Monster announced this week that it has exclusively enlisted the gigantic electronics retailer Best Buy to spearhead the initial U.S. launch for its SoundStage wireless speakers, according to Twice. The company’s new three-piece speaker system, which looks to challenge the likes of Sonos in the multi-room speaker genre, will be unveiled at 400 Best Buy stores in the U.S. in the last week of October.
Monster also announced that it has developed a replacement for its high-end over-ear DNA cans that the company will begin shipping to limited audio-video specialists next month. The so-called “2.0” model was reportedly designed to be able to deliver dynamic sound efficiently and sensitively without the need for a headphone amplifier. The ‘phones will be ship at the same $280 price-point of its predecessor, but the company will implement a more dynamic range and bass-output improvements into the 2.0 edition, according to “head monster” and company CEO Noel Lee.
In the states, 400 Best Buy locations will begin exclusively selling Monster’s line of three SoundStage speakers during the final week of October, with an official release date set for October 25. An unspecified number of Canadian Best Buy locations will also be the first retailers in the North to stock the SoundStage line. Monster will begin expanding the wireless speakers’ availability to additional retailers roughly 30 days after the launch.
If you’re unfamiliar with the expanding multi-room audio genre, about 10 years ago Sonos pioneered the concept with a line of highly efficient wireless speakers that worked together to allow users to stream music via Wi-Fi from a single source to multiple rooms without latency, or to send a different source to each speaker. In the decade since, many big audio players — from LG to Denon — have joined in the fun.
Monster’s attempt to develop a multi-room system has resulted in three unique devices under the SoundStage banner: the S1 ($200), the S2 ($300), and S3 ($400). The devices get their name from Monster’s goal of synthesizing a larger sound stage through the use of software algorithms. The company initially revealed the speakers early last month in a press release leading up to 2014’s IFA consumer electronics tradeshow in Berlin.
Each model will feature a pair of front-firing drivers and ship with an optical input, 3.5-mm analog input, and USB ports for device charging. The S1 will have an additional rear passive radiator, while the S2 and S3 will both feature an active bass driver in back. The smallest and cheapest model, the S1, will also be equipped with IPX4-rated water resistance for splash protection.
All three models depend upon Qualcomm’s AllPlay smart-audio platform to achieve latency-free delivery of sound across multiple rooms via a Wi-Fi connection. Qualcomm’s technology also enables SoundStage users to synchronously stream their music to multiple SoundStage speakers (“Party” mode) or multiple songs to multiple speakers. All the devices on the relevant Wi-Fi network running the app can simultaneously collaborate on playlists.
In addition to local file streaming, users will be able to stream content native to music service apps such as Spotify and Rhapsody. Furthermore, Twice notes that Monster’s mobile app could eventually be expanded to include support for Qualcomm’s wireless AllJoyn home-automation technology (presumably because AllPlay is based on AllJoyn), which would in turn enable mobile control of TVs, appliances, and other AllJoyn-equipped products. Users would even be able to set up a TV to display the current song’s metadata.
Like Samsung’s Shape multi-room speaker line, Monster’s speakers will work through both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, which will allow for use of other streaming services that aren’t yet compatible with Monster’s app. The speakers also include digital-optical connections for connecting to TVs, a USB charging slot, and a 3.5 mm stereo input.
All three speakers will be available October 25. Aside from the price differences, Monster hasn’t yet revealed any further unique specifications distinguishing the three models.
[Update 10/06/14: This article has been updated to address new information from Monster regarding the upcoming launch of its SoundStage line of wireless speakers.