There are lights and there are speakers and now there is a light that is a speaker. This actually isn’t the first time we’ve seen a product like this, however this system is made for the “everyman” (or woman). There is no programming to do and no wire runs. What could be simpler then that? The products I speak of are IAV’s LightSpeaker system and AudioRock.
AudioRock: This wireless, weatherproof, rechargeable rock speaker claims “wire-free installation in minutes.” From the moment I opened the AudioRock box to the time I had it working took 14 minutes and 28 seconds, and I am not a technician. You just slide the battery in, pair with the transmitter, and you’re all set. (Had I read the directions first I bet I could have done better on my set-up time). My 7 year old had a ball carrying it around the backyard to see where the 2.4 GHz wireless worked and where it didn’t. The clearer the line of sight, the better it worked. Put a body between the speaker and the transmitter that I had plugged into an outlet at the front of my house and it would cut out. According to the specifications, the transmitter can “send audio to loudspeakers 50 to 100 feet in any direction,” and for the most part it did just that. The rock was hardy, yet light enough that my 7 year old could carry it. It would make a great addition to any campfire, and is portable enough to bring to a friend’s house the next day.
AudioRock retails for $239.99 as an add-on to the LightSpeaker System or for $349.99 as a complete system.
Audio Rock with Transmitter and Remote.
LightSpeaker: The company’s flagship product is designed to fit into most 5- and 6-inch (R30 or R40) recessed lighting fixtures and also can be used in common lamps. I went with the lamp option because it meant that no ladder was needed. In essence you screw in the LED light (that sits on top of a 20-watt amplifier) where your light bulb would normally go. The speaker consists of a 3.1-inch woofer with “micro cellulose polymer treated cone material” and “high frequency disperser.”
The LED light has an operating life of 25,000 to 40,000 hours that could easily last 15 to 25 years with average use. The 10W LED provides equivalent light of a 60W incandescent bulb all while saving energy and a little money along the way.
The transmitter can simultaneously send audio to two separate zones of loudspeakers each with its own independent volume and source control. You could have your “lamp speaker” (LightSpeaker) playing a CD in one room and the radio playing outside on the rock. Any analog input can be streamed wirelessly to the speaker. For me the hardest part was finding an analog source around my house as I’m more of a digital girl. My house is almost disc-less, but for someone who has a decent CD collection or is a fan of the radio this is an easy way to pump the music outside or into the living room. For me, I would grab an AppleTV and a DAC to be able to play Pandora or music that lives on my phone. I ended up using the 3.5mm from my iPhone into the transmitter.
LightSpeaker System retails for $399.99
You can see that it does add bulk to my common lamp, yet once again, no wires to run and no programming. This is the tradeoff.
The market for IAV LightSpeaker and AudioRock is the DIY market, and they know it. This is why these products are sold at big box stores like Wal-Mart. These products are not about pitch perfect audio; they are about filling a void in the market by making audio accessible to the masses. Once someone gets the taste for audio outside, maybe they will crave more? I would carry this system at my store for the same reason I carry an easy-to-setup soundbar; sometimes that is all the client wants and needs.
How many technicians does it take to screw in a speaker? None. The homeowner can do it herself. But, maybe you can make a little money along the way by introducing her higher quality multi-zone audio.
Heather L. Sidorowicz is project manager/designer for Southtown Audio Video in Hamburg, NY.