Roku’s wireless speakers are the perfect partner for their TVs

From the screen to the speaker Roku have just launched the audio companion to their TV’s with wireless home speakers.

Roku have released wireless speakers that are designed to connect to their TVs to enhance your entertainment experience. The set comes with two speakers which have been designed to work exclusively with Roku TVs for a seamless experience.

A pair of Roku speakers comes with a Roku voice remote and their new Roku Touch tabletop remote both providing simple control via voice or buttons. They promise a rich bass and vibrant high-frequencies and will create a “multi-dimensional sound for your home theater” using their left and right positions to maximise the sound space of your watching experience.

Roku claim that their wireless speakers offer greater stereo separation than soundbars are capable of delivering. Set up is simple and will leave your wall free of dangling wires as it connects to your Roku TV completely wirelessly but promised smooth playback. You only need to plug the speakers into the power and you’re set to go.

With Bluetooth support as well the speakers can become your new home audio setup no matter what you want to listen to. The speakers also have some cool built-in features, like Automatic Volume Levelling which dispels of the infuriating boom in volume when the adverts come on. The speakers listen to what is playing and will adjust the output intuitively so that you can hear dialogue clearly without losing an eardrum when the music returns.

The speakers will set you back $200 although if you purchase them between the coming Sunday and ‘Cyber Monday’ then you can nab them at a discount for $150. 

Dolby just launched their first ever headphones

After more than 50 years since it was founded to enhance audio around the world, Dolby have brought out their very first, own-branded product in the shape of headphones made for the home.

Dolby’s first ever product also claims to be “the first wireless headphones perfected for entertainment at home”. Their Dimension headphones will be the British-American company’s first own-brand product since they were founded by Ray Dolby in 1965 in London.

The brand had it’s beginnings in noise reduction and went on to find it’s technology in high quality speakers and audio technology around the world using it’s unique audio signal processing to enhance audio to higher potentials. Finally over 50 years of audio expertise is being culminated into Dolby’s first fully produced product and they are promising a home audio experience like never before.

Headphones, especially wireless ones, are often produced to be used anywhere you like thanks to their portability. Dolby’s Dimension headphones however have been designed for use at home with a cinematic sound that brings entertainment to life without waking up the neighbours. Using Head Tracking the headphones follow your head movements so that wherever you’re looking it always sounds like it’s coming from your TV screen. They promise that using Dolby’s Dimension headphones is “an experience only Dolby can deliver”.

The Dimension features a unique technology from Dolby called LifeMix. This technology is capable of tuning out your surroundings so that the world around you doesn’t interfere with your listening experience. Users are able to control just how much LifeMix works so that you can blend the sound of your surroundings in or completely shut them out.

Dolby’s wireless connection is capable of pairing to three different devices which you can switch between at any time using the three Source buttons on the headphones. Using the Dimension’s companion app you can connect up to eight different devices so that whatever you’re feeling you can switch between experiences in a second.

The headphones have been entirely designed for home use rather than jamming out on the go so they don’t feature great battery life and they don’t pack down for easy transport. Reviews so far are positive about the headphones, mostly lauding the sound quality and the entertainment experience they provide for film and TV. However criticisms come from the fact that whilst offering an incredible audio experience, you’re still listening through headphones and these aren’t designed for on the go. If you’re after isolation they could be perfect, but you still might be better off with a high quality surround sound.

You can find out more about the Dolby Dimension headphones and get yourself a pair for $599.

Embrace colour with 5 limited edition Sonos One speakers

Sonos make a quality streaming speaker but when it comes to colour they don’t really stand out. Their partnership with HAY is changing that with 5 vibrant new speakers available for a limited time.

Sonos have partnered with Danish furnishings brand HAY to “re-imagine” their Sonos One speaker in a brand new colour palette that breathes a new life into plain old Sonos speakers. Sonos build a great speaker and it’s minimalist design and white colour means it can blend into most environments, but who doesn’t love a bit of colour?

The HAY Sonos One comes in 5 available colours from HAY’s 2018 palette all of them striking in their own way. There’s a vibrant red, a mellow yellow, soft pink, a bold green and a subtle grey which looks almost like a plain Sonos One but with shading. On top of the swish new colours the Sonos One is their only speaker with a microphone built in for voice control using Amazon Alexa with Google Assistant support coming next year.

HAY Sonos one colour limited edition speaker streaming

Mette Hay, co-founder of HAY with her husband Rolf Hay, says: “I believe each object has its own set of colours; they can harmonise with a space or create contrast for a stronger impact.” The Danish brand was founded in 2002 with a commitment to design and production that appeals to everyone but with quality design. This limited edition collection, Sonos says, brings together both companies’ “shared values of accessible design, innovative manufacturing techniques, and the transformative power of products in the home.”

There are only a limited amount of each colour so nab your brightly painted Sonos whilst you can for just £229/$229 from the Sonos website.

Spotify is coming to an Apple Watch near you

Apple Music and Spotify may be head to head rivals but Apple’s digital watch is currently testing Spotify for a music streaming experience you don’t have to reach for.

Despite their ongoing rivalry for the top spot in music streaming Spotify’s iOS app has begun beta testing on Apple Watch for certain testers. The app is currently limited just to playback but it suggests that Spotify is on the way for Apple Watch users and will open up more music streaming options for Apple Watch owners instead of having to sign up to Apple Music.

For the smoothest streaming experience your Apple Watch requires your iPhone to be nearby and connected but Apple have made it possible to sync albums, artists and playlists to your Apple Watch for playback without an iPhone. It’s not clear yet whether Spotify’s app will have offline support so that subscribers can listen to their Spotify libraries without a connected iPhone.

The Spotify app for Apple Watch seems to have been developed by Andrew Chang, a developer who created the unofficial app Snowy which brought offline playback for Spotify to the Apple Watch. Spotify were impressed and hired Chang to work with them on building Snowy into an official Spotify iOS app last year which is now coming to fruition it seems.

At the time Chang posted on Reddit: “Spotify’s powerful iOS SDK made it possible to develop Snowy, but I can’t wait to take things to the next level with the expertise and tools available at Spotify. While I can’t give any estimates as to when it’ll be available, you can rest assured that a Spotify Apple Watch companion app is in the pipeline.”

Spotify coming to Apple Watches would be a great addition to the dwindling wearable which has seen Instagram, Twitter, Google, and Amazon all disappearing their apps from the platform in the past year. It will also make it more appealing to Spotify subscribers who want to use the Watch for listening to music.

Sonos delay their Google Assistant support until next year

Sonos claim that with Google Assistant integrated into their speakers, “playing music with your voice is just the beginning of what’s possible”, but you’re going to have to wait longer for it.

It’s been a whole year since last October, when Sonos said that they would be bringing Google Assistant to their Sonos One speaker. But a year on and Amazon Alexa is still the only voice supported AI built into Sonos’ microphone equipped speakers. But Sonos promise that Google Assistant support is on the way.

Sonos say that their team have been working hard with their partners at Google to bring voice control to their speakers. On top of voice control Google Assistant will, similarly to Amazon’s Alexa, be able to play straight from streaming services without the need to connect with an external device. Beyond that you can ask about the latest news, plan your calendar, ask Google questions and much more. Sonos say that when Google Assistant does come to Sonos One the “remarkably smart voice assistant will let you do all kinds of things on Sonos”.

Sonos have said they are hoping for a 2019 date for the integration to go live, though are reluctant to set that in stone citing the need for “a bit more time to get the experience right”. For the meantime Sonos are looking for beta testers who are willing to give up some time to test using Google’s assistant with their Sonos One. Testers will be required to listen to at least 14 hours of music per week, use 10 voice commands daily to test Google Assistant’s functionality, and they need to be able to respond to surveys within 72 hours.

Sonos are going to spend a few weeks screening applicants and then test the experience with a few hundred people at first. They’ll open it up to a few thousand more testers afterwards to get real world feedback and ensure Google Assistant works at its best with Sonos One.

Sonos said: “We’re very excited to see Google Assistant come to life on Sonos, and we know our customers are too. Indeed, it’s easily one of the questions we get the most from customers, press, and even in the comments on our Instagram feed: When is Google Assistant coming to Sonos? We’re listening. Together with Google, we’ve learned a lot, and are confident the integration will be worth the wait.”

Sonos plan to share their updates in early 2019. You can sign up to be considered for their beta test here: www.surveygizmo.com/s3/4667021/Google-Assistant-Recruitment

Apple unveil the iPhone XS and XR

Apple’s iPhone launch event sees two brand new iPhones and the final nail in the coffin for headphone jacks on Apple devices.

Yesterday was Apple’s famous, annual iPhone launch event where each year we all get to see what the latest iteration of their renowned smartphones will feature. The highlight of the event saw the reveal of two new iPhones that update their popular iPhone X coming later this year.

First up the iPhone XS which will come in two models, the Max version being the biggest display ever on an iPhone. The XS boldly boast “the smartest, most powerful chip in a smartphone” which powers a super retina display delivering true colour in crisp HDR with true blacks. The iPhone X has a glass back which enables wireless charging that is faster than it’s predecessor, the iPhone X.

The iPhone XS uses advanced face ID to recognise you and secure your phone. You just have to look at your phone to unlock it, log in to apps, and even pay for things with it’s ability to scan and recognise your face faster than ever. Everything in the iPhone XS is the best possible version of itself from the X.

 

The iPhone XR offers a slightly larger screen than the XS, but slightly smaller than the XS Max, but in lower quality. The XR’s features are mostly a watered down version of the XS allowing it to go for a cheaper price. The screen is the main draw of the XR with a Liquid Retina, the “most advanced LCD in the industry” which stretches into the corners making edges a thing of the past.

The iPhone XR will be available for pre-order on October 19th and will release on October 26th. The iPhone XS can be pre-ordered from the 14th of September and will be available in shops on September 21st.

You can find out more about the iPhone XS and iPhone XR on the Apple website as well as all their upcoming products like their new Beats headphones and the updates to Apple Music.

Beats new headphones will match the new iPhone XS and XR

The new iPhone XS and XRs are the biggest talking points from yesterdays Apple Event but Beats headphones are getting snazzy to join them.

Apple are refreshing their Beats headphones with some funky new colours to match them up with the new, upcoming iPhones. The urBeats3 headphones are going to come in 3 new colours of yellow, blue and coral which will match some of the colours the new iPhone XS and XR will be available in.

I don’t know whether some cool new colours will persuade you to spend $60 on a fairly standard pair of headphones. The urBeats3 do use a lightning cable connection so that they can be used on modern iPhones which lack a headphone jack after Apple controversially decided to remove jack inputs 2 years ago.

Apple are also giving their Beats Solo 3 Wireless headphones a makeover with new satin gold and satin silver colours. Though looking at them you might not be able to tell the difference between their regular silver and gold paint jobs.

Beats Solo 3 wireless headphones

The new urBeats headphones will launch later this year along with the iPhone XR, whilst the Beats Solo 3’s new colours are available right now.

Roland announce 3 new secret products this Thursday

Roland have revealed that they will be announcing some exciting new products they’re working on this week, but what they are is a secret.

Roland have created some of the most monumental instruments and devices in music over their 46 year lifespan. From genre-defining drum machines to game-changing synths, Roland are the purveyors of quality and exciting innovation – so we are very excited that they’re announcing 3 brand new products this week.

There are no details on what they will be yet, apart from that they will be “three brand-new Roland drum and synthesizer products”. They are planning to announce all 3 of the products this Thursday, September the 13th which gives you a couple of days to “get ready to make some noise!”.

Roland will be announcing the new products on their Music Connects website. Be sure to come back here on Thursday to find out what’s happening in the world of Roland.

Behringer just unveiled the return of a Roland drum machine classic

It’s been a month since 808 Day and Behringer have just gotten the world drooling again over the return of another of Roland’s classic Drum Machines.

At this year’s Knobcon, the self proclaimed “World’s Only Synthesizer Convention”, Behringer unveiled the latest modern update for one of Roland’s classic and modern music-shaping drum machines. This time they are are bringing back the 909 day, as announced on 909 Day unsurprisingly, in the shape of the RD-909.

The interface seems to have a similarly updated design as the RD-808 has been given, however details are currently limited. The prototype currently is unfortunately only a 3D printed prototype and not a working device so we don’t quite know how it works or sounds yet.

There is also no word yet on release dates or prices so we’ll just have to make do with salivating over a picture for now until Behringer bring out more details, hopefully soon.

Huawei change the game with portable WiFi router/Smart Speaker

Another Smart speakers going to drop on the scene to compete with the already immense number of new and old AI powered streaming speakers – this time from Huawei.

Huawei have revealed their entry into the artificial intelligence-powered Smart speaker industry with their AI Cube. Whilst not a cube in any way, the speaker does live up to it’s name in that it comes with AI control via Amazon’s Alexa personality with more features to be revealed.

With the abundance of Smart speakers on the market already, and many more on the way, it’s easy to write off the news of another one heading to shelves. Huawei’s AI Cube however does pack some unique features into it’s non-cuboid body that might make it a draw for new buyers. Most distinctly the AI Cube acts as a WiFi router modem with a slot for an LTE SIM card making it a 4G hot spot. Ethernet connectivity also lets it act as a traditional, wired WiFi modem for your home.

Beyond it’s cool connectivity features though, Huawei were scarce on details about the speaker. At the launch they didn’t go into details on how the speaker functions differently from the vast quantity of other Alexa-powered speakers available, beyond it’s obvious internet functions. Nor were they willing to talk about pricing options and what people can expect to pay for the AI cube.

Prices of smart speakers vary massively, from Amazon’s Echos going for under $50 for the smallest version whilst higher end products like Apple’s HomePod will cost $350. We don’t know yet whether Huawei’s AI Cube is likely to include high-end audio but it seems like the focus is on it’s internet hub abilities. This leads us to assume that it’s probably not going to have a revolutionary sound. However Huawei promise that it will be a “groundbreaking device” with ” a powerful sound system”.

The AI Cube will launch around Christmas time in Europe whilst no plans were mentioned for a launch in the US, nor Huawei’s home country of China.