Tuesday, March 19, 2019 09:43

LON Little Speaker: some sound observations

May 6th, 2014

It’s even littler than I expected.

But that’s a good thing.  LON Little Speaker (LLS)  is beyond portable.  It’s  packetable, almost pocketable.  I’m keeping an eye out for a little drawstring bag to put it in when transporting.

It plays nicely.

The music that comes out of LLS is totally listenable.  Even a big band recording sounded appropriate, symphonic a bit less so.  Voices have great humanity.

Find (or make) a sweet spot.

LLS responds to location.  Experiment a bit with placing it near vertical surfaces or corners.  If you need a corner, you can make one out of a CD case or open book.

Be patient with your Bluetooth connections.

My wife’s Android phone found LLS and connected immediately.  My own similar phone  couldn’t find LLS at first.  It did so only after repeated attempts.  Ditto for an Android tablet.  An older laptop with a BT USB dongle and Windows XP connected right away.  A newer desktop running Vista (64 bit) and using the same dongle was much less cooperative but eventually gave in and connected.

Feeling frustrated at the lack of quick connectivity, I contacted LON Little Shop.  They assured me that “We haven’t had a device that hasn’t been able to connect.”  So I didn’t give up.  It turned out to be the right approach.

“Your mileage may vary.”

How good the music sounds that comes out of  LSS is going to be influenced by the Bluetooth radio in your phone, tablet, or other device.  I note that available loudness varies quite a bit depending on the source device, too.  My best listening was a Pandora feed via the tablet.

Use that input, Jack.

You can make a wired connection to LLS using a standard stereo 3.5 mm cable.   The cable allows LLS to work with various non-Bluetooth sources:  portable CD player, MP3 player, even a Walkman.  I have a cheap Android tablet with no Bluetooth, but it’s very compact and plays nicely with LLS and a wire.  I checked out using a wired connection to a phone.  It may well have sounded a bit better than the BT feed.  (See “Your mileage…” above.)

Reading the indicator light.

The LED between the USB and INPUT jacks has a little (of course) story to tell.  A fast blue flash says it’s offering to make a connection with a Bluetooth device.  Solid blue indicates an active connection.  A slow blue flash seems to be a waiting around for something to happen message.  “I’m fully charged” is conveyed by either a clear red or a reddish cast to the blue.

It’s what it is.

LON Little Speaker is a small, reasonably priced way of playing music from a variety of sources out loud.  As such, one of its most welcome features is that it doesn’t tether the listener to a device the way headphones do.  It doesn’t isolate the way headphones do.  It doesn’t produce 7.1 surround sound like home theater systems do.  It doesn’t reproduce the largest pipe organ with full authority.  It doesn’t fill the room with sound.

For what it is, it’s awfully nice.

“Taking a Chance on LON”

May 1st, 2014

LON speaker blackPaul McGowan (CEO of PS Audio) titled his daily post “Best $38 I ever spent.”   It impressed me greatly, even after (or perhaps because of)  his disclosure of a family connection.

Paul introduced the Little Speaker from the LON Little Shop in Boulder, CO.  It’s a Bluetooth speaker, runs for 5 hours on a full charge, charges with a USB cable, and according to Paul it’s musically rewarding.

There are a lot of Bluetooth speakers around.  Most of them are junk.  A couple of years ago I ran into an excellent sounding one at CES.   I even started working up a blog post about it, but somehow I couldn’t quite make it happen.  Part of the issue might have been the product’s use of surface excitation to get the sound out.  That’s a trick that has appeared off and on for decades to nearly universal disacclaim:  “Turn any flat surface into a speaker!!”.  Yeah, right.

Yet I liked what I heard at the demo table.  I believe that doubts about real world efficacy may have come around after getting home from the show.  The little device’s $70 price tag (MSRP…street price is quite a bit less) didn’t help either.

I noted in Paul’s post that he used  the Little Speaker successfully in various venues.  He’s also an attentive listener with a strong commitment to reproduced sound quality as a path to musical enlightenment.  I was nearly convinced.

White Little SpeakerThen I went to the LON Little Shop’s online presentation of the Little Speaker, liked what I saw, and got out my credit card in a hurry. The $38 includes US shipping, by the way. The only thing that slowed me down was making a decision between white (with black grille at the top) and black (with white grille at the top).  Had there been an all-black version, I wouldn’t have had to think about my choice.  But I did think and after doing so I went for the white cube with black top.  I figured that dust and dirt fall down onto horizontal surfaces and cleaning off a black grille would be easier than cleaning off a white one.

My order went in this morning.  A few minutes ago I received an email with shipping info and tracking number.  I’m pretty close to Boulder so I expect to be enjoying the Little Speaker in a few days.

I’ll post a quick in-use commentary after I do.


“There’s a Future in the Past,” so send money.

April 19th, 2014

Documntary FilmHudson West Productions is developing a full-length documentary about Vince Giordano and The Nighthawks. That’s Vince there at the left with the classy tuba.  He also plays a less shiny but still impressive looking vintage string bass with an aluminum body.  He’ll also wield a bass saxop0ne, an instrument which has long been considered unwieldy.  He sings, too.  Hey, so did Woody.

The Nighthawks is (are?) Giordano’s fine big band.  It plays music mainly from the Jazz Age and  Swing Era but also handles post-WW II modernism very nicely, thank you.   Giordano and associates are the go-to gang when movie and TV producers want period authenticity in pop and jazz musical performances.  But much more to the point, they play for listening and dancing at all sorts of venues for the immediate enjoyment of real people right now.  They’re doing, in other words, what Ellington, Whiteman, Goldkette, Henderson, Redman, and many more did, but it’s not a nostalgia trip any more than a current performance of Beethoven, Mozart, or Verdi would be.

Every time Giordano and the Nighthawks play, they are doing the real thing.  Yes, it’s a recreation but not in the sense of Renaissance Fair jousting or Civil War battle reenactments.  It’s more like the vintage rule baseball teams which play real games with real scoring and real rules from back then.

Now for the money part.  There’s a crowdfunding component to the production. Indiegogo is accepting donations.  They’re offering perks, too, for certain donation levels, like public media and like contributions to public media, your donation is eligible for a tax deduction.  The goal is $168,000.  At this moment (including a few bucks from me), the total stands at $40,763 with 27 days left.   Consider helping.