Aether Cone – The Thinking Music Player
Aether Cone – Bluetooth and AirPlay speakers are a dime a dozen these days, spanning a vast range of shapes, sizes, and price points. It has become increasingly difficult to distinguish one’s offerings, which is perhaps why the new Aether Cone tabletop music system recently caught my eye. Both in form and function, the Cone breaks from the me-too mold, so I couldn’t resist taking it for a test drive.
First, let’s talk form. You can likely surmise from its name what this speaker looks like. It indeed looks like a cone. The Aether Cone’s front, the circular face has a 6.25-inch diameter and a plastic grille that covers one three-inch woofer and two tweeters, which are driven by a 20-watt Class D amplifier. The speaker is available in two finishes: Aether sent me the black-and-copper model, but I personally prefer the Apple-esque look of the silver-and-white model.
In the center of the Aether Cone’s front face is a play/pause/voice-command button. The only other controls in the Aether Cone are the volume up/down buttons that sit on the unit’s topside. Around back, you’ll find an on/off switch and a power port. For completely wireless operation, the Cone contains a rechargeable lithium-ion battery with purportedly eight-hour battery life.
In addition to Wi-Fi, the Cone features built-in support for both Bluetooth and AirPlay. Many manufacturers opt for only one of those three wireless options, so you get a nice degree of flexibility here to stream your music in any way that’s convenient at the moment. The one connection method it lacks is an auxiliary input for a wired connection.
Where the Aether Cone truly distinguishes itself is in its voice control and integrated streaming platforms. The reason I’d call this a tabletop radio as opposed to a tabletop speaker is that several streaming platforms–namely, Rdio, Stitcher, and Internet radio stations–are built in, so you don’t need to rely on an external source like a phone, tablet, or computer to stream content.
Once you have added the Aether Cone to your home’s Wi-Fi network via a fairly straightforward setup process (which does require a computer to set up an account), just press and hold that center button and tell the Cone what you want to hear. You can say, “Play the artist Fitz and the Tantrums,” and the Cone will cue up the Rdio service to steam an artist-inspired playlist based on Fitz and the Tantrums. The Cone even speaks back to you to confirm what it’s about to play, with “Now playing some music by the artist Fitz and the Tantrums.” As the artist-inspired playlist continues playing, if you like something you hear, you can ask the Cone “What’s playing” to get the name of the artist and song.
|Product Dimensions||6 x 6.3 x 6.3 inches|
|Item Weight||2.9 pounds|
|Shipping Weight||5.15 pounds|
|Item model number||CNUS01|
|Batteries||1 Lithium ion batteries required. (included)|