Axiom Audio puts the power of Pi into new wireless speaker
Canadian loudspeaker maker Axiom Audio reckons its new AxiomAir brings something new to the wireless speaker system table. It's been designed to liberate listeners from the single user, low powered, low fidelity confines of Bluetooth portable speakers into the higher quality streaming world of Wi-Fi. But what really sets this speaker apart is the fully functional Raspberry Pi computer beating at its heart. While this allows future Axiom updates to be installed with the touch of a button on the user interface, it also opens the door to user-created applications.
Rather than rely on Bluetooth to wirelessly stream music from source players like smartphones and tablets, the AxiomAir flies over Wi-Fi instead. Apart from allowing listeners up to three times more wireless range than Bluetooth speakers like the FoxL Dash7, B&W T7 and Marshall's Kilburn, Wi-Fi also offers enough bandwidth to handle high fidelity music streaming. The built-in DAC helps the AxiomAir handle music files up to 24-bit/192 kHz resolution, with the promise of loud and clean output thanks to the system's 150 watt RMS amplifier driving two 6.5-inch aluminum cone speakers for the lower registers and two 1-inch titanium tweeters for the higher reaches.
Wi-Fi also means that multiple users can connect to the speaker system simultaneously. It opens up the door to multi-room playback opportunities, too, which can be synchronized throughout the home or set up to operate individually or in groups. And the unit broadcasts its own hotspot, meaning that users are free to wander well beyond the reach of the home setup.
Portability is further helped by the option of 9 or 18 hour battery packs, and a water-resistant design means it can be taken along to provide the tunes at a beach party or by the pool. The oval-shaped AxiomAir will be made available in color/finish options a-plenty (more than a hundred in fact) and the speaker's three USB ports can be used to feed in tunes from a thumb drive or used to share the battery's juice with mobile devices.
As mentioned earlier, Axiom Audio has opted to have a Raspberry Pi microcomputer run the audio processing show, which comes pre-loaded with the company's own optimized Linux-based OS. This allows tinkerers, makers, hackers and coders to get their programming hands dirty and develop their own apps for the speaker system. The unit also broadcasts its own user interface to the source music device, for playback control, management of playlists, internet radio access and tweaking of settings.
Based on input from its customers and after 3 years in development, Axiom Audio is ready to bring its wireless speaker system into production and has turned to Kickstarter to help move things along.
At the time of writing, there are still a limited number of early bird pledges – or Leading Edgers – available for US$475. After they're gone, backers will need to stump up at least $497 for an AxiomAir. Either way, that doesn't include a battery pack, which is listed as an optional extra.
The campaign runs until July 12 and, if all goes to plan, the company has earmarked October for shipping to start.
The Kickstarter pitch video below shows a little of what to expect.