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The digital music revolution that has taken place over the past 15 years has had far wider implications than musicians’ and record companies’ (legitimate) gripes about loss of revenues through online piracy.
No so long ago, those who wanted to listen to music at home did so through a “home entertainment centre” — a hulking great device that cost a fortune and was so heavy that it was a chiropractor’s dream, with people putting their backs out attempting to lug systems that were meant to be portable from room to room.
Now you can buy a small, portable wireless speaker for less than Dh300 that offers infinitely better sound quality (no tape hiss or vinyl crackle) through which you can play your entire music collection from your phone or a laptop. Why would you need to spend any more?
Samsung is hoping that audiophiles and those with a higher appreciation of design will splash out a little extra for its new Wireless Audio 360 speakers.
These retail at Dh1,199 for a portable R6 model and Dh1,399 for a non-portable R7, which comes with a stand or an attachment that allows you to hang it from your ceiling.
The speaker has two main selling points. One is its design — it is an egg-shaped unit that is quite futuristic in appearance, with the speaker unit itself largely enclosed within its casing. It also comes in either black or white, depending on which suits your surroundings.
The other is its sound, which it claims is much richer than other wireless speakers, providing omnidirectional sound, meaning that you should hear your music (or television) in exactly the same manner wherever you are in the room.
This is thanks to Samsung’s “proprietary ring radiator technology” developed at its new audio lab in California, which ensures that sound waves dissipate more evenly without distortion.
You can connect to the speakers either through your Wi-Fi network or through Bluetooth, and there is an app (available for both Android and iOS operating systems), that allows you to individually control multiple speakers, or to group them all together to play from the same source.
q& a wireless but not faultless
Michael Fahy gives more details on the Samsung’s Wireless Audio 360 speakers:
Does it really sound that much better?
On first reflection, the difference in performance between my Dh299 speaker and the Dh1,199 portable Samsung R6 was not that huge, but that was partly due to the choice of music (psychedelic lo-fi rock group Toy) than the units. Tasked with something subtler (acoustic Norwegian folk pop duo Kings of Convenience), then the greater depth and clarity of sound was clearly noticeable.
So is it worth the money?
That depends. These cost Dh1,199 per speaker, so if you wanted to use them in several rooms, you’d need to shell out quite a bit. They look and sound very good, but there were a couple of downsides. When connecting the speaker to an iPhone via Bluetooth, for instance, songs tended to skip if the phone was used for anything else, or if another Bluetooth-enabled device connected to the phone was active. There were also occasions when its touch-sensitive controls annoyed. When picking up the speaker to adjust the volume, for instance, it was too easy to brush a button that switches the source mode to TV.
Anything else to note?
Its battery life is six hours, which isn’t really all that long when listening to background music (my Dh299 wireless speaker operates for 10 hours). As a result, on several occasions when I went to use it, the battery was flat and had to be plugged into a wall to charge during use.
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