The Sonos Playbar is a product that filled us with excitement when it was announced, and we are back with our Playbar review. With the Playbar, Sonos enters the home theater market with a pretty sound strategy--provide a soundbar that puts out a 3.0 sound signal, and allow it to be paired with the Sonos SUB for those who want 3.1 sound…then, make it even better by allowing two Sonos PLAY:3 speakers to be used as a full on 5.1 surround sound system.
Of course, for the ultimate Sonos 5.1 setup, you'll have to pay an additional $699 for the SUB and $598 for the two PLAY:3 units, an additional $1,397 above the $699 price of the Playbar. So, while we will touch on the 3.1 and 5.1 configurations, we are here to bring you a Sonos Playbar review that focuses on the standalone abilities of the ambitious soundbar. Has it been worth the wait? We explore the answer in our full Playbar review--read on.
If you love listening to Pandora when you're on the go, you may have to start paying up. Pandora has announced that it will now be capping mobile users to 40 hours of listening per month. If you reach that cap, the music will stop, and you'll need to pay a fee of $.99 if you'd like to continue listening for the remainder of the month. The reason behind this is the rising costs of the per-track royalty rates that Pandora has to pay.
"Pandora’s per-track royalty rates have increased more than 25% over the last 3 years, including 9% in 2013 alone and are scheduled to increase an additional 16% over the next two years. After a close look at our overall listening, a 40-hour-per-month mobile listening limit allows us to manage these escalating costs with minimal listener disruption."
Pandora says this should only affect about 4% of its users, so it shouldn't be a huge deal. Subscribers to the Pandora One service, which eliminated the ads altogether for $36 per year, are not affected.
Read More | Pandora
Spotify for iOS has just received a massive overhaul, bringing the UI in line with the look that Android's been sporting for a while. iOS users now get access to features like the swiping method for accessing different areas of the Spotify app (similar to what you can do in the Facebook iOS app.) The "Now Playing" area shows you the artist and track name no matter where you are navigating in the app, right above the play controls. You can swipe here to go to the next or previous track with ease. You also get bug fixes and overall improvements to stability, as well as the Ford SYNC AppLink Spotify feature that we mentioned yesterday. You can grab the update now from the App Store, and peep the full changelog after the break.
Read More | Spotify
Three nights ago, Ronda Rousey used her signature armbar to become the first UFC Women's Champion--but did you notice her headphones? The Ronda Rousey headphones were mentioned time and again on Twitter and other social media channels, and if you've paid any attention to Gear Live and our CES coverage, you probably can guess what they were. In fact, if you can, you may just walk away with a pair of your own...and we've made it super-easy, as you can tell.
Here's a hint: They're Monster branded, and Rousey's win was truly INSPIRATIONal. We can't make it easier than that.
That's right! All you need to do is let us know the brand and model of the headphones. If you get it right, you are entered to win one of three pairs that we are giving away! Here's how you enter--simply use the widget below to keep track of your entries! We've got a lot of ways for you to enter, but don't check off any that you don't actually perform. If you do, you'll be eliminated. If you choose to tweet, include the headphone brand and name. If you choose to follow us on YouTube, leave a comment there with the same. Or leave a comment right here on this Gear Live post. Or do all of the above. You get multiple entries. On to the widget:
Ford and Spotify have announced a partnership that sees the popular streaming music service make an appearance in Ford vehicles. Spotify is now compatible with Ford SYNC AppLink, streaming its catalog of over 20 million tracks over the car radio. You'll need to download the new iOS or Android Spotify apps to take advantage of the new hotness. You be able to access your songs, playlists, and custom stations, and can even control things with voice commands. Aside from Spotify, Ford SYNC AppLink allows you to access other service, like Pandora, Amazon Cloud Player, MOG, Slacker, and Rhapsody.
Read More | Ford
Slacker has been around for a few years as both a free and premium Internet radio service, and now the service has released a new redesign. The old black and gold interface is replaced with a newer, hipper, cleaner look on all platforms, including web, Xbox 360 app, and mobile apps. Slacker had to do something to take some attention away from Rdio, Spotify, Pandora, and the like, and we have to say that the new design makes things easier on the eyes, and thusly, easier to use.
Slacker pricing remains intact. You have the free version, Radio Plus for $3.99 per month, and then Slacker Premium for $9.99 per month. Updated Windows Phone 8 and BlackBerry 10 versions are on the way as well.
Windows Phone 8 users have been patiently waiting for Spotify to hit the platform, and the day has finally arrived. You can download the beta Spotify app to get your subscription music streaming on while simultaneously kicking Xbox Music to the curb. The wait was due to the Windows Phone 7 Spotify app being built by a third party and paid for by Microsoft, in an attempt to just get Spotify onto its phones, and since Windows Phone 8 is a totally different platform, the app needed to be rewritten from scratch. Not sure why that garish pus-yellow background needed to be included, but we guess beggars can't be choosers.
Read More | Windows Phone Blog
Thanks to Google's Transparency Report, we can see just how many copyright takedown requests it gets, and who issues such requests. The RIAA tops the list with nearly 10 million takedown requests issued. The RIAA issues hundreds of thousands of notices every week in regards to piracy sites, and has topped the most recent monthly requests. This goes to show just how severe the piracy network is, or even perhaps, how futile the RIAA's attempts are at squashing it.
Apple is touting the latest milestone for iTunes, as the service has now sold over 25 billion songs. The 25 billionth track sold was Chase Buch's "Monkey Drums (Goksel Vancin Remix)" by Phillip Lüpke, who Apple will be rewarding with a €10,000 gift card. Not bad. "We are grateful to our users whose passion for music over the past 10 years has made iTunes the number one music retailer in the world." said Apple's Eddy Cue, who went on to mention that iTunes sells over 15,000 songs per minute. Who says no one buys music anymore?
Read More | Apple
Peter Gabriel is releasing a new music app dubbed "MusicTiles," allowing the creation and sharing of fan-made remixes of popular songs.
The remixing process is handled by a simple tile interface. Each tile represents a song element, such as the individual instruments and vocal tracks, which users can blend together to form new sounds. The effects include a range of manipulation techniques, such as altering the timing of the tracks by fooling around with the arrangement.
Read More | MusicTiles
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