Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Qualcomm's Skifta and the TuneIn failure.

I was all excited. Then  I was really quite deflated. It seemed I had reached my Nirvana only to find myself filled with a desire that can only lead to suffering. Ok I am getting a little carried away, but I did have something in my hands not that long ago that made me think I had the Audio playback answer to the world the universe and everything.

Qulacomm, not that long ago launched an App that is available on both iOS (iPhone) and Android platforms that allows some audio apps on your phone like Shoutcast, Soundcloud, RadioFeed, to play directly on a UPnP or DLNA enabled device. This includes Smart TVs and many many more audio devices now available for the home. you just press play on your Smart Phone or Tablet and it plays on your music system. You can even take music from your drop box and any locally stored on computers/servers around your house. The fact that they also included the TuneIn App on one of their channels is what made me really excited. This meant that I could send radio from anywhere on the planet directly to my enabled music centre or hifi.

GREAT! But it doesn't work. Well it sort of does. But not really. I'll explain.  I set up a list of favourites on my TuneIn app which were mainly local station to me, like BBC radio 4 and 5 live, Absolute Radio and 96.4 Eagle as I live in Guildford. I also added Jack FM as that is local ish too. Fabulous, I thought and I pressed play on BBC Five live only to get, 'This stream is not compatible with your device. Contact TuneIn.com to get a compatible stream.' Hmm, I tried another station and the same. I tried Absolute Radio (quite local) and it said, 'This stream is not available in you country.....'. Jack FM worked fine! So I went on to the TunIn App proper to double check and all was OK. It, indeed, was. Deflated! So I set a task to contact all involved to see if it was something really silly that could be fixed. The  Qulcomm Skifta forum was my first port of call and it seems the chatters are all saying the same thing. A poor old engineer from Qulacomm is spending a lot of time telling everyone that it's not their fault and that TuneIn have terms and Conditions...blah blah blah...can't do anything about it. I have 10 pre-sets and only one works. That is a major fail in my book.

OK, so time to talk to TuneIn. Surely this would be important to them as if this works them it is truly the holy grail to access all network  audio playing devices without having to be embedded in them all and also have them at your mercy as you are on show in the palm of their hands. This is in effect a free global broadcasting channel. TuneIn are clever enough to know where you are so, even better for their advertising. So surely they would jump on this and fix it in an instant? I mean this is manufacturing Gold isn't it? well you can guess, 'This is a third part app and we are not responsible...blah blah blah....' IDIOTS.

Dear Qulacomm and TuneIn, Talk to each other. You could make squilians. Otherwise someone else will make this happen. Anyone else make a good Radio app? Want to DLNA enable it? The first one to do it gets all the cream.

Right I'm hungry.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

In response to an article on Microsoft on LinkedIn suggesting that Microsoft go back to its core.

The suggestion here is that Microsoft should stick to the enterprise part of its business and steer away from the consumer end. The suggestion as well is that it has failed to light the path to consumer fulfilment.
However, my thoughts are:

I doubt that Microsoft will fail here. The target is clear. Enterprise and home. The alignment of Tablet, phone and pc is only Microsofts way of changing to simply stay the same. Meaning the leader in the office. My only wonder is why they have yet to scoop up Nokia as this would highly unlikely affect their relationship with their other clients.

On the consumer side, many may have missed the fact that the XBOX has stealthily slipped into living rooms over the years. In fact in the exact manner that a senior executive at Microsoft (also a musician and an owner of one our CD players)  was telling me they hoped it would. I think that conversation took place about 10 years ago. Kinect anyone?

So I think the plan is clear and very simple. Sew back up the corporate and eat up the home. Tie them up with with a tablet and a phone. They are after all content delivery mechanisms. Oh and there is the added fact that if you Know hardware, you know software. Or indeed if there is no hardware then there's no software...erm

Monday, October 8, 2012

In response to a kind review on AudioReview.ca

The review link:http://audioreview.ca/default.aspx?pagename=review&reviewID=60
Extracts of review:
The review by David Mitchell.
"This is not an amp that jumps out at you and screams "I'm here in your room! Listen to me! I demand your attention....". Its more the kind of amp that our esteemed colleague Jan would say lets you "hear the music and not the hi-fi". I like that."

"Not surprisingly, the amp is exceptionally well put together."

"This is probably the most musical gear I've had come through my music room in recent memory."

"To sum up, if you're ever in the market for a no bells and whistles, beautifully musical, well built integrated, this is the one."

and there's more, but you'll have to read the to get the full thunder clap.

Added By: Haider @Sonneteer

Thank you very much for these kind words. It's always good to hear or read that we have achieved what we have set out to with this amplifier. The Alabaster has been with us for about 15 years now. It has been tweaked a little along the way mainly due to the advent of RHOS compliance. The principles from the start have not changed and pretty much dictate our designs through out, Having designed and worked for a number of other British brands over the years we have learned a great deal (and still are). The idea of not ventilating, for example, came from monitoring service departments of much larger consumer electronics' businesses and learning what causes the most trouble. Most amplifiers get very hot internally and the heatsinks rely on airflow to cool them down. we simply place the heatsinks on the sides or the base. We slightly over size them and then airflow on the outside does the rest of the work, They rarely exceed 46 degrees centigrade however. This does slightly pinch to touch. No more than an in room radiator. We've had one or two Alabasters back over time. Mostly ones that were built in the 1990's. We open them up and they look as new and as clean as the day they were made. The faults have mostly been a blown internal fuse. In 1994 it started out as a theory. We like to think that practice has mostly proved it correct. I can see you are all glazing over so I'll get onto volume pot tracking some other time. Your course work is at the bottom of your notes and I'll see you again next week. Haider(Welsh boy living in England)
Comment Added: 10/8/2012 1:35:06 AM
Added By: dmitchell
Really looking forward to hearing your comments on the volume pot, Haider. It tracks exceptionally well.
Comment Added: 10/8/2012 7:31:28 AM

Added By: Haider @Sonneteer
Haha you dared to ask. Not a story to chat women up with. Or any other potential partner for that matter.

As you may already know the volume on many commercial audio Amplifiers tend to peek at about 12 O'Clock on the dial. something I learnt in a former design life was that the 5 minute demo on the shop floor was critical. So the perception that amp was louder than a rival on the shelf was considered critical to sales. Hence amplifiers with high gain and sensitivity.

The problem of course is the typical analogue volume control potentiometer including the Alps 27mm and 18mm (Alps Blue and Alps Black) track at their best in the second half of the dial. Meaning of course from 12 O'Clock onwards. The error at the lower volumes, or the first half of the dial can exceed 3dB. So with very high gains there can be a two fold or more error between left and right.

Sonneteer amplifiers are deliberately designed to use the full dial as much as possible. So on average clipping does not occur till the dial is at or close to maximum. This allows for better listening at lower volume and more accurate listening across the board.

There is a little more about this on our blog too. But the the above is more or less the gist of it.


I have also been involved in CD player designs (not Sonneteer ones) where the same has applied. Setting the output to 2.5volts instead of the standard 2Volts for example. Again to give the impression of better sound quality in a quick on the shelf demo. A common practice it seems. Really not the way we play things here however.

In some ways digitally controlled volume controls have reduced the practice as the visual feedback is quite different. The only problem is there are only one or two half decent analogue, digitally controlled volume chips available. Only at best do they compare with an average quality potentiometer in the same design.

Ok you can wake up now. I'm done :-)

Added By: dmitchell
Excellent information Haider. Thank you for that. I have noticed that my Sonneteer sounds excellent even at low volumes. A good test for me with an unfamiliar amp is to slowly turn down the volume to zero to see how well it tracks. A lot of amps, with inferior volume controls, I will notice that at almost zero volume, one channel is noticeably louder. The Sonneteer does not have this flaw.
Comment Added: 10/8/2012 1:01:48 PM

Friday, March 30, 2012

The year was 1994

I was right in the middle of a Master's degree course at Imperial College and Remo was Technical Director of a big set top box manufacturing and distribution company at the time. At weekends and in the evenings Remo (as I was stuck in a laboratory in West London) was getting my original quite messily built prototype into a production ready product. We then managed to somehow wangle a spot at the Heathrow Hi-Fi show, which was very big in those days and the rest just followed on from there.

A friend of a friend, who owned a hifi shop at the time had helped us blag our way in (to the hifi show) and somehow convinced  one of his friends who had a show room to plug our amp into his speakers. It wasn't agreed at the time, but by the end of the show all the said gentleman wanted in payment was "one of those beautifully sounding amplifiers". We had just all witnessed the Sonneteer Campion's first steps. A bit like my daughter, all she wanted to do was run after that.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

KNOW HOW! The future of CE retail?

Our fridge recently went kaput and with a little girl now starting to march her way around the house, urgency took hold and the world of internet retail started to thump its way out of our desktop.

Ultimately it couldn't have been simpler and since we needed it to be installed, Dixon's online turned out to be the best option. A week or so later and at a pre-specified a big van,  a couple of very polite gentlemen, a toolbox and a fridge appeared.  Less than an hour later it was all done and it was as if they were never here. Fantastic!

Well that all seems totally unremarkable does it not? That is just the point. The final link in the chain. The delivery mechanism from checkout click to a fully functioning piece of equipment in the home. In full working order. The success or otherwise of this mechanism,  in whatever form it takes,  could be the deciding factor in the long term success of online vending.  Don't you think?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Googled 'Sonneteer' and Something different came up

Yes, just now. On the sidebar on the left I got this:
Something different:
lyric poet

cool. Now to get my guitar out and put music to it.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Android today XXXX tomorrow!?

The article below was shared with me on linkedIn. An Interesting read indeed. However I am a little at odds with the conclusions. I agree if historical precedents are taken into account then, certainly, the standardisation argument follows and we will all be Andriods by 2015 or whatever. In same the sense that the recent economic disturbance has changed many a human habit in a different manner to previous downturns, I believe the nature of behaviour towards operating systems has too. If a new OS appeared tomorrow and all the apps were available on it and it was cool. it takes a matter of months for devices to be available that run on it and it has every chance of catching fire. Also if Apps become OS independent then it doesn't matter. To me this is the most likely scenario. The nature of the open system is that, inevitably, there will be an open application platform with rules that allow them to work on any OS that adheres to the rules. So I agree that standardisation will take place but only in away that allows the bedroom developers to breath.This includes the ones who want to develop their own OS. The only true winners here at the moment are ARM. As long as the hardware architecture is standard then anything goes. In this mobile life customers are fickle and hey why not! Oh and let's not forget Nokia and MS marriage has yet to have it fruit tasted. This could be a business winner. I have already tasted both Apple and Android and I am tempted.

Friday, February 11, 2011

GaDGET Junky: Nokia's Soft Seattle centre!

"This is a huge moment which could shape the future of an industry" says Rory Cellan-Jones

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Show'd out!

It seems like an age since we were on the Virgin Atlantic (filthiest plane I have ever been on) to Las Vegas at the start of January as CES took hold of our senses for another year. Last weekend we drove back from Amsterdam where we were exhibiting at the ISE show. The few working weeks prior to both shows and in between were dominated by preparations and the adrenalin come down is only just kicking in.

In the mean time the phones are jingly jangling with exhibition organiser of other trade shows trying to get us hooked up. At some stage we will all travel the world meeting each other again and again and admiring the insides of conference venues and mediocre hotels whilst shaking hands,smiling and telling each other how wonderful we all are.

Right, time to do some work!

Oh Amsterdam was nice, if cold. Vegas was Vegas and surprisingly cold!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Lullaby baby on the set top:a message to all parents of young children.

My recent fatherhood has shed light on many a new thing as indeed one might expect, but one in particular seems suited to this blog has impressed me as well as make me wonder why? The why I will come to shortly. What has impressed is the wide availability of baby focussed radio stations worldwide. In desperate attempted to calm a screaming little girl, my partner Vicky turned to the Morpheus (Sonneteer Music centre) sitting on the sideboard and hit the Genre search on the dial only to find a whole host of radio stations under 'kids'. Now making the wild assumption that goats do not spend a lot of time listening to radio we assumed they were aimed at little ones! Human little ones that is.

I digress..erm...oh yes; having tried a few we have settled on a broadcast that is not only excellent in its selection of soothing ditties for baby Amelia, but also is transmitting in probably close to the best sound quality I have heard from any digital station. Comparable only to stations like Swiss Classic or AVRO. The station's name: 101 RU Lullaby. As the name implies, it is Russian and they transmit more than one channel aimed at children.

So back to the why? Why oh why don't the BBC of Cebebies fame also broadcast a radio station aimed at children in the same way they do television?   If they ever take time to consider it then I suggest they take more time to learn from the Russians!

Friday, October 1, 2010

GaDGET Junky UPDATE! iTunes 10 Tunes into Morpheus Server from my laptop.

Back. Yes been very busy doing lots, but can't remember anything.

Anyway, as the title bar suggests, I am currently streaming 'Clannad' from the Morpheus Server in the Office through my laptop using iTunes 10, just downloaded.

At the same time I am listening to Muse on the Morpheus Music Centre the other side of the office. I am using the iPod touch to control it of course. Now to see if I can pick up a stream from my Android phone(using Twonkey app) at the same time. Again using the iPod to control it.

Why you ask? I don't know! But it's cool.

Monday, August 23, 2010

GaDGET Junky: Android and Apple working together to make Morpheus Sing

So I've had my Sony Ericsson Xperia X10mini pro fro a few days now and it's not perfect, but I am getting used to it.

The cool thing is right now, as I write this blog, I have my iPod touch with Plug Player controlling my new Android phone(that'll be the Xperia)  some music and Twonkey Media mobile ( a free app) streaming to the Sonneteer Morpheus Music Centre in my living room. Ok I dont need the iPod to make the music happen as the Morpheus simply saw the phone as a server the moment the app was loaded(wifi switched on of course). Fantastic!

I am currently playing a few Led Zeplin songs in full WAV (CD quality) seemlessly.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Oh and one more thing

Hazel O'Conner at Guilfest; stirred the emotions.
Must find my Breaking Glass LP. Another first listen 'gotya' Album.

Dear Muso's if you are writing a good 'Album filler' please stop writing, tear it all up and start again. If wanted good padding i'd buy scatter cushions.

2010 by Prince

Yes I had to buy the Mirror and spent a whole 65p for a hot off the press Prince Album. The second time he's done this in the UK. The last time was much worse as I had to buy the Mail! I hope no one saw me!

First listen was through my laptop speakers as I was working at the breakfast bar in my Kitchen. One could argue that as a hi-fi type person that this really wasn't going to do it any justice. Recordingwise this may be true, but i really wanted to know if the songs would grasp me in the same way as when i first listened to Black holes and Revelations by Muse a couple of years back.

One word, No. This is not to say that by anyone else this wouldn't be a competent yet not totally exciting collection of songs, but Prince is coasting. When I first heard Parade back in 1986 I was goosepimpling and when i played it again recently it still sounded fresh and had this buzz about it. Purple Rain, Controversy, 1999 and so on all had similar affects.

I was at Guilfest on the weekend past and one evening the Wonderstuff (Size of a Cow) were on and they said while on stage that they had recently learned while doing Glastonbury that at Festivals there is no need to play anything written this century. Based on the last time I saw them at Guilfest I wouldn't disagree. Prince, unfortunately, suffers a similar affliction. Nothing he has produced since the turn of the Century would have brought him to the legendary status that he fully deserves for his earlier work.

Shame. I just found it boring.

Regarding the quality of the recording; of course it's great. Good quality recordings to not stir emotions, good songs do. But I didn't need to tell you that.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Just reading the FT the other day, as one does....

There was an article about the Swiss watch business. Actually there were several articles. Something to do with Hublot  and how they've grabbed all the juicy bits from their failed movement supplier. So now they are doing it all in house. This supplier it seems supplied a wide range of brands. many of which are blitzed all over the FT's own, 'How to spend it' magazine. The interesting thing to me is that many of these brands, including the current incarnation of Hublot, are less than 10 years old. A lot of their strength is built on the heritage  that Switzerland as a country has for making watches. Since most of them use the same engine, admittedly crafted by high calibre Swiss watchmakers, they are basically gifted marketing vehicles taking a ride on the greatest brand bus there is; 'Swiss Made'. I wonder how strong the 'British Made' brand is?

Monday, April 19, 2010

The best job in the world

We had the pleasure of driving around an almost empty Heathrow area yesterday. We were there to pick up Vicky, my partner's, car from Business parking. She has just concluded a 27 hour train and ferry trip from Madrid under beautiful, blue yet volcano ash stricken sky. We arrived at the gate of the Parking area to be greeted by by a Gentleman who welcomed us and and advised us that the 3 days over stay was free and that we could enter with my car and drive the 500 metres or so to collect the car and both leave for free.

We were, of course, fully expecting to pay for the overstay as companies all over are invoking their 'act of God' clauses to plough back money into their coffers. Business Parking at Heathrow clearly had other ideas and I imagine everyone who arrived that day to collect their cars left happy.

So why the best job in the world? Well the Gentleman who greeted us has one job and one job only all day and that's to make people happy. Yes he has his Saturday blown out, a beautiful sunny day, but hey; everybody was smiling.

The second best job? The guy at the other end writing off the charges and raising the barrier for us to leave.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Montreal Show in the -12 degree spring time

I almost look respectable, as my mother would say!
New Suite, new shirt and new product. It's bee beautifully sunny and as cold as -12 degrees centigrade here in Montreal and it's Spring!!!!  I've got some pics and more to say, but right now I'm late to meet my public! As they say. Think French!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Brand loyal...until I got in a pickle at Sainsburys's

I am partial to lime pickle as nothing spices up a bit of grilled lamb neck fillet on a skewer better. I had dinner all planned. I just needed to pop into Sainsbury's(my closest local supermarket, others are available) to get the lamb, some salad and, of course, Sharwoods finest lime pickle as I'd gobbled up the last jar. Shriek! The shelf in the store was empty! It seems I am not the only fiend.

Now I knew that they sometimes keep a stash next to the Indian foods as well as with the pickles so I marched over to that isles. Aggghhhhh! None there too. Oh what to do!? Vicky, noticed I was in a fluster and pointed out that there was another brand available on the shelf near by. A little uncomfortable, I was, until I noticed it was Pataks. Now until I'd seen their advert on the television (yes i sometimes do watch commercial television) I'd never heard of them. Suddenly I felt a little more at ease and willing to put it in the trolley.

The verdict? Not bad at all. More lime than paste compared to the Sharwoods version which gave it a stronger sense of freshness. It was also hotter! So be warned. Would I continue with it long term? May be. I'll keep you posted. I might even buy both and mix them. I mean they are like having two different pickles.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

GadGET Junky: Had the Morpheus Server round for new year. What a party!

To make sure all is running well and to get used to the unit I had one of the demonstration Morpheus Servers at home for the holidays. I didn't get much time to play with it as we were up north in Yorkshire visiting the in-laws to be. Well my in-laws to be, Vicky's mum and dad. Had my first white Christmas in ages and some lovely food and company. Might need spikes on my tyres next time though.

When we got back, Vicky bought me a copy of Tori Amos Midwinter Graces CD as an anniversary gift as we met 15 years ago this New year and got togther 14 years ago. (I think I got the numbers right? I am sure Vicky will make me edit the blog if wrong).

Got home, switched the server on and popped the CD in. Oh, I have to say the server is so quiet, it makes my Buffalo Linkstation sound like a vacuum cleaner!

Where was I? Oh yes; as the CD was being consumed by the server, I popped down stairs and switched on my Morpheus music centre and then My iPod Touch which has the Plug Player installed (about £3 from Apps store). All this took about 3 to 4 minutes.

As you can see in the picture, by the music centre was switched on in our living room I was able to start playing the (ripped and stored) CD from the Server.
The Morpheus music centre was  singing through my loudspeakers and I had full control via the iPod Touch. Oh I made cup of tea at the same time  and my other hand was holding it!  yes, I hear some of you shouting, I should have left it brew for longer to get that fuller flavour.

I have a brief story to tell about the server concept and how we came about to make one. Next blog!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Neglect, all for agood cause

I have been midful,of my recent neglect of this blogging area, but as most of you make your way here via the Sonneteer website, you will have noticed why. The Sonneteer News Blog has been refreshed more often than normal of late and Sonneteer mansionshave been a hive of activity.

Off to CES next week, where my mind may turn to more interesting things. Every self respecting writing fiend has a review of the year of some sort. It is not my intention to not deliver. The year started by someone saying that it would be two thousand and fine. Well I know of a few great and good things that have happened and they alone would qualify the entire year. Also having seen her book we should be glad that Sarah Palin's bottom is nowhere near the Oval office. That's as political as I will allow mmyself to get on this blog.