We’ve been talking a little more about our musical taste here and there (especially on Instagram, other Instagram, and that time we made a record display shelf out of crown moulding). So when we were offered the chance to review the awesomeness that is the Aether Cone wifi/bluetooth speaker, we jumped on it! (not literally jumped. More happily-opened-the-box-it-came-in).
Aether is the company, Cone is the name of the speaker (or “thinking music player”, as they call it). It comes in chrome/white or black/copper. We received the black/copper, which fits in perfectly with our decor. The looks of the speaker are a MAJOR selling point, since it just looks like a cool sculptural little mixed-material art piece thingamabobber. It feels substantial and looks expensive, if you’re into that. See, it looks nice with Han:
It comes in what sort of resembles a GIANT ring box. We half expected a huge Legend of Zelda rupee to pop out when we opened it, but we were okay to find the speaker there instead. It is VERY easy to set up, and this is [gasp!] our first-ever wifi speaker, so we probably should have had a learning curve but didn’t. We normally listen to music on our gutted/refurbished record player (remember that project?) more than anything else, but we got this working in no time. If you’re curious about how to set it up, read this: https://www.aether.com/support/getting_started/.
The Aether Cone streams music via Rdio (it’s like a Pandora or Spotify kind of thing), which we signed up for the free version of. There are commercials every few songs and you can only skip six times, but if you upgrade to pro those go away.
There’s a button in the middle of the cone that you can press, which is then voice-activated as you ask it to play a different artist. You tell it an artist to play, and it plays music for you based on that. To start, we asked for Tom Waits, David Bowie, Journey, and Nine Inch Nails. Later we tried The Cars, The Cramps, and Leonard Cohen. Some artists it didn’t recognize – France Gall, Rasputina, William Elliot Whitmore, the Mr Belvedere theme song. Based on what we like, it also played RevCo, Reverend Horton Heat, Front 242, Bjork, Brian Eno, Beck, Devo, Queen, and some sweet surf rock. All=happy us.
Rdio streams to the Aether Cone via wifi, playing what it thinks you should like. Yes, it was wrong A LOT, but to be fair, we were probably jumping around too much. Oh, I also asked it to make me a sandwich, but it didn’t comply. Someday. Anyway. It did understand most of what we said, specifically “play some sweet early 90’s hip hop”. It responded by playing De La Soul. We smiled.
There aren’t really other buttons on the Cone (besides on/off and volume), so the way you switch tracks is to SPIN the front face of the speaker, which is about hand-sized, if that makes sense. It’s kind of fun. Like a tiny Price is Right wheel of music. You turn it a little to skip to another song, or turn it a lot to change genres. The little man that lives inside the speaker apparently knows that when you skip a song enough, you don’t like it, so he won’t play it anymore*. This actually worked pretty well for us, and after a few hours the speaker was MOSTLY playing stuff we like. If you turn the volume up, it knows, and assumes you like the song, which is another cool feature. (*disclaimer: there isn’t actually a tiny person inside of the speaker. Sorry)
If you don’t want to use Rdio or your wifi sucks, you can also just use this like a regular bluetooth speaker, and stream whatever you want. Bonus. This feature was great for us, since Rdio doesn’t have the Conan the Barbarian soundtrack in it’s entirety, and obviously we need to listen to that while we play D&D.
The battery lasts a LONG time (we can play it for the better part of an entire day, and it won’t die), and is rechargeable via an included standard wall charger. The wifi signal is strong in every part of our house and even out in our backyard. The sound is surprisingly fantastic, especially for a smaller speaker. It sounds bassy and rich, not at all tinny.
This guy is pretty expensive, coming in at $399 at their website or on Amazon. That said – look at it. It’s pretty damn handsome, and has impressive guts to match. There aren’t really many (if any?) comparable products out there. In short – if you’re a music geek, love new tech, and have a tax return making-it-rain cash on you, this is a good buy.
We did receive a free Aether Cone for review purposes, but obviously opinions are our own. We don’t do many reviews, so you should know that when we do, we genuinely like something. Huzzah.