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Now and Soon

New Streaming Services!

Available Now and Coming Soon

You know what we always say around here?

There's no such thing as too much music.  

That's why we're pretty darn happy about the latest enhancements to the already crazy-great list of streaming options that come with every Phorus product. 

Amazon Music

First up is Amazon Music, and more specifically their new Prime Music service. This is Amazon's new radio and playlist streaming service exclusively for Prime members.  Now, not only do members (and really, aren't we all members?) get all that free shipping and fresh food and videos galore, they also get an incredible selection of music on tap. This service is a big upgrade to an older Amazon music offering and our team was hand-picked by Amazon as one of the first wireless audio companies to offer it to you and the rest of the DTS Play-Fi product family.  

We suggest you start by exploring Prime Playlists, a vast set of specially curated playlists full of tracks to get you in the right mood.  Browse by genre or era, too. You can freely pick from any of the tracks in these playslists, or just let them fill your home from start to finish.

Prime Playlists

Then there's Prime Stations, which are tailored streams, like radio stations, based on your favorite artists, tracks, or genres. Not sure what you want? Just pick a station and let it go all day. Why not play the station hosting the 50 best songs from The Beatles?

Prime Stations

This is all available now.  Just choose Amazon Music from the music menu, log in, and start streaming. Amazon has big plans for even more features for Prime Music and Amazon Music in general, and those new bells and whistles will automatically appear as they roll out. Poof! Just like that! Because, well, Amazon is super good at delivering things fast, and so are we.

 

iHeartRadio

Up next we have iHeartRadio, the awesome and free live radio and station curation service. Anyone can create a free iHeartRadio account and start listening to their favorite station either locally or nationwide. There's even a few international and digital-only stations in there as well. iHeartRadio will make recommendations for which stations they think you'd also enjoy, and you can add any station to your favorites for easy listening later.

On top of that, you can even create custom stations off of your favorite artists or tracks, and you have a smörgåsbord of podcasts that you can queue up as well.

This new service is not available in the app just yet, but we should see it popping up around the end of February. If we can knock it out sooner, we will. Promise.

We also, sadly, are saying goodbye to some of our other beloved music pals.  Rdio stopped streaming in December, and Songza will be fully absorbed into Google Play Music at the end of this month.  Fortunately, fans of both still have great options, including RhapsodyTidal, and these two amazing new services. For a limited time we actually have some special offers to make the transition easier.

If you have any favorite stations from either of the services above, or recommendations for those bereft over the loss of old favorites, let us know in the comments!

Posted On

1.25.2016

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Video and Play-Fi, together at last!

Video and Play-Fi

Watch videos on your PC with synced audio over Play-Fi

On this blog, it's not uncommon for us to mention how we heard from users about how they use Play-Fi, and what they'd like to see next from it. It may come as a shock to you that we have a new update to one of the apps that is entirely inspired by feedback from our faithful users (Gasp! Applause!)

That new update is to the Play-Fi App for Windows, and it allows users to watch videos on their PCs or tablets and have that audio synced to a Play-Fi product, such as the lovely and multifunctional Phorus PS5 and PR5. That's right! No tricks or funny business, just streaming the audio out to your speaker with extremely low latency and extremely high quality of service for the best experience. This is a very technical and complex implementation that required a high-level of development from well-educated engineers, and they gave it an equally complex name befitting its nature: "Fast Mode™".

Very technical.

So how do you get video from your Windows PC to your speakers? Easy-Peasy Lemon-Squeezy. First off, this is a Play-Fi HD feature, so if you're just using the free version, go here to get your upgrade license key and enter it into the free app to get Play-Fi HD. If you're an existing Play-Fi HD user, this is a free update, and your app should notify you of the new feature. Then just launch the app; you'll notice it defaults to Music mode, so select the Video tab at the top, and then pick your Play-Fi product (again, can't recommend those Phorus PS5 Speakers enough). Your app should look like the one in the picture above, but instead of "Guest Bedroom", it'll have your speaker name, unless of course that's what you named your speaker.

Play-Fi and Video

Then just open any media player and play. That's right! Anything! VLC, Media Player Classic, YouTube, PowerDVD, the new Windows 10 official Windows DVD Player, etc., etc. Whatever video you want to watch, play it out to your Play-Fi speaker or receiver products and the audio is beautifully synced to what you see on the screen. Video mode is designed to play synced audio to just one Play-Fi product, so when you want to listen to music throughout your home again on multiple products, simply unpair from the video speaker in the app, and switch back to the Music tab. No need to reconfigure products.

That's it! Simple! Exclamation Point! Exclamation Mark for all of our friends in the United Kingdom!

Go ahead and download the update to start enjoying your videos with lovely, high-quality Wi-Fi audio that you can only get from Phorus and Play-Fi. Seriously, we're the only ones doing this sort of high quality A/V synchronization over standard Wi-Fi, or any wireless standard. AirPlay won't sync the audio, and Bluetooth won't sound as good nor is as reliable. On top of that the Play-Fi HD app for Windows also lets you do other cool stuff, such as isolate audio from specific existing apps on your PC, so that you only hear audio from that app over Play-Fi and any other sounds--such as system notifications--from your PC system speakers. It really is a total package that you truly can't get anywhere else!

That's all for now. Hope you're as excited to try it out as we are releasing it! As always, let us know what you think in the comments.

'Til next time, keep on keepin' on . . .

Posted On

10.28.2015

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Group up and party!

Spotify Multiroom

for Phorus and Play-Fi products!

Spotify just got a whole lot better! How? Because now you can group your Phorus and Play-Fi products together and play to them all at once from the Spotify app. Spotify Connect and Play-Fi have come together to form the ultimate whole home package with pretty much all the music on the planet played through the best wireless audio systems from amazing brands and manufacturers (including Phorus, naturally).

So actually how does it work?

Go left to right to make a Spotify Group

From the Home screen of the Phorus app (left), select the Spotify service. This will bring you to a familar screen telling you how to use Spotify Connect (middle) that even has a helpful button to launch the app. We've added a new button at the bottom of that screen that, once tapped, will allow you to create groups specifically for Spotify. After you've elected to create a new group and given it a name (we called ours "Phorus Party" in the example) you can then pick from any of your Phorus or Play-Fi products to be added to this group (right).

This won't affect any of your custom gorups in the Play-Fi app, and won't permananetly merge them together. This way you can still make use of the modular Play-Fi system and easily swap between speakers that are playing in groups and those that are not when using the speakers for something other than Spotify. Any speakers that can't be joined in a Spotify Group will be greyed out, such as with the Wren V5PF. Their new model, V5US, is compatible though. With Phorus the PS5 and the PR5 are the only products currently compatible with this grouping.

Pick that group

Once you've got your group set up, head to the Spotify app, and on the Now Playing screen (left), tap the Spotify Connect notification on the bottom, which we've highlighted in this example. This will open the Spotify Connect screen (middle), and you'll be able to pick from any Spotify Groups you've created, your wireless stereo pairs, or individual speakers that are not part of any groups or pairs. We picked the group we just created, Phorus Party, and this will take us back to the Now Playing screen where we can see what we're playing to highlighted in Spotify green.

If we close the app, or if we begin to use another Spotify app on another device, whether at home still or out and about, we'll still be able to pair to and play to this group we've created as long as we played to it once at home. So you can keep the party going, even if you have to make a quick run to the store.

Pretty darn sweet!

Anyway that's all for now. If you're enjoying Spotify Multiroom already, or if you have any suggestions or requests, let us know in the comments!

Keep on keepin' on

Posted On

9.21.2015

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What's New

More Music, Like Magic

New services & formats, now streaming!

Not too long ago, we dropped the Spotify bomb for all of our fans and loyal customers. There was much jubilation and celebration, and we were very pleased to see all the new customers alongside the happy longtime fans. So this update we wanted to to go even further. We've got not one, but two new services joining the Play-Fi platform, and we've also got some new Apple-centric features for all of our Apple audiophiles out there. Let's start with the Android users:

Android

For everyone with a Google phone or tablet of some kind, you guys get to dig into Rdio. The cool thing about Rdio is that it's totally free upfront, and lets you stream your own personalized endless radio stations, which are custom tailored to the way you listen to music. They use a personal touch that goes beyond just algorithmic calculation, so it's music you want to hear. And again, there's no cost to that. Stream it to every room using Play-Fi, absolutely free.

If you want to step it up, they have addional tiers of service starting with Select, which gives you higher quality audio (which is great for Play-Fi's lossless streaming) and allows you to store 25 songs for listening any time. You can upgrade that to Unlimited, which then also lets stream whatever you want. Just search for a song, album, or artist, and play whatever you like from their catalog of over 32 million songs.

Rdio Home and New Releases

Android users also get Rhapsody, which is very different from other radio-type services. There are no ads in Rhapsody's starting plan, and you can also skip through stations as many times as you like. Very different, which is why they call this starting plan unRadio

You can step that up to their Premier service and be able to pick any song from their catalog to stream any time. No need to wait for the radio. Rhapsody also has a lot of artist curated and featured content, so you can finely attune yourself to the goings-on of your favorite individuals or groups.

Rhapsody Radio and Featured

iOS

If you're an Apple audiophile, we imagine you were enthusiastic about our upgrade to Hi Res audio not tool long ago, and couldn't wait until we had that support for you. Well, the wait is over! iOS now supports Hi Res audio up to 24 bit / 192 kHz, using the following formats: WAV, FLAC, and ALAC. That's right, we said ALAC, as in Apple Lossless audio. So if you've got music ripped or purchased from iTunes in this lossless format, you're now ready to enjoy it in all its glory using the one and only truly lossless wireless platform: DTS Play-Fi.

*Cue fireworks and thunderous applause*

yaaaaaaaaaaay

In addition to that we've also added a few enhancements to volume control. When you adjust the volume, you'll notice now that it gradully changes as you move the slider. And if you have roommates (or kids) who happen to play their audio a bit loudy sometimes and forget to turn it down after a while, you can now control their volume levels without having to first take control of the speaker or stop the music.

So that's all for today. Let us know in the comments how you like the new additions and what you'd like to see next!

Posted On

7.03.2015

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Spotify Connect is Here!

Spotify

Roughly two and a half years ago, a little startup called Phorus released a conical, Darth Vader-esque speaker that could pair up and play to several at a time throughout your home. Even though it was just a little player at the time, it introduced the first open and licensable multiroom audio platform that worked over regular ol' Wi-Fi.

The fan feedback was great. Everyone unanimously exclaimed, "Awesome!" in their excitement, and then immediately followed it up with, "When's Spotify coming?"

Spotify was going through some changes at that time. They originally had a set of tools that allowed integrators to implement a few of their services into an app of their own. This was useful, but it wasn't giving Spotify users everything they wanted. So Spotify went to work on something that would change the way people could use products with the Spotify streaming service. They took a few years and built what is now known as Spotify Connect.

Spotify Connect is this really cool thing that people like us can put into speakers and make it so that any Spotify app can see it on the Internet and play to it. And it doesn't matter where you are or where the speaker is. So long as both are connected to the Internet, the speaker can play from your Spotify Premium playlists and content. No need to have it integrated into another app or to enter your Spotify credentials again. Whether from your PC, phone, or tablet, you can tell a Spotify Connect speaker/receiver to play your life's soundtrack.

Connect!

We've been working hard over those two years as well. Play-Fi has expanded to over twenty-two different audio products across several high quality brands. From speakers, to receivers, to amps, and even to sound bars, Play-Fi will join all of those products together to play in harmony. So guess what? That's right! Now every one of those--including our own Phorus PS5 Speaker and PR5 Receiver--are updated to play from Spotify Premium accounts using Spotify Connect.

To start, once you've updated all your Play-Fi products using the handy Phorus app (or any branded Play-Fi app), you'll be able to load up your playlists or stored audio content in the Spotify app and start playback from your phone. Then simply tap the Spotify Connect button in the bottom right of the Now Playing screen, and select any of the Play-Fi speakers on your network. That's it! Now you're playing from Spotify, and there was no additional setup. That speaker is now saved to your Spotify account, and even if you're out and about, you can tell it start playing audio. Great for keeping the kids entertained or just for keeping the party going.

Pretty soon we're going to update it so that you can also group several speakers together, so that they can all be selected at once from the Spotify app, allowing for multiroom playback from the Spotify app. Keep an eye out for that!

Well, we hope you enjoy it. We worked pretty hard to add this connectivity to all the existing products (not an easy task!), and this makes it the fourth wireless option for our speakers and receivers alongside Play-Fi, AirPlay, and Bluetooth. That makes for the most wireless playback options in any audio product to date, and it only gets better from here.

If you were waiting for Spotify to come before taking the Phorus plunge, we've got a little discount for you! Head over to the store now, pick up whatever Phorus product you like, and enter the code SPOTIFY during checkout to receive 20% off. That's a great way to get started enjoying not only Spotify Connect, but Play-Fi as well.

Thanks a bunch to all our dedicated fans, and let us know in the comments what you'll be listening to on Spotify!

Posted On

4.27.2015

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High Resolution Audio

We've got it, and here's why that's awesome

There's a lot of talk about high resolution audio right now, which is fantastic for all us audiophiles looking to bring awareness to the audio space, but it seems like this has also generated some confusion as well. So what is high resolution audio?

In video, resolution is measured in pixels, and in audio it's measured in bit depth and frequency in kHz. Like video, higher is better, and also like video, most audio comes in a standard resolution. Where right now video is mostly 1080p, audio is mostly 16 bits and 44.1 kHz, or 16/44 for short. We could lay it all out in text, but here's a handy chart to give you the low down:

To break it down, streams from basic versions of services like Pandora or Spotify come in quickly at low quality. Buying your music from iTunes, Amazon Music, Google Play, etc., will give you a slightly higher quality. Premium streaming services like Tidal and Deezer Elite offer lossless audio of a high quality. CDs are just raw uncompressed audio recorded at the 16/44 standard, and High Resolution Audio is content recorded at 24/88, 24/96, or 24/192. Those resolutions are basically the "4K" of audio, and like 4K, you may not always notice a difference, but a discerning individual will notice an impactful improvement.

This improvement does come at a heavy cost, however. It takes a lot of data and bandwidth to support high resolution, and most would say that the returns are completely diminished at that point. Some poeple are happy to settle for FLAC audio in premium streams, and many are happy to play MP3s.

This is what makes Play-Fi and the Phorus products so great. Where almost everyone else only supports up to CD quality audio, we support up to high resolution audio (as illustrated by the very helpful graph below). 

Very Useful

We know the importance of the audio experience, and we know that it's different from individual to individual, which is why we created the Play-Fi technology to be flexible and supportive of whatever audio experience you prefer, while still retaining the original format's quality.

If after all this you want to get your hands on some high resolution audio to test it out in your Phorus products, there are a few places you can go, and we'd recommend HD Tracks and Acoustic Sounds Super HiRez.

Whether you're a long-time high resolution audiophile, or if you've newly joined our ranks, let us know in the comments and share where you buy your music! 

Posted On

4.21.2015

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The New York Skyline

New York, New York!

The PS5 and GetGeeked

We truly love New York (a million T-shirts can't be wrong!) The Big Apple, as the song says, is our favorite place to start spreading the news when big things are happening for Phorus. In the autumn of 2012, we had our coming out party there, announcing our Phorus products and Play-Fi technology, as a brand new member of the DTS family. A year ago, we announced our embrace of iOS, and talked about our vision for growing the Play-Fi ecosystem.  Fall 2014 though? Best. Visit. Ever.  

We unveiled brand new Phorus products, including a sneak peek at the sleek PS5 Speaker, showed off new app features like multi-zone streaming and our newest music partners Songza and Sirius/XM, and filled an entire apartment with Play-Fi products of all kinds, including the new collections from Polk Audio and Definitive Technology. The press interest was beyond gratifying, but it was even more satisfying to get in front of a crowd of tech savvy consumers at GetGeeked and hear how much they loved our Wi-Fi whole home audio story. The icing on the cake was seeing Run River North live in Brooklyn, the day that their killer new music video, Monsters Calling Home, debuted, with our products putting in a cameo appearence. To top this trip next year, we are seriously going to have to go nuts!

Here are some of the trip highlights:

The Phorus PS5 Speaker, also known as "The Wireless Speaker You've Been Waiting For" appears for the very first time.

 

 

So sleek! So Sexy! The voicing is just as elegant as its looks, thanks to our crack team of audio enginers and renowned DTS sound. Slated for release later this year (click here and we'll let you know the minute it comes out), the PS5 was the perfect vehicle to showcase the latest features of the Phorus App.  

The Phorus PS5 Speaker definitely prompted some buzz right out of the gate. And it wasn't just the press who were getting excited. The fans at GetGeeked literally, well, got geeked about the whole system:

 

Play-Fi comes to life, and the crowd goes wild.

The real eye opener, though, was when press and fans saw the Phorus system working in perfect harmony with the brand new speakers from Polk Audio and Definitive Technology. In one small space the big idea of Play-Fi came to life. Speakers from different brands, with totally different styles and sound, all coming together in one simple way. They loved it.

 

Not content to just fill the room with music, we filled a goodie bag with Phorus swag and sent this lucky winner home with one of our new PR5 Receivers!

Enjoy!

Our winner, on the right there, does look a bit shell shocked, but she didn't know there was a super cool beanie in the bag, too. Score!

Monsters Calling Home Bows in Brooklyn

In Brooklyn, the oh-so-talented Run River North packed 'em into the Music Hall, and we were right there with them. The video for their hit single, Monsters Calling Home, debuted that day (you can read a cool interview with the band about the making of the video here), and it was a blast to see the crowd singing along with every word at the show. We even found a Phorus fan at the merch table on the way out.  

A new fan!

If you haven't seen the video, do it now!  You'll see our very own Little Speaker, his new sexy cousin, and the Receiver all featured (in an unobtrusive, tasteful way, of course). There's even a special promo code on YouTube, if you're feeling the need to pick up a music video star of your own.

To see even more highlights from the trip, check out our Facebook page. And we'll leave you with this sweet video interview with our Technology Specialist, live from GetGeeked, loaded with more info and Big Apple fun. Got an idea for next year in NY? Let us know in the comments.

Until then: Keep on rockin'!

Posted On

10.31.2014

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The PR5 has some fancy new features!

2.4GHz vs. 5GHz

When you should use one or the other.

One of the biggest upgrades we've made to the new PR5 Receiver (just released!) and PS5 Speaker (coming soon!) is built-in support for Dual-Band Wi-Fi connectivity.   We're one of the first speaker companies to add this advanced feature, which will now be standard on all new DTS Play-Fi(R) products.   Of course, as Wi-Fi audio fanatics, we know this is a big deal, but what does it really mean?   Essentially, it means that if your device and your router have the same capability, your music can be streamed using your choice of two different wireless bands, 2.4 GigaHertz (GHz) and 5GHz, otherwise known as "Dual-Band".

In this post, we'll break down the practical differences between them to help you choose which is best for your Play-Fi experience.

2.4GHz vs 5Ghz (in a bar chart!):

         A Simple Chart

This should give you the basic "at a glace" benefits of both, but we'll go into more detail as well.

Interference (what messes up your experience):

The 2.4GHz band encounters more interference than the 5GHz signal because of two things:

The main issue is that there are many wireless devices running on 2.4 GHz , such as cordless phones, Bluetooth, baby monitors, radio controlled toys, amateur radio, microwaves, etc., and lots and lots of existing wireless networks that might be near yours, such as your neighbors or people in your apartment complex. Far fewer devices and networks currently use 5GHz.


In addition, the 2.4GHz band has only 3 non-overlapping channels (channels 1, 6, & 11) for these various devices to operate on, compared to the 23 channels of the 5GHz band. Having more channels makes it easier to find a channel that is not used by anyone else in your area.

Range (how far your data travels):

Many external influences affect the range of a wireless network, making it impossible to predict what range you will achieve in your location. Certain materials in walls, tiles, and pipework can dramatically impact your effective streaming range.

Higher frequency (5GHz) radio waves lose more of their energy passing through walls, air etc. than lower frequency (2.4GHz) waves. Since the transmissions are being sent with essentially the same power from the source,  2.4GHz wireless networks will usually have a greater range than 5GHz networks.

Range for both bands can be greatly increased by the use of specialized "high-gain" directional antennas. Some high-end, top-of-the-line routers come with these already, and if you are interested in extending the range of your wireless network for all of your wi-fi activities, it could be worth looking into a router upgrade.

Speed (how quickly your data moves):

The major difference between 2.4GHz and 5GHz is the speed of data transmission, which you may have also heard described as "bandwidth". Higher radio frequencies allow faster data transmission, so 5GHz allows much faster network connections than 2.4GHz. If you want to use high-bandwidth applications, like streaming video, over your wireless network, 5GHz is by far the better choice. Play-Fi doesn't require a lot of bandwidth on its own, but if you are streaming to lots of speakers using very high quality files, it sure can help!

So basically:

If network speed is your top priority, 5GHz is a better choice than 2.4Ghz.

If wireless range is your top priority, 2.4GHz is usually a better choice than 5GHz.

If your local area has a lot of existing Wi-Fi devices causing interference on the 2.4GHz band, using 5GHz is a good solution.

Hope that clears some things up. Tell us what you use in the comments, or if you have more specific questions, hit us up!

Posted On

10.29.2014

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These little speakers are just having fun. No need to put them so close to the router.

Upgrade Your Router!

Looking for a new router? You've come to the right place. Whether you're looking to replace the one that came with your Internet Service, or if you're looking to turn up the power, we'll get you set on the right path. To start, let's look at some great routers to get you started with Play-Fi!

Good:

Linksys EA2700

A wonderful entry point for great networking and Wi-Fi speeds, which Play-Fi is happy to take advantage of. It includes all the great Quality of Service (QoS) features that make media streaming awesome, and it even has ethernet ports capable of 1Gbps, which is 10x faster than the next model down. Plus, it has a great price.

ASUS RT-N56U

This one should offer all the performance of the EA2700, but with a few more media options for power users. Great if you like doing advanced setups.

Better:

If you are looking to take it a step further from one of your older routers you bought some years ago, here are the ones that give you top-tier performance across 802.11n for enhanced range and speed:

ASUS RT-N66U

This is a favorite of ours. The range and performance is excellent, partially due to the raw hardware, but the software on the router itself is also very intuitive, especially if you want to have lots of media devices.

Linksys EA4500

The Linksys excels because its price is very favorable, and it focuses on having all the standards for Wi-Fi, which means solid performance with Play-Fi. Software is a little less intuitive, and maybe slightly less user friendly than ASUS, but it is still very easy to access and understand and make changes when you need to, which won’t be often as this will handle most activities automatically not just with your own network devices, but also Play-Fi.

NETGEAR WNDR4500v2

The team at NETGEAR have done a solid job with this router, both in style and performance. The major benefit with this router is that it offers a lot of extra features and settings that the others don't always, and while none of these additions specifically impact Play-Fi, they can be nice to have based on your needs

Best:

Something to also consider is that there are newer 802.11ac models on the market right now that are more expensive, and while our products don’t function over 802.11ac, the respective routers often have more processing power and are designed to handle greater traffic loads and more connections in general. They often also have the latest software and technologies baked in that can benefit users in their daily content consuming lives. It should be noted that AC routers may not fully benefit you if you don’t have anything that can operate over 802.11ac or 5GHz. If this is the case, it’s totally valid to stick with 802.11n routers, as they should just about match the 2.4GHz performance of their 802.11ac brethren.

802.11ac routers we’d recommend are:

ASUS RT-AC66U

This is an excellent router, and one some of our team uses personally. Great range, reliability, and features. And for 802.11ac routers, the price is quite excellent.

ASUS RT-AC68U

Basically the same as the last one, but it has a faster processor, and more intense broadcasting, which increases the range and the bandwidth/throughput of the 2.4GHz range, which basically makes it the most powerful 802.11n 2.4GHz router on the market, in addition to the added benefit of 802.11ac broadcast for future use.

NETGEAR Nighthawk

This should have the same theoretical performance as the previous ASUS routers, and was the barometer for 802.11ac routers for a long time. Most users seem to like the software for being fairly accessable. If you've got a Tim Allen urge for more power (and have some money burning a hole in your pocket), you can upgrade this unit to the Tri-Band model, which offers almost double the bandwidth and speeds!

 

Wrap-Up

And that should be good to get you started off on the path to excellent Wi-Fi streaming! One router is typically good enough to set up, and these should all have good coverage for your home, especially the 802.11ac routers. For some larger homes, we'd recommend setting up additional wireless access points that are bridged over Ethernet from the primary router, so that network coverage continues to be excellent throughout your home. Since Play-Fi operates over standard networking protocols, it can take advantage of this cross communication across different access points, as long as everything is configured from the main DHCP Server (the primary router). Since this is a slightly more advanced setup, this is only necessary if you don’t feel you’re getting the coverage you need.

If you've got a router that you've been loving and have been having a great Play-Fi experience with, let your fellow readers know in the comments!

Posted On

7.25.2014

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Play-Fi now on Windows PCs

Play-Fi for Windows

and all the cool stuff it lets you do!

Play-Fi for Windows is finally available! The tremendous fanfare pours from the masses! The hills resounds with the joyous laughter of children of all ages in the wake of Play-Fi for Windows! Well, not exactly, but everybody's pretty excited; you get the idea.

For those not in the know, you may be wondering why the heralds are singing the triumphs of the Windows Play-Fi app. We'll boil it down for you: With Play-Fi for Windows, you can stream the lossless audio of any application from your Windows 7 or 8 PC to any of your connected Play-Fi speakers. That's right: Any application. We mean it, too. All the audio that your PC can render can be sent to your Phorus, Wren, Polk, and Definitive Play-Fi speakers over beatiful, lossless Wi-Fi.

And it gets better than that. With Play-Fi HD you can upgrade the experience by isolating the audio from selected applications, so that only that audio plays to your Play-Fi speakers. Great for listening to music throughout your house using Spotify, while watching a video from YouTube on your computer screen and its own speakers.

So how does that work? Simple!

  1. Launch Play-Fi HD for Windows
  2. Select your Speaker
  3. Select the app of your choice (in this case, Windows Media Player)
  4. Hit Start and play some music!

Streaming audio only from Windows Media Player!

So now you can play a game and the sounds won't interupt your music. You and your friends can enjoy some tunes while you enjoy your Wolfenstein.

If you're feeling really fancy, you can split the audio from a video using VLC. Now, it takes some time to send the audio out to the speakers you have setup in your home, but using VLC, you can adjust the audio delay so that it matches the time it takes to reach the Play-Fi speakers.

Hastening that audio

Now you can enjoy your favorite videos with much better audio than what tiny laptop speakers can provide.

How you play your audio is up to you, and now with Play-Fi for Windows, you have the tools to play anything everywhere. Free your music!

Let us know how you use Play-Fi for Windows in the comments below!

Posted On

6.06.2014

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Sharon Graves and her Phorus PS1 Speaker

Company Mom

It's easy to forget, when searching Google or clicking on a funny post on facebook, that websites like this and the slick products they describe are made by real people.  Well, believe me, they are.  In fact, Phorus wouldn't even exist if a crazy-smart guy named Dan hadn't had an idea about how to do whole-home wireless audio right. When he told a few friends about it, we decided to see if we could make it happen.  We didn't do this with backing from a name-brand Silicon Valley VC in an uber-hip office in a converted warehouse.  We did it from Dan's dining table, with big pots of coffee and a deadline to clean up before his wife came home from work.  

Some of the friends were brilliant technologists.  Another was an ace designer.  Still others could write elegant software in their sleep.  A lawyer friend made us official, and connections in Asia got a factory to help us make the idea come to life.  Me?  I ran the numbers, wrote up a zillion powerpoints, and scrambled for cash. I also baked blondies, stashed the discount office chairs at my house, and asked a lot of really dumb questions about routers.

We outgrew Dan's condo, and moved into a medical office building where our constant loud music and odd office hours slowly drove our quiet neighbors crazy.  We try to be good, but it's hard.

Then, about a year after we started, the Little Speaker was born.  

It actually worked!  We were beside ourselves with joy.  Not like engineers and developers and finance people: like parents.

If we were a team before, now we were a family.

That's the thing that is so addictive about working for a company that makes something tangible.  An idea turned into technology that lives inside real products that people bring home and love and tell their friends about.  You get that parental pride thing, and like they say, it's an awesome bonding experience.

Hopefully you can feel that pride in the personal thank you emails we send every new customer and hear it on the other end of the line when you call.  "The speaker? Great!  What can I tell you about it?"  We are thrilled with every great review on Amazon (more please!) and troubleshoot any problems like crazy until they are fixed.   In moments of doting silliness, we send our offspring out into the world, put funny outfits on him, take pictures, and post 'em all over social media.  

It's a little much, we know.  But parents are like that.

For me, personally, the line between being a mom at work and being Mom at home is even more blurred, because our house and our lives are filed with Phorus gear.  There is a PR1 Receiver in the den, and another hooked into the main stereo.  PS1 Speakers are in the living room, the bathroom, and the kids' rooms.  I have a Wren V5PF in my home office, too, streaming away as I write this.  That elegant hand holding the Kindle fire on the website?  My daughter.  If you are looking a lifestyle shot of our products, chances are you are looking at a photo from my house.  Our long narrow place is a Wi-Fi nightmare, with multiple access points and a Sonos system (my husband, the early adopter...what can you do?) in there gumming up the works.  The QA team tests new firmware from my kitchen, while the dog looks on, knowing that if we can make it work here, our technology should work just about anywhere.

In the same way, my office family has sampled pies I was baking for city-wide contests and bought girl scout cookies from my niece.  We celebrate every birthday, walk to lunch in groups to get the early bird sushi special, and welcome new hires with open arms (and a pile of work).  Even as we became an integral part of the larger DTS organization, our nuclear family here at Phorus has stayed tight and true.  It's this family of exceptional, talented, funny, dedicated, real people, that makes the experience you get from our products and partners so magical.  

The crew here is busy working on some exciting new additions to the Play-Fi family, which I can't wait for the world to see. But I have to say that, as a mom, I will always have a soft spot in my heart for my first born.

So, when my oldest son leaves for college in the fall with his own Little Speaker in tow, it'll be a bittersweet moment for me.  At least, I tell myself, they'll be together.

P.S. We're celebrating Moms of all kinds this week, with a special deal in the Phorus Store.  Treat yours to a home full of music.  Trust me, she'll love it.

-- Sharon Graves, Phorus VP

Posted On

5.09.2014

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Music in the Lone Star State

Rocking Out with the Little Speaker

Hey Ya’ll! Little Speaker here. Long time, no see! The other week I had the sincere pleasure of kicking it at the Friends Bar on 6th Street during SXSW. It was a flat-out jammin’ time, with loads of great music, tasty drinks, and even some slick jeans.

When I first arrived, the front door was backed up with quite a procession. With the line-up we had, it was no wonder. Naturally, I just flashed my badge and the bouncers gave me the VIP treatment. I was in.

VIP Style

 

Pretty much right as I was settling in, Current Swell kicked things off with a bang. They were fun and rambunctious in a way that really got everyone moving. And if you don’t believe me, you should see for yourself

The Pack a.d. came on next and proceeded to blow out sound systems and rock hard enough to knock over their own drum kits. It was a wild time you could only get out of a Canadian 90s-esque rock duo.

These two were all about wrecking it.

Between all the rockin’ out, I was enjoying some cool drinks with fans, and even making some new ones. I guess I have a bit of an electric personality thanks to my killer Wi-Fi sound. It catches people off-guard when it comes from a cute little fella’ like moi. Naturally, all of our cool new fans get sweet Phorus swag as thanks for hanging with the gang and me!

Lone Star and Phorus Swag. Life's Good.

 

Next, Royal Canoe got up with their sick keyboards and eclectic mustaches and played a set that was intensely alternative. The best way to put it is that it was like watching the live version of this video.

After a bit of a set-up, Madi Diaz took to the stage and played some mellow tunes and charmed the crowd with her amicable and open whimsy. She decided to restart and very humorously and knowingly asked the crowd not to mention it to anyone or to tweet about it. I’ve totally not broken that promise. #ISwear #MadiMessedUp

Madi was having a lot of fun, right along with the audience.

As Madi finished up and wished everyone an awesome SXSW, I was chatting up some new Phorus fans and dishing out the sweet, sweet swag. Bags and beanies are the fastest ways to a man’s heart, right next to killer Wi-Fi sound!

Swaaaaaaaaaag!

 

When it was time for Run River North, they had to keep it brief due to time contraints, but that didn’t stop them from packing the place tight as soon as they kicked up the sound. In short, they killed it. Of course they were killing it all over SXSW. See for yourself in the video at the bottom (which is also a pretty good summation of SXSW overall).

It was finally Ghost Beach’s turn to take the stage, but we’d completely run out of time. That didn’t stop these guys, though! They played their reggae-new wave-house-electro fusion until they were kicked out. It was a tremendously good way to end the evening and I loved every minute of it. Definitely watch for these guys.

Ghost Beach throwing down

 

All in all, it was a wild and crazy event that really blew me away, and I just don’t remember having quite as much fun or meeting as many cool people as I did that day. It was a rockin’ good time. Can’t wait for next year!

Hey! If you’ve got some of your own cool SXSW stories, go ahead and share ‘em here!

 

And don't forget this sweet video! (Pretty soon we may be seeing some more from these guys . . .)

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Posted On

3.24.2014

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Holiday gift guide collage

Nothing Says the Holidays Like Holiday Gift Guides

With the holiday shopping frenzy approaching the zero hour in the coming days, and tens of millions of Americans stuck at home as Mother Nature does her best to ensure a white Christmas for the majority of the country, the question on everyone’s mind is, “What do I buy for my friends and loved ones this year?” There is no shortage of amazing tech products to consider, but sifting through the thousands of choices is daunting to say the least.

Holiday gift guides have become all too influential in recent years, as companies and their hard working public relations staff bombard publications seeking one of the few coveted spots that could make all the difference between a mediocre holiday season and a great one. While we at Phorus have our own ideas as to what we think you should buy, there are some interesting trends developing in terms of how consumers are doing research and shopping.

Let your fingers do the buying.

According to the most recent data, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is forecasting a 4.0 percent sales increase for the traditional November through December holiday sales period.  While those numbers are positive, they don’t tell the entire story. Not only are online sales expected to grow 18 percent, or nearly 5x as fast, during the holiday season to reach $57 billion – but the CEA is predicting that mobile online sales will grow 35 percent during the 2013 holiday season and will pass $8 billion. Mobile online sales are expected to represent nearly 15 percent of total online sales during the 2013 holiday season.

Online Black Friday sales topped $1 billion alone in a twenty-four hour period last month; exceeding the staggering projections of the CEA.  This gives a lot of credence to the argument that consumers are not only relying on online shopping guides, but are then simply making that one additional click through to purchase what they desire online. The CEA isn’t alone in looking at shopping patterns this holiday season; comprehensive research is also available from our friends over at Google and Deloitte.

All of this highlights some very important trends - consumers are not only making smartphones and tablets the two most desired items on their wish lists, but they are using them for more than just surfing, streaming, and downloads. The portable wireless device has also become their music store, video rental box, and personal shopper.

For all of us in the wireless audio business, this shift in how consumers seek out independent advice in regard to new technology and what to buy means we have to engage with them in whole new ways.

Talking Heads

While companies like us are looking to engage with a wide variety of the tech press, the reality is that many consumers rely on popular, well-known tech journalists such as Mario Armstrong, or Walt Mossberg, whose endorsements are the ultimate seal of approval before they reach for the credit card. Leading publications such as Engadget, Gizmodo, Digital Trends, and even smaller publications such as Chip Chick and Big Picture Big Sound offer excellent advice each holiday season on not only what to buy, but where to find it at the best possible price.  Beyond the experts, outlets like People, The Today Show, Oprah and Ellen are big influencers when they include tech products in their holiday bonanzas.

Holiday buying guides also serve two additional functions for consumers (and companies, if they are included!):  they often highlight the year’s best reviewed items, instantly conferring a “quality” halo and legitimacy to the products and/or the product category, plus they almost always offer up a few curveballs with unique products from unknown brands that might otherwise have escaped consumer’s radar.  Great guides have both: the safe bets, and ideas for giving that aren’t like anybody else.

A few to peruse.

As we looked through this year’s selection of holiday gift buying guides for the music lover in your home, we discovered a lot of repetition; apparently everyone needs a PS4, iPad, or Xbox One. That being said, we did find a few fun lists for you to check out.

One of our favorite lists comes from a publication that we usually don’t look to for tech advice. Rolling Stone recommended a number of excellent audio products this year, including the $400 Wren V5PF wireless loudspeaker with Play-Fi technology.

The folks over at Complex published one of the most comprehensive guides to the best wireless loudspeaker systems and we think it offers the broadest selection we’ve seen from any publication in many years. A good mixture of established brands and new players in the category.

Our favorite holiday gift buying guide for 2013? Surprisingly, it comes from our friends over at Vibe who offer up a really diverse group of products for both the tech lover, music fan, and future contestant on Iron Chef.

The bottom line is that consumers have some great online resources at their disposal this holiday season to make informed buying decisions, and a lot of those decisions will be made from a phone.  And, judging by the amount of audio products in those guides, there has been no better time to be a music fan, regardless of your holiday budget.

Happy Holidays!

Posted On

12.17.2013

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Phorus PS1 on box

What I’m Thankful For . . .

(Apart from Turkey . . .)

With holidays imbued with giving and thanks upon us (and before the world goes crazy with the shopping frenzy that follows), I wanted to share my appreciation for things that make this Little Speaker a whole lot happier. 

Wren speaker with Phorus speaker and receiver

 

To start, I’m thankful for my family and friends. Yeah, we’re not biologically related, just connected by Play-Fi.  And sure, I’m fine to fill a room on my own, but it’s so much better when we’re together, streaming in perfect harmony, or each rockin’ to our own beat. I know Tolstoy once said, “All happy families are alike.” That guy could not be more wrong.  Our happy family is full of whole home audio awesomeness, and I love it.

 

 

PS1 on stack of CDs

 

 

I’m also thankful for stacks and stacks and stacks of music CDs. Old school, I know, but bear with me. I love these tunes, and instead of them gathering dust on a shelf, I can digitize them and give them a whole new life! I can pull the raw WAV files, convert them to the more convenient lossless format of FLAC, or even just output to MP3s. Whichever format I choose, the songs come to me exactly the way I remember them. Audio quality matters, man.

 

 

PS1 with Acer network storage deviceI’m super thankful for large Network Storage Drives.  Did you see how many CDs I had? Exactly! When I need to access all that music (using Play-Fi, naturally), this bad boy is my one-stop shop. Even if he’s in a closet somewhere, it’s a snap for me to find him, and so fantastic to hear my collection all through the house.

PS1 on a Subwoofer.

 

 

My baby brother, the Little Receiver, is thankful for big ol’ Subwoofers! He uses them in his setup to kick out that big lossless bass when we need some thump in our multi-room fun.  I do admit to being a tiny bit jealous, though. But I’d like to see that guy fit onto the kitchen counter.

 

 

 

PS1 holding two tablets.

 

I’m thankful for all the cool new tablets and phones out there, especially the ones that will be appearing in gift wrapping soon.  There’s nothing that makes my day better than making mobile music sound great at home.  Now that I’m hooked up with both Android and iOS with Windows right around the corner, there are literally about a billion chances for me to do that.  

 

That’s why I’m most thankful for everyone out there who’s brought a Little Speaker home, whether you had me travel through the air from Amazon or picked me up at your local, friendly Radio Shack.  Having adventures is all well and good (as is writing posts for this blog), but give me a song to play, and someone to play it for, and I’m one elated audio product. The great reviews are icing on the cake, but I love those, too. 

By the way, thanks to you for reading this.

So how 'bout it: What are you thankful for?

Posted On

11.28.2013

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Illustration of a guy with questions about Bluetooth, Play-Fi, Sonos, and Airplay.

Not All Wireless Audio is Created Equal

What a difference a decade makes.

Apple’s iTunes turned ten this past April, marking the end of one of the most important decades of innovation in the consumer electronics space.  Music became software, and the world changed. To give you some idea of how much, in 2012, digital download purchases passed Walmart and Target for the first time in overall album sales, and digital downloads now represent 37% of all music sold.  That's over 110 million units just last year.

More recently, streaming and subscription services like Pandora and Spotify have boomed, gaining popularity more rapidly than paid song downloads. Tens of millions of people are listening every day, and many are paying for the privilege.  Subscription services generated $1.03 billion in revenue in 2012, up 59 percent from the year before, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.

Digital downloads and streaming have given the industry a much needed shot in the arm:  people are loving music again.  It's easy to discover new artists, share with friends, and stream songs all day with nearly unlimited access to all the music in the world. People are consuming all this music in new ways as well.  Gone are the days of CDs stashed in the car, or even hard drives full of mp3s on a server.   Music today is massively mobile, living on smartphones, tablets, iPods, and laptops, and most intriguingly, in the cloud so it can be accessed whenever and whereever we like.  

All this change created an unprecedented challenge, and a new opportunity, for the audio industry.  Like the music industry, the new normal is untethered, go-everywhere, content.  Consumers have made the trade-off between convenience and quality, and are, with a few audiophile exceptions, leaving their traditional component home audio systems behind in favor of enjoying MP3s from mobile devices in the palms of their hands.

Headphone manufacturers were among the first to take advantage of this paradigm shift.  Beats built one of the strongest brands in the business through a combination of celebrity, design, and a thumping emphasis on bass.   Other companies followed suit.  Premium headphones became a “must have” accessory (and one of the strongest growth segments of the CE market today), not just as fashion, but as a way of bringing some form of sound quality back to the listening experience. 

Speaker companies quickly joined Apple’s emerging ecosystem of speaker dock accessories, adding 30-pin connectors to contribute to a $100million market, even as their core business shrank.  But, as iPods became iPhones, and the Android platform exploded onto the scene, the days of the dock were numbered.   It was time to cut the proverbial cord, and for wireless audio to come home.

But, what does wireless home audio mean?

The answer is, it depends.

A simple idea, a lot of confusion

In the early days of Wi-Fi, (as far back as 2007!) a few Wi-Fi based products stumbled and fell.  Networks were clogged and spotty, and the consumer experience was terrible.  Sonos, a pioneer in wireless audio, decided to develop a proprietary mesh network instead, forging a path and a company on that closed streaming architecture.  Apple developed Airplay for their ecosystem, trying to enable a successor to the speaker dock business for this new era.  Other companies, looking to support as many devices as possible, settled on Bluetooth as a solution, even though that protocol was originally meant for phone calls and handsets, not listening to music. 

The problem for consumers?  There are now products of all shapes, sizes, quality and price points.  A plethora of choices, all being marketed as “wireless” speakers, and the category is among the fastest growing in the industry.  But, while the descriptor “wireless” is fundamentally accurate, the underlying technology in those products is vastly different.  The audio experience with Bluetooth is not even close to the audio quality with Wi-Fi, even with the new AptX codec technology. (AptX is a big step up, but very few companies have incorporated this premium feature into their Bluetooth products yet). Buying Sonos means buying only Sonos, and spending thousands to put a complete system into your home.  Airplay doesn’t stream to multiple speakers at once from your iPhone, and has been plagued with performance problems.  Do most consumers understand this?  No.  They just want to listen to their music at home from their phones, and have it sound good.  In some instances, they bring products home and get frustrated with complex, overly technical set ups.  In others, they get lousy sound quality, but live with it because it’s “good enough”.  Sometimes, they’re delighted, but at a very high price tag. 

As an industry, we can do better, and consumers deserve a solution that is as simple, and easy to understand, as the problem they’re trying to solve.

Enter Play-Fi (The self-serving part of this post, but bear with us!)

When Play-Fi was invented, we had a few things in our favor.  First and foremost, Wi-Fi technology had come a long, long way, in terms of reliability and widespread availability in homes AND on personal devices.  Secondly, we could see that those devices were rapidly becoming the entertainment hubs in the house, so we could build our system around mobile from the beginning.  In essence, Play-Fi was developed from the start as the very best answer to the question:  How can I stream music at home from my phone, and have it sound good?

Let’s start with the source.  Play-Fi is not an Apple thing or an Android thing.  It’s a home audio solution that doesn’t care what kind of operating system you use.  Devices come in all flavors, and the reality is very few households are committed exclusively to one platform.  There are kids with iPhones and parents with Kindles, teens with the Galaxy Note and grandparents with iPads, all living in the same house.  Play-Fi software is compatible with Android, iOS and Windows, so our speakers work with all kinds of devices:  iPad Mini, Nexus 7, Galaxy Note, Kindle HDX, and Surface, to name a few. 

Now let’s think about where the music is playing.  It’s playing in your home.  A place that (hopefully), is larger than 30 feet across, where you might want to listen to music in more than one room, or in every room, at the same time.   Where you have a Wi-Fi network for your laptop and your printer, so why not for your music, too?  Play-Fi gives your audio the full range of your house, and the ability to link speakers in different rooms via the network, to enjoy true multi-room sound. It also supports multiple users streaming on the network simultaneously.  

But how does it sound?  That’s probably the part of this question that we cared about the most, because that’s when the emotional part of listening to music at home comes into play. Instead of settling for taking audio and compressing it even further into a lossy, low quality Bluetooth stream, Play-Fi transmits music with bit-for-bit accuracy, with sound quality that’s equal to a direct wired connection. 

Play-Fi isn’t perfect.  Our list of services is growing, with Deezer, QQMusic and KKBox joining Pandora and our wide array of radio stations, but it is not comprehensive.  We have more features and options to add to the system in the upcoming months and years. But relative to the bewildering and limited choices out there now, this is definitely a step in the right direction.

Perhaps most importantly, Play-Fi is an open, licensable technology.  More and more brands are adding Play-Fi to their products, so consumers will know instantly that those products truly are “wireless speakers” that let them enjoy music at home with ease.  We have our job cut out for us getting the word out, and this blog is one small step in that direction.

For another interesting read on this topic, check out the recent blog post from Play-Fi partner, Wren Sound.   We'd love to hear what you think in the comments.

What’s next?

In December, we’ll take a look at what consumers should expect to see from the wireless audio category next year. There are major changes coming in terms of both technology and content at CES 2014 in Las Vegas, and we’ll preview that for you here.  If you have a topic you'd like us to talk about in later posts, just let us know. 

Posted On

11.08.2013

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