The first thing a lot of people think of when they get their Amazon Echo devices is “music around the house”. Except the Echo doesn’t do that yet. Yes, you can have an Echo playing in your lounge, and a Dot in your kitchen, and you can set them up to play the same thing; but they won’t play them in time with each other – synchronously.
Now I know this is an oft-requested feature, and that the Alexa-elves are working on it. But still I look at the Sonos multiroom speaker and think “if only”.
Introducing Jongo. Jongo is a multiroom system from Pure. I’ve had a few Pure radios, and really liked them until I bought a Pure Siesta Flow clock/radio, which proved to be a disaster. It worked fine as a DAB radio, but its PODcast and DNLA features were unreliable to the point of unusable. It quite put me off the company. And Jongo hasn’t gotten particularly good reviews, with reports of merely adequate sound, and – this is familiar – prone to drops-outs.
So why buy one? The A2 is unlike the other Jongo devices, in that it has no sound capability. Instead it is an adapter for your stereo. Receiving music via Bluetooth, and outputting via a choice of phono audio out or digital, it lets you play your phone (or your Echo Dot) through your stereo. I already have a Bluetooth adapter that does that; but what the A2 does as well is join the Jongo Caskeid network, so music playing through one device can also play through the others, synchronously.
The RRP is £69, but Amazon are currently selling them for under 20 quid. So I decided to take a punt and bought two – one for my lounge stereo, and one to plug into my kitchen radio.
And they work. Pointing my lounge Dot at the Lounge A2, I can play music and radio stations through my stereo, as before; but it also comes out of my kitchen radio.
To be sure, I could already hear the lounge stereo in the kitchen, but not to comfortably listen to, unless I crank up the volume. The beauty of this setup is that you can walk around doing stuff, and each room has your music at the correct volume for that room.
Problems. Within an hour or so, I became aware of a few dropouts. The music was steady in the lounge, but the kitchen was occasionally blipping. But before playing the blame game, I checked my WiFi network, and saw that it was getting a little swamped by the neighbours. Changing the channel to a quieter one, the problem disappeared. (Yes, the Jongos exchange data between each other by WiFi).
Knowing that multiroom will (hopefully) be something Amazon will develop in the future, I wasn’t going to spend a lot of cash. But 40 quid on two devices seems cheap to give me multiroom today.
Now, I have just seen Pure’s Jongo S3 portable (battery/mains) speaker on ebay. It is an older model, but is only £35. It’s not a lot, really, is it?
A day later, my new Jongo S3 arrived, and was soon working with the other two devices.
So now, I will have one A2 connected to my lounge stereo, as before; the other A2 is moving up into my office, connected to my desktop speakers. Then the S3 will live in the kitchen, although as it will run off internal batteries, it may also venture out into the garden with me.
Nice and compact, sound is actually good for a Bluetooth speaker. Given I will also be getting bass bleeding over from the lounge next door, I think this is going sound very good indeed.
RRP of £129, for the S3X (which is only a software update); many retailers selling them for anything between £60 and £169 (!). My purchase from eBay was £35 – for an unboxed, but otherwise pristine item, still with its protective film.