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Portable wireless speakers run Linux on a Raspberry Pi

Jun 16, 2015 — by Eric Brown — 2,100 views

[Updated 5PM] — Axiom’s portable wireless 150W speakers stream music from the web, mobile devices, or USB, and include a WiFi access point and an optional battery pack.

Speaker and home theater manufacturer Axiom has found Kickstarter success with its AxiomAir wireless speaker system, which has surpassed its $75,000 goal to reach $121,000, with 25 days to go before the July 12 deadline. Two dozen $475 packages were still available at publication time. Other packages go for $497, said to be more than $300 under the retail price, or $950 for a two-pack, among other discounted combo packs.

AxiomAir standard (left) and with one of 143 optional wooden lids
(click image to enlarge)

Like the Linux-based Sonos and many other wireless speakers, the AxiomAir devices can be spread around a household, communicating with each other, as well as your WiFi router to download Internet radio. As with Sonos, there’s a mobile app for controlling the devices to play the same or different music, and users can also stream their own mobile-based audio to the devices.

Unlike Sonos, the AxiomAir has a built-in WiFi access point, and accommodates an optional 9- or 18-hour battery pack, so you can use it away from WiFi access or electrical outlets. It can also connect to storage on other computers and NAS devices using web apps and WiFi, and can play music from a USB drive attached to one of its three USB ports. Supported media formats include FLAC, WAV, MP3, AAC, ALAC, M4A, OGG, and PLS.

A battery-equipped AxiomAir on the beach (left) and the AxiomAir mobile app
(click images to enlarge)

The AxiomAir is built around a Raspberry Pi, which according to an email from the company, is the new, quad-core Raspberry Pi 2 Model B. The device runs Axiom’s own open source Linux OS, based on the Debian-based Raspian, and will be available with an open SDK for developers to create their own apps, says the company.

The main remote control app lets you drag and drop songs onto your playlist, as well as drag and drop speakers into different groups that can all play the same music simultaneously. The software can be updated over the air.

AxiomAir exploded view showing internal construction
(click image to enlarge)

The AxiomAir features an eye-shaped footprint measuring 497 x 261 x 172/228mm (10.25 x 19.5 x 6.75/9.0 inches), and weighs 7.3 kilograms (16 pounds). The device’s amplifier is said to churn out 150 Watts of continuous output. The AxiomAir integrates dual 6.5-inch aluminum cone woofers, two 1-inch titanium tweeters, and a high-end digital-to-analog (DAC) converter for losslessly transferring files at up to 24/192 natively, claims Axiom.

Other specs include a +/- 3 dB frequency response of 60-20kHz, as well as a + 3 dB/- 9 dB frequency response of 50-20kHz, and a crossover frequency of 2.2kHz. The device has a max SPL continuous rating of 115 dB, says Axiom. There’s also a Bass Reflex enclosure.

AxiomAir with optional projector and karaoke mic
(click images to enlarge)

The AxiomAir is available in two-tone black and white models, and you can pay extra for one of 143 “real-wood” designs for the lid on top of the unit, or pay a bit more ($70) for a custom design. Optional feedback cancelling mic inputs supported by Karaoke or Meeting Rooms (presentation) apps are available for $140 apiece. There will also be a Mini Movie Projector add-on that works with Axiom home theater equipment.

Further information

The AxiomAir is available through July 12 on Kickstarter, starting at $475 or $497, or $950 for a two-pack, among other bundled discount offerings. Shipping is free in Canada and the U.S., while shipping to other countries costs $125 plus any taxes and duties. Shipments are expected in October, at which point it should be available publicly for about $800. More information may be found at the AxiomAir Kickstarter page and the AxiomAir website.

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