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Sync up Multiple Boombots with Seedio App

Synchronized-Music-Playback

3 Boombot REX speakers synchronized using Seedio App

the closest attempt at making a music synchronization app that we actually want

Ever since we started our company, we had a vision to create a social experience through portable audio.  One of the pieces of technology we have been trying to develop is a way to synchronize audio across multiple mobile devices to enhance our portable speakers with ad-hoc networks.  We’ve seen a number of apps come through that attempt to do it, and Seedio is probably the closest we’ve seen so far.  The Seedio full version allows one person to play DJ and create a local broadcast over a Wi-Fi network.

Seedio Screenshot

Seedio’s user interface is pretty simple.  There are two modes (seed and receive).  To “seed” a song, pick a song stored locally on your device (you can also pay an extra $.99 if you want to use Youtube or Soundcloud as a content source).  This creates a channel that will pop up on anyone set up on the “receive” mode on the same network.  The range is basically as big as you can make a single Wi-Fi network.  I used a good length podcast (DnBRadio Drum and Bass to be exact) and my first attempt broadcasting was successful.  My broadcasting was being done on my iPhone 5 and the receiving on an iPhone4S.  The channel quickly popped up on the 4S with my phone I.D. and the song that was being played.  The first time I attempted to jump on the channel, the songs were a little bit off sync.  I stopped and restarted the broadcast and the second time, the songs went into sync pretty nicely.  I rounded up three phones to get a set of Boombot REX speakers synced up and it sounded pretty rad.

On the iPhone4S, you can pull up a list of previous sessions. This is kind of cool because it offers receivers a convenient way to purchase the content that was being streamed to them.  The list remains on the device so that even after the broadcast is done, you can still go back and locate the content…possibly even download it if it’s that awesome.

Seedio has several shortcomings.  It is not yet truly mobile while using Bluetooth devices.  The app claims that you can use the tethering from your iPhone to create a network (which you can).  This worked fine when we used speakers or headphones on line-in modes, but not while connected to a Bluetooth audio device.  I’m not quite sure why Bluetooth would interfere with the song buffering.  On some occasions, I got a song to start on the receiver device, but the performance was off sync and short lived. The tethering Wi-Fi signal off a phone not only guzzles phone battery, but the range is relatively short (less than 30 feet)  This doesn’t exactly solve our music synchronization conundrum for biking, skiing, flash mobs, or silent discos, but it does enable some functionality anywhere we have a good WiFi spot.  The other issue is that if you use music streaming over a tethered connection, be prepared to rack up some data usage.

limitations with music synchronizing audio over bluetooth and wifi

There are limitations to music synchronization on Bluetooth. The bandwidth is too small to handle streaming music to multiple devices.  We’ve seen some speakers use CSR’s True Wireless Stereo protocol for getting a single device to pair to two speakers, but it takes three to make a party.  Bluetooth on most devices is also pretty limiting in distance (30-40ft in most Class 2 Bluetooth devices).  On WiFi, when you use a public network, there is actually a lot of noise on the network that results in latency and poor sync performance.  This is perhaps where 4G/LTE networks might actually be even better.

Overall, I’m stoked that other people are looking at this type of tech.  We still don’t see anyone on iOS doing this type of music synchronization function over 3G/4G/LTE, so I guess we’ll have to do that ourselves.

 

2 comments on “Sync up Multiple Boombots with Seedio App

  1. Thank you for your nice review of our App Seedio!

    I have a couple of comments: You do not need to buy an InApp purchase of US$ 0,99 to use YouTube as a sound source. Seedio comes with 2 sound sources built in: your local music library and YouTube. If you want Soundcloud or any custom URL as sound source, these are available as InApp purchases for US$ 0,99.

    We do not recommend to use Seedio with speakers connected via bluetooth, use a cable instead. Bluetooth introduces a delay into the audio signal that we cannot predict and compensate, so the music would not be in sync with other devices. Plus it is unstable in combination with WiFi. If you get this to work, let us know how, because we could not.

    Using 3G/4G/LTE for sharing music is probably not a good idea. The audio stream would be billed against the data plan on all participating devices, making it an expensive experience. But the main reason it will not work is that most mobile networks do not allow direct IP communication between nodes. For now, WiFi is the only practical way to share music between mobile phones. If the tethering limit is an issue, get one of the small portable WiFi devices and a USB power pack and you are good for the spontaneous party in the park or on the beach. You can find a device recommendation on http://www.facebook.com/Seedio
    Thank you and remember: together we are loud!
    ashi

  2. But wouldn’t you say that using 3G/4G/LTE is not any worse than listening to streaming music over any mobile service like Pandora or Spotify? Maybe not good to do incessantly, but probably not too bad to do once in a while.

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