Smart home voice assistants are being opened up to third party manufactures and KitSound have just released their new ‘Voice One’ smart speaker in collaboration with Amazon.
The Voice One is handsome, certainly much more interior-decor-friendly than the first gen Amazon Echo. The on-trend grey woven fabric has been nano coated to provide a stain-resistant finish should it end up in your kitchen, where ours now lives (H278mm x W130mm x D130mm – 1.7kg)
The unit is setup from the KitSound app. You can set your Voice One as Stereo, or if you have a pair then you can chose it to be the left or right channel.
Voice one has dual far-field microphones for its Alexa voice recognition. The official Amazon hardware has 7 mics, although we didn’t notice much of a difference in use.
The LED light ring is the manual volume control and three different colours signify the mode of the unit. The top button switches off the microphone while the mode button toggles between Bluetooth, WiFI and Aux in.
If the volume is set to level 7 or above the speaker will not be able to hear you (you can tell this is the case with the KS logo is lit). So there a handy remote control included to change things when this happens.
The dual-opposing 2.5″ drivers provide omnidirectional audio for a more 360° experience around your room.
While the The Voice One is no Sonos it does sets itself apart from the official Amazon offering with better sound. There’s a bass reflex port (which extends the mids more than the lows) and the 20 watt output compares to just 5w for the Amazon Echo.
As well as kicking off your favourite Amazon playlist (or Spotify coming shortly in an update), you can stream music to the VO via Bluetooth (V2.1 + EDR).
If (or until) Amazon allows it, this at least gives Apple Music users a way to play their tunes, although limited to a 10M range from your device and sans voice control.
Additionally there’s a 3.5mm aux line-in jack plus a USB output for charging external devices.
You can connect up to 8 units together for synced multi-room audio. In addition a software update coming in Q1 2018 will allow you to sync Amazons own speakers with third party units like this one.
Any external music source connected to the aux in on any one of the speakers, can be re-distribute to all the others around the house via its 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi.
If you already have an Alexa device then you’ll know all about her Skills. These can be thought of as little apps for your smart speaker system, allowing you to add further functionality.
For example you can use your voice to order a pizza, grab an Uber or just set timers and reminders. Of course it can also perform a wide variety of smart home tasks, interfacing with popular devices such as Nest, Philips Hue and SmartThings. You can kick off your Dyson or Roomba robot vacuum cleaner with a voice command as well as interface to services like IFTTT. Take a look at the up-to-date list of Skills here.
You can think of the Voice One as a less expensive version of its name sake, the Sonos One. While it’s not as bassy, It’s a great value multi-room capable smart speaker with decent sound, a premium look and some useful extra features like bluetooth and that charging USB port (check out the video and feature table below).
With a name like Voice One it sounds like there may be more models on the way from KitSound too. And we can’t wait to try them.