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#382942 - 09/19/12 09:28 AM Designing The Axiom Airplay Speaker
Amie Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 02/06/02
Posts: 1620
Here's your chance to help us design the perfect speaker! We think there is a need on the market today for a pair of audiophile-quality Airplay-enabled speakers, for people who like both great sound and easy-to-use products.

We're intrigued by the possibility of creating an Airplay Speaker that allows for easy interfacing with an iTunes account running anywhere on your home network.

We’ve been tossing ideas around internally, but we would really love to hear what you are looking for in a networked speaker. Do you think it's enough to be Airplay-enabled only, or do you think Android is where it's at and that we need to look at a speaker solution that supports both MAC and Android operating systems? What about Bluetooth?

How important is portability to you? Is it enough to have a pair of speakers you could just plug into a wall outlet anywhere in the range of your Wifi network that would stream music from your iTunes, or do you want something with a battery pack so that you can take it outside with you?

Stereo, or single speaker solution?

We’d love to hear your thoughts – help us design the perfect speaker!
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Amie Colquhoun
Axiom Audio

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#382944 - 09/19/12 09:59 AM Re: Designing The Axiom Airplay Speaker [Re: Amie]
Ken.C Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 17768
Loc: NoVA
Stereo, hands down.

I'm not sure if there is yet an Android equivalent to Airplay, but if there is, it should be pursued.

I suspect that bluetooth is not long range enough.

I personally am not interested in a battery pack, but if you could make the power supply internal to the speaker so there is not a wall wart to deal with, that would be appreciated.

Size wise, I'd like something in the M3 range, maybe M2. Maybe both!
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#382945 - 09/19/12 10:18 AM Re: Designing The Axiom Airplay Speaker [Re: Amie]
Amie Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 02/06/02
Posts: 1620
That's a great observation on the wallwart - I know how much rearranging I have to do on my powerbars to configure all the different shapes.

There seem to be apps designed to let you create an Airplay Receiver out of just about anything (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.bubblesoft.android.airbubble&hl=en), and other apps designed to let you use an Android device to run them (eg http://evolver.fm/appdb/app/honey-player)
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Amie Colquhoun
Axiom Audio

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#382948 - 09/19/12 10:28 AM Re: Designing The Axiom Airplay Speaker [Re: Amie]
pmbuko Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 04/02/03
Posts: 16273
Loc: Leesburg, Virginia
Oh, yes! I'm partial to Apple products, so AirPlay only support would be fine by me, but you'd be able to snag a wider market by including Bluetooth, so I think that's a must.

Stereo, for sure. Portability would be great, too. I once lugged my Audiobytes (sans sub) to a cabin in the woods and it wasn't very convenient so I haven't done it again. To make these Axiom AirPlay speakers portable, in addition to sizing them right, you should offer a briefcase-style carrying case as an optional accessory. You could make such a case double as an outboard rechargeable battery pack with flat lithium ion or even flatter lithium polymer batteries (as found in some laptops) along the bottom of the case.

So many possibilities... This is pretty exciting!
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#382949 - 09/19/12 10:30 AM Re: Designing The Axiom Airplay Speaker [Re: Amie]
Ken.C Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 17768
Loc: NoVA
I think having them as stereo rather than sat+sub is pretty essential as far as portability. It's why I haven't moved my ABs anywhere, even though I'd like to be able to move them around the house. It's just too much of a hassle.
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#382953 - 09/19/12 11:32 AM Re: Designing The Axiom Airplay Speaker [Re: Amie]
gnickers Offline
frequent flier

Registered: 09/19/12
Posts: 17
Loc: London
I bought the Logitech S715i for the GF to listen to CBC and music in the kitchen. The ipod plugs into the top and i got a longer cable for the ipad. There is 1 external jack too.

Except for the wall wart it is a decent unit. Battery lasts for quite a while. Not bad sound, quite impressive actually for such a small, lightweight device...much better than the previous clock radio which drove me crazy with the distortion. Took it to the cottage too. If it supported airplay or other streaming methods it would be even more useful...


Edited by gnickers (09/19/12 11:32 AM)

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#382954 - 09/19/12 11:40 AM Re: Designing The Axiom Airplay Speaker [Re: Amie]
Da_Gimp_Pimp Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 06/23/07
Posts: 4019
Loc: Sitting down somewhere
If they're battery powered, you should offer an East Indian boy as part of the package for your disabled buyers. If that battery goes dead while I'm listening to Rage, I need said battery replaced ASAP or I'll do some serious custom house reno's.

My best friend has family in Bangladesh. I could probably get you a few of his cousins.

Other than Apple support, this is really cool grin .
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#382955 - 09/19/12 11:41 AM Re: Designing The Axiom Airplay Speaker [Re: Amie]
rprice54 Offline
old hand

Registered: 10/16/09
Posts: 84
Loc: North Georgia
What a tease, I was just looking at Airplay speakers yesterday, we want something for the living room... now I have to wait for Axiom to come up with their version... ahhh!!! I'm a big fan of Airplay. From my phone in my pocket I can send and/or control the same music to my outdoor Algonquin's, and to any other airplay systems in the house- so the music is the same as you move from room to room and inside to outside- a very nice/clean effect to have several rooms playing the same thing and controlling it from your phone. Bluetooth is okay, but your source has to be in the same room. There are other non-Apple wifi solutions out there, but I'm not familiar with them. I'm (kinda) sure someone could come up with an Android app to stream music to airplay speakers. Itunes is cross platform and free at least for PC users. Bluetooth would be a more universal 'backup' interface for non iOS users. I know, just include a free iPod with purchase!

The perfect unit would be super small and unobtrusive, easy to put anywhere, with perfect, crisp clean sound and tight solid punchy bass. Since that's not possible you (the buyer) need to figure out how much of a compromise you're willing to make in one area to improve the other. When I was looking for some iPod speakers for our kitchen, the problem was finding good speakers at a reasonable price- at some point you cross over into the receiver + in wall speaker price range. Plus we didn't want huge speakers in the kitchen. We settled on a Klipsch unit at the time, a good small size for the kitchen counter, but with decent sound and decent bass when placed in a corner. It's used mostly for background music while we're in the kitchen though. Not the overpriced/over bassed (just made that up) Bose unit.

I agree the M2-M3 range for sound quality would be a good place to start. For a living room system I would be willing to up the size (from our current small Klipsch dock) for better sound. An optional wireless sub would be really cool for those willing to spend a bit more, but still optional for those of us who realize our true music listening will be with our full Axiom setup in whatever room we have it in.

I think a good starting place would be similar to your computer speaker setup- decent speakers (I assume, I haven't hear them) with an optional sub. I actually looked into those when we bought the dock. Personally, I'd pay at most ~$350-400 for this kind of airplay setup, which may price me out of an 'audiophile' Axiom option, but again, I would be using the unit primarily for background/convenient listening- when it's time to rock out I'm headed downstairs to the media room. I think stereo would be a must, but I don't know. Two speakers inches apart from each other may not really separate sound well. I'd take one good speaker over two crappy ones. Maybe a modular one speaker system would let people use two units, further apart, for better separation. But then you'd need some kind of hub/controller to interface with iTunes and decide which speaker gets which channel. Might make it more affordable for someone to buy one at a time and add on as they want.

Not too interested in a battery pack built in- maybe an external one like suggested above. I've never been impressed by battery powered speakers. Esp if that battery is trying to run wifi as well. I'm guessing you're going to be close to your wifi network which means you'll be close to a plug...

I would be more than happy to volunteer my time as a beta tester for the new units wink I use airplay almost every day to some degree.

Sorry for the long post, but it's something I'd be interested in. Can't wait to see if you guys come up with something.

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#382956 - 09/19/12 11:46 AM Re: Designing The Axiom Airplay Speaker [Re: Amie]
vassillios Offline
aficionado

Registered: 02/28/07
Posts: 597
Loc: Warrenton, VA
Maybe look into 2 designs. 1 that is more stationary and 1 that is more mobile.

The mobile version should have a built in rechargeable battery with a small jack in the back to attach a cord to plug into the wall to recharge, as well as an option for plug in power. Maybe more of a "bar" design so it is one piece instead of 2, yet still stereo.

For separate stereo operation, AirPlay sends a signal to a unit for processing and sends the signal to the speakers. If you develop a stereo solution with 2 speakers, how do you send to the 2 speakers? Would 1 speaker get the signal? How do you send the other channel info to the other speaker? Would you have to wire the 2 speakers together?



Edited by vassillios (09/19/12 12:03 PM)
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#382957 - 09/19/12 11:51 AM Re: Designing The Axiom Airplay Speaker [Re: Amie]
nickbuol Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 09/16/04
Posts: 4449
Loc: Marion, IA
I think that if you are going to make a product like this, don't just focus on AirPlay. While it is nice, there are a LOT of other devices out there besides Apple. Heck, in the phone market, July showed the following market share:
Android 51%
iOS 32%
BlackBerry OS 11%
Windows Phone 4%

(source: BGR July 2012 Phone Market Share )
Sure, AirPlay is not exclusive of the iPhone by any means, but i nour house with a mix of Apple and Android devices, the Android ones are the ones that play the most music. For me using my Android phone, I either have ear buds in, or a stream to my home theater receiver. Having something elsewhere in the house for casual playback, but with quality sounds would be nice.

WiFi would be preferred over bluetooth to accomodate greater distances from the source to the "receiver" point for the speakers, but having both would have its advantages too.

Technologies just as DLNA would offer a wide variety of options for connectivity.

Than again, it is probably easier to cater to a single segment of the music steaming audience, but if you want to true attempt at audiophile sound for steaming audio, then it SHOULD cater to more than one market component.

Oh, and definately a wall-wart. Some people are going to do more "permanent" installs and will just leave them turned on. Even with a "sleep mode" to save power, the batteries wouldn't last long. Most "wireless" surround speakers are powered via a wall-wart instead of batteries for this exact reason.
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