Sonos opens new Berlin Flagship Store

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Sonos opens new Berlin Flagship Store

Multi room audio experts Sonos have opened a brand new flagship store in Berlin, following in the same (or similar) footsteps of the Covent Garden store opened in London at the end of 2017.

 Sonos Berlin Store

Sonos Berlin Store

 Sonos London Store (Covent Garden)

Sonos London Store (Covent Garden)

Much like their earlier Covent Garden store this new German Flagship store is set out so that each of it's listening rooms is like a real room in a house.  It's hard to experience a sound system in a shop, traditionally stores showcase stereo systems in either badly setup rows and stacks of equipment for visual/merchandising or special acousticly treated rooms, neither of which is like any room you would have at home.

 

Sonos new Berlin Store

By utilising room pods Sonos are offering you the chance to listen to their music system in a setup that replicates real life home use as closely as possible within a retail shop environment.

We’re not just designing a store to sell speakers

Of course there’s a retail component, but we really want to create a space where we can host events, spark conversations, bring people together and inspire them to listen out loud.
— Sonos Art Director - Julia Jeanguenat
 Sonos Flagship Store in Berlin

Sonos Flagship Store in Berlin

The pods that have been dubbed ‘Houses’ by Sonos are designed to simulate real life spaces with the feel of a bedroom, living room and kitchen.  The booths have specially designed soundproof doors and stylish decor and art from local artists.  Key to each experience is a tablet that lets listeners select, choose and control their music - The main selling point of the Sonos ecosystem.

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Dream Home Cinema Handover

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Dream Home Cinema Handover

Hans approached H3 Digital after purchasing a Laguna Homes house in Phuket, Thailand. He had a dream that he could house his extensive collection of rare, model Ferrari cars and at the touch of a button convert the room into a fully fledged home theatre.

 Home Cinema Bar Area.

Home Cinema Bar Area.

We custom designed a 7.1 THX Home Cinema (Front Left, Front Right, Centre, Side Left, Side Right, Rear Left, Rear Right and Subwoofer) which was then  paired with a motorized screen that dropped down in front of Hans’ display cabinet.  This specially designed cabinet house dhis collection of model Ferrari cars so he could enjoy his two favourite pastimes in the same room.

 Hans loves using his home cinema.

Hans loves using his home cinema.

We designed the front Klipsch speakers and subwoofer into a solid concrete surround to eliminate any vibrations to the display case. Philips Hue coloured Smart Lights complete the cinema experience and highlight his Ferrari collection, it’s all controlled from the Harmony Elite universal remote or his iPhone.

 Hans relaxing in his home cinema with a H3 Handover Pack.

Hans relaxing in his home cinema with a H3 Handover Pack.

If you'd like to enjoy watching movies in your very own cinema like Hans then get in contact with H3 Digital, we install home cinemas in Thailand (Phuket, Chiang Mai, Hua Hin, Bangkok) and Myanmar.

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Coffee Shop Sonos

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Coffee Shop Sonos

My wife recently opened up a coffee shop in Chiang Mai and asked for my assistance in setting up a ridiculously easy to use system that she'd never have to touch or worry about.  

CMCoffee.jpg

The answer was pretty obvious (to me).  She wanted something that sounded fantastic but that she wouldn't have to fiddle with. We coupled a Sonos Connect:Amp with a set of Roth Oli RA1 Stereo Bookshelf Speakers mounted directly to the walls.  These promised great sound and enabled us to use some of the Sonos cleverest features.

It had to be music but Incredibly simple was the main customer requirement - we solved this requirement by seting up a Sonos Alarm to come on every Mon-Fri at 8:00am for 9 Hours until she closes at 5:00pm.  Linked in to her Spotify account with a coffee shop playlist she can easily add and change music to her Spotify playlist from wherever she wants.

The music starts in the morning "as if by magic" and then stops just as she's closing up shop, I have a very happy customer (and wife) and her customers get to listen to a good selection of great sounding music.

Coffee Shop
ChiangMai Coffee Shop 3.jpg
Chiang Mai Coffee Shop.jpg

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Amayen a Sanctuary of Sound

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Amayen a Sanctuary of Sound

This week saw us up at Chiang Mai near the Doi Saket Hot springs at the invitation of Miguel from Amayen Sanctuary.  This beautiful hotel resort is a wellness haven to contrast the modern world with all it's hustle and bustle.

They offer a variety of relaxation and transformative guided meditation and Yoga with delicious organic plant based food, traditional massage all thrown in with a splash of comfort.

Amayen Sanctuary - Healthy Meals.jpg

Miguel was looking to add some new age ambiance to the resort and asked us if we could come up with some ideas for non-obtrusive speakers and sound, so that music could be played throughout the resort without sounding like a Disco.

Amayen Sanctuary - Wooden RIce Barn Rooms.jpg

We offered a mix of Rock speakers and architectural in-ceiling speakers from Nuvo Technologies and Roth Oli Bookshelf Speakers.

Amayen Sanctuary - Library.jpg
Handover of Music System

The result is beautiful, serene music piped throughout the resort unobtrusively - Most guests would find it hard to pick out the speaker locations or even see the rock speakers.  The more they get weathered, rained on or muddy the less discernable they become, within 6 months you wont be able to tell whats rock and whats speaker.

Rock Speakers

Find out more about Amayen at www.Amayen.com

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Apple Airplay2 coming to Sonos (mostly)

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Apple Airplay2 coming to Sonos (mostly)

Sonos yesterday shared a on it's blog a post detailing their integration with the upcoming Airplay 2 standard from Apple.

If you have a Sonos speaker, amplifier (Sonos Connect:Amp) or pre-amp (Sonos Connect) you will be able to listen to music just by clicking on their phone or asking Siri to put it on.  But only if you have the newer Sonos speakers like Play:5, Playbase and Sonos One, and (future Sonos products). When you group one of these Airplay-enabled speakers with older Sonos devices, you can bring AirPlay capabilities to your entire Sonos system.

 Apples Airplay 2

Apples Airplay 2

Sonos state;

As a Sonos owner, you’ve grown accustomed to these devices improving over time through software. As the hardware in newer products has advanced, we’re extremely proud to have introduced new features and services–like Audible and Spotify direct-control– to our entire lineup of speakers. Many of you have Sonos gear that’s over a decade old and is still getting better every day.

But like with laptops and mobile phones, sophisticated new features sometimes require new hardware. For example, adding voice control to the Sonos system required us to build a microphone into Sonos One. Thanks to the way we’ve architected the system, adding just one Sonos device with voice capability means you can now control your whole Sonos system with your voice, including those older devices that didn’t have a microphone built in when we first released them years ago.

AirPlay 2 works in a similar way. The computing platforms and software architecture in some of the older Sonos players like Play:3 and Play:1 simply don’t have the horsepower to support AirPlay 2. The original Play:1, for example, has about 1/16th the processing power of its modern equivalent, the Sonos One. But by taking advantage of newer Sonos hardware, we’re able to make AirPlay 2 content available throughout the house on speakers old and new.
— Sonos Blog

Which all sounds great, except now the Sonos Platform is being broken into can-do and can't-do pieces, which is going to get confusing for many and frustrating for others.

 Apples Airplay 2

Apples Airplay 2

So in reality, only the newer speakers work properly with Apples Airplay2, the rest of your Sonos hardware can basically listen in - by being grouped with that zone, which is basically a bit of a cumbersome bodge if you ask me.  Of course they can listen to whats playing on another zone, thats the whole idea of the system - Except that now if you want to control the system through your Apple gear it's not going to work properly if you have older devices.

The Sonos Blog goes on to state;

This kind of innovation is unique in the technology industry. Can you imagine being able to buy a new phone that brings new functionality to your old phone? Not all Sonos speakers can support all the latest features, but through the magic of software, thoughtful system design, and a general disdain for forced obsolesce, we’ll do our best to make sure your investment in Sonos truly gets richer and more immersive over time.
— Sonos Blog
 Only 2 of the above components will work with Airplay2.

Only 2 of the above components will work with Airplay2.

Which in reality is a bit of a kick in the teeth to most owners who have a bit of (or any) technical knowledge.  Their new speakers aren't bringing functionality to the older ecosystem, they are sharing their music to a group.  Much the same as I can plug a CD Player into my Sonos ZP100 and share it to any other Sonos component by grouping them.  It's not new functionality, sharing whats playing on one component to another, its the premise of the whole system - except now it's going to be borked if you try to use it with AirPlay2.

 

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Networks are Ubiquitous in the Smart Home

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Networks are Ubiquitous in the Smart Home

u·biq·ui·tous
adjective
present, appearing, or found everywhere.

Our origins began with networking, we started the company up nearly 15 years ago after being brought in to wire home technology, at that time mainly wired networks and control systems into Villas in Phuket. At that time we had to import all of the Network Infrastructure Products into Thailand, Cat-6 cable, Gigabit Networks, Switches and Routers.

Home networking has always been a bit of a dark art, drilling down DOS command lines in windows to see what IP addresses are on the network, not much fun.

 Ubiquiti Networking Products

Ubiquiti Networking Products

Starting this year we have begun offering the very well thought of Ubiquiti Networks range of products, including the security gateway (router), powered and unpowered switches, access points and their range of IP Cameras.  Home networks are now complicated and congested and the Unifi controller (a web based GUI) that works with the Ubiquiti gear is a godsend.

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With the Unifi GUI we are able to track what individual IP Addresses and MAC addresses are doing and see in realtime exactly what's happening across the network.  We can rename all the network connections user friendly names and administer the network in a much more useful manner. 

 Ubiquiti GUI (Graphical User Interface)

Ubiquiti GUI (Graphical User Interface)

Ubiquiti networks are a game changer in the home network space, recently suffering from a rash of Spotify connection problems with my Sonos music system these disappeared immediately on upgrading my own home to all Ubiquiti Network Gear.  I could see exactly what all of my networked equipment was doing at a glance.

 Ubiquiti IP Cameras

Ubiquiti IP Cameras

We will be recommending Ubiquiti equipment with new installs when customers want us to help design and build their home networks, it's a little pricier than off-the-shelf consumer equipment but definitely worth it - to have a more robust and customisable network.  Especially when you consider how much of our entertainment, private and work lives is so reliant on the internet.

 

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Amazon rumoured to be developing a robot for your home

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Amazon rumoured to be developing a robot for your home

Amazon, who only as recently as 4 years ago introduced the world to their Amazon Echo smart speaker, are rumoured to be developing a robot for the home.

Codenamed “Vesta,” after the Roman goddess of the hearth, home and family, the project is overseen by the Amazon’s Lab126 hardware research division, currently there are listings on their job page for “Software Engineer, Robotics” and “Principle Sensors Engineer” helping to fuel speculation.

Jeff Bezos and Robot Dog

According to insider the Vesta project originated a few years ago, Jeff Bezos hosts the invitation only MARS conference every year which is entirely dedicated to machine learning, home automation, robotics and space exploration.

Amazon have a clear advantage here, they already have a division called Amazon Robotics which designs, builds and deploys robots to run their Amazon Warehouses which is a originated as a company called Kiva Systems that they bought back in 2012 for $775 million.

Atari Robot

Robots in the home have been the holy grail of technology with a long line of famous technology companies trying their hand at bringing them to the masses, Nolan Bushel founder of Atari is shown here with his Topo Bot which could be programmed by Apple II.  Could Amazon be the company to bring Robots mainstream for the very first time?

 

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Home Cinemas of the Rich and Famous - The Whitehouse

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Home Cinemas of the Rich and Famous - The Whitehouse

The White House Home Cinema (If you can call it that) is a small movie theater located in the White House in Washington, D.C. It is for the use of of the President of the United States and his family.

 The cinema in the Whitehouse is decorated in Movie Palace Red.

The cinema in the Whitehouse is decorated in Movie Palace Red.

Converted from a cloakroom in 1942 on the orders of Franklin Roosevelt (the 32nd President of the USA) the room was originally called the Hat Box in it's first guise as a cloakroom.  Prior to this there was no screening room for watching movies and film viewings were set up temporarily in the main building.

 Barack Obama watching Superbowl on the big screen at the Whitehouse Theatre.

Barack Obama watching Superbowl on the big screen at the Whitehouse Theatre.

There are 42 seats in the home theatre which was renovated with the help of the motion picture industry through the 1980's and then during George.W.Bush's Presidency redecorated in it's current "movie palace red".

 3d Cinema night at the Whitehouse.

3d Cinema night at the Whitehouse.

 Whitehouse Cinema Seating

Whitehouse Cinema Seating

As of 1988, Jimmy Carter had viewed more films in the White House Family Theater than any other person, having watched 480 films in the facility during his four-year term beginning with All The President's Men.

According to a list of film screenings obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request filed by Gizmodo, the first film watched by Bill Clinton in the White House Family Theater was Lorenzo's Oil on January 27, 1993. The final film watched was Chocolat on January 6, 2001.  The first film screened during the presidency of Donald Trump was Finding Dory.

 President Reagan and his wife Nancy enjoy a screening in the Whitehouse Cinema.

President Reagan and his wife Nancy enjoy a screening in the Whitehouse Cinema.

Other interesting factoids about the Whitehouse Home Theatre are;

President Kennedy watched ‘From Russia with Love’ the night before he was killed.
Carter watched the first X-rated movie ever in the White House – ‘Midnight Cowboy’
George W. Bush enjoyed Austin Powers and he personally called to request ‘The Hunt for Red October’.

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Sonos ONE available in New Colours!

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Sonos ONE available in New Colours!

Sonos has launched their Alexa compatible Sonos ONE Speakers in a range of new colours.

Designed in partnership with Danish design firm HAY the Sonos ONE speakers will soon be available in Yellow, Green and Red. The new colourful smart speakers are identical to the black and white Sonos speakers except they will cost around 15% more.

 Sonos One in Yellow

Sonos One in Yellow

Releasing them in September this year, Sonos hope to capture those buying Smart Speakers for the Xmas Holidays, the busiest time of year.   Last Holiday period competitor Amazon sold "tens of millions" of its Alexa powered speakers and devices.

Sonos says that it has picked the fairly constant colours of its speakers to ensure they blend into the places they live: 

 Sonos ONE in Colours

Sonos ONE in Colours

Our speakers aren’t designed to claim attention, but to blend naturally into their surroundings
— Tad Toulis, Sonos VP Design
Colour is one of the most important tools in the design process, and it was very important we didn’t just create a colour scale that looked beautiful . Colours can hide completely and disappear, or provide contras

These speakers deserve to be treated like furniture: strong, independent objects that fit different needs and spaces
— Mette Hay, CoFounder Hay Design

Sonos also announced that the Sonos ONE will be fully compatible with Apples new Airplay2 system when they finally launch it.  It's likely that this is limited to the Sonos ONE speaker so if you want a whole house to use Apples newest music streaming technology then that's the way to go.

 

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Spotify Lists on NYSE

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Spotify Lists on NYSE

Spotify Lists on NYSE as SPOT

The day before yesterday Daniel Ek the Founder and CEO of Spotify, who started the company in Stockholm in 2006, made this blog post to describe what was happening.

"Tomorrow, Spotify becomes a listed public company on the New York Stock Exchange. And it feels like the right time to pause and acknowledge the thousands of Spotify employees around the globe who helped build out the Spotify ecosystem while staying true to who we are and what we believe. You make me proud to come in and learn and work alongside all of you.

Lots of people have asked me how I feel about tomorrow’s listing. Of course, I am proud of what we’ve built over the last decade. But what’s even more important to me is that tomorrow does not become the most important day for Spotify.

It’s the day after, and the following day that matters — and all those days to come. Because that’s when we will continue the hard and important work of our mission: To unlock the potential of human creativity — by giving a million creative artists the opportunity to live off their art and billions of fans the opportunity to enjoy and be inspired by it.

Spotify is not raising capital, and our shareholders and employees have been free to buy and sell our stock for years. So while tomorrow puts us on a bigger stage, it doesn’t change who we are, what we are about, or how we operate. 

This is why we are doing things a little differently.

Normally, companies ring bells. Normally, companies spend their day doing interviews on the trading floor touting why their stock is a good investment. Normally, companies don’t pursue a direct listing. While I appreciate that this path makes sense for most, Spotify has never been a normal kind of company. As I mentioned during our Investor Day, our focus isn’t on the initial splash. Instead, we will be working on trying to build, plan, and imagine for the long term.

Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we stumble. The constant is that we believe we are still early in our journey and we have room to learn and grow.

I have no doubt that there will be ups and downs as we continue to innovate and establish new capabilities. Nothing ever happens in a straight line — the past ten years have certainly taught me that. My job is to ensure that we keep our foot on the pedal during the ups, so that we don’t become complacent, and that we continue to stay the course with a firm grip on the wheel during the downs.

We have a lot to do — we are only in the second inning — and I'm more excited than ever for the future.

Remember, tomorrow is just another day in our journey to fulfill our mission.

Harder, better, faster, stronger."

 Spotify Reception in NY

Spotify Reception in NY

 Spotify Meeting Area

Spotify Meeting Area

 Open Area in Spotify NY City

Open Area in Spotify NY City

 Meeting Room in Spotify NY

Meeting Room in Spotify NY

Yesterday the shares closed at around $150 each making Spotify worth just over $26 Billion.  Currently Spotify has revenues of over $5 Billion a year but is yet to make a profit, it pays nearly 3/4 of that money directly to Record Labels, Producers, Singers, Groups, Artists etc...  It's thought that renegotiating some of those deals and making more money from paying customers and advertising (for their free listeners) will push them into profit as the company moves forward.

 

 

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Oppo Digital ceases production

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Oppo Digital ceases production

 Oppo's 4k Blu Ray Player

Oppo's 4k Blu Ray Player

Oppo Digital who have wowed fans with their great featured Blu Ray and 4K players have declared ‘as Oppo 4K UHD players reach the pinnacle of their performance, it is time to say goodbye’.

Oppo have a fantastic reputation for value for money, in electronics generally and especially for home cinema fans, many of whom have owned or followed their excellent Blu Ray players.  Their latest player the UDP205 is a 4k player that has been lauded as reference quality by many users.

Oppos press release states that they will continue to trade whilst stocks last and warranty claims will be valid and spares available in the short term.  The Oppo Digital UK press announcement clearly states that the UK arm of the company will operate ‘while stocks last’, and ‘expects to close its doors in the summer’.

 Oppos High End Blu Ray Player

Oppos High End Blu Ray Player

‘We can be very proud of our achievements over the past few years. Along with market leading products, we have provided first rate customer service and support from our offices here in Norwich. I am very proud of our staff and very sad that we will now be closing our doors for good. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our European distributors, retailers and, of course most importantly, the people that have purchased OPPO products in Europe. We will continue to support products in and out of warranty and we have made provisions to continue this high level of service.’
— Oppo Digital UK’s Managing Director, Nigel Rich

 

 

 

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Amazon overtake Google

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Amazon overtake Google

 Amazons Alexa range of products

Amazons Alexa range of products

Amazon moved ahead of Google parent Alphabet on Tuesday  to become the United States second-most valuable company based on stock price.  Still way behind Apple.

The market capitalization of Amazon stands currently at $768 billion on Tuesday, ahead of Alphabet which is around $762 billion.  Apple is at $889 billion.

These three companies are at the forefront of the battle for your smart home with Apples Homekit and Homepod, Googles Home and Amazons Alexa technology.

 Apple's Homepod

Apple's Homepod

 Google's Home range

Google's Home range

Amazon has been on a fast rise to the top of late. It passed Microsoft for third place in market capitalization on Feb. 14. 

 Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon

Amazon owner Jeff Bezos is currently the worlds richest person with Forbes putting his net worth at around $131.1 billion. with his 16% stake in Amazon, which he founded in a Seattle garage in 1994.
 

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