Audio

Atlantic Ships FS5 Front Stage Soundbar

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Atlantic Ships FS5 Front Stage Soundbar

Atlantic Technology starts shipping the FS5 Front Stage speaker system-- a flagship soundbar containing all 3 front-channel theatre speakers in a single enclosure 127cm long and just 7.6cm deep.

Such dimensions allow installers to wall-mount the soundbar using built-in keyhole brackets, place it on a shelf or use it with the Atlantic Shelf-2405 to add a shelf directly to the flat screen TV.

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Onkyo Launches LS7200 Soundbar

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Onkyo Launches LS7200 Soundbar

Onkyo presents the LS7200-- a soundbar system featuring object-based Dolby Atmos and DTS:X technology together with wireless audio via support for DTS Play-Fi, AirPlay and FireConnect multi-room distribution.

Part of the Envision Cinema portfolio, the LS7200 is a 3-piece number consisting of a soundbar, wireless subwoofer and an "AV Centre" control unit. The slim soundbar has a 53mm profile, is wall-mountable and carries a driver array consisting of 2 speakers each for the left, right and centre channels, plus single height speakers. It connects to the AV Centre via multichannel audio cable, and uses AccuEQ acoustic calibration to adjust sound to individual spaces.

In turn the AV Centre offers x4 HDMI inputs for the connection of media players and game consoles, and connects to TVs via HDMI cable with Audio Return Channel to enhance broadcast TV audio. For the playback of content from mobile devices the soundbar uses DTS Play-Fi technology able to hand the simultaneous casting of multiple streams to different speakers without interruption. AirPlay, selectable 5/2.4GHz wifi and Bluetooth connectivity are also included, as is Spotify Connect support.

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Apple Intros (PRODUCT)RED Solo3 Headphones, Pill+ Speaker

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Apple Intros (PRODUCT)RED Solo3 Headphones, Pill+ Speaker

Apple announces (PRODUCT)RED options of the Beats Solo3 wireless headphones and the Pill+ speaker through the addition of a "Citrus Red" colour option for the two products.

The brightly coloured versions of two audio devices are listed on the Apple website as "coming soon," and should identically priced to the regular options.

Apple has a long relationship with the (PRODUCT)RED charity, regularly offering such versions of products and forwarding all proceeds to the fight against AIDS and HIV through research and education. It also runs (PRODUCT)RED promotions around World AIDS Day on 1 December, and says it contributed over $100 million through the sale of such devices.

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Soundcast Makes Comeback With VG1

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Soundcast Makes Comeback With VG1

Wireless audio specialist Soundcast announces the VG1-- a premium Bluetooth speaker designed for both indoor and outdoor listening through shock- and water-resistant construction.

The speaker features 2-inch drivers complete with neodymium magnets, a rear-firing weighted bass radiator and digital sound processing. It also features Siri compatibility, meaning users can control it hands-free with the Apple voice-control platform, and a built-in microphone allows customers to take calls.

On-board controls include volume and pause/play, and Soundcast claims the built-in battery powers the speaker for up to 15 hours on a single charge. One can also pair two VG1 speakers for dedicated left and write playback via Bluetooth True Wireless Stereo (TWS).

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JLab Audio Intros Wirless Epic Air Buds

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JLab Audio Intros Wirless Epic Air Buds

JLab Audio announces a wireless followup to the Epic2 earbuds-- the Epic Air, a pair of Apple Airpod-style wireless earbuds featuring an optional earhook doubling as a Bluetooth booster.

According to the company the Epic Air last for around 6 hours on a single charge, with the included charging case adding up to 30 hours of battery life if fully charged up. The earbuds are IPX5-rated, making them resistant to splashes and sweat, while the charging case can also charge smartphones and other devices.

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KEF Ditches Cables With LS50 Wireless

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KEF Ditches Cables With LS50 Wireless

KEF celebrates its 55th anniversary with the LS50 Wireless-- an update of the well-regarded LS50 passive speakers promising the same acoustics of the original within a wireless design.

Powering the LS50 Wireless is Uni-Q technology consisting of 25mm aluminium dome tweeters positioned in the centre of a 13cm magnesium/aluminium alloy low-frequency driver, as well as a baffle identical to that in the original LS50s. It also carries "audiophile-grade" amplification in the shape of two 230W amplifiers in a bi-amp dual mono configuration and an advanced time-correcting DSP crossover the company says provides perfect time alignment between low and high frequencies.

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Apple Online Store Starts Selling Sonos

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Apple Online Store Starts Selling Sonos

The Apple online store in a number of European countries is now selling the Sonos Play:1 and Play:5 wireless speakers, together with the company's Boost wifi booster.

The countries in question are Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and the UK. Purchase of the speakers from Apple.com includes a free 3-month Apple Music gift card, an offer valid until 31 December 2016. Of course, Apple.com sells other audio products, including the Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay portable Bluetooth speaker, the Harman Kardon Aura Plus wireless speaker system and the Devialet Phantom wireless speaker, among others.

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Plantronics Intros BackBeat Pro 2 Headphones

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Plantronics Intros BackBeat Pro 2 Headphones

Plantronics follows up on the wireless noise-cancelling BackBeat Pro headphones with the predictably named BackBeat Pro 2-- a sequel featuring the same features within a streamlined redesign.

While the first BackBeat Pro headphones had a chunky design fitting physical buttons for volume and track skip controls, the BackBeat Pro 2 carries the same buttons within slimmer oval earcups. The company says the earcup design fits more ears, and makes the headphones 15% lighter and 35% smaller.

Connectivity comes through Class 1 Bluetooth (provides up to 100m of range and simultaneous connection with up to 2 devices), and Plantronics claims the batteries still last for up to 24 hours on a single charge. Audio is tuned to emphasise further on the bass, while the active noise cancellation promises to drown out background clutter. On the other hand an open-listening mode allows one to listen to outside noise.

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KEF Joins Porsche in Wireless Audio

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KEF Joins Porsche in Wireless Audio

High-end audio vendor KEF announces a partnership with Porsche Design-- one resulting in 3 pieces of wireless audio gear, the Gravity One speaker, the Space One noise-canceling headphones and the Motion One in-ear headphones.

The Gravity One is a small battery-powered Bluetooth speaker, if one hiding a passive radiator the company says delivers high quality bass by responding to the air movements generated by the amplifier-driven active drivers. A battery promises up to 10 hours of use on a single charge, a 3.5mm jack is included and all comes inside an aluminium unibody.

Meanwhile the Space One headphones are a super-sized version of a previous KEF-Porsche collaboration, the M500 headphones. They carry 400mm dynamic drivers inside an aluminium skeleton wrapped in faux leather on the headband and earcups, and feature active noise cancellation KEF claims lasts for 50 hours on a single AAA battery.

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Ultimate Ears Boom 2 Speaker Gets Siri

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Ultimate Ears Boom 2 Speaker Gets Siri

Logitech's Ultimate Ears announces the integration of Siri in the UE Boom 2 speaker, as well as a "PartyUp" feature allowing users to simultaneously pair "more than 50" of the Bluetooth speakers.

As the company puts it, PartyUp allows owners of Boom, Boom 2 and Megaboom wireless speakers to create a giant wall of sound, with all connected speakers controlled through a single app-equipped smartphone. It also says engineers have tested the feature to reach up to 140 UE speakers, although we suspect 4 or 5 speakers would be more than enough for most users.

"Take your music where no other portable Bluetooth speaker can go," UE says. "Caves. Mountains. Lakes. Rooftops. You name it. So grab your speaker and your friend’s speakers, and take the party to a new level. Wherever. Whenever."

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The Opportunity in Assistant-Equipped Speakers

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The Opportunity in Assistant-Equipped Speakers

According to Gartner the market for what it calls virtual personal assistant (VPA-)enabled wireless speakers is set to to boom from $360 million in 2015 to $2.1 billion in 2020, with 3.3% of households adopting such a speaker by 2020.

"Last year, the VPA speaker market essentially consisted of end-user spending focused entirely on Amazon Echo, a wireless speaker with an array of embedded microphones to capture and respond to users' far-field voice commands for Amazon's VPA-- Alexa. Later, Amazon introduced the Tap and Echo Dot," the analyst says. "By 2020, competitors' products and third-party implementations of leading VPAs (Google Assistant, Apple's Siri and Microsoft's Cortana) will likely have ramped up."

VPA speakers, especially wall-powered ones, allow for customers to own and install multiple devices around the home. The value of such speakers comes from ease of use and the intuitive means of interaction, and if all household members recognise such value it will drive the desire for terminal access throughout the entire house, and not just one room.

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