SXSW: Inside the SONOS Studio

Imagine a radio station that doesn’t play commercials or the same ten songs every hour, and broadcasts studio sessions by breaking new artists almost daily. Imagine putting a wireless HiFi speaker in every room of your house and having the ability to control the volume and song of each individual speaker through a controller on your phone, so you can listen to this radio station or your entire library of music, Spotify, Pandora, etc. in stunning clarity. Almost too good to be true, but it can happen. Thanks to KCRW and SONOS, two entities that enhance your music listening experiences, who have banded together at SXSW.

"Morning Becomes Eclectic", KCRW’s morning show, which celebrates innovation, creativity, and diversity, is streaming from a studio hosted by SONOS, a brand that stands at the crossroads of art, music, and technology. The studio they set up for SXSW is located in a modern home on a quaint lot across the street from the bustling Austin Convention Center. The atmosphere is relaxed and inviting, with a beer filled fountain, lawn chairs and picnic tables, complimentary food trucks, clean bathrooms (a hard thing to find around here), and multiple rooms set up to allow people to choose music to blast on crisp, clean SONOS speakers.

Eric Nielsen from SONOS, gave me a grand tour of the grounds. Next door to the studio there is a small house outfitted to "create" inside of their Speakerlab, where there are materials and instructors to help you build speakers out of cardboard boxes, paper plates, balloons and actual SONOS speaker drivers. In the adjacent room you will find a space set up for free haircuts offered by Rudy’s Barbershop – our photographer Koury Angelo and I couldn’t help ourselves.

Next Eric led me to a dark shed whose entry way consists of layers of black curtains. The shed has been converted into a space known as the SONOS Playground that allows listeners to "interact" with their music. As you walk into the dark space you become immediately immersed in a projected visualizer, designed by artist Blair Neal. I was told to pick a song and then stand in a spot that allowed me to interact with the visualizer.

The obvious selection for me was Danger – "4h30"

As the music started white bars began to shoot out from where my hands were positioned. By crossing my hands over my head I created another mesmerizing effect. Seeing Danger’s epic thumping audible journey in a 360 interactive visualizer was next level. I was told it was probably the best song choice anyone had made so far and after experiencing it at that level, I wished everyone could experience it in the very same way.

Inside the studio where MBE was broadcasting, there is a living room outfitted with a lit up neon green couch, table, and TV (the room was fashioned after SONOS ad campaign with Deadmau5). Eric sat me down and turned on a clip from Art of Flight. The room pulsated to the pounding electronic soundtrack blasting on the new SONOS Playbar, which provided the perfect accompaniment to the jaw dropping footage.

So if you need to find us in between a slew of artist showcases and panel discussions… you know where we are definitely going to be hanging out for the rest of SXSW.

Photos By: Koury Angelo

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