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AllPlay Multiroom Audio Gets Multiple Upgrades

San Diego – Qualcomm upgraded its AllPlay wireless multiroom-audio technology to add multiple new features, including the ability for AllPlay speakers to retransmit Bluetooth-connected sources and wired line-in sources over Wi-Fi to other AllPlay speakers throughout the house.

Other changes will:

–let suppliers access a speaker’s DSP to create custom equalization settings tailored to their drivers and cabinets.

–turn stereo AllPlay speakers into a left-channel or right-channel speaker so that two can be used as a stereo pair to widen the sound stage, thanks to an improvement in latency from less than 5 milliseconds to less than 100 microseconds.

The left-right capability also adds wireless-subwoofer capability to an AllPlay speaker system for the first time.

Monster recently shipped the first three AllPlay speakers with Bluetooth-source retransmission over Wi-Fi. They’re priced at $229 to $399 and are available in Best Buy. They’ll be followed by Hitachi’s first AllPlay speakers, also with Bluetooth-source retransmission. They will be available exclusively in select Walmart stores and on starting next week at $149 to $179.

Neither brand’s speakers support Wi-Fi transmission of line-input sources.

The new Bluetooth capability will act as a bridge between the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi speaker markets, enabling consumers who have been weaned on Bluetooth audio to see the value of home-wide Wi-Fi audio, said Gary Brotman, director of product management for Qualcomm connected experiences.

The capability also provides a distinct advantage over Bluetooth-only speakers that are limited to one-to-one streaming, he continued, and it enables all cloud-based-music apps on a consumer’s smartphone to be streamed to multiple AllPlay speakers, all in synch.

Also because of the new Bluetooth capability, visitors can stream their smartphone music throughout the house without homeowners having to divulge their network’s Wi-Fi password.

Other AllPlay speakers already in homes with Bluetooth and line inputs can’t be firmware-upgraded to enable Wi-Fi retransmission of Bluetooth and line-in sources because a hardware change is needed, Brotman noted.

All current AllPlay speakers, however, will be able to receive and play back retransmitted line-in and Bluetooth sources.

Qualcomm didn’t say when other new AllPlay speakers with line-in and Bluetooth retransmission could be available, but the company expects the first speakers with stereo-pair capability to be available in the summer. Speakers featuring custom DSP EQ could possibly arrive sometime later. Those capabilities could also be added as firmware updates during those time frames to speakers already in homes, Brotman noted.

Earlier this year, Qualcomm announced other AllPlay advances, including new licensees and more streaming services whose apps will let consumers select AllPlay speakers for playback.