Category Archives: Updates

Symphonisk, the smart speaker from Ikea and Sonos is finally here

Sonos is definitely a brand known by audiophiles: its speakers are famous for their construction quality and sound quality in the same way. The US company has decided to collaborate with Ikea for the development and marketing of a new speaker for the house, which will take the name of Symfonisk. According to the two giants, this new series of smart speakers will have the quality of Sonos without renouncing the more affordable price offered by Ikea .

The new Symfonisk will have different designs, and can be applied either to the walls (by support) or placed on flat surfaces. The goal is to create a multi-user network able to offer smart functionality to all users. The price of this new line of loudspeakers is not yet known, but they should arrive in all Ikea stores starting next August. In short, high quality audio at a low price. Will it really be like that?

In other news



What is Digital Radio and DAB?

DAB stands for Digital Audio Broadcasting

Digital Radio is the name chosen by the marketing to launch the broadcast of the transmissions made with the Eureka 147 standard, better known as Dab + . The Dab (Digital Audio Broadcasting) is actually quite mature stuff: it’s a European project that dates back to the eighties. Nearly 20 years ago, in 1995, Norway and the United Kingdom activated the first DAB digital radio channels. In 2007 the evolution was born, the Dab +. And it is with this standard that broadcasters today also broadcast in Italy. To receive a digital program you need to equip yourself with a special receiver, either home or car.

The development of audio compression codings: the DAB + is born

Take advantage of the efficiency and performance of MPEG-4 (AAC) with the result of having the same audio quality at a lower bitrates.
Another major innovation was the addition of video / multimedia capabilities for Digital Audio Broadcasting, allowing DAB to become a digital DMB (Digital Multimedia Broadcasting) mobile TV platform as well as a digital multimedia radio platform.
DMB and DAB + are extensions of the DAB technical base.

More than half a billion people around the world today are able to receive over 1,000 radio stations and DAB data services. Most of these contents have gone from the experimental to the regulated phase, and the use of the Eureka 147 standard has been confirmed throughout Europe, the Far East and Australia.

Radio is changing, not being left behind, going digital

It is a digital broadcasting system. DAB is the transmission technology designed to integrate the analog FM radio band in the medium term.
The DAB system was developed in Europe as part of the EUREKA 147 project and is currently operational in many countries. The DAB family of standards includes DAB and DAB + for digital radio and DMB for mobile TV. They are global and open standards, the perfect medium for transmitting terrestrial digital radio signals.

At its birth in the late 1980s, the original DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting) was based on MPEG Audio Layer II, which was also the object of investment and experimentation for EuroDab Italy, today it is still commonly used in some European countries. due to a large number of receivers on the market.

What Is The Role of Smart Speakers in People’s Home in the Future

A personal assistant , able to give an answer to almost any question, who plans the day, points the alarm clock , adjusts the lighting of the apartment and shoots the right playlist at the right time.

This, and much more, is what a smart speaker can do . Usually a small object connected with the wi-fi and hi-tech devices of the house . So far the talents, now the painful notes: do not cook, do not iron, do not clean and can not make coffee. At least for now.

It is very likely that, even if it was not yet present in your homes, you have already seen it. Because the market in this specific sector is constantly expanding . According to data provided by the analysts of Canalys, from April to June world sales have almost tripled , from 5.8 to 16.8 million units ( + 187% on an annual basis ).

Going into detail, the market is driven by technology giants. Just think that, according to data from Canalys, last June Google recorded a growth of 449% compared to sales in the second quarter of 2017. This powerful growth led Big G to obtain a market share of 32.3% (a year before, it was 16.9%).

A trend that has taken Amazon out of the first position, which it held twelve months ago with 82.3% of the emerging smart speaker market , before “plunging” to a 24.5% stake, selling Echo 4.1 million . In the third and fourth positions there are two Chinese companies, Alibaba and Xiaomi , which have sold 3 million and 2 million speakers respectively (17.7% and 12.2% of the market).

But the smart speakers of Google, Home and Home mini , were launched in Italy only in March 2018. Password, ” Ok Google ” and activates a world of interactive possibilities to be discovered. Google Home is probably the top currently available on the market. The conversation with the device is fluid and online searches are optimized, as is natural to imagine, practically perfect.

Home mini , basically, offers the same features as the larger version . Change the shape, round and smaller, in addition to the price: decidedly lower. The most marked difference is that concerning the audio part, it is advisable to integrate it with other speakers if you want to listen to music.

Just in these days, however, Amazon has led to the counterattack landing in the Italian market with Alexa ( the world’s first smart speaker , launched in 2014), the voice assistant of the ecommerce giant, in fact, now “speaks” our language and aims to conquer Italy.

Amazon Echo is the flagship of the range, with modern design and extraordinary usability. It has seven deactivable microphones that accurately understand where the interlocutor is talking, is the Google Home competitor .

But that’s not all, there are also: Echo Dot , a more compact and portable version, like Google mini , suitable for the smaller rooms of the house; Echo Sub , a wireless woofer designed to create stereo systems with other Echo compatible devices ; Echo Plus , “specialized” in the control of compatible smart appliances.

Echo Spot , instead, in addition to speakers and microphones, is based on a circular display and a video camera. The screen displays the answers of the voice assistant, integrating them with graphic information, but can also be used for viewing content or video calls.

Will Radio Become Obsolete as Smart Speakers Become Popular

There is a market that is exploding on the Atlantic side (USA and UK) that will revolutionize listening to music , will change our habits and will increase even more the number of hours spent listening to our favorite artists: they are smart speakers . Objects of design (we would miss) that respond to our voice commands. “Alexa, I want a playlist at 90 bpm to do exercises”, say if you use Amazon Echo. Or “Ok Google, do you make me feel the new song of Calcutta, the one with the name of a footballer?”, If instead you are happy owners of Google Home.

You will talk to them, they will listen to you and grant your musical desires . It is no longer a click, there are no hypertexts, we are in the phase of artificial intelligence that processes in a semantic way. What will we listen to then? How will we make our selections? Will we try the thrill of listening to roulette? Will we choose the butler speaker?

Some numbers on the use of smart speakers
To make you understand the impact of these devices in our lives we use the numbers : for Music Ally the rosea forecast is that by the end of 2018 will be sold about 60 million intelligent speakers, doubling the number of 2017, while in 2016 production will it was only 5 million stopped. For 2022, the forecasts speak of 175 million smart speakers in over 75 million American apartments. Already by the end of this year, in emerging countries like Brazil, China and India, smart speakers will serve a third of the resident population.

The commercial aspect is impressive, but impressive is the speed of their distribution compared to other supports: the smart speakers will reach 50% of the American population in less than 5 years. To give you an example, the phones took almost 7 years, the TV about 13, the radio 20. And it is the radio that pay the highest price, because those who use smart speakers spend 40% less time on the stations FM. A radical change, probably the one that will affect our behavior more heavily because it will act on the experiential factor, on the convenience of use and on the accuracy of the answers to our questions. In addition to moving away from radio stations, smart speakers will “report” us to a more conscious use of listening because they will allow us to live a different experience from the usual.

Speaking again of numbers and surveys, 34% of users using Amazon Echo or Google Home spend more than four hours a day listening to music, compared to 24% of “common” users, even if the audio quality does not affect that much on the choice of the amplifier: only 7% of the owners made a choice based on the purity of the sound, while 14% made their choice based on the accuracy of the speech recognition. They will earn the streaming services, because 48% of the smart speaker owners subscribe to Spotify , Deezer and other Digital Service Providers. And we will also gain our “digital health” because dialogue with Alexa, Cortana or Siri will make us use less the smartphone (- 34%), TV (- 30%), the tablet (- 27%) and the computer (- 26%, Edison Research data for NPR).

And maybe it will also convince us to leave the house when the “skills” of the smart speakers will be integrated with other features, such as those to buy concert tickets . Our tastes will be linked to the TicketOne database for example, and we will find ourselves on the Google Calendar all the organized trip: flight booking, hotel, car rental, tickets, VIP Pass and dinner booked.

The potential of smart speakers
After the beating of Google Glass now they go more cautiously to Mountain View, but we can not deny that their hunger for data is insatiable, in this case in addition to knowing our habits will also know what types we are, the sound of our voice and how we make choices, up to the composition of the sentence.

Put so frightened, but listen to this: in Arkansas the police intervene on the scene of a crime, a man was found strangled in his hot tub; in the house, on display, the agents find an amplifier. At first they notice only the design, but they do not pay attention to the type of speaker they have in front of them: an Amazon Echo. This smart speaker that is used with voice commands, includes a recorder that can “listen” to words, process them, process them, transmit them remotely and respond to the request. Amazon Echo was the first witness to be questioned, in the hope that he would also listen to the murderer’s voice. Amazon, the data holder, rejects the request for the investigation, but then grant the data after the only person investigated had cleared.

Now maybe, it scares even more. But if we leave aside the various datagades: how will these smart speakers affect listening to music?

“Hi Alexa”
“Good morning Fabrizio”
“I would like to listen to Colapesce’s last album ”
“Okay, but would not you prefer a morning playlist to give you a little charge?”
“No thanks, I prefer Colapesce”

If instead I’m connected with a fit watch:

“Hello Alexa”
“Good morning Fabrizio, I noticed that you did not have a restful sleep, I suggest you listen to music for a sweet and harmonious awakening”
“Thanks Alexa, I wanted to listen to Colapesce but maybe you’re right”

Here, Artificial Intelligence will use its rhetorical component to advise you on a specific listening? How much will affect our choices, perhaps even recommending a purchase on Amazon Prime?


“Ok Google”
“Good morning Fabrizio, I noticed that yesterday you watched some videos of Young Signorino, do you want me to send his videos on TV?”
“But it’s morning and I have to have breakfast again”
“So I suggest you go to Bar XXX that have a 30% discount on cappuccino and croissant ”
” No thanks ”
” Then I propose you a purchase of a coffee machine with capsules ”

But there is a less dystopic behavior, that is the possibility of doing more detailed research , such as: “Alexa, I want to listen to all the tracks composed by Tommaso Paradiso “, or “Ok Google, let me listen to all the songs in Spanish sung by Laura Pausini “. Surely the competence will come through which the smart speaker will recognize a song humming or whistling the tune. But will they be choices linked to commercial agreements? And how big will our area of freedom be? Where will the posts be fixed? For now it is about design, technology and experience, but above all the smart IQ of the smart speaker.

YouTube Music Streaming Focuses More on Personal Entertainment

The arena of musical streaming returns to warm up with Google that tries again, much more decisively than in the past. The Mountain View giant has decided to re-launch its YouTube Music service, turning it from a free app into a streaming platform that wants to compete with rival Spotify and Apple Music.

Starting from May 22nd, the new YouTube Music app will be launched in the United States, South Korea, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand, with 14 other countries, including Italy, to follow in the following weeks (here the website, in Italian, according to which “YouTube Music is coming”). The service, mainly musical, will have a free offer with advertising and a premium version, called YouTube Music Premium, for $ 9.99 a month, which in addition to being free of adverts will allow offline downloads, or to let the music go in the background . Who will also want the videos will have the YouTube Premium offer for $ 11.99 a month. While the previous music service, Google Play Music, will be progressively closed.

The most interesting part, however, is the insistence on the ability to customize the streaming experience on the basis of profiling and what Google can know about users. According to Usa Today , the idea is to use the Google Assistant, the artificial intelligence-based digital assistant, to make better recommendations to subscribers. The YouTube manager T. Jay Fowler has in fact described a typical day, in which the user gets up and has a certain type of music, climbs into the car and will have another, arrives at work and will have other customized selections, based on of habits, position and preferences. The discovery of new music is at the heart of Google’s strategy, and also one of the areas where there is probably room to improve the user experience. In a post on the official blog, it is explained that the YouTube Music home screen dynamically adapts to make recommendations depending on the user’s history, where it is and what it is doing. “To the airport? We will recommend some relaxing passages before the flight. Are you entering the gym? We will suggest pieces to speed up the beat “.

YouTube is the first site for online music, but its 1.5 billion monthly visitors mostly use it to listen to songs for free through videos. Now Google seems to want to compete directly with the main music streaming services, Spotify (which was listed on the Stock Exchange in April) and Apple Music, followed by Pandora and Soundcloud.

How to get free 40 Hours of Monthly Music Streaming from Prime Music

Prime Music is the latest addition to Amazon for all Prime subscribers . This is a free music streaming service – including the Prime package from 36 euros a year in certain markets like Italy – that allows you to access 2 million audio tracks and play 40 hours a month without advertising . Once you reach the threshold, you can no longer use the service and you have to wait until the first day of the following month. In the calculation of the 40 hours the songs purchased, imported or from AutoRip are excluded.

Use can be made via PC, Mac, Android and Apple devices, Web, Fire tablets, Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, Sonos and Denon Heos speakers, as well as cars with BMW Apps and Mini connected. An account can support up to 10 devices .

Remember that this new service is combined with the others already provided by the Amazon Prime subscription , ie unlimited 1-day shipments on over 1 million products and in 1-3 days on many other millions, access to the catalog of films and TV series of Prime Video, a selection of eBooks with Prime Reading , unlimited storage space for photos with Prime Photos, Prime Now in the Milan area, in-game content every month with Twitch Prime, and early access to Flash Deals on Amazon.

“With Prime Music, Amazon Prime customers will be able to listen to up to 40 hours of music every month, without advertising and without additional costs,” says Amazon. “Prime Music offers the best music by Italian and international artists such as Vasco Rossi, Caparezza, Negramaro, Tiziano Ferro, Marco Mengoni, Claudio Baglioni, Giorgia, Thegiornalisti, Maroon 5, Imagine Dragons, Pink, Eminem, U2 and many others”.

Entering the specific of the Prime service you will discover several useful functions. For example there are Radio Prime , which can be customized according to their tastes on the basis of the ratings given to the songs with Prime Music; without counting dozens of playlists edited by the experts of Amazon Music.

Unlike other services – think for example of the limitations of the free version of Spotify – Prime Music allows you to listen to music in any way you want. Songs and albums can be chosen individually and listened to several times . In addition you can also proceed to download the tracks on up to 4 mobile devices.

For those who want a more complete experience there is Amazon Music Unlimited , which allows access to over 50 million tracks and latest releases, and digital music downloads on In this case, however, after 30 free days of trial must pay 9.99 euros per month.