Internet radio without the web

High quality music service on Kickstarter to offer 40 million songs, using caching instead of streaming
March 23, 2015 by Amara D. Angelica

Rothblatt and Mao (credit: Martine Rothblatt)

I got this post today from Martine Rothblatt, PhD, CEO of United Therapeutics:

” I am very excited. March 24, 2015 is Kickstarter launch for AIVVY — CEO in pictures showing me smartphone control interface.  I’m in! It is best audio streaming interface I’ve ever experienced, and compatible with Sirius XM.

“Lets you run/bike and listen to great audio without getting RF power across your skin from cellular data streaming radio, but with flexibility, spontaneity and ease not matchable by listening to just device stored playlist shuffle music. Astounding hybrid personal audio technology.” — Martine Rothblatt, PhD

Rothblatt also created Sirius Satellite Radio. Intrigued, I checked out  the Aivvy website. It says the Aivvy Q headset “syncs with the Aivvy cloud and uses powerful recommendation engines to pull more music you’ll love from a library of 40 million songs.

Caching replaces streaming

Aivvy Q headset: tap to bookmark, swipe forward to skip a song, turn the channel ring to switch between channels (credit: AIVVY)

Interesting, but exactly how does it work? I tracked down Aivvy CEO Xiaodong Mao, who explained to me that unlike Spotify and Pandora, the Aivvy Q headset will only connect to the Aivvy cloud when you have WiFi access — typically when you are charging.

The Aivvy cloud will then automatically sync and download high-quality personalized music directly to the headset, caching it for mobile use.

He said the Aivvy cloud uses a deep-learning scheme that monitors what you have listened to (or skipped) and even the time of day and where you were listening (based on your GPS coordinates).

The brilliance of this approach is that you when you’re not at home (or otherwise don’t have WiFi access), you won’t be paying for expensive online streaming (eating up monthly GB data usage limits and requiring constant Internet access), but you also won’t have to compromise music quality*.

High quality music via ‘invisible personal DJ’

When you initially log in to the service, he explained, “Aivvy will determine your general likes for different types of music,” said Mao. There’s also an optional free companion iOS or Android app that lets you set up your own “radio stations” (like Pandora and Spotify) and (if you wish) it uses your own personal music library (via USB) to further determine your interests. The Aivvy headset can store 3,000 songs in the Aivvy’s 32GB storage. Frequency response is 20 — 20,000 Hz.

The Aivvy Q headset and service can be ordered on Kickstarter Tuesday for $249 (includes one-year subscription), according to Mao, with shipment in six months. (No post-Kickstarter pricing available yet.)

Thanks, Martine, I’m in too.

* The quality specs are awesome: MP3 at 320 kbps, 96 kHz sample rate, 24 bits (compared to 192 kbps with Spotify and Pandora) at a minimum, or up to 1441 kbps quality in the FLAC audio format where specific songs are available in that format (AIVVY uses the same high quality music catalog as the Pono service). These Aivvy settings are almost as good as uncompressed WAV or AIFF, but without the penalty of huge file sizes, which extend download time and limit headset capacity. Other audio file formats supported are APE, WMA, AAC, WAV. (The 320 kbps settings are what I use with my pro Roland R-09HR recorder for making high-quality field recordings of music and voice.)

UPDATE February 25, 2013 | Added frequency response and additional audio file formats supported.