If you want to play music from streaming services through your speakers, then you have these options:
- Buy a wireless speaker setup, which will set you back hundreds of dollars.
- Plug into your speaker with an aux cable, and then leave your device next to the stereo as you go about your business.
- Use a bluetooth speaker, forcing you to stay pretty close to the source of the music.
Now there’s a new option, which I think sounds better than any of the above.
Fon (the company behind the “world’s largest WiFi network”) has introduced the Gramofon, which is essentially a wireless router that plugs into your stereo system.
The Gramofon is up for funding on Kickstarter. It was originally available for the surprisingly low price of $30. That tier is now sold out, but you can still get one for $50. As of April 15th, 5 PM PST the campaign has raised $48,601 of their $250,000 goal. The campaign has 29 days to go.
You can connect the Gramofon to ethernet or WiFi. If you choose to connect through ethernet, then you could use the Gramofon as your main router. You could also use it to extend your existing WiFi reach.
There’s an audio output on the Gramofon that plugs directly into your sound system. You then connect an Android or iOS device to the same WiFi network. Using your device as a controller, you can select music from Spotify or WahWah’s radio service.
Gramofon will also be adding more services in the future. They are looking into Beats, Grooveshark, SoundCloud, Google Play, Rhapsody, Songza, Pandora, Deezer, Rdio, Slacker, and Amazon. They’re also taking suggestions for services on their Kickstarter page. Wireless updates will automatically be sent out to Gramofons, so you don’t have to worry about missing changes.
The music you select plays directly from the Gramofon, not your device. If you have friends over, they can also select songs from their own devices. Up to 20 people can connect at once, making your Gramofon a social jukebox.
Instead of giving everyone your WiFi password, you can turn on an option that lets Facebook and Google friends use their logins to sign into your Gramofon-powered WiFi network. From there, friends can choose songs to play or simply connect to the internet. Think of how easy this would make things when you have groups of friends over who want to connect to your internet. Options also exist to let anyone – or no one but you – connect.
If you buy a Gramofon, you automatically become part of Fon’s global WiFi network. This means a second WiFi signal gets split off from yours. Other Fon users in the area can log into this second WiFi signal with their Fon login. This brings into question the speed and security of your network, though Fon says their technology makes this a non-issue (but read the details yourself to decide).
The upside is that anyone on the Fon network receives a dedicated Fon login. If you’re near a Fon hotspot anywhere in the world, you’ll be able to log in. There’s a surprisingly large number of hotspots in various cities across Europe and Asia.
After careful consideration, I decided to pledge. Hopefully it gets funded, because I’m pretty excited.
When Nina Ulloa isn’t writing for DMN she’s usually reviewing music or at a show. Follow her on Twitter: @nine_u