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!

YouTube Goes Music, Music, Music

It's just like this, only the radio is a laptop, and everyone's in a different room wearing gym clothes.

YouTube has agreed to pay licensing fees with the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA), which represents about 3,000 independent music publishers (LA Times). This deal is consistant with Vevo’s success, the significant percentage of music videos topping “most viewed charts” and the all-new YouTube.com/music (see promo video).

YouTube music vevo channel
YouTube "Music" Debuts: click to see promo video

YouTube, friends, is your new radio station, MTV, iTunes, Pandora, Jango, Live365. I’m Sirius.

This advances YouTube’s partnerships with music publishers to “monetize” user-generated videos that contain music written by artists represented by the NMPA. The four major labels (EMI Music Group, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment) already have separate licensing contracts with YouTube.

What’s relatively new is that these deals cover synchronization rights on behalf of songwriters. Yes, folks, this means independent musicians singing “covers” of a licensed song will be providing a percent of their ad-generated income to the owner (sorry jaaaaaaa). The terms of the royalty payments, however, are confidential. This, of course, is more than fair. Shouldn’t the guy who wrote the timeless classic, “Never Gonna Give You Up” get a chunk money from the ads that surround Rickrolls?

NMPA agreed to drop its class-action lawsuit against YouTube filed in 2007, but members of NMPA have until mid-September to decide whether they wish to opt out of the licensing agreement with YouTube or continue to pursue legal action against the video platform on their own.



Why Online Video is More Like Radio than Television

Walter Sabo, Hitviews founder and former radio maven, makes it more apparent why radio people seem to have adapted more naturally to online video than television people. At first I thought it was simply that the radio people saw their boat sinking sooner than television people (some who vary their whistling melodies and choose a new route past the graveyard to show they’re flexible).

In fact there’s another reason that Sabo has attracted radio investments and a posse of former radio sales people, and it’s evident in his anti-standard piece and even more succinctly in his “Four Crazy Things My Dad Said About Media Buying”:

Every radio spot he (Sabo’s father and store owner) bought was a live read by personalities. Every print ad was endorsed by a local celebrity. Every TV buy at least had live tags even though TV was too precious to offer live spokespeople. On the Internet he would have bought a webstar video visiting the business and talking about it. We all buy products from friends.

Indeed radio and today’s version of online video are arguably more alike than online video and television. Why? The talent carries the show. You may like the tunes best, but you can’t argue with the facts: when a radio star jumps stations, the audience often follows. Is it any coincidence that one of YouTube’s hottest properties is a former disc jockey (yeah the fat guy- Shaycarl). If Shay loved beets I’d eat ’em.

Online video is about a charismatic human and people who enjoy them… unscripted reality and a fairly intimate relationship (as one-to-many goes). Like radio personalities, online video folks don’t mind plugging a good sponsor. And that doesn’t work as naturally on the boob tube, except for during an occasional talk show (where’d that format come from again) or that radio-like television show we call American Idol.

I’m not entirely unbiased about Sabo’s poetry (see below graphic to find the “Hitviews Pro” series on JackMyers.com) because I have a working relationship and friendship with the radio and online-video media maven… Still, I do believe he’s the Billy May’s of online video. He cuts through a lot of the jargon and states inarguable truisms, and it’s especially charming when he quotes his dad. Get on his good side, and he’ll give you a bear hug, make you feel special, and drive two states to bring you cookies when you’re having back surgery. Get on his bad side, and he’ll pinch your brain. Either way you’ll find him more interesting than the average human, and check your pulse if you don’t find this article about why records in automobiles failed (it’s not why you’d think).

Since my blog’s been a bit slow lately, here are 5 great articles by Walter “Regis” Sabo and Caitlin “Cathy Lee” Hill. Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of Sabo is his blatant disregard for middlemen, especially media buyers. (Just once I want a media buyer to tell me how prejudice I am, and prove me wrong).

Online Video Goes Local: More Like Radio Than TV

Peter CoffinWe continue December’s guest blogs by online-video gurus and friends (see Punchy‘s post yesterday). This post is by Peter Coffin, a frequent commenter and YouTube and star of the fresh new single “This Song is Cliche.

Although I had met Peter via such video collaborations as “Mean Kitty Parody,” it wasn’t until last year’s YouTube Live that I confirmed he wasn’t an avatar or surrogate. Here’s his take on the local value of online-video, and it does beg the question why YouTube doesn’t facilitate local community or local-viewing preferences.

by Peter Coffin:

I’m completely awesome. I only say that because I didn’t want to start with “the state of online video today is” like a 4th grader. Plus it’s true. Several years ago, we all made fools of ourselves by pretending we knew where online video was going. Well, you all did. I sure didn’t, because I’m always right. That goes with the territory of being awesome.

Enough of me being a jackass.You want to know what I think is coming?

The formation and maintenance of local audiences and local strategies in the upper echelons of user-generated content. UGC is more like radio than TV in my opinion, with the exception of the audience. The audience is broad and national – even international. Which is fantastic; the idea that anyone with the will can tap into such a broad audience like they never have before is the most important media development in a very long time.

But I think we’re going to start seeing the formation of local markets, where savvy personalities (possibly with the aid of savvy businesspeople) will start to engage their IRL (in-real-life) communities with contests, appearances, and even localized content in the way that radio has for years and years – except on a shoestring budget and a staff of one or two people.

I see it as impossible for it to not eventually happen. A small-town radio remote can cost a business $2.5k. That is a month’s work at http://youtube.com/petercoffin – also pretty hard to resist for so little work. Go in, talk to the proprietor, talk to customers, make a few observations, cut up the footage and not only do they have an in depth entertaining promotion for their biz but the creator has more content – and as we all know that’s how you make money.

You can’t do that without a local audience, though. Frank’s Bakery and Gay Bar doesn’t want to pay money for a national audience. They want to reach the local homosexual pastry enthusiasts.

Do I think people will forsake national audiences for local ones? Oh no. I think they will attempt to pick up their localities in addition, as a built in 20,000-30,000 additional first-day hits from a release-conditioned, loyal, proud-of-the-hometown-hero audience can be a big help in pushing a video out there to the national one – as well as aid in word-of-mouth.

This is all on the professional UGC level, though. I’m not focusing on new media divisions of Sony or anything here. They will continue to be national and will most likely function as the TV to UGC’s radio.

Do I think this is part of 2010’s developments? I can’t say for certain, but I do feel this is a strategy we’re going to see. I think we are seeing a bit of the beginnings of it with the developments in second channels for community engagement and more specifically in Rhett&Link’s recent “local commercials across the country” videos. Though they are handling it in a way to keep a national audience interested, imagine if your local YouTube personalities did these types of videos in your area, as well as, worked to maintain some kind of connection with the community.

I don’t see how someone isn’t going to take advantage of the low overhead and instant feedback online video provides to make some cash and promote their communities.

Parody of Billy Bob Thorton’s Radio Flip-Out

I was making $16,000 a year for the Georgetown Courier, when our photographer got news that Pierce Brosnan was shooting Live Wire. The determined photographer convinced the doorman at the Watergate to ask Brosnan if he’d let her take his picture. Then she asked if I wanted to cover the story. What a break! Brosnan’s handlers told me NOT to ask about James Bond, however. At the time, Brosnan’s Remington Steele contract forbid him from being the next Bond, and that was a touchy subject.

How do you think I opened the interview? How can you NOT ask about something so important to him? I did it delicately by asking him why it was so important as to not be discussed. And then he spilled the beans.

I’m reminded of that story when I watched the Billy Bob Thorton video, where his handlers must have insisted to the show’s producers that the topic of Thorton’s film career not come up. How can it NOT come up? Really? Are you now a rock star only, Billy Bob, in your post Angelena days?

But really, should Billy Bob Thorton be blamed for flipping out on Canadian Interviewer (QVT/CBC Radio) Jian Ghomeshi?

No way. It’s the interviewer’s fault. Here’s my experience with the SAME guy (Ghomeshi) last year. He made me so mad I was fixin to kill him with this lawnmower blade. Hmmm.

Footage used with permission by QVT and CRC Radio (I called their media team on commute home and spent hours more than you might think on this stupid video. The tension builds up around 6 minutes in the actual clip: