ASRock (via momomo_us) has carved up a new motherboard for cryptocurrency miners. The H510 Pro BTC+, which arrives with the LGA1200 socket and H510 chipset, is ready to power your mining operations with the latest Comet Lake or Rocket Lake processors.
The H510 PRO BTC+ measures 50.1 x 22.4cm (20.1 x 8.8 inches) so the motherboard doesn’t adhere to an official form factor. It shouldn’t matter anyways, since the H510 PRO BTC+ is more than likely going on to a rack rather than inside a conventional computer case.
The motherboard’s greatest trait comes in the shape of six PCIe 3.0 x16 expansion slots. However, only the primary PCIe 3.0 expansion slot offers x16 speeds, while the remaining expansion slots are capped at x1. The motherboard allows you to connect up to six graphics cards to mine cryptocurrency. An additional USB mining port bumps the number up to seven.
The steel expansion slots on the H510 PRO BTC+ make sure that your multiple graphics card sit neat and tight on the motherboard. ASRock equipped the H510 PRO BTC+ with not one but three 24-pin power connectors and four Molex power connectors so the motherboard will get all the juice that it needs to feed each and every graphics card.
If we leave the expansion slots aside, the H510 PRO BTC+ is really an austere motherboard. It features a very modest four-phase power delivery subsystem, but the motherboard does boast 50A power chokes. It only has one DDR4 memory slot, though. You’re limited to 32GB of total memory and memory speeds up to DDR4-3200 on Rocket Lake and DDR4-2933 for Comet Lake. However, there is support for ECC memory modules if that’s your thing.
You only have two options for storage. The SATA III port will accept any ordinary hard drive or SSD, while the M.2 slot houses SATA-based drives up to 110mm in length. There’s no audio chip onboard the H510 PRO BTC+ so you’ll have to rely on the HDMI 1.4 port.
The H510 PRO BTC+ provides a single Gigabit Ethernet port, which is based on the Intel I219V controller. The rear panel also holds a combo PS/2 port, one HDMI 1.4 port, two USB 2.0 ports and two USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports. One USB 2.0 header is readily available to deliver two more USB 2.0 ports.
Newegg has the H510 PRO BTC+ up for pre-order at $279.99. The H510 PRO BTC+ officially launches on July 18, and purchase is limited to two motherboards per customer.
It might be aimed primarily at creative types, but the new iPad Pro 12.9 is also the best tablet there’s ever been if portable cinema is your thing
Stunning picture quality
Great sound with headphones
Expensive for a tablet
At this stage, each new iPad feels like an incremental improvement on the one before it. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course – in practical terms, Apple is almost unchallenged in the tablet arena, so a nip and tuck is generally all that’s required, but it’s not exactly exciting.
That’s where the new iPad Pro 12.9 comes in. Despite being aesthetically similar to its predecessor, this is a big step forward for tablets.
The headline-grabber is the new, high-end laptop-derived processor, but the new mini LED-lit display is the real game-changer as far as we’re concerned. Ever wanted an OLED or QLED TV that you could fit in a backpack? The new iPad Pro 12.9 is that – and plenty more.
The new iPad Pro 12.9 starts at £999 ($1099, AU$1649) for the 128GB wi-fi-only model. There are lots of storage options available, all the way up to a £1999 ($2199, AU$3299) 2TB version. Adding cellular functionality to any model adds £150 ($200, AU$250).
The smaller iPad Pro 11 starts at £749 ($799, AU$1199) but, as well as being 1.9 inches smaller, the screen uses different underlying technology, so picture performance won’t be the same.
There’s little difference between the physical design of the new iPad Pro 12.9 and its predecessor. In fact, other than the new model being 0.5mm thicker, the dimensions of the two models are identical.
It is a large tablet, as you’d expect of a device with a 12.9in screen, measuring 28 x 21 x 0.6cm (11 x 8.5 x 0.3 inches) in total. You have to be committed to the cinematic (or productivity) potential of the big display to opt for such a large device.
Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2021) tech specs
Screen size 12.9in
Resolution 2732 x 2048 (264ppi)
Storage 128GB / 256GB / 512GB / 1TB / 2TB
Battery life 10 hours
Cameras 12MP + 10MP ultra wide on rear / 12MP front
Dimensions (hwd) 28 x 21 x 0.6cm
Unlike the iPad Air, which is available in a number of subtle metallic hues, the iPad Pro 12.9 comes only in Space Grey or Silver. More variation would be nice, but both finishes are lovely and the new Pro both looks and feels utterly premium.
On the otherwise flat rear is a protruding camera array that will rest directly on a surface when the iPad is laid down. It’s designed to resist damage from such placement, but a case that physically raises the lenses will be a first add-on for many.
The top and bottom edges of the tablet each have two sets of speaker perforations so you’re listening in stereo when the iPad is oriented horizontally. Also along the edges are physical power and volume buttons, plus a USB-C socket that supports the much faster Thunderbolt standard, opening up the opportunity to connect higher-end storage devices and monitors.
The front is all glass, but there’s a 9mm black border between the display and the tablet’s edge. Embedded into this border is a new front-facing camera that can follow you around in the style of Facebook Portal. This is a great feature for FaceTime calls but the positioning of the camera on one of the shorter edges means you’re awkwardly off-centre when video calling in landscape mode.
Positioning aside, that front-facing camera is excellent in terms of image quality, thanks to a 12MP resolution and ultra-wide field of view. The rear camera array is solid, too, boasting a main 12MP wide camera, 10MP ultra-wide camera and a true tone flash.
If you’re the sort of person who’s considering buying a new iPad Pro, you may already have a top-end iPhone with an even better camera, but the iPad takes perfectly good photos and videos (the latter in up to 4K at 60fps) in its own right. It’s also of a high enough quality to enable lots of interesting and useful app-based features, such as document scanning and augmented reality experiences.
Apple positions its iPad Pro models as productivity and creativity devices, and the new M1 chip takes this to the next level. This is the same chip that Apple has just started putting in its MacBooks and has shaken up the laptop market thanks to its vast performance upgrade over previous processors.
Apple claims that it makes the new iPad Pro’s CPU performance 50 per cent faster than that of the already lightning-fast previous version, and GPU speed is up by 40 per cent. Frankly, that sort of power is overkill for those of us primarily interested in watching movies and listening to music but, needless to say, it makes the user experience smoother than Cristiano Ronaldo’s chest.
If you are looking to use the new iPad Pro for creating as well as consuming, you might want to consider combining it with the Apple Pencil (2nd Generation), which wirelessly charges when magnetically connected to the tablet’s edge, and/or the new Magic Keyboard, which essentially turns the iPad into a slick laptop, trackpad and all. Both accessories are expensive, though. In fact, adding the £329 ($349, AU$549) Magic Keyboard to the most affordable version of the iPad Pro 12.9 makes it more expensive than buying an M1-powered 13-inch MacBook Pro.
While content creators might be most excited about the new iPad Pro’s M1 power, we content consumers will be far more excited about the 12.9-inch model’s new screen. Apple calls it a Liquid Retina XDR display, with the ‘XDR’ standing for ‘eXtreme Dynamic Range’. This is the first mini-LED backlight in an iPad. There are 10,000 of the things, arranged into 2500 independent dimming zones – Samsung’s top mini LED-based 4K TV for 2021 (the QN95A) is thought to have around 800 dimming zones, so the iPad’s figure looks incredibly impressive.
The more dimming zones a display has, the more exact and precise it can be in terms of contrast, producing deep blacks next to bright highlights. Apple claims the iPad Pro 12.9 can maintain a full-screen brightness of up to 1000 nits and hit peaks of up to 1600 nits, which is around double the peak brightness of a modern OLED TV. Contrast ratio is claimed to be 1,000,000:1.
Those screen specs should make the iPad Pro 12.9 a great performer with HDR content – and they do. It’s not so much that it goes vastly brighter than other iPad models, such as the iPad Air, it’s that it combines bright highlights with awesomely deep blacks to create a vastly more dynamic and exciting picture.
We play Blade Runner 2049 in Dolby Vision from the iTunes store and set both models to their highest brightness setting. The Pro’s peaks are noticeably brighter than the Air’s but not vastly so. However, to reach those levels the Air has had to entirely sacrifice its black performance, producing something clearly grey in hue. There’s no such sacrifice necessary with the Pro – its blacks are near-perfect.
That combination of deep blacks and very bright highlights makes for a supremely punchy image, particularly in the scenes around LA, which feature neon lights and holographic adverts lighting the city’s grimy gloom.
Thankfully, Apple hasn’t thrown away its reputation for colour authenticity while reaching for new heights in contrast. On the contrary, Apple claims that every iPad is calibrated for colour, brightness, gamma and white point before it leaves the factory, and it shows – there’s great consistency across iPad models, all of which come across as extremely authentically balanced. It’s the same with the new Pro.
There’s a little more vibrancy afforded by the greater dynamic range, seen in the yellow porch of Sapper Morton’s farm, for example, but there’s no hint of garishness or exaggeration. As we switch between films and TV shows from various streaming services and in various resolutions and formats (HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision are all supported), colours combine vividness and nuanced authenticity to an exceptional degree. Everything looks awesome, but it also looks correct.
Apple increases and decreases the resolution of its iPads depending on the size of the screen, so that pixel density is kept the same (all current models have 264 pixels per inch with the exception of the iPad Mini, which has a higher pixel density of 326ppi). As a result, the new iPad Pro 12.9 isn’t vastly sharper or more detailed than siblings such as the Air (although it does dig up more fine details in the brightest and darkest parts of the picture), but the deeper blacks help reinforce edges, making for a more solid and three-dimensional image.
That solidity is retained even during fast and otherwise tricky motion. The iPad Pro maintains a firm grip on the action at all times, sharpening and smoothing without adding any artificiality or shimmer. It doesn’t even get confused by K’s car moving behind a row of skyscrapers as he flies back to HQ at the beginning of Blade Runner 2049, or by the dogfighting planes in 1917. If this was a TV, in terms of motion handling it would be right up there with the superb Sony A90J.
In fact, that’s the underlying beauty of the new iPad Pro 12.9: it’s like having a miniaturised top-end TV you can take almost anywhere.
With two speakers on each of the short edges, the iPad Pro is capable of producing proper stereo when in landscape orientation and, with some clever onboard processing, it’s even able to deliver some virtualised surround sound, with some of the radio chatter at the start of Gravity appearing to come to your left and right rather than being completely tethered to the drivers.
That effect is ramped up to astonishing degrees if you add a pair of AirPods Max or AirPods Pro headphones and take advantage of the spatial audio feature. It’s incredibly effective, particularly with the Max cans, and is like being in a personal Dolby Atmos cinema, with sounds coming from all around you. If the iPad Pro 12.9 is like having a top-end TV you can take anywhere, adding a pair of AirPods Max makes it like having a whole portable cinema. It’s genuinely amazing.
Of course, the tablet will also output sound to any standard wired and Bluetooth headphones, although you will need to buy a USB-C headphone adapter for the former. As with its approach to video, Apple has always favoured authentic, uncoloured sound, and so it proves here – movies and music are both presented with deft tonal balance, impressive rhythmic organisation, lots of engaging punch and detail, and dynamic shifts both big and small.
While it’s not a vast step up from the current Air in terms of its audio quality through headphones, the new iPad Pro does sound noticeably cleaner and more nuanced than its smaller, much more affordable sibling. It has added richness and dynamic subtlety, too. Play both out loud, meanwhile, and there’s a clear increase in available volume and weight from the Pro, although both models are fairly bass light, as you’d expect from drivers small enough to fit inside a tablet device.
Apple’s Pro tablets have, as the name suggests, always been aimed at professional, creative types, and they will be delighted by the huge power brought to the new models by the M1 chip.
Our focus is on the picture and sound, though, and the iPad Pro 12.9 is at least as exciting here. The picture performance is superb – punchy and deep, vibrant and natural, exciting and nuanced. It’s right up there with that of the very best TVs you can buy. Sound, meanwhile, is great from the speakers, excellent via standard Bluetooth or wired headphones, and simply amazing with a pair of AirPods Max cans.
This is a hugely expensive tablet and the price is hard to justify for anyone who has no intention of taking advantage of its productivity potential, but it’s also the best tablet you can buy for watching movies on the move. Sure, this is a luxury device, but it’s an extremely persuasive one.
(Pocket-lint) – Sonos is not one for racing new products out for the sake of it. Its Playbar, for example, ruled the roost for seven years, being its only full-fledged soundbar in that time.
The Sonos Beam arrived in the meantime, but was more meant for smaller TVs and rooms, giving you a better alternative than the speakers on your flatscreen rather than cinematic experience. So, a replacement to the Playbar was long overdue.
That’s where the Sonos Arc came in. But it didn’t just replace the Playbar, it brought so many new bells and whistles to the party that it is an altogether different beast. One with Dolby Atmos – a first for the company – to deliver a virtual surround-sound experience from the single ‘bar.
Dimensions: 87 x 1141.7 x 115.7mm / Weight: 6.25kg
Can be wall-mounted or laid on a TV cabinet
Black and white options available
Adjustable status LED
Putting its tech and audio prowess to one side for a minute, the Sonos Arc is a sleek looking soundbar that matches the aesthetic of the company’s One and Move standalones.
Best soundbar: Options to boost your TV audio
It is long – almost the length of a modern 55-inch flatscreen TV – but more subtle than its predecessor, with a plastic alloy build and grille to front and sides. Even the logo fades away when you’re not staring directly at it, whichever finish you choose (there’s black or white, nothing more outlandish than that).
We particularly like that there are no contrasting flourishes in the design, as there’s nothing worse than catching a soundbar out of the corner of your eye while watching an intense moment in a film. Unlike children, speaker systems – and especially soundbars – should be heard and not seen. The subtlety of Sonos’ bar ensures that is the case, whether it’s wall-mounted or laid flat on a TV stand.
There are a few touch buttons on the top for play/pause and volume adjustment, but the Sonos app is so simple to use we couldn’t see ourselves bothering with them. Plus, as it is HDMI eARC-enabled, you can mainly control the soundbar through your TV remote for general use.
What is HDMI eARC? Why is it different to HDMI ARC?
The only other distinguishable icon on the bar itself is a microphone symbol, indicating that it is voice-enabled, with support for both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. You can tap it to turn on/off the listening mode – signified by a small LED light.
Ethernet (10/100 Mbps) and Wi-Fi (802.11b/g, 2.4GHz)
HDMI eARC (with optical digital audio adapter)
IR sensor on the front
Around the rear, hidden in an alcove, there are connections for power, HDMI and Ethernet. That’s it.
Those not wanting to connect the Arc through HDMI will be pleased to know that a digital optical audio adapter is included in the box, but that will effectively disable any Dolby Atmos support, as that requires hooking it up to an HDMI eARC/ARC port on a compatible TV. You’ll still get very effective multichannel surround sound, just not Atmos.
Also missing (if setup using the optical connection) will be the ability for full automation through your TV’s remote control. There is an infrared (IR) sensor, so you can set your remote to also adjust volume, but that’s a less elegant solution than using HDMI CEC (standing for Consumer Electronics Control) between TV and Arc. It also emits automated audio sync between them.
Still, if it’s all you’ve got then that’s fine – you’re still getting a superb sound system and are future-proofed to boot.
Plus, while there are plenty of TVs with at least one ARC-enabled HDMI port, only more recent models support Dolby Atmos decoding or passthrough. Even fewer support the full HDMI eARC standard, so it’s possible you might consider the soundbar with an eye on upgrading your TV somewhere down the line.
As well as 10/100 Mbps Ethernet for wired network connection, single-band (2.4GHz) Wi-Fi is available too.
Dolby Atmos support (through HDMI eARC/ARC)
Built-in Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa voice assistants
Runs on new Sonos S2 software
Apple AirPlay 2 support
Sonos multiroom compatible
As well as Dolby Atmos – which we’ll come to in a bit – the Sonos Arc is quite a step up over the Playbar when it comes to features.
Support for Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant is wholly welcome, for starters, implementing in similar fashion to Sonos One and Move.
The Arc has a four far-field microphone array built in that detects voice from a fair distance. We walked around a decent sized living room, even stepped outside for a moment, and it could still hear and recognise our voice.
Both services are setup through the Sonos app and, subsequently, their own individual applications on iOS and Android, so once complete act almost exactly as they would on any other supported device.
You can only use one assistant, having to disable the other if you swap, but it’s great to be given the choice. And, depending on Amazon and Google’s compatibility, it means you can play and control music by vocal command, across streaming services, and your own digital library.
You can also technically use your Arc to control your TV, if it too is Alexa and/or Google Assistant-enabled.
Apple AirPlay 2 is also supported by the soundbar, to present the cleanest possible audio sent wirelessly from an iPhone, iPad or Mac. And, Sonos’ Trueplay audio tuning during setup ensures that the output matches your surroundings through very simple instructions.
What is Sonos Trueplay and how does it work?
Of course, the Arc’s biggest, most attractive feature is that it is a Sonos speaker.
Sonos has provided an integrated, connected multiroom solution for many years, and has refined the experience over time. Today it is compatible with all the big music streaming services, including Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Deezer, Tidal, and more. There is also Sonos Radio, the brand’s own free service with ad-supported stations and curated playlists, so even if you aren’t a member of a third-party platform, you will still have plenty to listen to.
As Sonos products also connect wirelessly to each other, through your home network, you can sync the same songs playing on your Arc to, say, a Sonos Five speaker in another room, for example. You can group multiple speakers together and have them all play the same music. It’s great for house parties, that’s for sure.
Alternatively, you can use the interoperability to hook up a couple of Sonos One speakers to work as rear speakers, using your Arc as the front, centre and height channels. And adding a Sub for extra bass is made as simple as possible.
A decent feature set is all well and good, but the most important aspect of a soundbar is the sound itself. And the Arc does not disappoint when it comes to spatial performance.
It effectively presents a virtual 5.0.2 soundfield with Atmos engaged, 5.0 when not. Dedicated centre, left and right channels provide the front-facing effects. Two other channels angled at either end of the bar provide virtual surround, while a pair of additional drivers point upwards to reflect Dolby Atmos height channels off the ceiling and back to the listening position.
There are eight woofers and three tweeters in all, each with its own Class-D digital amplifier, and when all are working in unison it presents a wall of sound that belies the simple, thin form factor.
We advise pairing the Arc with the Sonos Sub, as that will put extra growl into the bass, but we’re already impressed with the overall effect when it’s playing solo, including low frequencies.
As we’ve mentioned above, you can also add a pair of additional Sonos speakers for true rears/surrounds, but the reason why many invest in a soundbar is for its simplicity. Unless you are a true home cinema buff, you’ll already be impressed with the Arc’s out-of-the-box experience.
We tested the Arc using the latest Sonos software (Sonos S2) and several sources. We also used a Philips OLED754 TV, which has Dolby Atmos processing on board and passthrough – which we activated.
This allowed us to play a few Netflix shows that come with Atmos sound, plus several 4K Blu-rays: The Rise of Skywalker, John Wick 3 and Ready Player One. The second John Wick sequel is an especially good check disk for Dolby Atmos, with rain effects utilising the height channels throughout the first few scenes.
Perhaps the best test came via our Xbox One X. The Dolby Access app for the console (plus the One S) comes with a great collection of game and movie trailers featuring Atmos mixes, plus a few of Dolby’s own demo clips. They each gave the Sonos Arc a great workout, which it passed with flying colours. It provides a wall of sound, with clear precise spacing, even at extreme volumes.
When listening to the Arc you get an impression of audio above the seating position, plus a widening of the soundscape. But you also get a bold, cinematic presentation that seemingly comes straight from the TV screen. Having a dedicated centre also allows for clean vocal tracks.
In music terms, listening to high-res mixes of Price’s Purple Rain and The Rolling Stones’ You Can’t Always Get What You Want streamed over Tidal perfectly illustrated the bar’s ability with mid and high frequencies. Even bass response is more than acceptable for music playback.
You are still likely to want a separate Sub to get the most from genres utilising sub-bass – d&b and dubset heads, that’s you – but even without that additional cost the Arc’s neutral tones are a great starting point for all genres.
The Sonos Arc is a highly-accomplished bit of kit. There are caveats: it only works with the Sonos S2 software, so cannot be part of the same multi-room setup as older legacy kit; and, without a separate source input on the bar, your TV needs to have Dolby Atmos and HDMI ARC/eARC support to use it at its fullest.
However, those are minor points really as, like the Playbar before it, this is a speaker with the potential to be relevant for the next seven years or more. Your surrounding kit will inevitably catch-up.
In the meantime, the Arc presents an exemplary sound experience even without Dolby Atmos – which accounts for 90 per cent or so of the audio you’ll pump through it anyway. And, with Alexa and Google Assistant built-in, plus AirPlay 2 and Sonos’ own feature-filled music platform, you have yourself a very compelling speaker system to elevate your entertainment no end.
It’s pricey, granted, but you’re getting a tough-to-rival feature set and a very classy act all told.
If you’re not bound to Sonos’ multi-room system idea, yet want a true surround sound system in the one box, Samsung delivers a 7.1.4 with ‘bar, sub, rear speakers and Dolby Atmos support out of the box. All for a very reasonable price considering.
Read our review
Writing by Rik Henderson. Editing by Britta O’Boyle.
Montech’s Air 100 offers a tidy Micro-ATX package with lots of RGB, but it could use a bit more refinement.
+ Great Looks
+ Compact Size
+ Includes 4 A-RGB Fans
– A few unsightly details
– No PWM support
– No intake air filtration
– Tight cable management space
Features and Specifications
Montech is a newcomer to the US PC parts market, having recently asked us to take a look at its new Air 100 ARGB chassis. While its design is fairly standard, and its Micro-ATX size means its appeal is limited, when we heard about the price, we were happy to heft this compact tower onto our test bench.
The Air 100 chassis comes in Lite and ARGB variants, with the latter on deck today carrying a price tag of $70 for the black version. Going white will cost about $5 to $10 extra, and cutting the RGB drops the base price down to about $52.
Without further ado, lets find out if this surprisingly affordable chasis deserves a spot on our Best PC Cases list.
16.7 x 8.2 x 15.9 inches (425 x 210 x 405 mm)
Max GPU Length
12.9 inches (330 mm)
CPU Cooler Height
6.3 inches (161 mm)
2x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0, discrete 3.5 mm Audio & Mic
1x Tempered Glass Panel, RGB Controller
3x 120 mm (Up to 2x 140mm, 3x 120mm)
1x 120mm (Up to 1x 120mm)
None (Up to 2x 140mm)
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Touring around the outside of the chassis, it’s clear that this is a case with very simple, straightforward design language, and I quite like it. There’s no fuffing about with extravagant shapes, just clean and simple, with three intake fans as the most aggressive design feature – but they look quite good.
Around the top of the case you’ll find the exhaust for the top fans or radiators, along with the IO. The exhaust isn’t recessed for a sleek finish once fans are installed, and although a filter is included to place over it, this top area doesn’t look particularly refined.
IO is very complete though, with two USB 3.0 ports, a USB 2.0 port, dedicated microphone and headphone jacks, and power and reset switches – though the reset switch is wired to the RGB controller from the factory to control the lighting. I’ve been hard on cases for doing that before, but because it’s not actually marked as a reset switch on the outside of the chassis here, I see no reason why that would be a problem with this case.
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The case’s panels all come off quite easily – the glass panel has a handle to easily swivel it out, after which you can lift it off its hinge, and the front panel is held in with magnets, so it comes off with just a light tug — a bit too light though, the magnets aren’t very strong.
The panel on the right side of the chassis comes off by removing two thumbscrews, though they don’t stay fixed to the panel like many other cases do.
In the main compartment of the chassis, you’ll find room for up to Micro-ATX motherboards and GPUs up to 12.9 inches (330mm) long. Other than that, there’s not much going on here that’s worth mentioning, though I do appreciate the rubber cable grommets for keeping things tidy.
Along the rear side of the chassis we spot room for the ATX power supply, a single 3.5-inch hard drive and two 2.5 inch SSDs, though you can secure another drive to the top of the drive cage.
This is also where the RGB controller hides.
At this point we haven’t reached testing yet, but cooling should be one of the Air 100’s strengths – it comes with four 120mm RGB fans, has room for CPU coolers up to up to 6.3 inches (161mm) tall, and can fit up to a 240mm radiator at the top or a 360mm unit at the front (the spec sheet lists a 280mm max, I don’t see why a 360mm radiator wouldn’t fit), albeit at the sacrifice of some GPU space. The fans come with a 1x 3-pin to 4x 3-pin splitter so that you can connect all fans up to a single header.
Looks like immersion doesn’t quite beat monetization — Facebook is going to start putting in-headset ads in certain Oculus games within the next few weeks. Welcome to the digital frontier! Instead of the Gateway Arch, we have a McDonald’s billboard.
Don’t expect to have to karate kick pop-ups quite yet, though. According to a post Oculus made on its blog yesterday, this is going to be a slow rollout. The ads will first appear in the Resolution Games title Blastion, plus in a few unnamed games from “a couple other developers.”
“This is a test with a few apps,” the post explains. “Once we see how this test goes and incorporate feedback from developers and the community, we’ll provide more details on when ads may become more broadly available across the Oculus platform.”
If you’re worried that these ads will show up as simple flat windows over your best VR headset footage, at least it seems like they’ll be more naturally integrated than that. A sample gif from the Oculus post shows an ad placed on an in-game wall, with the user able to click on it to access some customization options.
These include the ability to save the ad link for later, to mute it if it plays audio, to report it if it breaks any rules, to hide it and to find out why the algorithm targeted that specific ad towards you. In other words, it’s a very similar menu to ads on Facebook itself, although Andrew Bosworth tweeted out that there will be differences.
You can manage what ads you want to see and we’re including controls to hide specific ads or hide ads from an advertiser completely. Ads in VR will be different from ads elsewhere and this is a space that will take time and people’s feedback to get right https://t.co/dHOlqHoOVFJune 16, 2021
He also, very bravely, asked for feedback, which you can submit by reaching out to Oculus Support.
These ads might also explain why Oculus is going to start requiring Facebook accounts to use its devices. A Facebook spokesperson told the Verge that the ad system will use information from your Facebook account, including “”hether you’ve viewed content, installed, activated or subscribed to an Oculus app, added an app to your cart or wishlist, if you’ve initiated checkout or purchased an app on the Oculus platform, and lastly, whether you’ve viewed, hovered, saved, or clicked on an ad within a third-party app.”
That said, the company still promises that “We do not use information processed and stored locally on your headset to target ads.”
It’s possible that this ad system might also be an attempt to bring a mobile-like experience to the Oculus store. On mobile, many games are free and supported by ads, and Oculus’ blog closes out by saying “We’re excited by the opportunity to open up new revenue streams for developers and as a result, broaden the type of apps and content on the Oculus Platform. A more profitable ecosystem is a critical step on the path to consumer VR becoming truly mainstream.”
Let’s just hope it doesn’t undercut the whole point of visiting another reality.
It isn’t perfect, but the SP11RA is a refined, detailed and room-filling Dolby Atmos system
Large, well-spread soundscape
Comprehensive feature set
Detailed top end
Looks don’t match the price tag
Sub feels one dimensional
Lacks a little punch
It seems that LG can do no wrong when it comes to OLED TVs, but its soundbars have proven to be more of a mixed bag. The company is clearly determined to get things right with its 2021 flagship model, the LG SP11RA, despite the two-star bruising we gave its predecessor.
Like the previous model, the SP11RA is a serious investment in terms of both money and space. If your idea of a soundbar is affordable, compact convenience, you may be surprised by the price, size and number of boxes involved here. It’s still a more convenient and less overwhelming undertaking than building a true home cinema system, though, particularly one to match the LG’s 7.1.4 channels of Dolby Atmos action.
Best of all, while the SP11RA looks similar to its underwhelming forebear, the feature set and sound quality have been significantly improved. It’s still not perfect and it won’t be for everyone, but for some, it could be just what they’re looking for.
The SP11RA launches at £1500 (AU$1849) and supersedes 2020’s SN11RG, which was initially similarly priced but has been heavily discounted since being discontinued.
Its nearest rival is Samsung’s 11.1.4ch package, the Q950A, which currently costs £1600 ($1600, AU$1500), while some of Samsung’s smaller 2021 Dolby Atmos soundbars with wireless subs, such as the Q800A £799 ($700), can be upgraded to surround packages through the addition of the SWA-9500S 2.0.2 wireless rear speaker kit, which costs £249 ($248, AU$395).
Alternatively, the Award-winning, Dolby Atmos-enabled Sonos Arc, which costs £799 ($799, AU$1399) on its own, can be expanded through the addition of two One SL speakers (£358, $358, AU$538) and, if required, a Sub (£699, $699, AU$999). This full system would set you back £1856 ($1856, $2936).
If all this sounds quite costly, bear in mind that the cheapest AVR we recommend that does 7.1.4 amplification, the Denon AVC-X6700H, costs £2299 ($2499, AU$6190) and you’d also need to budget for a full speaker package.
Size is certainly the most conspicuous physical feature of the SP11RA. At 144cm long, LG suggests pairing with TVs sized 55 inches and above, so you’ll need a substantial cabinet to house it on. Hardware for wall mounting is included but, at 15cm deep, it will protrude noticeably more than your flat screen.
LG SP11RA tech specs
Connections eARC, 2x HDMI, optical, USB
Sound format support Dolby Atmos/ Dolby AudioTM/ DTS:X/ DTS-HD/ PCM
Bluetooth version 5.0
AirPlay 2 Yes
Voice control Google Assistant, Alexa
Dimensions (hwd) 6.3 x 144 x 14.6cm (bar); 39 x 22 x 31cm (sub); 21 x 13 x 19cm (rears)
Weight 7.2kg (bar); 7.8kg (sub); 5.2kg (rears)
The finish seems to have been designed to help camouflage the large surface area and almost succeeds. The front and side faces are wrapped in a tight black mesh grille while the top surface is finished in brushed black metal which, despite its matt finish, reflects a bit of light from the screen directly above.
Size aside, there’s little in the design that indicates the premium price. The styling is rather nondescript, and the individual units don’t feel particularly solid or premium either.
Hidden inside the main bar are the left, centre and right channels, each with a 20mm silk dome tweeter and a 10cm racetrack driver; two ‘surround’ channels with a 10cm racetrack driver unit at either end of the bar; and on the top surface are a pair of 7cm Atmos speakers.
Also on the top exterior is a mic for room calibration and voice control (the SP11RA is compatible with both Alexa and Google Assistant) as well as touch buttons for power, input, volume, play/pause and quick source select options for wi-fi and Bluetooth 5.0.
The front face has a five-character swift scrolling LED display for text feedback as you change settings and otherwise constantly shows the current active input.
At the rear is an HDMI-out port that supports eARC, plus two HDMI 2.1 inputs with 4K Dolby Vision pass-through. There’s also an optical input and a USB port, the latter for connection to a mass storage device.
Relative to the main bar the separate wireless sub (SPP8-W) seems modestly sized, with a front-facing 18cm bass driver and rear port, wrapped on three sides in a soft black fabric.
The two wireless rear speakers house front-facing 76mm units for the surround back left and right channels and angled 63mm drivers on top for the Atmos, with the sides finished in the same brushed black metal as the main bar. While the sub and surrounds are ‘wireless’ in terms of audio signal they still require power and need to be located near a plug socket.
That’s a total of 15 drive units configured for 7.1.4-channels, but syncing this array of boxes is pretty straightforward. The LG Soundbar app quickly finds the main bar and is easy to add onto our network, with the other units of our sample automatically joining after. There’s also a button on the back of each unit for manual pairing and an LED status indicator.
The SP11RA has a comprehensive list of connectivity options that can be easily accessed via the touch buttons, the minimalist remote control or the app. For streaming, alongside Bluetooth and wi-fi, there’s Chromecast built-in and, if you have access to hi-res content, you’ll be pleased to know the soundbar can handle audio of up to 24-bit/192kHz quality.
The levels of each speaker group can be turned up or down using the remote or the app, and there’s a broad two-band EQ to tweak the high end or low end of the front of the main unit.
As well as a decent ‘Standard’ sound mode, there are a host of other sound profiles, some of which are new for this year, including a ‘Music’ mode that benefits from tuning courtesy of Meridian, with whom LG has collaborated to enhance its audio products since 2018.
The SP11RA also features ‘Meridian Horizon’, an upmixing technology that LG says will provide immersive multichannel audio from two-channel stereo content.
This upmixing is accessed from the ‘Cinema Sound’ mode which, regardless of the original sound format, will output audio from all speakers. The ‘Bass Blast’ profile operates similarly but with added low end. There’s also a ‘Clear Voice’ option, and modes optimised for ‘Sport’ and ‘Gaming’. If you’d rather let the soundbar decide then ‘AI Sound’ mode automatically switches between profiles. On the LG Soundbar app, there’s an added ‘Night-time’ mode that compresses dynamics and reduces bass and can only be accessed manually.
Following the latest trend of brand symbiotic TVs and soundbars, those with a 2021 LG OLED (such as the OLED65CX) have yet more options available and can choose to let their TV handle the processing by choosing ‘TV Sound Mode Share’ in the advanced settings on their TV’s sound menu. However, it’s worth noting that when watching Dolby Atmos content, the sound modes are locked out as this uses its own algorithm.
We start by streaming Soul in 5.1 on Disney Plus. Trent Reznor’s ethereal electronic score of the ‘Great Before’ is well projected in both the main bar and rears and the springy reverb effects in the ‘You Seminar’ are nicely realised, adding a feeling of openness and space. The pillowy soundscape feels large and enveloping, and the surrounds pull their weight dynamically, filling in the atmosphere nicely with a smooth, even soundstage.
Occasionally, though, that smoothness verges on blandness. When the action returns to earth and ‘22’ experiences the cacophony of New York for the first time, we don’t quite get the sense of overwhelming din from the more guttural sounds such as the pile driver and passing firetruck, which lack a strong leading edge. Jon Batiste’s jazz underscore however feels elegantly presented and lush, skipping along with a secure sense of timing.
Swapping to the opening scene of Unbroken in Dolby Atmos, we’re impressed by the forthright clarity of the high-frequency elements in such a busy, noisy scene – even as the sound of flight goggles being adjusted is crisp against the whir of the engines – and the projection of the dialogue. As wind and engine noise fill the room, the SP11RA makes a fair attempt at rendering height, though not quite as successfully as the class-leading Sonos Arc which, when paired with two Sonos One surrounds, benefits from greater consistency of sound between the main unit and the smaller speakers.
Streaming from Tidal, we try Mariachi El Bronx’s High Tide. It’s a texturally dense song, but the SP11RA manages to control the ornate instrumentation. The vibrato heavy brass is sparkly but not harsh and the strings soar sweetly while lighter rhythmic elements such as the finger-picked acoustic guitar and woodblock sing out amongst it all. In the ‘Music’ mode, the bass and treble are enhanced slightly without sounding synthetic and the separation between instruments is widened.
A bigger undertaking is SBTRKT’s Trials Of The Past where the timing of some of the rapid synth tremolo proves a challenge. We also can’t help but feel that considering that this system has a separate sub it misses its chance to shine. There’s little attack to define the initial thump of the synthesised bass notes and, generally, the low end feels a bit limp and lacking in dimension, which when contrasted with the precision in the top end can result in an unbalanced sound.
The SP11RA is a big improvement from last year’s SN11RG. It’s easy to listen to, creating an even, immersive listening experience and, while you may have to give up some space to house it, its connectivity spec is one of the most comprehensive we’ve seen.
Some may find it a little too polite both in terms of the low end and muscularity, especially when compared to other soundbars with a separate sub such as Samsung’s HW-Q800A. Likewise, there are also better Dolby Atmos performers, including the Sonos Arc, which is even more convincing in its handling of 3D audio soundtracks, particularly when partnered by One SL surround speakers, as well as more attacking and engaging in its delivery.
The SP11RA isn’t perfect, then, but it is a good option that boasts a detailed top end, broad, room-filling sound and largely deft handling of music.
I am really excited to share this review, though primarily for a reason completely apart from the product itself. Let that just be a teaser for now, and let’s give ThieAudio its due. The company might as well be brand new, having launched in 2019 as a creative outlet for Linsoul Audio, which itself is a bigger brand that is also a distributor. Working as a first-party brand thus, ThieAudio has had the benefit of seeing how other brand products work and has moved on from there. Its debuting Legacy 3 in-ear monitors (IEMs) were released to rave reviews and are recommended even today for offering supposedly excellent value for money. I do not have the Legacy 3 here, though, with the company having sent out the newer Legacy 5 instead. Thanks again to ThieAudio, and also Linsoul, for sending a review sample to TechPowerUp!
Unlike the Ikko OH10, ThieAudio does have a few decent photos on the product page. However, aspect ratios all deviate from our suitable design here, so I used one of my own photos. The ThieAudio Legacy 5, more commonly just referred to as the ThieAudio L5, uses the brand’s proprietary 10 mm “nano-membrane” dynamic driver as part of the audio setup, as well as hand-painted shells that make for fairly unique aesthetics. As always, let’s begin the review with a look at the products specifications in the table below.
ThieAudio Legacy 5 In-Ear Monitors
Clear resin, hand-painted face plate with aluminium tube
One 10 mm nano-membrane dynamic driver + four balanced armature drivers
2.5/3.5/4.4 mm plug to source + two 2-pin 0.78 mm plugs to earbuds
Spotify has acquired Podz, a startup whose technology generates preview clips of podcasts, the streaming service has announced. Unlike other services podcasters can use to manually create clips, TechCrunch says Podz automates the process of finding key moments from episodes using machine learning trained on over 100,000 hours of audio.
The acquisition is aimed at improving podcast discovery, letting users browse short clips rather than 30-minute plus podcast episodes. Spotify says this will make it “easier for listeners to find the content they want to listen to, and for creators to be discovered and build a fan base.” Podz tells TechCrunch that users on its platform typically follow up to 30 podcasts, up from an average of seven.
The acquisition follows Spotify’s subscription podcasting announcement, in which it would allow select partners to charge for access to their content. Although Spotify isn’t planning on taking its 5 percent cut of subscription revenue until 2023, eventually it’ll have a direct financial incentive to encourage its listeners to find and subscribe to as many podcasts as possible. Especially since it’s now competing with Apple Podcasts’ own in-app subscriptions, which launched this week.
Spotify says it plans to integrate Podz’ technology into its platform, and that some of the results should be visible before the end of the year.
Google Meet, Google’s answer to video calling services like Zoom, is getting a collection of helpful tweaks to its hand-raising feature as part of ongoing updates to Workspace. The new changes, spotted by 9to5Google, include a new hand-raising animation, notification sound, and adjustments to how hosts are made aware of raised hands.
While the update is minor, for anyone who uses Google Meet in a large group setting or regularly attends webinars, the tweaks will be helpful — plus, the new animation really is nice.
Here’s Google’s breakdown of the changes you’ll notice as the update rolls out to Workspace users:
An updated and improved visual icon and animation on the video tile
The tiles of people with raised hands may be moved to be more visible in the video grid
An audio notification for all participants when the first raised hand is raised
A clickable notification which shows the number of raised hands and which links to an ordered queue of all participants with raised hands
That a participant’s hand will be automatically lowered after they speak
Google says the new feature will be available for any meeting created by hosts with Workspace Essentials, Business Standard, Business Plus, Enterprise Essentials, Enterprise Standard, Enterprise Plus, Education Fundamentals, Education Plus, Nonprofit, and G Suite Business accounts.
For the more exciting changes to Workspace announced at the I/O 2021 Developers Conference, you’ll have to wait a bit longer. Google just rolled out Workspace to anyone with a Google account and enabled its new Chat and Rooms features (replacements for G Chat and Slack). Bigger changes like smart chips, which makes all Workspace apps more interoperable and fluid, are still a ways off.
Nielsen, the nearly century-old research firm which produces the eponymous gold standard for television ratings, is taking a more serious look into how much Americans are streaming. The result of its labors: an ominously named rating system it calls The Gauge.
While Nielsen has tried to calculate the popularity of various streaming programs before (through audio analysis), The Gauge seems to hew closer to the ways Nielsen has measured TV viewership in the past: via a device which, according to TheNew York Times, “observes internet traffic that passes through a router.” Presumably, this device is attached directly to the televisions of the roughly 14,000 homes from which The Gauge currently gathers data, as the Times once again reports that the measurement does “not count what is watched on phones or laptops.”
The initial findings for May 2021, perhaps unsurprisingly then, skew in favor of regular old network and cable TV, which Nielsen predicts we spend about 64 percent of our living room screentime watching. Streaming, in total, racked up just 26 percent, with YouTube and Netflix making up 6 percent each, followed by Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Disney Plus with 3, 2, and 1 percent, respectively. But again, this is only measuring TV screen usage — not what’s happening on laptop, desktop, phone, or tablet screens — and even these metrics are difficult to put into perspective.
Without much information on how Nielsen’s device works, it’s impossible to say if The Gauge is counting streams that might come through a streaming set-top box or gaming console that has its own internet connectivity and a physical connection to the TV — or, for that matter, streams from a secondary device that are cast to a TV. (We’ve reached out to Nielsen for additional details.)
Still, streaming services have shown themselves to be guarded where audience metrics are concerned, releasing next to no data on how many eyeballs their in-house shows or the content they pay to license receive. Netflix in particular has a reputation for being extremely selective in which titles it presents audience data for, and even then rarely providing more granular information such as whether viewers actually finished watching the damn thing. In that sense, The Gauge is a welcome change for an industry that’s enjoyed a very long stretch without transparency.
Facebook is planning to start rolling out its podcast product next week, on June 22nd, and, eventually, add a feature that’ll allow listeners to create clips from their favorite shows.
According to an email sent to podcast page owners and viewed by The Verge, hosts can link their show’s RSS feed up to Facebook, which will then automatically generate News Feed posts for all episodes published moving forward. These episodes will show up on a “podcasts” tab that doesn’t appear to be live yet, but that the company teased in a wider announcement about audio initiatives in April. (You can see it below.) Podnews first reported the date earlier this month, and at the time, Facebook confirmed with The Verge that a limited number of page owners would have access. However, emails are still being sent to additional page owners, suggesting the rollout might be wider than initially anticipated.
“Facebook will be the place where people can enjoy, discuss, and share the podcasts they love with each other,” the company says in this email.
Podcasters who publish on the platform will also be opting into Facebook’s podcast terms of service, which you can view here. It’s a relatively standard agreement, although it doesn’t have clear limits around what exactly Facebook can do with the podcasts distributed on its platform. For example, it grants Facebook the rights to make derivative works, which may be necessary for distributing shows in certain formats, but also might alarm podcasters who are protective over their IP.
Along with the option to distribute their show through Facebook, podcasters can decide whether to enable clips, which the company says will be created by listeners and last up to one minute in length. These “may help increase visibility and engagement.” Presumably, these will be easily shareable outside of the podcaster’s page. Short-form clips have been a key way for Twitch streamers to share moments from their lengthy streams, and Facebook seems to hope the same idea can apply to podcasts.
It’s unclear how Facebook is determining what pages belong to podcasters. My page, for example, received the option to publish Why’d You Push That Button?, a show I co-host. I have only published links to webpages that have the show embedded, however, not the actual link to my podcast episode or RSS feed. I’ve reached out to Facebook for comment and will update if I hear back.
Broadly, though, this update comes as the company begins a legitimate push into audio. Mark Zuckerberg hosted the first Live Audio Room in the US yesterday, and in April, the company also announced plans for a feature called Soundbites, which will live within the News Feed. The idea behind Soundbites is to give users a “sound studio in your pocket” and allow them to create short, shareable clips.
With podcasts, Facebook is seemingly banking on the fact that podcasters already use the platform to foster conversation with their listeners and to promote their shows. Directly publishing to the platform might make it easier for them to accomplish those goals while also giving people a reason to never leave the Facebook app. It’s also possible Facebook sees potential in podcast advertising, which Spotify has focused its efforts on as it launches exclusive shows and its own ad network.
There’s been plenty of excitement about Apple Spatial Audio in recent weeks but now it’s the turn of Deezer to step into the spatial audio limelight. The music streaming service has revealed it will offer HiFi subscribers a series of ‘360 Sessions’ – live performances reformatted in Sony 360 Reality Audio.
Using Sony’s object-based spatial audio technology, the 28 track playlist aims to provide a “unique immersive experience in which all audio elements – including vocals, individual instruments and audience – can be heard as if they are in different positions inside a 360 spherical space”.
The tracks include live performances from a slew of global stars and rising talents ranging from Dua Lipa and Anne-Marie, to Circa Waves, Lolo Zouai, Barrie, Fireboy Dml, Joesef, Half Moon Run and Georgia.
Anyone with a subscription to Deezer HiFi, the service’s CD-quality tier, can enjoy the 360 Sessions from today. No special hardware is needed but you will need to download the standalone 360 by Deezer app. Premium users can enjoy the playlist, but only in stereo.
Sony’s 360 Reality Audio format offers a 3D sound space by creating multiple virtual speakers and can be listened to via most standard headphones. That said, the experience has been optimised for Sony headphones that use the Headphones Connect app, such as the WH-1000XM4 over-ears and WF-1000XM4 wireless earbuds.
Deezer was the first music streaming service to offer 360 Reality Audio, but it has since been joined by Tidal, Amazon Music HD and nugs.net (a streaming service dedicated to live concerts).
Read our Deezer review
Apple spatial audio: what is it? How do you get it?
Our pick of the best music streaming services 2021
Revered audio specialist Klipsch is marking its 75th anniversary with the release of the Forte IV, the newest iteration of one of its self-proclaimed “best-selling speakers of all time”.
The Forte IV is a member of the company’s Heritage series (which includes the recently reviewed The Fives) but this floorstanding model now boasts an all-new K-702 midrange compression driver mated to a modified proprietary Tractrix horn with patented Klipsch Mumps technology. The speaker also uses a newly designed wide dispersion high frequency phase plug.
Quick history lesson: the original Forte made its debut in 1985 but was out of production from 1996 until the Forte III was introduced in 2017. The new Klipsch Forte IV feature updated cosmetics and engineering while maintaining much of the elegant design of the originals.
Ready for specifics? It’s a three-way design that uses a 12-in woofer plus a horn-loaded midrange and tweeter, with new titanium compression drivers to help deliver a smooth and powerful sound.
Klipsch says that the Forte IV has been completely revoiced compared to their predecessors, to deliver a “truer to life sound with best-in-class efficiency and power handling”.
And although these towers certainly look imposing, at just 13 inches deep, they boast a relatively shallow footprint.
Each pair of Forte IV loudspeakers is grain-matched using wood veneer panels that are harvested from the same timber, too. The speakers move together through the factory and the finished product is inspected and labelled with sequential serial numbers, to ensure that each pair is a matched set.
The Klipsch Forte IV loudspeakers cost RRP £5,100 ($4,500) per pair and are available now from Henley Audio UK in four standard finish options – American Walnut, Natural Cherry, Black Ash and Distressed Oak.
See our pick of the best floorstanding speakers 2021: budget to premium
Read our Klipsch reviews
Need standmount speakers? Check out the best bookshelf speakers 2021: budget to premium
95 years is a long time in the hi-fi industry, but that’s the milestone Luxman has reached in 2021. To celebrate, the company has gone back in time for inspiration for a brand new special edition integrated amplifier.
From the outside, the L-595A SE looks similar to the L-570E Class A amp which launched back in 1989 and became one of the company’s best-selling models of the 1990s.
Front panel details include aluminium selection buttons for all inputs, a volume level LED light, and a counterbore around the volume dial. The amp boasts a hairline finish on the top and front panels with the top section featuring wider venting than on the L-570E for the extra heat management needed by the new model.
A two-tone colour scheme features on the front and includes the use of black alumite at the bottom which helps give the L-595A SE its distinct look. Also on the front panel, you’ll find a headphone jack, tone controls and speaker selector buttons. It comes with a matching remote control handset and weighs a hefty 27.7kg.
The inside has been completely redesigned and features some of Luxman’s latest technology, including a three-stage, triple-paralleled push-pull amp set-up, and a brand new feedback circuit.
There’s also a new LECUA1000 electronically controlled attenuator with 88-step amplifier circuitry for smooth volume control. Short paths for audio input signals to travel to the speaker outputs have been used, as has copper-plated steel, to reduce the effects of external noise. High-density feet have been fitted to help to minimise vibrations.
The L-595A SE is rated at 30 watts-per channel (into eight ohms) and includes a selection of line-level and balanced inputs, plus a built-in MM/MC phono amplifier circuit so you can connect a suitable record player.
If you like the look of the Luxman, you’ll need to be quick, and also have deep pockets. The L-595A SE is limited to just 300 units and will set you back £11,000 ($11,995 exc tax). Orders can be placed now through select Luxman retailers.
Ikea and Sonos have today officially introduced the latest product in their Symfonisk line. It’s the $199 picture frame / wall art speaker that The Verge exclusively reported on earlier this year and Ikea later prematurely posted on its website. The “picture frame with Wi-Fi speaker” will be available for purchase starting on July 15th. Though it’s very confusingly called a picture frame, you can’t customize it with your own images. It’s really just a piece of artwork.
The front art can be removed, revealing the speaker drivers underneath, and swapped out for other colors and designs. Several styles from artist Jennifer Idrizi will be available, but options will vary by market.
The power cable can be routed out in several directions depending on where your nearest outlet is, and Ikea has also included an area for cord management on the back of the frame. The art speaker can also be placed on the floor with included feet; there’s a spot to tuck those away when not in use, as well.
Sonos said the challenge in designing this latest collaboration was to create room-filling sound in a product that will be placed differently than many of its more traditional speakers. But the depth of the picture frame helped there, and the company also built in a waveguide to direct audio all throughout a room.
Two picture frame speakers can be stereo paired, and they can also be daisy chained for a cleaner look so that only one power cord needs to run to an outlet.
Controls are located on the back of the frame’s left side, with the Ikea and Sonos icons used as a visual indicator of where to feel for them. You’ll be able to control the speaker with the Sonos app like any other device in the company’s multi-room audio ecosystem, and AirPlay 2 support is also included.
Only one new Symfonisk product was announced by the companies today, but The Verge has reported that a redesigned table lamp speaker is also on the roadmap. An Ikea spokesperson confirmed that “a new lamp is part of our plans, and we will share more when the time is right.” All of these joint efforts are meant to more naturally fit in with a home’s interior.
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