

Every month it seems there’s more outlandish piece of music tech released, this guitar with an iPhone dock and built-in amp/speakers might take the biscuit.

The Fusion Guitar was born from the need for a self-contained electric guitar that was portable but also an exceptional musical instrument. Fusion’s founder Dave is an amid musician, traveller and design engineer who built his first prototype nearly 20 years ago and kept on refining. Each prototype was better than the last, and then smart phone and guitar apps hit the scene.

Dave realised the time was right to develop the ultimate electric guitar, and teamed up with a renowned product developer to produce the Fusion Guitar. The world’s first Fusion Guitars are now in production. The quality and features of the Fusion Guitar have surpassed the expectations of even its own developers. They say “We’re proud to realize a dream, and bring the joy of the electric guitar to you.”

Apple iPhone and iPod integration

Easily use the best guitar apps without extra hardware or cables.

Compact and integrated construction

Combining the convenience of a travel guitar with the capability of an entire rig.

Full Scale Neck and Fingerboard

Familiar look & feel. Extended through body to bridge for strength and traditional electric guitar tone.

Two Fingerboard Options

The Fusion Guitar features a full-scale maple neck with either a premium rosewood or maple fingerboard.

HD quality speakers

Amazing sound. Feel the power of the music emanating directly from the guitar.

Third monitor speaker

You hear what your audience hears, including the elusive higher frequencies.

Patented floating speaker box

Crank it to 11 without distortion!

Powerful integrated amp

Fill your world with sound.

Built in rechargeable battery

Play anywhere – no cables or extra gear.

Humbucker pickups

For crisp, accurate sound reproduction.

The Fusion guitar is available for $1,399 with the choice of a Maple or a Rosewood fingerboard.