Category Archives: Released in 2014

Clint Asgard

asgaardfootWith their Asgard line of speakers, tiny Clint are barking awfully loud, namewise. If their bark matches their muscle remains to be seen but the speakers do look rather cool. There is no doubt that with every competitor Sonos face, their users get a better product and users of multi-room streaming audio components in general will have a larger selection and thus be happier people. It is this extended selection that Asgard is part of.

The line consists of three speakers. Two versions of the small 7W Freya, one Bluetooth and one Wi-fi, and the larger Odin supporting both Bluetooth and Wi-fi. Asgard speakers can be fed from a Bluetooth audio source or via Wi-fi from a NAS or streaming service, as well as via Apple Airplay. The interesting part, of course, is that they can form a multi-room solution and run 4 speakers in concert, albeit only when running on Wi-fi.

The Odin speaker offers a modest 25W of class-D power in a 57cm floor standing pondus and supports the mainstay of formats, incl. 192KHz/24-bit flac. Control is limited to iOS and Android apps.

Naim Mu-So In The Lottery


Naim Mu-SoNaim have put a Naim Mu-So up for draws among customers who purchase a Hi-resolution digital album from their music shop. The Mu-So is Naim’s take on a wireless, monolithic speaker to compete with products such as B&W Zeppelin. Inline with Naim’s usual graphic style, the Mu-So has a visual punch unlike most other products in its genre. It streams everything up to 24-bit/192kHz Flac on a wired connection and plays it back at 75W per channel. Unusual among its peers it supports multi-room streaming with more Mu-Sos connected and is controlled by either an iOS or Android device or via the [equally] unusually rudimentary remote that comes with the package.

Audio Streaming Tidal Wave

Streaming services such as Spotify and WiMP are becoming as ubiquitous as Dr. Martens at a 1980’s punk concert. Unfortunately the audio quality is often not far from that either; the boots. When Swedish Aspiro, who are the powers behind WiMP, announced Tidal, a new streaming service for audiophiles, it was not without a certain anticipation and definitely not without a certain skepticism from audio boffins. In September and October they touched down in USA, UK and Canada, and with limited access in a number of other countries. Likely a judicial matter. Judging from their web page, they are now getting ready to take on mainland Europe as well. “Can I get it now, or must I hesitate?” to quote one song, “First we take Manhattan…” to quote another.

Tidal is available on major platforms, Android, iOS, Windows and Mac, and integrates with Squeezebox, Sonos, Linn and Simple Audio. Highest streaming quality is Flac at 1411kpbs, which amounts to 16bit/44.1KHz. Not hi-res but definitely a major leap in online audio.

Windows 10 Going Flac

Microsoft Windows 10 will ship with a new version of Windows Media Player that supports Flac natively. Not only is this a giant nod from a giant to a fine file format, it will also put Flac on the tongue of more people and thus help propagate high definition music. Restrictions on bandwidth and storage have long been poor excuses for playing MP3 files. Now another excuse seems to dematerialise.

The news comes from Microsoft’s own Gabriel Aul in a slightly mysterious tweet.

Sonos Going Multi [in a small way]

One criticism that Sonos has had to dodge from the beginning is support for multiple users. While there are no signs that this is to arrive any time soon, they are now showing a little love for those households with more than one person in them. This family pattern is in fact not wildly uncommon.

Streaming services in Sonos works really well as it is but with a new software update, you will now be able to set up these services with multiple accounts. If this can be regarded as a step towards multiple Sonos accounts remains to be seen but a step in the right direction, it certainly is.

Sonos Goes Simple

sonosboost One of Sonos’ strength is its proprietary grid network where at least one component is wired to the network and the remaining units form a wireless grid around the wired ones. The grid is stable but also contributes to radio wave pollution in the home. Now Sonos have updated their software to allow components to connect to an existing wireless network without the leash. The obvious advantage of this new update is that the Bridge in many cases will be obsolete. Should you wish to, however, you can still wire as many components as you wish and thus increase stability. In fact the Bridge will still be available in the future.

It may sound strange then, that they will be releasing a new bridge in October. The Sonos Boost. This will be a more powerful version of the Bridge and should be a welcome addition to setups where wifi quality is hampered by large distances or thick walls.

Denon Heos

denonheos5

Hifi ubiquity Denon has entered the multiroom streaming scene that Logitech so abruptly left last year. While not the only Sonos alternative around, the Heos is certainly the most affordable and Denon sufficiently household to actually pose a serious competitor of Sonos.

The Heos system consists of a three self-contained speakers not unlike the Play components from Sonos. At the moment there are no reception-only units á la Sonos Connect but given Denon’s serious line-up of hifi-equipment, it would be surprising if they didn’t add a receiver to the system. There is a Heos Amp that can feed a self supplied set of speakers with 2x100w akin to the Sonos Connect:Amp. Everything is controlled by an app for Android or iOS. None for Windows Phone, alas. The Heos system operates on traditional wifi and/or ethernet connections and does not require a bridge, thus also does not ruggedise its streaming by way of a grid such as Sonos.

Supported file formats ranges the usual except high resolution audio and certain levels of DRM. Files can be fetched from network sources or from directly attached media such as USB sticks and optical or analogue inputs and from there shared across the Heos system.

Already announced, according to Recordere.dk, are extra speakers, a subwoofer and a soundbar.

Sonos Breaking Backwards Compatibility

If you use older Apple units to control your Sonos, you probably noticed that the latest controller update doesn’t install. That often suggests a future break in compatibility and sure enough, today Sonos announced that they will stop supporting iOS 4 and iOS 5 units, such as older iPods and 1st generation iPads. While it is perfectly understandable that they want to minimise their development efforts and focus on operating systems actually supported by their vendors, it is also a bit of a blow, since many old iPods have found their way to nooks and crannies of households all over the world, functioning as nice little music controllers. These time proven devices have now lost their last function.

There is no date set for the next Sonos update but it is likely imminent and given the announcement, likely to introduce some core communication changes.

Foobar2000 Makes the Proverbial Small Step for Mankind

Foobar2000 has been the benchmark for exceptional audio quality in software media players for years and any step forward is a step towards heaven. Now the team is getting ready for a jump of extraordinary proportions, the jump to mobile. Not just any mobile, but the lot. They go for iOS, Andriod and Windows Phone, and a jolly hurra for that. One of the new team members, is Steve Elkins of dbPoweramp; talk about audiophile name dropping!

There is fundraiser going to support the project. There are several phases depending on the amount of money being raised, the final one being a complete cloud solution.

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