New Wireless Multiroom Audio Systems Introduced at CES 2014

With almost 10 years of innovation and annual sales in excess 0f 250 million Sonos sits firmly entrenched at the top of the Wireless Multiroom Audio market.  

While Sonos may be on top,  Samsung, Panasonic, LG and newcomers BlueSound, Voco and Pure Audio are the latest competitors to enter the fray.   Bose, Apple, Mirage, NuVo, Pioneer, iHome and Russound also have multiroom audio products. .  

Wireless multiroom audio has been touted as the next big thing in consumer electronics and 2014 looks like it will be a minefield as some of the big and little guys try to throw Sonos off it’s throne.

Sonos:  Let’s start with the leader.  Sonos didn’t officially exhibit at CES this year however they did introduce a number of new and innovative products during 2013, including Consumer Reports number one soundbar … the Sonos Playbar.  2013 also saw the introduction of the Sonos Sub and most recently the Sonos Play 1 speaker system. Like Apple, Sonos has developed a loyal community of followers and users who view Sonos not just as a product but a social statement as well.

Samsung:  Streaming Music is just one part of the “Samsung Smart Home” Platform which according to the Japanese electronics giant will allow users to manage and control all appliances and devices in their connected home.

The Samsung Shape Wireless Audio Multiroom System consists of the entry level M5 speaker (rival Sonos Play3), the larger more powerful M7 speaker (Competitor Sonos Play 5), the stylish HW-H750 Soundbar with sub (Sonos Playbar and Sub), wireless Shape Hub (Sonos Bridge), Link Mate (Sonos Connect) and various other Samsung products including Home Theatre in a Box (HTIB), bluray players and televisions that display the Multiroom Link icon.  Samsung Multiroom Link speakers and devices connect via WiFi, NFC or Bluetooth and can be controlled by a Free iOS or Android App.  Music services supported at launch include Amazon Cloud Player, Pandora, Rhapsody and Tune In Radio.

Every one of Samsung’s Multiroom Link products mirrors the Sonos product line.  It took Sonos nearly a decade to develop their family of products yet Samsung brought their complete line to market in less than a year.

Samsung is famous for identifying profitable market segments then reverse engineering and copying products.  So is Samsung’s Multiroom Link products as good as Sonos, hell no, not yet anyway but just like the Samsung Galaxy phone overtook Apple’s iPhone, don’t underestimate the power and resources of Samsung Group.  Out of all the new multiroom streaming audio products this one is the most interesting.

Panasonic:  Panasonic’s entry into the multiroom audio is called ALL PLAY a smart media platform developed by Qualcomm which enables music to be streamed to multiple rooms and multiple sources.  Initially Panasonic will be launching three ALL PLAY products, the SC-ALL8 and SC-ALL3 wireless powered speaker systems (similar to Sonos Play 3 and 5) as well as the SH-ALL1C Network Audio connector which will turn existing stereos into streaming ALL PLAY devices.  Panasonic will have it’s own ALL PLAY control app for iOS and Android and will be able to stream music subscription services, internet radio and more to connected ALL PLAY devices.  ALL PLAY will be WiFi based and will be able to stream and play music stored on iOS, Android and network devices.

LG:  While not quite as ambitious as Samsung, LG introduced two Wireless Multiroom Audio Speakers at CES.  Looking once again like Sonos Play 3 and Play 5 speakers, LG’s offerings will work off WiFi and establish their own mesh network, streaming music directly from Apple and Android devices.  In order to sync multiple speakers a Bridge Box is connected to the home’s router which will sync all speakers to play the same music or allow each speaker to play independently.  The LG NP8740 will have 70 watts of power while the smaller LG NP8540 will have 40.  No additional information or details about streaming services such as Rhapsody or Tune In Radio was available.

BlueSound:  Newcomer BlueSound has taken a little bit of a different approach to multiroom steaming audio by catering to the high-res audio market.  BlueSound players are designed to stream high-res music files up to 24-bit/192KHz providing better more accurate sound.  BlueSound players will also stream Cloud music services and internet radio.  The BlueSound App is available on both iOS and Android.

Voco:   The Voco family of products includes two Audio Streamers, the Voco Zone and Zone+ plus the V-Spot powered media player.  Voco Zone players turn your exiting stereo into a streaming music player with iOS and Android control.  The Zone+ player allows for voice control.

The V-Spot is an all in one speaker/amplifier streaming music player.  Voco components stream from Android and iOS devices, as well as online music and internet radio services and iPod, MP3 or USB connected hard drives.  The Voco V-Spot can also act as a WiFi hotspot.  At this time Voco is only available in the United States.

Pure Audio:  Pure audio’s Jongo family of speakers and music streamers was designed and engineered in the UK and has a very Euro look and feel to them.  The Jongo line includes the Jongo A2 Adapter which converts your existing stereo into a streaming music player.  The Jongo T2 is a 20Watt wireless speaker, the J3 a 20W Portable speaker with 10 hour battery life and the T4 a 50W wireless speaker and T6 a 100W wireless speaker.  Jongo speakers and components come in a myriad of colors for classic white and black to funky red, yellow, orange, purple, blue and green.  Music streaming is controlled by Jongo’s Android or iOS app.

As you can see by the number of products and manufacturers the wireless multiroom audio is quickly becoming the defacto way we are going to be listening to our music now and in the future.

If you are interested in multiroom audio for your home or office give Doyle at Ion Security a call 780-489-5522 or email info@ionsecuritysystems.com.

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