Four Alternatives to Sonos Music: Stream Your Music to Speakers

Can’t afford a Sonos? Here are some cheaper DIY options and hacks. Stream your music via your existing speakers/stereo via a Beep, Rocki or a low-cost tablet.

connect phone to stereo system to play and stream music wifi bluetooth

So your phone is holding  your music collection and access to your online radio stations. And you have boom boxes, speakers and old amplifiers sitting around… depreciating. How do you connect them via Bluetooth or Wifi so you can stream your music in full sound?

Sonos sounds great, but aren't cheap. Especially if all you want is to activate your exiting stereo.
Sonos sounds great, but aren’t cheap. Especially if all you want is to activate your exiting stereo.

If you’re an audiophile with excess cash, the Sonos Play 1 is a $199 Wifi amplified speaker that is easy to use, sounds great, and fairly portable. I have one of them and the $299 Sonos Play 2 , and they come with an iPhone/Android app that allows me to stream Pandora or my saved music from my phone or laptop. SONOS does have a way you can connect to your existing speaker/amp, but it’s even more expensive than the one with the speaker (it’c called a SONOS connect). Note that you need one $44 SONOS bridge for to get started, and that Bose is also catching up with the Soundtouch.

So what if you don’t want to spring for a new amplified speaker? What if all you want is the ability to connect your phone to your existing stereo system? Here are four less expensive options.

  1. The real poor-man’s solution is my do-it-yourself speaker kit. But you’ll have to live with the frustrating range limits of Bluetooth. And some of the Wifi options are not that much more expensive.
  2. beep wifi speaker aluminum ashtrayAlternatively, you can wait for a Beep , which is a retro-looking metallic device that will connect your existing speakers to your digital music. Beep, created by some Google alumni, says it makes all your speakers wireless, but it doesn’t have an amplifier. But if you have good speakers without an amp, here’s an $18 amp that sounds like it should cost $100.  Beep is not available yet, but the pre-orders are $99. No shipping date announced on site (at least that I could find). Here’s a Cnet review.
  3. rocki speakerThe Rocki is very similar to the Beep, but also not yet available. Personally I like the Beep’s look better. To me the Rocki looks a bit cheap, although one critic says the Beep looks like an aluminum ashtray from bowling alleys, turned upside down. Touche.
  4. And here’s a clever Wifi audio hack. Buy a crappy tablet (like this iView Cyberpad at NewEgg)  and connect it to your existing stereo system via its headphone jack. This would also work if you have an old iPhone. But I don’t believe you can control it via your existing phone.

Here’s an article that also shows you how to stream tunes via an AppleTV or Miracast if you’re an Android user.

YouTube News You Missed

Okay I forgot I had a blog again. The past two weeks have included trips to (in sequence) Virginia, Minneapolis, NYC, Washington, D.C. and NYC again.

Shitty clipart makes a blog visual

Enough about me. Let’s focus on YouTube today, since it’s turned 6 (that’s a near-death 94 years in TechCrunch years). If you missed the comment stream on my last post, you’ll want to catch up. It’s steamy, and Sukatra’s on a Charlie Sheen tear.

And after this humble attempt at “aggregation,” stay tuned for my patented “synthesis” below… what all this means to a changing ecosphere-marketplace-ecosystem-valuechain-universe.

    What Does All This Mean?

    • YouTube is going mainstream with musician chart-toppers exceeding the once amateur-only club. Alas, the site is a free jute box rivaled only by Limewire in the day.
    • YouTube is embracing its new role, hoping attracting familiar faces will attract a larger base of “regulars,” who until now have chosen their own weblebrities.
    • Still, amateur hour isn’t over… especially if you’re a quasi professional. While no YouTube star has yet jumped mainstream with any endurance or consequence, we may see that change in 2012.
    • Most importantly, albiet somewhat tangental, what the hell happens to the sales of my “Beyond Viral” if Borders goes bankrupt? Perhaps you can find a local Borders that’s folding, and snatch a discounted copy of the book. Be sure to take a photo and let me know.

    This post has been brought to you by the letter S. Big S.

    AppleTV vs. iTV vs. Roku vs. TiVo vs. WTF?

    The iPin is AppleTV's latest model, and it's smaller than a grain of rice but 32.5% larger than Plankton from Spongebob.

    I’m a long-time advocate of the AppleTV, and intrigued enough by the iTV that I’ve got one on route. So what’s the difference, you ask? First check out Ryan/NewTeeVee’s coverage of AppleTV vs. Roku vs. Boxeee. Liz/NewTeeVee provides more in-depth coverage of the AppleTV/iTV.

    So there’s no iTV. It’s just a new version of AppleTV, where the price of the unit was slashed in third. At $99 you won’t likely find a smoother interface to stream your content… assuming it’s as user-friendly and fast as AppleTV’s earlier model (around $300 with some room for storage).

    We like the lower entry price making it an impulse buy, and the 99-cent rentals of television shows we miss — despite our best attempts via TiVo or the vintage DVR you’re using because you’re the cable company’s little bitch.

    Until now we were buying assloads of missed television shows at twice that price ($1.99), and that’s a bit bloated for a 23-minute show (but certainly fair for an 45-minute show). We’re talking about decent HD, no stupid pre-rolls, an easy interface, and easy purchasing via the credit card Mac has on file. And for 95% of the shows we bought, a rental would be fine.While we’re not happy to see episodes costing $2.99 to own now, we’re hoping that our old AppleTV enjoys a software upgrade that makes it a new one. Otherwise we feel screwed. Except “The Office” and a few other shows, we don’t need to own in a reasonably priced “on demand” word. Wait that’s a drop quote.

    We don’t need to own in a reasonably priced “on demand” word.

    I find it perplexing that the unwashed masses are only beginning to adopt these things. We’ve got a Roku that’s not used often except for occasional Netflix viewing. The TiVo is the primary device because it plays live Verizon Fios without subjecting us to the horrible Verizon machines… TiVo also allows us to “subscribe” to YouTubers like “Obama Girl” and “Rhett & Link” and “The Onion” and “College Humor.”

    Maybe I’ll do a little video demo when I get the new AppleTV because I read Scoble’s tweet that we can use our iPad as a remote to the new AppleTV, something that didn’t seem very easy with the old one.

    Bottom line:

    • AppleTV is different in two ways. Cheaper unit ($99 not $300), and now you can rent all that television you missed or if you’re still not paying for access to premium channels because you’re a cheap bastard like me. Wait that made no sense. I’m probably paying more by buying these shows.
    • More choices (in hardware and vendor/price options) means a more confused marketplace but more attention by the mass market. Only one or two will survive, and you’re going to be getting lots of questions from your parents in the next few years. At least there’s no flashing 12:00 to worry about.
    • I’d predict that these will be mainstream by the fall, but I’m a bit gun shy making that prediction a 5th year in a row. I can’t even remember how I hedged this subject in my book, which is coming out in a week or so.
    • If I talk about my book too often, please tell me. I have seen authors do that, and it’s revolting. If I’m walking around with spinach in my teeth, you’d say something right?
    • How the heck did Netflix secure its space in this evolution? We thought they’d be Blockbustered.
    • It doesn’t bother me that only two people read my blog carefully.
    • Seriously- give me one good reason NOT to have a friggin’ Roku/Netflix/TiVo/AppleTV in your house? Sure it’s a few more devices and subscriptions, but we think this Onion spoof on Blockbusters is a reality now. When’s the last time you rented a DVD?
    • Is anyone else feeling like YouTube has gone WAY to far with the pre-rolls lately?

    Quick Way to Make Web-Television Suck Less (ethernet via powerline)

    I never really bought in to the concept that audio or electronic signals could travel via powerlines. But when Jim Louderback (former computer nerd publisher and fellow online-video enthusiast) told me about these little dlink powerline guys at a bar in San Fran, I grabbed his laptop and purchased them via Amazon immediately. Come to think of it, I think I was still logged into his Amazon.

    Surprisingly, they made it possible for me to watch television via that other doo-diggy that streams YouTube and Hulu to my HDTV through the convenience of a light keyboard and mouse… neither of which gets hot in my lap. That’s what sucks about laptop video from a couch or bed.

    Years ago I marveled that new houses were being wired with Ethernet, and with wireless modems becoming so fast and cheap, I’ve often chuckled at that waste of money. In hindsight, it was brilliant (ask Dave). The best damned wired modem can’t touch a wired signal for uploading and streaming video. Trust me: I have 5 modems. I don’t learn easily.

    I don’t know how these dlink things compare to a direct ethernet connection, but the latter was not a very practical option for me. My Verizon Fios Fart modem brings my signal upstairs, and I’d have to rerun a bunch of ethernet wires back to the basement and up walls… in the case of my main television, there’s not enough crawl space to even accomplish this. Post college I had speakers in every room of the house (including bathroom), but I’ve lost my passion for cable splicing.

    So these puppies are $100, plug and work, and do the trick. One small step for ethernet speed, one giant leap for web-television conversion.

    P.S. The ethernet-to-TV solutions I’ve seen to date are a friggin’ joke. Glad to have a direct ethernet input, but the interfaces are absolutely retarded. Even TiVo blows for watching streaming media (just to search out a YouTube video is like using a 56K modem to watch a 700K picture). Then again maybe I need to get my TiVo hard wired like this. But the AppleTV is doing fine without a direct connection. Wuz up?

    Robbery Victim to Post Live Hostage Video Via iPhone

    Remember I predicted that we’d see live news via amateur cameras in 2007? Imagine the next bank robbery where you get to watch along? Maybe there will be an interactive chat so you can give the hostages survival suggestions, and tell them they suck and are gay.

    Grant, I was a bit early on that bank robbery prediction, but that’s because I’m cursed with remarkable foresight. And now you can host live streaming video via your stupid iPhone (see Steve Garfield’s demo). So the next time you’re watching a newsworthy event break, just turn on that iPhone. And don’t forget the rubber band. And the Nokia N95. And be sure someone else is watching. Bring Steve Garfield along too. He’ll help you through the technology, and even give you ideas how to clean blood off the marked bills you swipe, cope with post-traumatic shock, and reduce the swelling on your gun-smacked head.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevegarfield/2575066509/sizes/s/

    Hey, Garfield. Can you do a tutorial on how to get my stupid iTouch thing to raise its volume? You should have seen me driving home Friday desperately trying to figure out where Mac hid the volume control on that bastard. Googling via the Blackberry, and finding nothing. [Editorial Note: found the answer in Yahoo Answers, which is incredibly well optimized on Google. Great idea, Mac. Let’s make the volume look like a time bar for the track].

    Streaming Media East (NYC) on Tuesday, May 20

    I’ll be moderating a panel for Streaming Media East tomorrow (Tuesday, May 20) at the NYC Hilton. The topic is “Creating and Promoting Amateur and Viral Videos” (A103) 1:45 PM – 2:30 PM

    The session explores what makes a video viral and how marketers and amateurs can promote their video using online video sites and blogs. Proven industry experts reveal what works and what doesn’t — often counterintuitive advice that has helped them garner millions of viewers for one-hit wonders and serialized content. Come see firsthand examples from some of the best viral videos creators on the web and learn how they have created an online audience.

    • Moderator: Kevin Nalts, Product Director, Industry blogger, WillVideoForFood.com
    • Presenters…
    • Paul Kontonis, CEO, Co-Founder, For Your Imagination
    • J. Crowley, Founder, Black20
    • Ben Relles, Founder and CEO, BarelyPolitical.com (Obama Girl Creator)
    • Kip “Kipkay” Kedersha, Viral Video Producer, Metacafe Top Producer

    Wish me luck. If you come, ask me a ridiculous question. And I’ll report back some highlights.