We all love sound and music and listening to people play the songs we love, and we have all of this at home usually through speakers in one room of the house, but so many of us don’t even know what multi-room audio is.
For those who have never heard of the concept, it is essentially what it sounds like: audio sent to multiple rooms in your home or office.
Imagine if you had speakers in your living room, your kitchen, your bathroom and bedroom and study, and imagine if the music you wanted to play could be linked between the rooms, so as you walked from one room to another, you heard the music in each location.
The music could be stored on your home network via a network drive, your mobile phone or tablet, or even streamed from services such as Spotify, Pandora, or Google Play Music, and sent to every speaker in your home, or just a few.
That’s multi-room audio, and it has kind of been the domain of Sonos for years now, as Sonos was the company that got this concept mainstream, but one of the downsides of the multi-room solutions produced by almost every company out there (Sonos, Samsung, LG, Sony, etc) has been how you were locked into speakers made by those companies.
Panasonic has taken a different approach with its multi-room solution, going with the “AllPlay” standard, which was developed by mobile chip maker Qualcomm and allows several speaker brands to work in the same home provided they’re based on the AllPlay technology.
The first few models saw the light of day late last year from Panasonic, and while they looked good, they appeared to be just “me too” sort of efforts, replicating what Sonos and Samsung and LG and every other multi-room maker did.
This year, though, Panasonic is thinking out of the box.
In fact, the 2015 range of Panasonic multi-room gear sticks with the Qualcomm AllPlay concept, but allows you to rely on media you may already have stacks of, instead of asking you to convert all your CDs to files for a hard drive in your home.
Instead, the Panasonic SC-ALL5CD will consist of an AllPlay speaker with a CD player built into it, allowing you to stream CDs to other AllPlay-compatible speakers, sharing your favourite titles around your home.
The ALL5CD also has a different look to it than the regular AllPlay speakers we’ve seen, and relies on a Class D amplifier to cut down on interference and distortion, while the design is such that is can actually be mounted to a wall if need be.
And if CD audio isn’t what you want around your home, consider radio playback, with the ALL5CD supporting DAB+ on the local unit and streaming this to other AllPlay connected speakers.
While we’re not sure everyone will necessarily want to listen to radio in every speaker in the home, we suspect people who can’t live without hearing their favourite programme will be intrigued by the idea that the radio will follow them from room to room provided they have enough speakers.
Panasonic has also showed a slightly smaller AllPlay speaker for people who may already have something like the ALL5CD, or who may even be interested in the ALL5CD and outfitting the rest of the home with smaller speakers.
This year, that smaller speaker is the SC-ALL2, a compact box of a speaker that incorporates an 80mm speaker, Bluetooth connectivity, support for the AllPlay streams from both the speakers in the home or from the app on a smartphone or tablet.
There’s no word yet on pricing for either model, but you should see the smaller ALL2 speaker in stores in June, while the larger CD-ready ALL5CD will land in retail and electrical stores in July.