AV Quick Takes: Apple Music Sing and the Sonos/IKEA Speaker Floor Lamp
Apple Music Sing
Apple has introduced Apple Music Sing, a new feature that allows Apple Music users to sing along to their favorite tunes with real-time lyrics and karaoke-style audio. The feature is available on iPhone, iPad, and the new Apple TV 4K. With “tens of millions of the world’s most singable songs,” Apple Music is now the unofficial king of karaoke.
Apple Music’s lyrics experience is consistently one of the most popular features on our service. We already know our users all over the world love to follow along to their favorite songs, so we wanted to evolve this offering even further to enable even more engagement around music through singing. It’s really a lot of fun; our customers are going to love it.
— Oliver Schusser, Apple’s vice president of Apple Music and Beats
Apple Music Sing offers some interesting features, chief among which is the Adjustable Vocals setting, which allows users to control whether the original vocal is audible. They can sing along with the original vocal at normal levels, turn it down so it’s just a guide, or turn it off altogether. The real-time lyrics feature produces animated lyrics that “dance to the rhythm of the vocals,” according to Apple. The Background Vocals feature allows secondary vocal lines that are sung at the same time as the lead vocal to be animated independently, making them easier to follow. Similarly, the Duet View feature splits the screen to show the lyrics to duets and other multi-singer tracks simultaneously on opposite sides of the screen. At launch, Apple offered up over 50 playlists of karaoke favorites that have been “fully optimized for the Apple Music Sing experience,” but millions of other songs should work. One caveat: Apple Music Sing does not work with Dolby Atmos tracks. According to Apple, “if you’re listening to a song playing with Dolby Atmos and you turn on Apple Music Sing, Dolby Atmos turns off and the song plays without surround sound. If you turn off Apple Music Sing, the song plays with Dolby Atmos.”
Sonos/IKEA Symfonisk Floor Lamp
Sonos and IKEA launched the Symfonisk series of wireless audio furniture back in 2019. The main components of the lineup are: a $100 “bookshelf speaker” (a speaker that can be used as a small, wall-mountable bookshelf, or can pose as a large book on a larger shelf), a $250 “picture frame speaker” with swappable art panels, and a $175 table lamp with swappable lampshades. As of January of 2023, there is a new arrival, a $260 Floor Lamp.
The challenge of not having enough room for a table to put the lamp on led us to create the floor lamp.
— IKEA range design leader Stjepan Begic
Like the table lamp, this new floor lamp includes a built-in Sonos-powered wifi speaker. The base is matte black with slim rods — it looks very IKEA — and the bamboo lampshade can be swapped out for other options, sold separately. You can use the Ikea Home smart app to control the lamp, while the audio can be controlled by the Sonos app, complete with stereo pairing, TruePlay room-tuning (iOS only), and a wide variety of incorporated streaming services. Unlike many standalone Sonos speakers, Symfonisk speakers lack a built-in AI assistant, but they can be linked to a separate voice-controlled device like an Amazon Echo or Apple HomePod. Probably the most compelling use for the new Symfonisk floor lamp is as a surround speaker in a Sonos-powered home theater. A pair of the lamps — either flanking a sofa, or just behind it — would place sound sources in roughly the right locations for effective surround-sound without a complicated installation, unsightly wires, or even visible speakers. In such a setup, a Sonos soundbar would handle the front channels.
The Symfonisk floor lamp speaker is a great example of how our collaboration continues to challenge the traditional idea of sound in the home. We created the floor lamp speaker to sound great on its own but also to be versatile. It works seamlessly with all our Sonos speakers and is a great option for those who are looking to add rear speakers to their home theater set up, when paired with our soundbars.
— Sara Lincoln, Principal Product Manager at Sonos
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