ONEmicro speakers from ONEaudio Review

I have recently spent a lot of time reviewing bluetooth earphones, whilst many have been fairly good in terms of sound quality… non have delivered a true stereo soundscape nor have they managed to provide a full audio signal due to the limitations of the bluetooth protocols.

A similar problem is found when looking at Wi-fi speaker setups, latency becomes a factor and although minor the human ear can and often does pick up on the small delays it causes.

The effect of these delays and reduced frequencies is that the purity of the music and the depth that the original composition had can be left wanting.

When I heard about that ONEaudio had won both the CES Innovation Award

Unfortunately review funds do not quite stretch to the $4000 for their beautiful clear acrylic top of the line ONEclassic Audiophile series speakers, so I opted for the ONEmicro instead.

So what is it that differentiates the ONEaudio speakers from their Bluetooth and Wi-fi counterparts?

Back in the later part of the 1980’s the DECT (Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunication) standard was formed, finding its way in to many communications devices across 110  different countries.

The DECT standard proved to be very effective as the 1.9ghz frequency range it operates in, is not shared by other wireless devices, providing clear and error free transmission.

As mentioned above it is the correct reproduction of a stereo sound stage that ensures listening is a true pleasure, until this point Audiophiles have always scorned the idea of wireless sound as channel synchronisation, time jitter and phase error between both the tweeter and woofer and also between left and right channels have been a big problem with Wi-fi and Bluetooth solutions.

However by using DECT for their speakers ONEaudio have managed to get channel synchronisations to within 0.5 uS, which is around 50 times better than WiFi, time jitter is less than 0.1ppm, which is about 10 times better than Bluetooth, but more impressive still, ONEaudio can manage zero phase error between tweeter and woofer and between left speaker and right speakers.

So thats the technical stuff out of the way, lets take a look at the actual speakers.

The speakers themselves are cylindrical in shape with a diameter of  62mm and sit 52mm tall, they are fairly weighty given there diminutive size, weighing in at 300grams per speaker.

The main body is split with the base being a harder white plastic that features the ONEaudio logo, above this is a clear plastic ring that allows the blue leds inside to show through, above this is a creamy white top section with a white mesh speaker grill on the top and a white rubber surface on the bottom.

On the bottom of the speakers you will find two buttons, one is the power and volume up, whilst the other functions as both a mode select and volume down control these are both recessed in to the speakers base.

Also supplied in the box is an aluminium USB DECT dongle that features the ONEaudio logo and an opaque end cap, the dongle is very nicely made and also has a few tricks up its sleeve, being able to connect with both PCs Macs and Android.

In order to get the speakers to work with your computer (works with both macs and PCs), you simply insert the dongle in to a free USB port and select it from the sound outputs on your OS.

To make the speakers work with an Android phone you need to connect using a USB OTG cable, an orange light illuminates on the dongle to show  that it is working, if like me you have a phone that has a USB Type C connector, you will need to buy a dedicated USB Type C OTG cable as the provided lead does not work with a micro USB to Type C adapter.

Next you need to power on the ONEmicro speakers by holding in the power button on the base of each speaker, a really nice touch is that each speaker identifies itself with a spoken prompt “I am on the right” or I am on the left” allowing you to easily place the speakers in the correct position.

Once I had the ONEmicro speakers connected I tried a quick demo that was supplied by ONEaudio, the file contains a properly phased sound of a dog barking.

It was really nice to hear the sample in action as it perfectly placed the dogs bark in the centre of the sound stage, making it appear to be in the middle of the two speakers.

Having played the sample on another set of bluetooth speakers, it was very apparent just how much is lost in quality due to the bluetooth speakers lack of proper phasing.

Next up came some real world music tests, first up came some classic trance tunes, I was truly amazed at just how much sound was coming out of the speakers (given their size), but it was not just the volume that was impressive but also the quality of the reproduction and the overall levels.

My next musical test for the ONEmicro speakers was with some classical music, the speakers handled it with fine results, placing the individual instruments and creating an immersive sound stage.

Bass was surprisingly decent for such small speakers, but if you like really deep bass an optional sub is also available to complement the ONEmicro speakers.

The next test was with video audio, I paired the speakers up to my Doogee P1 projector and played back 10 minutes of Starwars the force awakens.

One of the limitations of the projector was always its low audio output levels, but once paired to the speakers the experience became a whole lot more immersive.

If you were to take this combination away with you whilst camping or on holiday, or even using them in the garden whilst sitting having a few drinks you would not fail to be impressed with the portable home theatre that you have created.

Overall the volume and quality of sound for speakers of this size is truly mind bowing, with the added bonus that DECT allows perfect audio phasing to create amazing soundscapes.

ONEaudio have other speakers in their range as well as the ONEbox that allow 5.1 output over DECT for use in wireless home cinema setups, the boxes have various inputs including WiFi (for DLNA and airplay), Dongle, USB ram and toslink.

*The image shown above, is of the prototype casing and may not be representative of the finished product.

The ONEmicro speakers are available to purchase directly from ONEaudio for just $199.99 if you are looking for something that will give you the best sound for size, I would highly recommend the ONEmicro speakers, as whilst they are not as cheap as some bluetooth and wifi speakers the sound just leaves them in the dust.

I hope to be given the opportunity to test some of ONEaudio’s ONEclassic speakers which are currently available as part of a fully funded Kickstarter Project, if you are quick you can still get your name down for a set for just $1899, if they are audibly as good as the ONEmicro speakers, I can see a lot of music lovers moving over to DECT based speakers in the near future.

Bitboy review

Bitboy

The summer of 1998 – Years before the revolution of front-facing cameras and the duck-face pout, the Game Boy Camera was released in PAL territories.
Take photos of yourself, your friends, your dog; then maybe give them alien antennae and a pig snout, before putting a frame around it and printing it off, This was cool!

Unfortunately, unless you printed these off on the clunky Game Boy Printer and kept them safe, chances are they were doomed to be lost.

Without going through an arduous process of buying old PC components and trying to get your old copy of Windows XP to run smoothly long enough for it to work, there was no way to share your old photos with friends and family on social media, or simply ensure that your memories were preserved.

Flash forward to 2015, and news emerged that Alexander Bahr via his website GameBoyPhoto.com were developing the BitBoy; a device that, once connected to your Game Boy, would provide a simple process of transferring photos from your Game Boy Camera straight to an SD card.

The process is achieved by essentially fooling the Game Boy into thinking that it is actually a Game Boy Printer that has been connected, and so the camera sends the file over to the BitBoy, which saves it as a .BMP file on the SD card.

Upon opening the package the BitBoy arrived in, it all seems very minimal – a jiffy bag, the BitBoy, a micro-USB cable, and a 4gb SDHC card. There’s not even a manual, but GameBoyPhoto.com have one available as a free PDF file.

It’s all pretty straight forward and easy, but that manual explains any queries a user may have.

At the time of ordering, GameBoyPhoto.com also gave the option to order a separate USB transfer cable with the BitBoy; in case yours was lost to the sands of time (or more likely stuffed down the back of a cupboard or trapped under your bed), saving the hours of searching that would ensue when it came time to rescue your old snaps.

This, along with the pre-packed micro USB charging/transfer cable means that you’re all set to rescue your pictures, even if you are without a card reader.

The whole process is incredibly simple; as it requires no more input than it would have done to print the images all those years ago – and in doing so, brings back a lot of fond memories of printing your photos off as stickers for yourself and your friends.

You insert the SD card into the slot on the side of the unit, connect your Game Boy using the USB Link Cable, make sure your Game Boy Camera is inserted, and power it up! At this point it’s almost like muscle memory navigating to “View”, selecting the image you want, and tapping Right on the D-Pad to select print (making sure you’ve added all the stamps and frames you want first!), and then admiring the little Teddy Bear running on the beach ball while the professor takes notes. Very Nintendo.

To import the photos onto your computer, remove the SD card from the BitBoy and insert it into an SD card slot on your machine – or if you don’t have that or a card reader, simply use the Micro USB cable provided with the BitBoy to turn it into one! The SD card will be automatically formatted into a file tree that is simply “Game Boy Camera”, “00000”, and then your images. From there, it’s a smooth process of drag & drop before you open them in your viewer or editor of choice.

As well as the photos taken from your Game Boy Camera, the BitBoy can also rescue your achievements from Super Mario Bros Deluxe, Pokemon Yellow, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening and several others, meaning all of your medals and Pokedex entries are ready to be shared with the world once again!

The images appear at a tiny 24kb in size, and 160x144px in resolution; and while this is incredibly small by modern standards of digital photography, it’s absolutely possible to work with these in any standard image manipulation program to simply increase their size, or to play around with them in any way you see fit.

bitboy friends

The images are produced in black & white using the 4-color palette of the Game Boy system and this all adds to the aesthetic of the images and the charm of the process itself.

I recently used one of my BitBoy photos as my Facebook profile picture, and received many admiring comments and curious questions from friends!

bitboy luke

Initially the BitBoy was only to be built and dispatched to a very limited number of pre-order customers (myself being one of them), however it now seems they’ve opened the gates to any and all comers.

With a current price tag of $100 + postage for the BitBoy itself, and a further $15 for the Link cable (currently out of stock at the time of writing), anyone can get their hands on the device and start to fall in love with the Game Boy Camera all over again.

The combination of simplicity, compact design (the unit itself measures in at a tiny 5cm x 4cm x 1.5cm!), and the metaphoric value the BitBoy provides in giving new life not only to the Game Boy Camera itself but also your long-lost photos, makes the device a brilliant little addition to the Game Boy’s arsenal – rejuvenating one of the long-forgotten peripherals of a revolutionary gaming device.

More information on the GameBoyPhoto is available via their
Facebook or Twitter at: @Gameboyphoto

Or you can head over to BigCartel to get your order in now.

Hope you enjoyed the review, it should be the first of many game related reviews coming soon (including the EverDrive for Nintendo 64, that I am currently reviewing). If you have any questions, please fire away in the comments!

Thanks,

Luke