Rocki Play WiFi streaming audio adapter review

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Many people would agree with me if I said that the Sonos wireless speaker system is the gold standard if you want to play music wirelessly in your home or business.  The feature set and options for Sonos are pretty extensive and performance is great. But it comes at a ‘gold standard’ price in my opinion.  And my budget lately hasn’t been in the range of ‘gold standard’.  So I have looked hard for wireless speaker systems that fit my budget, and didn’t require Bluetooth to work.  I have reviewed several Bluetooth speakers here on The Gadgeteer, and still use several of them.  But Bluetooth speakers won’t get you a truly wireless system for your house.  Enter: Rocki Play.  Wireless music to any speaker for $49. Is it all that?  Let’s find out.

So what is Rocki?  It is a device that connects via wires to any speaker that accepts 3.5mm or RCA connections, and then connects to your home/business wifi network.  You then use the Rocki Android or iOS app to play music to the device over your wifi network anywhere your network can reach. Pretty simple.   This is the first generation of the device, hot off a successful Kickstarter launch, so there are some features missing, which I’ll cover shortly.  But inside this strange, odd-angled little package is a pretty awesome device that I think is going to change things for this wireless music space, with new announced features that are coming soon.

So how does it work?  You plug the Rocki up to any existing speaker in your home/business that can take a 3.5mm or RCA connection. Then you install the free Rocki app on your phone/tablet and follow the steps to connect the app to your Rocki device (I’ll list that process below). Then you play music on your device and it comes out of your speaker.  And just in case you were wondering, the Rocki does not have a built-in speaker like those Sonos devices have, so you will indeed have to already have a speaker of some kind or purchase a speaker to use with Rocki.

First, the basics:

Specifications

  • Wifi 802.11b/g/n (AP / Hotspot mode supported)
  • Music Formats Supported : MP3, FLAC, WAV, AIFF
  • Music Streaming Services Supported : Last.Fm, Soundcloud
  • ROCKI App versions : Android, iOS
  • Connectors : 3.5mm Stereo (Audio) / MicroUSB (Power/Charging)
  • Included in the box : 3.5mm to 3.5mm Audio Cable, 3.5mm to RCA Audio Cable, USB Charging Cable, USB Charger
  • Battery : 900 mAh
  • Dimensions: 3.6 in x 2.1 in x .7 in
  • Weight:  1.7 oz

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Device features

The Rocki is a little smaller than a deck of cards, and has a neoprene-rubberized-kinda cover (which comes in many colors) that you can remove. That helps when you accidentally drop it on a hard floor like I did. The cover protects it.  On the device you’ll find a power button, a micro-USB charging port, and a 3.5mm jack. On the back is a small pin hole for doing a hard reboot if you need to do that.  In my testing I was able to get 5 hours of music playback before the Rocki died. But if you plug the Rocki’s power cable up all the time, that isn’t an issue.  I am not a music audiophile, so I can’t speak much to the technical performance of the Rocki compared to other music devices.  But I will tell you that I was more than pleased with the sound that played through the speakers from the Rocki.  I didn’t get any distortion even when I turned up the volume really high, and I was impressed with the low base tones that sounded really nice.

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The Rocki, as I said, connects to your wireless network so anywhere your wireless network can reach you put the Rocki. Keep in mind however that the farther away from the wireless router you get, the more signal drops you are going to get in your music playback.  And there are times when you don’t have access to a wireless network, so an additional feature that is pretty cool about the Rocki is that if you can use it without a wireless network because it can be used as a hotspot allowing you to connect directly to it with your phone/tablet. So you can take it to the outdoors with you, or perhaps to work if your work network is closed and protected from devices such as this.

App features

The Rocki app will look for any music that you have on your device and let you play that music.  The only 2 streaming music services that are provided right now are Last.Fm and SoundCloud, neither of which I use.  I use Spotify, Pandora, and Google Music, and was disappointed to find out that those are not supported. But Rocki says more streaming services are coming once they work out the licensing deals. So for now, the music on my device will have to suffice, which is fine since I have about 2,000 songs on my phone anyway.

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Black Rocki connected to my Kinivo speaker (review here: http://the-gadgeteer.com/2013/05/25/kinivo-bluetooth-speaker-review/)

The app setup screens walk you through the dead-simple process of connecting to your Rocki devices over your wifi network.  And I do mean dead-simple. You can even turn on voice prompts in the app and it will tell you when it completes each step. It allows you to name your Rocki devices in case you have more than one, so for example, you could name them ‘red rocki’ or ‘kitchen’ or ‘back patio’ or whatever you want, so that it is easy to identify which one you want to play music to.

And that brings up my next disappointment, which is that you can connect as many Rocki devices as you want to your app, but you can only play your music to one device.  Said another way, I can play any song I want to any of the Rocki devices, even playing music to every Rocki device in the house at the same time, but I can’t play one song to all the Rocki devices at the same time. Make sense?  One of the best features of the Sonos system is that you can play a song to all speakers at once in your house for a truly whole-house wireless music system. Rocki can’t do this.  Yet.  They say that feature is coming soon in the form of a hardware update, so I will post back on this review when that happens, after I test it.  As promised, here is the setup procedure for connecting your first Rocki:

Setup procedure

  • Install free Rocki app on your phone
  • Turn on Rocki
  • Go to Settings in the app
  • Select “Start Setup Procedure”
  • Select “Start” (app begins scanning for local Rocki devices)
  • Select the Rocki device that is listed on the screen (the Rocki LED begins blinking red)
  • On the app screen select the color of the Rocki you have
  • Then you create a name for the Rocki, for example, ‘orange Rocki’ or ‘Living room Rocki’
  • then enter your local wifi network password
  • Your Rocki then connects to the wifi network and reboots
  • You then go back to the app main screen where you select the button labeled “Rocki Me Now”
  • You press the green bar across the top of the app, then select which Rocki on your network  you want to connect to
  • Then the app shows you the music on your phone and you pick what you want to listen to.

Bottom line

For the price of $49, I don’t think there is any other device out there that can provide you what the Rocki does. As long as you have a speaker of some kind, the Rocki can provide you true wireless music in your home. And anybody with the Rocki app can control the music, so each member of your family or your friends can install the app and play their music to the Rocki they choose.  The iOS app just recently came out and I have read some comments about that app being buggy, but the Android app is solid in my opinion.

I do wish that Rocki would provide a web-interface that allows me to control my devices from my computer’s web browser, like you can with the Sonos system.  That may be a tall order to expect  however considering the price point of this device.  I also wish that I could use my streaming music services and I hope they do indeed bring that feature to the Rocki. If they do that, then this truly is bringing wireless music to the masses at a price that anyone can afford.

Source: The sample for this review was provided by RockiVisit their site for more info.

 

Product Information

Price:$49.00
Manufacturer:Rocki
Requirements:
  • Existing speaker that accepts 3.5mm or RCA connection
  • Android or iOS device
Pros:
  • Dead-simple installation
  • Great app
  • Awesome price
Cons:
  • Lack of music streaming services
  • No web interface for PC
  • Limited battery life with 900 mAh battery
Posted in: Audio, Video, TV Gear, Reviews

{ 15 comments… add one }

  • rocketx2 September 2, 2014, 11:45 am

    Thanks for the review.

    Why is the Rocki better than bluetooth? I have several bluetooth (bt) speakers through my home and use my phone as the controller. I have my music collection automatically uploaded to Google music so all my music is always accessible from my phone or tablet.

    There are bt speakers in every quality, size and price range and a bt speaker is portable and will play anything you can play from your phone.

    The Rocki may be a great device but why is it better than bt?

  • Steve Holt September 2, 2014, 12:25 pm

    @rocketx2. the range for Bluetooth is maxed out at around 30 feet.wireless in your house could possibly go up to 300 feet depending on how strong the signal is so this is the main reason.

  • The Walrus September 2, 2014, 4:17 pm

    That was a great review.

    I am at present looking for a solution to music in my patio. I have had 2 sets of wireless speakers, which finally died. I’m not crazy about Bluetooth for many reasons and was about ready to wire outdoor speakers there.
    This seems to be a better solution and not so expensive.
    You didn’t mention if the android app lets you create playlists, or do you have to send 1 sound at a time; which would be a deal breaker.

    Thanks.

  • Steve Holt September 2, 2014, 5:27 pm

    @the walrus. The android app does indeed let you make playlists. I should mention again that the app looks for music on your device so you can’t use cloud music services yet, other than Soundcloud and Last FM. So my music is already organized into folders on my phone and each file is labeled with artist, song title, genre, etc. So I can see all those searchable items in the app. So many times I will simply choose to listen to James Taylor or Bon Jovi and not really a playlist.

  • The Walrus September 3, 2014, 1:54 am

    Ok. So, can it only play music from your phone, if that’s what you are using to control it? Or can it pick up from music stored in your PC as well?

  • Michael September 3, 2014, 5:43 am

    Nice device. On the mac end of things it seems it only works on iPhone or iPad and it won’t work from a mac. You can do a wifi connection with Airplay via an Airport Express for $99 but of course that’s double the price.

    Interesting video on their website. Popular apparently with graffiti vanda … sorry I mean artists and other cool young things. I think I am far too old to buy this :-)

  • Michael September 3, 2014, 5:46 am

    Actually a discussion here about Airplay. Apparently they have it working but they need to get it officially certified with Apple to be able to include it in a release and they haven’t done that yet

    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/rocki/rocki-wifi-music-system-from-every-phone-to-all-sp/posts/682398

  • Steve Holt September 3, 2014, 7:55 am

    Yes, they told me that Airplay might work, but it is not official yet and I don’t have any Apply devices. Basically, your music has to be on the device that you are using because the only streaming services that work are LastFM and Soundcloud. I use Google Music for my music for example, but I also save my music to my phone so that when I am traveling I can have my music without an Internet connection. So I play music from my phone with Rocki. And as I mentioned in my review, they are coming out with an update for the device soon that will enable you to play the same song to all Rocki devices on the wifi network, which will make it a truly whole-house solution.

  • Fred September 3, 2014, 10:37 am

    “For the price of $49, I don’t think there is any other device out there that can provide you what the Rocki does.”

    What about Gramofon?
    https://www.gramofon.com/

  • Steve Holt September 3, 2014, 11:01 am

    @fred. Looks interesting. Would love to review it but it isn’t out yet. I can see this product space getting more crowded very soon.

  • Fred September 4, 2014, 8:30 am

    @steve,
    It was crowfunded on kickstarter and already shipped to backers, maybe you could contact the company to get an unit for review

  • shakalandy September 9, 2014, 9:15 am

    @Steve: Merging Gramofon and Rocki would built a superb device. Gramofon already supports Spotify Connect and WahWah (other services to come) but lacks in playing simple radio streams or locally stored content.

  • ROCKI September 10, 2014, 2:23 pm

    @Shakalandy

    We’re currently beta testing the Spotify Connect integration. We encourage all our ROCKI users to join our Beta program. Once we are sure everything works 100%, we will be releasing the firmware update to all the users.

  • Johnfn September 24, 2014, 11:19 am

    If you root an android device and install an airply app, you can stream anything to want to.

  • Steve Holt September 24, 2014, 9:56 pm

    @johnfn That sounds like a good idea for those folks that root their Android. I however do not do that!

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