Sonos is about to be well and truly challenged in the multi-room arena as Samsung says “game on”, bringing in some audio heavy hitters to make its speakers sound bigger and better.
Where ever we go, we are dependent on sound. So much so that if you see someone on a bus or train without headphones, it’s possible that they’re either sleeping, hoping for quiet, or frustrated that they just left their pair at home and are forced to listen to everyday ambient noise instead of their own tunes.
Seriously, look around and you’ll see personal audio everywhere. If we’re travelling by ourselves, there’s a good chance that we’re listening to music most of the time.
When we go home, for many of us, it doesn’t stop. On goes the stereo, the television, the Bluetooth speaker system, playing the songs off Spotify, Google Play, or Apple Music that we love, or even tuned into the constant conversation that is radio.
At the TV level, many of us have surround sound, as it has become common, and soundbars are helping to bring that to more living rooms due to smaller products sizes, less setup, and no fuss.
But while soundbars are great for one room of the house, the current big playing field for audio isn’t just the living room, it’s every other room, and usually all at once.
Called “multiroom” audio by those in the know, these are speakers that talk to other speakers, synchronising audio and letting you hear it in every room you walk into.
Sonos practically invented this category, but some of the other players like Sony and Samsung have been pushing into it, and this week, Samsung showed off its wares for the 2015 season, just getting in there with only a couple of months to go.
Like the previous attempts by Samsung, these speakers can be controlled by an app and synced together, talking throughout your home to disperse audio.
They can be set up with alarms and they can talk to soundbars, so if you decide to get an ice cream while you’re rewatching “Star Wars”, you can still hear the audio throughout the house as you walk towards the kitchen and back. No need to stop the movie until you get back.
They offer Bluetooth support and the ability to play back 24-bit 192kHz audio, but really, the constant connection to other speakers is one of the main reasons new wireless speakers are built, and engineering this constant connection is only one part of the equation, because good sound has to be built by people who understand it.
Samsung has never had a big problem in sound, mind you, but it has been clear in the past few years that the company was on a warpath to take down other players.
We started seeing a change in the company when it began to accomodate older styles of technology — the vacuum tube, for instance, though it was mostly there for looks — and that kind of signalled that it wasn’t going to be all about digital perfection for the company, as it looked to new ways to recreate audio for the general public.