The 5 best smart speaker Black Friday deals

Black Friday offers up some of the year’s best deals. What better time to liven up your home with a Smart Speaker that streams from your favourite music and audio services using your voice to control it, find news, organise your lives and much more.

Amazon Echo – $69 (31% off)

Amazon pioneered the smart speaker with their AI Alexa helming the ship and leading the way in voice control. It plays all of your favourite music, makes calls, sets alarms and timers, asks questions. The newer Echo speakers come with enhanced Dolby speakers for a crisp listening experience.

Get yours here: Echo second generation smart speaker alexa music streaming

Sonos One – $174 (13% off)

Sonos are synonymous with connected speakers helping establish quality Wi-Fi speakers and connecting them through the home. The new Sonos One has Alexa built-in for a truly connected experience with voice control making it easier than ever. Connect up to other Sonos speakers for a multi-room or stereo sound.

Get yours here:

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Amazon Echo Dot – $19.99 (50% off)

The Echo Dot is the Echo’s tiny little brother. It’s much smaller but also much cheaper, making it the perfect companion for your bedroom if you’re not too fussed about audio quality. Like it’s bigger sibling the Echo Dot uses Alexa and voice control to manage your experience with the ability to stream music, use Alexa’s skills and apps, as well as manage calls and more. There’s no better smart speaker out there for under $20.

Get yours here:

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Harman Kardon Invoke – $63.90 (72% off)

This intelligent speaker offers excellent sound with 360-degree adaptive technology. It uses 7 microphones to pick up the nuances in your speech no matter where you and it is one of the few smart speakers powered by Microsoft’s Cortana, offering you all of the same functions as Alexa but with a different personality.

Get yours here:

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Sonos Beam TV Soundbar – $349 (13% off)

If you’re looking for something a bit different in a smart speaker then give Sonos’ recently launched soundbar a go. Made for TV’s it brings high quality streaming and wireless Alexa control and puts it under your TV for an enhanced multimedia experience. It’s a bit more expensive than your average smart speaker but it’s quality and functionality more than make up for that.

Get yours here:

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The 5 best Black Friday deals on MIDI controllers/keyboards

Black Friday is the perfect excuse to get yourself some sweet new music equipment. With thousands of savings to be had we’ve collected the 5 best MIDI controller deals for you to get producing on.

Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII – $79 (20% off)

Akai Professional make some of the best MIDI controllers that won’t break the bank. This 25 key portable controller comes complete with MPC style pads, 8 knobs for mixing and tweaking, and a bunch of features to get you producing sexy little mixes whether at home or on the go.

Get yours here:

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Nektar Impact LX61 – $179.99 (10% off)

If you’re looking for some more keys to play with then Nektar’s 61 velocity sensitive key Impact keyboard is a great shout. It automatically maps software instruments to it’s controls and features DAW and software control via 8 hyper sensitive backlit pads as well as multiple knobs, faders and buttons for ultimate control over your music and virtual instruments.

Get yours here:

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Alesis VI25 – $179 (33% off)

If you’re looking for a portable keyboard controller with a bit more oomph then Alesis’ 25 key controller is your match. With 16 pressure sensitive pads you can drum away or activate clips and samples easily. On top of that 8 knobs and 24 buttons give you ultimate control over your music – and it comes with some sweet free software!

Get yours here –

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Native Instruments Maschine Jam – $299 (25% off)

The Mashcine Jam is a major production and performance controller with more click pads than you can wave a stick it. It works as a step-sequencer, a launch pad, a powerful effects editor and so much more. Whether you’re creating, editing, mixing, or jamming the Maschine Jam offers a lot in a tidy package.

Get yours here:

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AKAI Professional MPC Studio – $399 (60% off)

The MPC studio is a beatmakers dream and has been a studio standard in production studios around the world for years now. It features 16 genuine MPC pads for incredible tap control. Beyond that the controller has a 7 gigabyte sound library capable of bringing every sound you could think of into your mix with unbeatable control.

Get yours here:

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Save hundreds on headphones with these 5 best Black Friday deals

Black Friday is here saving you hundreds and just in time for Christmas. Who doesn’t want some snazzy new headphones to listen to all their Christmas tunes through over winter. These are the best steals we’ve found just for you.

Beats Solo3 – $239.95 (20%)

Dr. Dre’s famous Beats headphones are at their best in the Solo3. Amazing sound, with cushioned ear cups that you can customise to your ears for maximum comfort and optimum noise cancellation. You’ll never run of tunes with the Solo3’s 40 hours of wireless battery life.

Get yours here:

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Bose QuietComfort 35 – $299 (14% off)

Bose’s QuietComfort series are renowned for world-class noise cancelling technology. With Alexa built in you can control your listening experience with your voice and do much more. Hassle free Bluetooth connections also mean there are no wires to get in your way.

Get yours here:

Bose Quiet Comfort headphones black friday sale deal

Sennheiser HD 4.50 – $129.95 (35% off)

These cans use Noise Gard to digitally analyse the noise around you and cancel it out for a pure listening experience. Bluetooth 4.0 offers the best possible wireless connection whilst ensuring you still have exceptional audio quality.

Get yours here:

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Panasonic Premium Hi-Res – $183.99 (26% off)

These Panasonic headphones deliver amazing quality straight into your ears with Hi-Res Audio Playback and 3 whole levels of noise cancellation working however you want them to. With a built-in voice assistant you can stream in total ease and comfort.

Get yours here:

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Audio-Technica ATH-M30x – $59 (14% off)

On the cheaper side of things we have these class headphones from Audio-Technica. They offer truly quality music listening but are also the perfect companion in the studio for producers and musicians. At a price like that it doesn’t get much better.

Get yours here:

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Amazon Alexa voice control opens to all Bluetooth headphones

Prepare to see loads more Bluetooth headphones with voice control courtesy of Amazon’s Alexa AI now open to all.

Amazon have announced that they’re opening up their Alexa Mobile Accessory Kit tool to developers so that they can use their powerful AI in their devices. The software development kit gives developers the power to integrate the AI into their devices such as Bluetooth headphones, headsets, and wearables easily.

Now the kit has expanded past it’s initial brand partners in Bose, Jabra, and Sony, allowing many more developers to use Alexa in smartwatches, portable Bluetooth speakers, and more traditional headsets. The tool kit allows whatever device it is built into to use the voice controlled AI without requiring the developers to build an app or Alexa skill.

Alfred Woo, a product manager for Alexa Voice Services says: “For device makers, there is no need to develop and maintain a custom Alexa app. By leveraging the Amazon Alexa App that is readily available for Android and iOS, device makers accelerate product development, software integration, and testing time, while reducing product support costs. After launch, their products are automatically updated to include new Alexa features and functionality when they arrive in the Amazon Alexa App.”

Developers can pick up Qualcomm’s $299 reference design prototype to start testing the Mobile Accessory Kit. We’re already seeing AI’s and voice control built into more and more products and it’s likely that next year we’re going to see a boom in Alexa-powered devices.

You can now stream music in multiple rooms on Chromecast

At last you can take your listening throughout the house with Chromecast now supporting multi-room streaming.

Google have updated their Chromecasts so that they can work together for streaming music for multiple rooms. You can add your Chromecasts to speaker groups so that multiple Google Cast enabled devices can be grouped together for a combined listening experience when you’re streaming music.

You could group multiple Google Cast devices together before but not Chromecasts, so you can select your listening experience through your TV and listen throughout the house including whatever speakers you have connected to your TV set. It seems to be working for all users who signed up for Google’s preview program on all generations of Chromecast.

To add your Chromecast to a speaker group users will need to go to the Settings menu in the Google Home app and enable the preview program. When you’re casting to a speaker group the Chromecast will display background photos with song information in the bottom left corner.

Google announced multi-room streaming for Chromecasts in October alongside their new Chromecast device with new features like better hardware and voice control. Chromecast’s are a cheap and easy way of making your TV a multimedia, internet connected experience with Netflix, YouTube, music streaming and more.

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: