Klipsch LightSpeakers Replace Ordinary Bulbs with LED Light and Wireless Speakers
At CES 2010, Klipsch will unveil LightSpeaker, which combines lighting and wireless audio in a single screw-in chassis; system supports two music zones and up to eight speakers.
Klipsch is taking audio where it’s never gone before: the light bulb.
At CES 2010, the loudspeaker powerhouse is debuting LightSpeaker, which is pretty much what it sounds like: a screw-in LED light with a built-in wireless speaker.
“In many cases, you just remove the light bulb and screw it in, and it’s done,” says Ed Haase, founder of Kadence Technologies, which developed the technology for LightSpeaker. “It looks very much like a regular downlight.”
But it sounds like a regular loudspeaker, says Haase, who co-founded SpeakerCraft before leaving the company in 2000.
“Coming from the audio industry, it was really important for me that it sounds good too,” he says.
The LightSpeaker is larger than a typical light bulb, consuming the entire space within a standard can. But it screws into the socket like a regular bulb. Each unit contains:
- 10-watt LED (which can replace a 65-watt incandescent bulb)
- 20-watt amplifier
- Wireless technology from STS for streaming audio and controlling the speaker
Setting up the system couldn’t be simpler. On the back of each speaker are two switches: one to designate the speaker as the left or right channel and one to designate the speaker as Zone 1 or Zone 2. Currently, only two zones are supported.
The hub of the system is a basic controller that accommodates two sources. From the base, or from a LightSpeaker handheld remote, users can select sources and zones and control the audio volume and lights.
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“You don’t need anything other than what comes in the kit,” says Haase. “The base unit automatically finds and pairs the speakers.”
What has taken so long for the industry to create such a thing as a light speaker? Haase believes it wasn’t possible in the past because of the limited real estate in a standard lighting can. Plus, the light would generate too much heat to share a metal can with a speaker. Today, small and cool-running LED lights are prevalent, and the wireless chipsets and digital amplifiers are smaller than ever before.
Is the Audio Any Good?
Klipsch, the exclusive U.S. distributor of LightSpeaker, saw the product for the first time when it was almost fully baked, according to president Paul Jacobs. The concept was appealing to the company before the demo, but the real test would be the quality of the audio.
“Our real core competency is: We’re a loudspeaker company,” says Jacobs. “We’re a multibrand speaker company that participates in a lot of different brands and channels.”
Whether new products are developed internally or outside of the company, there is give-and-take in the process, he says, “but acoustic performance we always want to have control over.”
Even though the LightSpeaker does not include Klipsch’s trademark horn design, the speaker still passed muster with Klipsch engineers. Kadence turned to STS for 2.4 GHz wireless audio technology, and Haase says Kadence has optimized the chipset with its own technology. “That’s what the last three years of development have been,” he says.
Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson Email Julie at email@example.com
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