It's been six years since Sonos launched the original PLAY:5, the first all-in-one speaker for its streaming music platform, and now it's time for the second-generation. In the intervening period products like the PLAYBAR - which attempts to create surround sound from a single speaker - and the PLAY:1 - with its tiny footprint - have given the company plenty of opportunity to refine its processes.
Instrument manufacturer ROLI has revealed its latest electronic oddity, the Seaboard RISE, a keyboard controller that does to piano keys what 3D Touch does to the iPhone. Distilling 2013's Seaboard GRAND into a portable form-factor, the RISE hooks up to your software synth via Bluetooth and can be played not only as a keyboard but as a continuous touch-surface, with no differentiating between the keys.
Yamaha has put four of its classic synths through the shrink-ray, coming up with the Reface series of portable keyboards intended for on-the-go noodling. Each of the four new models targets a very different style, from the reface DX that's inspired by the DX7 - the sounds from which are memorable from Toto's Africa - through the reface YC with the tones of Yamaha Combo organs from the 60s, the reface CP with electric piano sounds, and finally the reface CS, heading back to the synths of the mid-70s.
Devialet’s Phantom resembles something from Portal, has audiophiles by turns fuming or fawning, and squeezes up to 3,000W into a casing some physicists say shouldn’t work. The first all-in-one music system from the polarizing French firm, Phantom’s odd looks are, Devialet claims, merely the side-product of its homegrown pressurized drivers and hybridized analog/digital amplifiers. That means the big story is in the sound, but can this sci-fi prop of a speaker really be worth its $2k price tag?
There's no shortage of options if you want to spread music around your home, but SuperTooth thinks its Multiroom System has an edge by virtue of its affordability. Offering three zones for under $300, the system eschews WiFi in favor of a combination of Bluetooth and its own, proprietary radio connection, piping through audio from whatever sources you have on your phone or tablet. It's a tough segment to break into, though, especially when you consider well-regarded rivals like Sonos are already established.
Vinyl enthusiasts may not have a reputation for embracing modern technology, but Musical Fidelity clearly believes at least some record lovers are willing to entertain more than one way to get their audio fix. The new Merlin 1 system is built around the British company's Round Table turntable, but the companion digital amp not only caters for vinyl but supports Bluetooth aptX streaming for pulling over digital music from a phone or tablet, among other sources.
Of all the instruments and accessories in a musician's arsenal, the guitar pedal may be the one that most resolutely refuses to get with the electronic times. Musical Operating Devices (MOD) decided there was a better way than daisy-chaining numerous single-effect pedals, and so came up with the MOD Pedal, effectively putting a tiny computer in a box and running open-source effects for far more flexibility. With a MOD Duo Kickstarter launching today, I caught up with MOD's Gianfranco Ceccolini to find out more.
Roland has gushed a bevy of new audio products, including a sync box that helps laptop musicians play nicely with classic kit like the SH-101 and TB-303, a S1LKi-based mobile audio interface, and a UFO-styled session mixer. Meanwhile, Roland also targets the entry-level with a new V-Drum kit intended to fit more discretely into smaller spaces like bedrooms, and a Boss looping pedal that aims to take some of the complexity out of sampling.
Spotify has announced a fresh batch of Spotify Connect partners, with Bose and Panasonic among the new names promising streaming support in their products, in addition to new features like multi-room playback. The new additions - which Spotify says will be fully detailed at IFA 2014 next week - also includes Gramofon, an adapter to upgrade existing stereos with Spotify support.
If you want the best in personal audio, so the standard thinking goes, you need a standalone headphone amplifier, but Blue Microphones is hoping to change all that with its first set of consumer headphones. Mo-Fi may look like a typical set of over-the-ear headphones, but inside there's what Blue describes as an audiophile-grade amplifier and the rechargeable battery to power it, hooked up to 50mm hi-fi drivers.
A pair of unannounced Sonos products have been heralded with trademark filings, the Sonos Boost and Playbase, though exactly what they might be is still unclear. Sonos' wireless music streaming system has for many been the go-to option for multi-zone entertainment, though in recent months has been under attack from rivals like LG's Music Flow.