Cinema and media rooms were once the preserve of the super-rich, but recently more affordable ‘plug and play’ options have become available, bringing the connected home within the means of the mass market.
Music streaming and multi-room speaker devices are gathering momentum, as shown by innovative products such as Google’s Chromecast Audio, a small and affordable device that plugs into your device and streams music straight to your speaker.
Likewise, multi-room speaker systems from Sonos continue to enjoy mass appeal, as do products by Bose, which has recently launched its SoundTouch 10 wireless music system. This can stream millions of songs from music services, internet radio stations and your stored music library into your home.
Another familiar brand entering the multi-room speaker space is Roberts Radio, which has launched its Stream 65i wireless multi-room sound system. This is a first for the British brand as its primary use isn’t radio. In addition to FM, DAB and DAB+ tuners, it features wireless connectivity, access to millions of songs via Spotify Connect and a choice of over 20,000 internet radio stations and podcasts. You can also listen to your personal music collection by streaming directly from your PC or Mac.
Of course, streaming isn’t just about convenience, it’s also about the quality of the sound. One technology that’s expected to take off in this area is MQA, an innovative sound format developed by Bob Stuart at Meridian.
MQA captures every detail and nuance from original master recordings. Unlike many audio-coding methods, no music is thrown away: all that’s removed is any blurring caused during eroding or digital encoding. The timeaccurate musical detail captured by the MQA process is then ‘ folded’ into a format that looks like a regular CD-quality file. This can then be streamed or downloaded to portable devices.
It’s an exciting development. Nearly everyone hears music now via MP3 or ceiling speakers, so that they don’t hear the high-quality sounds that artists and producers have invested so much in perfecting. MQA is a chance to hear the most accurate representation yet of what was recorded.
While streaming may be leading the way, it looks as though its future will be shared with vinyl, as this old format finds a new lease of life. VNYL, the vinyl record subscription service, has launched TRNTBL, the first internet of things record player that also streams music wirelessly from your mobile device.
TRNTBL comes integrated with Sonos and Spotify, and it can automatically identify the music spinning on your vinyl, so you can share it quickly to social media.