Bluetooth Stereo Pairing Network

Creating an audio network for a short range use case

Boombotix is working a new firmware that allows two speakers to be networked via Bluetooth for true stereo sound playback.  The speakers can be used in this loft scenario to have synchronized music in the top and bottom floor of a studio loft.  They also use the Boombot2 wireless speaker to be tethered to the home stereo system for amplified sound.  If you’re looking for portable speaker tech, look no further.

In principal, what the speakers are doing with the audio source goes as follows; One bluetooth speaker pairs to an audio source (smartphone, laptop, tablet etc.)  The source must be a bluetooth source.  The audio data is sent to the speaker where it is re-encoded as a stereo audio signal.  The first speaker will play the right channel while sending the audio data for the left channel to a second speaker.  This works without any latency so the speakers are able to maintain synchronized playback wirelessly while also offering true stereo.

This feature is not currently incorporated into our devices, but it is something we are developing for future models.  We are addressing the firmware design to make this pairing process seamless and ultimately allow users to transport full wireless stereo configurations wherever they choose.  If you have any questions about this technology or you may be interested in getting involved, just let us know.

 

Jaybird versus Outdoor Technologies

Is there a better one or are they the same effing thing?

Jaybird and Outdoor Technologies bluetooth headphones

Lately I’ve spent a little time just checking out Bluetooth headphones.  The space is certainly interesting because obviously going wireless seems to be a natural progression from our traditional wired headphones.  Many audiophiles still prefer to use a wire just because it produces the most minimal loss.  However, Bluetooth has come a long way in bandwidth, cost, and signal stability since the Bluetooth 1.0 first came out.  The bit-rate has evolved in 2.0 and 2.1 to allow for pretty darn good audio transmission.  Some of the new standards allow for splitting of right and left channels as well so now you can have some pretty thumping stereo headphones while also having direct phone interfacing.  There is still some work to be done as most of these Bluetooth headphones are still just a tad bit lower in fidelity than a line-in connection, but no doubt there are hoards of engineers working on it.

Jaybird bluetooth headphones

So that catches us up on Bluetooth so lets look at a couple products that I recently came across.  Jaybird makes a sleek over-ear headphone with a sleek control interface on the earpiece and a flexible sport band over the top.  At $99, these come in a plethora of colors and according to Engadget:

these also ship with apt-X onboard, which is said to “clean up” your jams while adding depth, bass and treble, and if your BT device has apt-X (or if you use an apt-X enabling BT adapter), these guys can kick it up a notch further with “CD quality output.”

 

Outdoor technologies  bluetooth headphones

While that sounds all good and dandy, why don’t we take a look at Outdoor Technologies DJ Slim headphone retailing at $69.95.  I’d seen these headphones at a glance but after closer inspection, I realized that they are EXACTLY the same model as the Jaybird SB1s.  The only visible difference is that the buttons are SLIGHTLY different with a bit of a subtle diamond shape on them and the ear pads are a little bigger with sharper edges.  The Outdoor Technology model does not boast the apt-X CSR technology which may be a factor in the lower cost, but not confirmed.  We are going to look into this tech a little bit deeper to figure out which modules have it and which do not.  CSR makes a variety of bluetooth modules with varying costs, but Chinese manufacturers can easily swap out for cheaper modules with poor audio compression capabilities, shorter range, and buggy firmware.

Looking at this a bit deeper

OK so these headphones are basically the same thing… no big deal.  It is what it is.  When the X-Mini speakers came out, it was not long before a number of companies came out with Tweakerz, Rockerz, Chill Pills, Bass Balls and a bunch of other speakers that were pretty much the same.  iHome audio even copied the same design.  X-Mini still KILLS it because they have been recognized for being pretty consistent with quality while their copycats have mostly fallen into a price war.  They’re not the coolest brand in the game but they do sell a metric fuck-ton of speakers.

My next move…I look at some of the other products in the Jaybird and Outdoor Technologies portfolio.  They both have some Bluetooth earbuds called the Freedom and the Tag.  Low and behold, THOSE are the same too!!  WHAT?!

bluetooth earbuds Jaybird Freedom and Outdoor Technology Tag

Outdoor Technology Tag (left) and Jaybird Freedom (right)

I kind of felt betrayed because at first glance, I saw Outdoor Technologies doing something very similar to what Boombotix is doing as far as engineering products for active lifestyles and really tapping into the alternative community.  Their “about” section says:

OUR DEVELOPMENT OF WIRELESS AUDIO HAS BEEN SHAPED BY THIS CONSTANT PUSH AND PULL, TO STAY CONNECTED BUT NOT TETHERED

Well let’s be real here… they did not really develop anything.  They slapped their brand name on an OEM design.

Why not rebrand oem products?

I’m not sure who was first to market or who was behind the design, but it raised a couple of questions in my mind.  My first thought was that these are just some OEM headphone that both companies slapped their brand on OR one company designed them and the other bought the same design through the backdoor of a Chinese factory and rebranded them.  This stuff happens all the time and many brands are guilty of doing it.  Why not?  It is an easy way to take a product to market with minimal effort in design.  New CE products can take well over a year to develop which is a lot of engineering and R&D expense.

Now let’s address the moral dilemma.  Every brand has different value propositions and this tends to drive the product portfolio.  The strongest brands typically offer a product or service that addresses a specific market need.  This is where brands showcase innovation to differentiate their product/service on the market.  When you pick up an iPhone or Macbook Air, you appreciate the attention to detail in engineering and design (well most of us do).  This drives a number of us to invest in Apple products at a premium price because we support WHY Apple does what they do; Engineer/design beautiful products with an intuitive interface.  As Simon Sinek says, “people don’t by WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.”  Inherently, you want Apple to keep delivery amazing products, so you continually upgrade to the next model over time.  You build a relationship with the brand and establish authentic brand loyalty that lasts.

Every time that you invest in a product that is a copied product, you are taking valuable dollars away from companies that are innovating and breaking new ground.

As the founder of a speaker company, I take a great deal of pride in the innovation my team brings to the table.  Sure, we slap our logo on dog tags and make stickers for swag, but we will NEVER just slap our logo on an OEM product and call it our own.  If we didn’t do something to improve what mankind has already laid out before us, then we probably shouldn’t bother trying to sell it.  If we had to sell toothpicks, you better believe we would find a way to innovate that toothpick for increased strength, more eco-friendly material selection, or some euphoric flavor that makes your toes curl.  Boombotix designs and engineers every one of our products from the ground up to adapt audio to life in motion.  That is our WHY.

 

Tattoo artist implants magnets in his wrist to make strapless nano watch

Extreme body piercing makes for a seriously awesome gadget

Dave Hurban tattoo artist

Warning to the squeamish: if you can’t stand blood, surgery, and extreme body piercing, allow us to redirect you to one of our other posts about a guy using a jet pack to fly over Rio de Janeiro, an awesome graffiti project, or a mouth spray that gets you instantly drunk.

For the rest of our steel-stomached dudes and dudettes, you have GOT to check out this most gnarly body piercing.

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The reason hardware companies are failing

Walkman

The consumer electronics market has quickly deteriorated into a case where it is Apple and everyone else.  Everyone else includes Sony, LG, Panasonic, Toshiba, Motorola, RIM, Logitech and Samsung.  Of these major companies, all except Samsung have seen decreased sales and loss of market share.  Why are these companies failing to get me lusting for their products?

Mostly because my gadget arsenal consists of an essential list including a Macbook Air, and iPhone, and Boombot speaker.  If you tap into my audio, I have some Sennheiser headphones and a Yamaha component system.  I could live without the Yamaha system, but I couldn’t even pull $200 on Craigslist for it… so it stays.  Having said that, the essentials include a smartphone, laptop, headphones, and portable speaker.  If you are hardware company not successfully manufacturing and marketing one of these four hardware items, your company is dying.

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Impress your friends and win a bar bet or two with these 10 technology facts

Add some wrinkles to your noggin with these random did-you-knows

When you’re the manufacturer of the best portable speakers in the world, it helps to know a thing or two about technology.

Now, granted, the following 10 random facts that you are about to read have absolutely nothing to do with acoustic technology but hey, this proves that we were paying attention in class.

Or that we learned how to use Google really, really well.

Anyway, enjoy:

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