iPod dock for sonos


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Perhaps Sonos should create an iPod docking unit for the next generation Sonos zone player, which would allow a Sonos network of zone players and controllers to view the songlist and control the ipod. This would allow access to music purchased from iTunes despite Apple's DRM scheme while projecting Apple's legitimate interest to restrict the music to authorized playback units. It would also allow the full use of the sonos controller to access the iPod library rather than just line in input with no remote visibility or control of the iPod's contents.

If Apple says no to licensing such a unit, they are clearly engaging in anticompetitive conduct to promote their own Sonos analog rumored to be under development by taking advantage of their 70% market share of DRM tagged music sales. And if Apple says no then perhaps Microsoft will say yes, allowing Sonos users at least one source to legally purchase and use digital music.

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love the idea. But Apple do (and will continue to in my view) say no. To be fair, they are not permitted to stream to multiple devices - only the iPod itself is allowed to 'play'. So you can dock an iPod and play it (there are hundreds of such devices already of course), but the point here is it is the iPod playing, not just acting as a media server and streaming data to multiple devices.

The whole licensing issue (of which Apple are only a part) restricts playback to 1 device. And you can see why - what if Dad purchased a track and shared it with son, son shared it with daughter etc. It's all in the same house, 'legally' purchased track, but suddenly lots of devices are playing it and the record labels believe that total restriction will increase sales - ie Dad, son & daughter will buy a copy each. The reality of course is pirated music.

Your idea would be nice for the consumer, just use the iPod to stream data to other, multiple ZPs. But I don't see it happening.
If Apple says no to licensing such a unit, they are clearly engaging in anticompetitive conduct to promote their own Sonos analog rumored to be under development by taking advantage of their 70% market share of DRM tagged music sales.They are already doing this - any music purchased can only be played on iTunes/iPod. Although there have been plenty of discussions and opinions offered around antitrust issues, nothing has been proved in a court of law. Unfortunately the poor consumer loses again.

Best option is for the consumer to boycott DRM music - but I don't see that happening either 😮

db
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Appreciate the post and the explanation but I understand that automakers are licensing iPod docks for car makers so perhaps there is a hope....

Reality remains that if the DRM scheme is too restrictive people will choose to obtain music by other means and distributing music thru the home via their stereo system should certainly be within a music purchaser's right.

Another silly example of punishing the legitimate customer is when Apple changed iTunes so that burned cds would not carry the song info. Simply rediculous, especially when compared to what one can do with ripping a purchased music CD to MP3 files.
Appreciate the post and the explanation but I understand that automakers are licensing iPod docks for car makers so perhaps there is a hopeBut that's my point - it's the iPod that's playing. There are hundreds of iPod docking stations, but in every case the iPod plays and the docking unit then receives the analog line level output and amplifies it. In Sonosland, the equivalent is simply hooking it up to the line level input (which you can do now). If Apple were to allow iPod to stream DRM-free digital data (needed for Sonos distribution), then suddenly you can do whatever you want with that data. Obviously play it in Sonos ZPs (which is what you & I want), but also copy it again and again (piracy). I don't see it happening (unfortunately).

Reality remains that if the DRM scheme is too restrictive people will choose to obtain music by other means and distributing music thru the home via their stereo system should certainly be within a music purchaser's right. DRM is already this restrictive, and that's not what we are observing. Digital distribution (with DRM) is increasing exponentially. My personal view is that users aren't totally aware of the restrictions, and when they do encounter a problem, point the finger at the wrong person eg Sonos "why wont Sonos play my music", "Sonos need to fix this" kind of questions. It should be within users rights to play it via any device they want, but generally speaking, record company licences only allows 1 copy of the track. That's why, in many places, you can't even rip a CD you own to your PC without technically violating some agreement/statute. It's a carry-over from the old analog days when the physical medium and the track were the same (eg. vinyl). That concept is foreign in the digital realm, but it's what we are all bound by.

I don't actually disagree with your intentions or expectations, I want the same thing, but the reality is far different. I am totally against piracy, 100% support musician's rights, but current DRM implementations just don't allow me to play "my" music when, where and how I want.

I guess the (near) perfect solution is to licence tracks to a person. The track itself can be copied all over the place (Sonos, iPod, PC, car etc, etc). But to play it, my fingerprint verification is needed. In other words, shift the lock-in from the device (iPod) to the listener.

db
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I think what jfh is suggesting is adding to sonos the ability to read the track lists from the ipod, display that on the controller and control the ipod from the controller, much as the new denon S-301 (for playback) and the Harmon Kardon Drive+Play does (for playback and control). There are a few other solutions which will display the ipod track list on a monitor, i think griffin have one too.

There wouldn't be licensing issues beyond a royalty payment for using the dock connector as the music playback is done by the ipod and is analog.

Seems like a rather neat idea in this new ipod world, the more convergence you can get with sonos including integrating with computer media centers the better imho.
Hi garty, I understand the concept - simply control the iPod via the controller (ie build a controller interface, like exists elsewhere eg car stereo head units). It is a great idea as I originally stated. But thinking that through, this is fine if the controlling unit (ie iPod dock) also amplifies and produces the sound you hear. No track licences are broken (you do need to pay Apple for the iPod interface itself). The iPod decodes the track into an analog signal which is then amplified. This is within the track licencing terms.

However in Sonos, if the CR100 could say control the iPod (technically possible), you then need to distribute the digital track over the Sonosnet. It's this multiplicity that breaks the track licence (DRM). Nothing to do with the iPod interface licence.

I don't agree with it, don't like it, but that is the DRM model that the record industry has imposed on us poor consumers.

db
French law passed. So maybe there's hope for French Sonos users... See this thread.

db
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iPod can be switched to "Hard Drive Mode" or whatever they call it. Then they are just a drive, like anything else.

But even so, if I can put my iPod on a Kensington docking station and control it via remote, there doesn't seem to be any serious limitation that would allow a Sonos to read, via the dock, the songs and pull them through the system. The only difference would be the system attached to the dock, not any major hurdles as far as I can see. It would be no different than a car audio system with an iPod dock where the song info is on the screen and control is via remote.
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bangs head on wall
I'm not sure I'm explaining myself well. The problem is not a technical limitation. Of course data can be easily distributed over a wireless network (we've had it for years, and Sonos does this of course). So technically, Sonos could read data off the iPod drive and distribute it around the Sonosnet. But the problem is not technical, it's licensing. It is not the same as putting an iPod in a docking station. Under that scenario, the iPod is still playing the track, but rather than hearing it via earbuds, it's via larger speakers. And the remote or control is not the issue either. No-one cares what you use to control the volume, track selection (use a pencil to push buttons for example). The issue is when the track 'leaves' the iPod (if I can use that vague description), Apple has lost control of the track. This violates the license the end user has, and indeed the license Apple has to distribute the music in the first place.

And to get it playing over Sonos (or any digital media network), the track has to leave the iPod. A no-no in our DRM-controlled world. I'm not justifying it, just describing it.

db
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Yes, but so what? I have exactly zero DRM music on my iPod. And there's no reason why a unit can't beam DRM material and decode in the player. Or take the sound via analog input, digitize and then send it. Why put up obstacles to a good idea when said obstacles are easy to avoid or don't exist at all?
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bangs head on wall

I kindly ask you to "check yourself" sir.
John, you're directing this at the wrong person. It's not me putting up the obstacles, it's the music industry. My personal view has been made clear, I don't like DRM any more than you or other users.
Yes, but so what? I have exactly zero DRM music on my iPod. Well, my comment was in reply to the earlier posts about playing DRM music. It's entirely in context.

And there's no reason why a unit can't beam DRM material and decode in the player.?umm there is. It's against the law. Don't shoot me (the messenger). Actually this is an interesting point - it could be challenged that the license users actually agree to violates other laws. Mostly anti-trust type laws. Problem is, no user has challenged this.

Or take the sound via analog input, digitize and then send it.interesting idea. The digital side of me hates it, but technically can work. It's a hack at best and pretty much what we can do today. I would much rather have the actual digital data distributed.

Why put up obstacles to a good idea when said obstacles are easy to avoid or don't exist at all?I didn't invent DRM. It is definitely an obstacle, and can't be (legally) avoided.

db
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Apparently, this concept is being done now by others. Check out Roussound's iBridge Dock on its web site. By plugging an iPod into the dock, the song collection on that iPod is made available to the whole home music distribution system and any room with a remote control display can browse the contents of the iPod. Apparently Roussound was willing to pay the necessary license fee to Apple while Sonos was not.....
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I realize from the prior posts that Sonos's distribution of music digitally over its proprietary network approach may create special issues with Apple's licensing scheme distinct from music distribution in analogue fashion with product offering like the iBridge dock. However, if I can get the music distribution of DRM coded music captive on iPods with the room by room control I want using local control pads and speakers connected all by good old wire, then the sonos wireless network is a handicap not an asset, especially as I am building a home and running wire is quite easy--which it usually is anyway. this is a shame and it means that sonos is essentially a dead end for me and most other users who buy their songs legally and digitally. Sonos should try to fix this and reach a licensing deal with Apple....
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I realize from the prior posts that Sonos's distribution of music digitally over its proprietary network approach may create special issues with Apple's licensing scheme distinct from music distribution in analogue fashion with product offering like the iBridge dock. However, if I can get the music distribution of DRM coded music captive on iPods with the room by room control I want using local control pads and speakers connected all by good old wire, then the sonos wireless network is a handicap not an asset, especially as I am building a home and running wire is quite easy--which it usually is anyway. this is a shame and it means that sonos is essentially a dead end for me and most other users who buy their songs legally and digitally. Sonos should try to fix this and reach a licensing deal with Apple....
Unfortunately, to date, there is no licensing deal to be reached at any price. Apple has refused to license FairPlay to any non-apple entity. Hence the anti-trust discussions, french laws, groups like http://www.defectivebydesign.org, etc.

The few products out there trying to do this are doing it thru what is known as the analog loophole. This means that the ipod 'plays' the Song and sends out the analog output to the distribution system, like it would if you plugged the headphone output to the stereo. The analog line-in on any ZonePlayer will let you do the same thing (admittedly without the control from the remote).

Does it address the issue of DRM music? to some degree, is it ideal? far from it.

And of course you need to have your iPOD on site etc for this to work, if you head to the gym, there goes the music for the house.

Sonos would love to see apple willing to license FairPlay as that would allow the playback of more content, to date they have rebuffed all inquires (not just Sonos').

best,
-graham
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It's also worth noting that there is not one solution on the market that will play 2 DRM protected tracks from an iPod at the same time.

The iPod can only decode one track at a time and, until the [un]Fairplay system is licensed to third parties, this limitation may remain for some time.

The beauty of Sonos for me is different music in different rooms and I don't want it to display "Sorry, the iPod is busy" when I choose a track.
Is it possible to have a given DRM protected track resident on several iPods?

If so, one could have one iPod for each ZonePlayer and an extra for portable use. Obviously, this is not the economy solution and all of the iPods would need to be manually updated as new music is added.
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Is it possible to have a given DRM protected track resident on several iPods?

If so, one could have one iPod for each ZonePlayer and an extra for portable use. Obviously, this is not the economy solution and all of the iPods would need to be manually updated as new music is added.


When you sign up to iTunes, a key is created. This key unlocks your music. It's not a standard key for all users. Any device that needs to play your iTunes purchased music needs to contain that key.

e.g. my friend buys a track on iTunes downloads it and then emails the file to me. My iTunes won't play it as my key doesn't match.

When the key is copied to a device, it's authorised to play music. You can only authorise a limited number of devices, I think it's 6.

e.g. You install iTunes on a PC and login. Then you purchase music and download it to that PC. You then install iTunes on a second PC and copy the music library across. Once you login to iTunes on that PC with your account it can be authorised and the key is copied to that machine to allow decoding of DRM protected music.

The website won't authorise more than the limited number of devices. To add more you need to de-authorise another device. There is functionality built in to do this.

I'm not sure whether there's a limit on the number of iPods one can sync with a single iTunes music library but, for sure, without that key they won't play.

Also, if a husband/wife had different iTunes accounts, only one set of DRM tracks could be play on each device; unless the device could hold multiple keys/accounts.

For Sonos to fully work with iTunes purchased music, there would need to be built in functionality to allow the Zone player to connect to the iTunes website, authenticate as the owner and then download the keys and become authorised.
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Unfortunately, to date, there is no licensing deal to be reached at any price. Apple has refused to license FairPlay to any non-apple entity. Hence the anti-trust discussions, french laws, groups like http://www.defectivebydesign.org, etc.

The few products out there trying to do this are doing it thru what is known as the analog loophole. This means that the ipod 'plays' the Song and sends out the analog output to the distribution system, like it would if you plugged the headphone output to the stereo. The analog line-in on any ZonePlayer will let you do the same thing (admittedly without the control from the remote).


Within this thread J River states they play iTunes DRM music... are they using the analog hole method?

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?p=6910681&&#post691068181

"MC11.1 uses the Quicktime codecs to play Apple's protected files. J. River has a license with Apple to use QT."

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?p=7982940&&#post7982940
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Within this thread J River states they play iTunes DRM music... are they using the analog hole method?

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?p=6910681&&#post691068181

"MC11.1 uses the Quicktime codecs to play Apple's protected files. J. River has a license with Apple to use QT."

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?p=7982940&&#post7982940


J River media center runs on a PC and plays iTunes DRM protected music using Apple codecs installed on the PC.

iTunes runs on a PC and plays iTunes DRM protected music using Apple codecs installed on a PC.

How is using J River an improvement over using iTunes?

To work, it needs Quicktime...supplied by Apple. This is free...for the PC. Quicktime will not work on a Sonos system...only on a PC.

Apple don't make "Quicktime for Sonos".

For some to be able to decode Apple DRM they need to provide Sonos with a suitable decoder.
I should probably clarify my goals. I'm trying to educate users, not kill ideas. The ideas are great (keep them coming), however any good idea needs to be critiqued prior to implementation.

My real concern is that the general populous believes DRM is not a problem, as evidenced by the views on these forums (and elsewhere). As long as we bury our heads in the sand and point the finger at the victim (eg Sonos, or any independent digital player) and not the perpetrator (record labels and their hardware partners), this problem will grow. I kind of hoped Sonos users would be more educated on the issues than the population median, and if we still don't understand it, I guess there is little hope.

I applaud the French for trying to protect their consumers (if you knew my heritage, that really is saying something 😃 ). But we need users globally rejecting the current DRM implementation to make a difference.

Part of the problem is that when you dive into it, it can get technical. Blind everyone by science kind of attitudes. I'll try to educate on a few of the issues raised

Apparently, this concept is being done now by others. Check out Roussound's iBridge Dock on its web site.
Russound have done nothing special. It is still the iPod playing, it's just that you hear it through different speakers. So you can only have 1 track playing throughout your house. Russound is not distributing the data, just amplifying it to multiple speakers. Hardly inspiring stuff.

I realize from the prior posts that Sonos's distribution of music digitally over its proprietary network approach may create special issues with Apple's licensing scheme It's not the proprietary Sonosnet that is the issue, even over regular wired LAN it cannot be done. Basically, no digital distribution allowed of any kind (PC/LAN, wireless devices etc), only over good old fashioned speaker wire. Very last millennium. I would much prefer to take advantage of what bits and bytes have to offer ie wireless, portable, compact, in-car sync with in house, sync with portable player, multi-room etc. This is the future, not 1 fixed point with speaker cable.

Within this thread J River states they play iTunes DRM music... are they using the analog hole method?
Good catch Charles, but unfortunately the truth is a little masked. It's not the analog workaround. Earlier in the referred thread, you'll note the users are burning to a CD, then ripping back to mp3. Removing DRM and hardly convenient. JRiver is a media manager, so you are only using it as the front end to manage your library. The playback is still via Apple (quicktime) and the Apple key. It's a neat solution for a Windows PC, but you are still locked into Apple software and the issues remain. JRiver is licensed to use Apple's player (QT), they are not licensed to directly play DRM tracks. Subtle but very important difference.

Summary
  • Current DRM model restricts playback to a device. So the track can never leave iPod/iTunes for playback.
  • DRM only allows 1 playback at a time. Not good if little Johnny is listening to Outkast and the parents want some Mozart playing.
  • Apple DRM has locked the tracks to iPod - forever. So if next year, a manufacturer comes out with an amazing, far superior portable (imagine 10 TB, wireless, amazing UI, half the price etc), you can't buy it. Your music wont play. Unfortunately, you're stuck with Apple products for life (or buy the music/license again...) Imagine 10 years from now, you have a vast collection and storage space has moved on (100x). You need to upgrade, but Apple is your only choice. If I were Apple, I know the sort of premium I would be charging for this captured market. This is easily modelled, if the cost of repurchasing the tracks is less than the premium charged, users might look elsewhere. Ignoring the inconvenience, Apple could charge significantly more. I see future anti-trust cases...
  • DRM restricts to 1 playback at a time, from 1 device. Not a problem for a lone listener (ie portable), but a poor solution for multi-zone, whole house distribution
  • And lastly, the quality is so poor, price so high, restriction substantial - why does anyone buy it in the first place?? :rolleyes:


And for the record, I do not support piracy - pay for what you play. My comments are not intended to be Apple specific - Apple are just smart enough to jump into bed with the record labels. Others do it too. I just want the ability to play the music I buy, on the device of my choice, at a location of my choice. I would hope you feel the same.

db
I hope that there will be a consumer backlash, but it is not likely to happen soon.

At the moment the DRM issue is too subtile. Cosumers can play their music directly through their iPod or through the growing number of attachments. For the most part they are not bumping into any limits. Until the DRM is perceived as a limiting technology, it is a non issue. The biggest current grump is that sharing music is inconvenient.

Even the MP3 listening quality issue is not a big deal for the masses. In the portable context, MP3 quality is fine. A few are beginning to notice that, when played on a quality home system, the MP3's are not quite right, but this is a small minority -- at the moment.

I'm not sure if we will be able to get the masses to go for the uncompressed formats, DRM or not, because 10,000 songs on a unit is better than 2000 songs -- isn't it? That sort of thinking was a major factor in the Beta vs. VHS war.
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John, you're directing this at the wrong person. It's not me putting up the obstacles, it's the music industry. My personal view has been made clear, I don't like DRM any more than you or other users.
Well, my comment was in reply to the earlier posts about playing DRM music. It's entirely in context.


Yes, but DRM and an iPod dock are almost completely separate issues. Once an iPod dock exists, there is a reason to work out the issues with the small percentage of DRM'd material. Let's not shoot the dog because it has fleas.

umm there is. It's against the law. Don't shoot me (the messenger). Actually this is an interesting point - it could be challenged that the license users actually agree to violates other laws. Mostly anti-trust type laws. Problem is, no user has challenged this.


Well, using *your* purchased music on *your* system seems to be perfectly legal.

interesting idea. The digital side of me hates it, but technically can work. It's a hack at best and pretty much what we can do today. I would much rather have the actual digital data distributed.


See, at least there's a work around. I'd like to see pure digital transmission, but, hey, DRM'd stuff is all low-bit anyway, so it's not like a high-bit DA/AD conversion is going to kill a wounded animal.

I didn't invent DRM. It is definitely an obstacle, and can't be (legally) avoided.


No, but I think you over estimate its importance. I have about 25K songs and not one has DRM. Nor will any ever have DRM if I can help it.
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It's also worth noting that there is not one solution on the market that will play 2 DRM protected tracks from an iPod at the same time.

This may well be the case, but it *doesn't matter*. Many of us still would like an iPod dock, warts and all. Even if there is a DA/AD conversion. The iPod should plug it, the Sonos should automatically read its table of contents and make it available on the remote in a "connected iPod" folder. Again, an imperfect advance is better than a perfect standstill.
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For Sonos to fully work with iTunes purchased music, there would need to be built in functionality to allow the Zone player to connect to the iTunes website, authenticate as the owner and then download the keys and become authorised.

We don't care. Build the iPod dock first, then worry about DRM crap later.

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