AmpMe daisy-chains a bunch of phones to create a multi-speaker setup

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Dana Wollman
September 24th, 2015
In this article: ampme, hands-on, mobilepostcross
AmpMe daisy-chains a bunch of phones to create a multi-speaker setup

Generally speaking, if you thought you might want to blast music while out and about, you'd invest in a Bluetooth speaker. If the sound quality there wasn't quite robust enough, you'd either get yourself a bigger speaker, or maybe even link together a few smaller ones. Either way, prepare to spend a few hundred dollars. Or not. A new app called AmpMe promises to achieve the same effect, except instead of asking you to shell out for new hardware, it daisy-chains an unlimited number of smartphones so that they stream the same song in sync, combining each handset's speaker into something... cacaphonous.

Gallery: AmpMe | 6 Photos

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The free app, available for iOS and Android, doesn't use Bluetooth or WiFi, but rather, plays an audio "fingerprint" on the host device (a series of beeps, to the human ear) that gets picked up by the mic on the receiving phone. Everyone involved needs to have the app installed, and anyone joining in needs to request a passkey for the music party before receiving that unique audio code. The host can shut down the party at any time with the push of a button, whereas receivers can pause the music for, say, a phone call, and pick back up with the rest of the group, wherever they happen to be in the song. For now, the app only works with Soundcloud. Founder Martin-Luc Archambault says that's because Soundcloud is free, making it accessible to the most people, but that his team is working on inking deals with other streaming services as well. Ultimately, he says, he wants it to be "Sonos for cellphones."

In a brief demo last week, the various phones and tablets that were paired together did indeed play music in sync, without any latency on any of the devices. AmpMe has clearly shown, then, that it's possible to turn a series of mobile devices into an ad hoc multi-speaker setup -- no small feat. The problem is that the audio quality on most phones and tablets is frankly terrible. Unless you happen to have, say, an HTC phone with BoomSound, you're probably working with tinny, contained audio that only gets more distorted as you crank the volume. It's great to know that the technology has evolved such that it's possible to daisy-chain phones like this and have them stream music perfectly in sync. Now we just need phone makers to catch up.

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