Poor Man’s SONOS: How To Make a Badass Bluetooth Audio System from Amo Box and Old Radio Shack Speakers

My badass, poor-man's semi-portable bluetooth amplified speaker system
My badass, poor-man’s semi-portable bluetooth amplified speaker system has sound that compares to the Sonos system.

Who needs the fancy Bose Soundlink Mini Bluetooth wireless rechargeable speakers? Or your fancy SONOS systems?

Here’s my morning project… a do-it-yourself semi-portable amplified Bluetooth speaker system made out of my grandfather’s amo box. If you already have a pair of decent speakers, this system will set you back exactly $44.84 and give you sound that competes with a $300 SONOS (although the Sonos software is really cool and Wifi range is much better than 20-25 feet of Bluetooth).

If you don’t have the fortitude for this, here’s the link to buy the Sonos for the best price I could find online ($199 on Amazon).

Parts include:

  1. A pair of speakers. I used a pair of Radio Shack Minimus 7 speakers. They don’t make them like this anymore, kids. Before there were websites, the audio mags used to rate these as the best. Again- you can bring whatever nice speakers you already have.
  2. A Bluetooth receiverBelkin F8Z492TTP Bluetooth Music Receiver (1K plus four star rating on Amazon, and can’t beat the $24.99 price). *** Update- the Homespot NFC Bluetooth is $27.99 and worth the extra $3 because the range is better and it beeps when it’s paired. According to Amazon reviewers, it sounds better too.
  3. An amplifier. You probably already have one, but I LOVE the sound of this puppy and it’s dirt cheap: “Lepai” LP-2020A Tripath Class-T Hi-Fi Audio Mini Amplifier with Power Supply (awesome sound for $16.85, and we’re talking 1,500 almost 5-star ratings). I think this is the best tech bargain I’ve seen in my life.
  4. Accessories: The bluetooth receiver and amplifier come with power cords and audio connectors. So all you need is some speaker wire, glue, and an extension cord.

Wish you could hear it. It’s pretty bold. Nice whoop-ass Redneck acoustical system for the pool or home. Another update Jan. 11, 2014: I just cranked it and asked a buddy and his kids to close their eyes. They picked this rig over the Sonos playing the exact same song!

The instructions are simple and, of course, you don’t need the amo box. But it’s nice if you want to move it around.

  1. Plug the speakers into the Lepai amp speaker inputs. Plug the Lepai amp in the wall. You can handle that, right?
  2. Plug the Homespot (or Belkin) Bluetooth receiver into the amplifier photo/audio input. Plug the power in the wall.
  3. Get your iPhone, iPod or laptop and “find” the Homespot or Belkin, then pair them.
  4. Turn on the sound of your device (no special app required) and it comes booming out the speakers like audible love!

Let me know if it works for ya? I can’t believe more people don’t do this!

A New Model for Producing Television & Online-Video Ads

Okay get a coffee and sit down. This is one of my important posts. You’ll learn in this one post more than you learned in that stupid communications major (the sender sends messages, and the receiver receives them). I switched majors the day I realized half of the women in my Freshman 101 communications class wanted to be the next Oprah.

Now traditional advertisers and commercial production shops don’t much like the notion of online video ads (especially consumer created) because they prefer to shoot $500,000 commercials in lovely locations. It’s one of the perks of selling your soul to agencies. And I’ve got friends that bemoan the future of television spots as they adore the romantic trip to Europe (to film a pool that looks remarkably like one in a New Jersey suburb).

Alas, advertisers and their favorite commercial directors need not fear online video! While we marketers may request fewer $500K commercials, we’ll still need good content. Lots of it. Instead of one Superbowl spot, however, we’ll want an assortment of creative ads that appeal to our various and fragmenting audiences. So we need to get our cost-per-produced-minute down by 50% or more. And I’m not talking about amortizing the shoot by rotating three actors: a white guy, one hispanic gal, and a slightly overweight Asian transgender.

We ideally want to tailor the ad content to the medium. I was thrilled to see V’s debut (the television show) with a character on YouTube’s homepage that actually mentioned YouTube. Hey, she belongs here. Check out this Louisiana hot sauce spot by pro-amateur Jared Cicon (embedded below), and if you drool over it like I do… check out the rest of his reel. Is it Superbowl material? Maybe not, but it would cost about the same as a single ticket to the game. And I think if Jared (who conveniently puts himself in most of his spots) would probably have just the same Q rating as the best-looking transgender Asian your talent agency could find.

We have two important forces at work: advertisers need MORE video content to participate in the 30-40% growth of spending on this channel. And we have lower-cost options like Jared that do damned good work. So what’s the solution? Wel you have three choices:

  1. First, large production shops — with pricey directors and overbaked sets — can dial down their costs for the medium. I’ve talked to at least 5 production companies that are adjusting their model to bring budgets down (on a shoot for a magazine ad photo, I was happy to see wardrobe with 90 clothing options from Gap that they’d return the next day for a credit).
  2. The other option is for advertisers to put work “out to bid” to a new swarm of directors with minimal costs but talent (that won’t impact the veteran directors, is awesome for the noobs, and probably scares the hell out of the rest). Use a clearinghouse like Poptent.org, or go direct to people like Jared.
  3. Finally, advertisers can run a contest. However I don’t like to see online ads for contests like the Dove blitz. I feel like the advertiser should be selling the product not wasting it on reaching those of us that enter video contests (although they get points for trying to engage the audience). Ultimately most contests get minimal participation, and why not just reach out to ringers — especially if they have an audience online.

Mind you, Jared or PopTent offer advertisers low-cost but remarkable production quality via amateurs. What you won’t get, of course, is an audience. That’s why Hitviews, who contracts with “weblebrities” who already have an audience, makes more sense for some… you get a decent video, and fairly guaranteed views. Or, as I wrote about yesterday, you could bid for product placement on Placevine or Zadby.

By the way, I like an online-video contest that rewards the cat who drives the most views or votes, and Jared likes the ones where quality actually matters to the judges. He’s got talent and I have an audience. In the end, Jared always wins and I get a free f’ing Slurpy coupon.

In 2010 smart advertisers will commission work for less than the cost of an agency dinner. And here’s the part you say “hooray!” First, we can skip 45-stages of market research, and just flight the damned partially executed concepts and learn from them. How’s that for a dislodging that kidney stone? Maybe “ready, go, set” is better than “ready, ready, ready, ready, set, set, set…” Second, we can finally determine if the ad worked because of the messaging or the creative… because we can test multi-varied approaches.

What the hell do I know about research? I’m not even sure I used multi-varied approaches correctly. But I can tell you that I spent an assload of my employers’ money to test three sets of creative, and still wonder if we’d have been better off with a different execution of one of the alternative campaigns that died in market research maybe because the headline or image didn’t resonate with those pretend consumers that spend 50% of their life behind a two-way mirror for cash.

Can I hear an AMEN!?

Now you’ll flight 20 ads online, and take the crappy half out to pasture. See? Maybe we can finally kill that stupid quote: “half the money I spend on advertising is wasted, but I don’t know what half.” It’s about as cute as “Hang on Baby, Friday’s Coming.”

P.S. Some of you will love this ad, and some of you will hate it. But good news. Some day Google will save you the trouble of ignoring an ad or moaning over it… you’ll only see the ones you love.