Review: Nanoleaf's Fun $49 'Rhythm' Add-On Lets Your Aurora Light Setup Respond to Music

by

Nanoleaf, the company behind the HomeKit-enabled Aurora smart modular lighting system, recently introduced a $49 accessory that allows the Aurora lights to respond to music, adding a whole new sound-based dimension to an already great product.


Called the Nanoleaf Aurora Rhythm, the add-on module is a small three-triangle accessory that snaps right in to an existing Nanoleaf setup using the same plastic connector tabs that connect the Aurora lights together.


It can be plugged in to any of the triangle-shaped lights in an Aurora setup, because all of them are able to provide power to the accessory. Setting up the Rhythm is as simple as attaching it to an Aurora setup -- there are no other steps involved.


I had a little bit of an issue with the first Rhythm I tested, which killed my WiFi connection after plugging it in. I'm not sure if this was the Rhythm or a quirk of my WiFi setup, but Nanoleaf sent out a replacement Rhythm and the second version worked perfectly with no interference.


Once the Rhythm is plugged in, the Rhythm mode can be selected on the Aurora through the Nanoleaf app. Though the Aurora has HomeKit support, the Rhythm feature is not compatible and needs to be manually enabled in the app.


When activated, the Rhythm module itself has a blue light that lets you know it's working, and the Aurora lights will begin responding to sound. With the Rhythm, the Aurora lights are in the off position until a sound is detected.

The Rhythm has a sound sensor (and a 3.5mm jack) and is able to detect all noise, whether it be a song, the television, a conversation, a cat meowing, a door slamming, or a baby crying, and when it hears a noise, it activates the attached Aurora lights in various patterns, colors, and brightness levels.


It's sensitive enough that it picks up most sounds nearby, and the light reaction to the sound is tied to both the volume and the duration of the sound. A quiet "hello" spoken in the vicinity of the Rhythm activates just a couple of the triangle lights because it's a soft sound, while something like the slam of a door activates all of the lights in a crescendoing pattern with each one flaring brightly before fading out.


Though the Rhythm will respond to any noise, it's meant to be used with music that's playing aloud because it can detect the beat of what's playing to match the pattern of the lights to the song. The Rhythm paired well with all of the songs that I tested, from pop and EDM to hip hop and rock, though I do wish it was better at identifying bass and treble. I liked it best with songs with a fast beat, because that's where it really shines. There is a small delay between the music and the reaction of the Aurora, but it's hardly noticeable.

Proper dance party going on in my office tonight with Aurora Rhythm.

A post shared by Juli C (@julipuli) on

It does well matching the beat and the tone of the music with the light accompaniment, and while it's great even when alone, this is an amazing setup for parties. For someone who has an Aurora setup already and often does parties or get togethers where music is played, the Rhythm add-on is a no brainer because it adds such a wow factor.

In the Aurora app, there are several different light patterns to choose from that work with the Rhythm, and all of the patterns can be combined with customized user-picked colors for an endless number of options. You can create your own color palettes, pair them with patterns, choose a brightness, and save the scene for future use.


Nanoleaf also lets users upload their light creations so there are dozens of Rhythm mixes downloadable from the app.

While colors are customizable, patterns are not. Rhythm comes with eight lighting "scenes" that dictate how the lights are activated when sound is detected. Fireworks, for example, lights up a handful of tiles at a time in rapid succession with no fade, like a firework.


Meteor Shower flows from color to color in a linear pattern with the pace of the song setting the shifts between color, while Paint Splatter is more random. Pulse Pop Beats changes colors more slowly while also dimming and brightening tiles with the beat of the music, and Rhythmic Northern Lights keeps the lights on full brightness but shifts between colors rapidly. Streaking Notes, Sound Bar, and Ripple are other options, and each one is unique.


For every Rhythm mix, the brightness is customizable, a nice touch because depending on the number of panels, the ambient lighting in the room, and the song playing, it can get a little chaotic if it's too bright.

It's worth noting that the Rhythm is going to look different depending on the number Aurora panels you have set up and their arrangement. I have 21 panels in a kind of key/flower shape and the Rhythm looks great with this setup. I can't pull my panels off the wall to test other configurations because they're up there with adhesive and it's an insane hassle to get them down, but I suspect the different Rhythm patterns look great on any Aurora configuration.

The Rhythm feature is something you'll probably want to only turn on occasionally when listening to music, though I did find it very satisfying to watch my lights flare up when I slammed my door. I also found it fun to have on when I was having a conversation with someone.


I tried the Rhythm with TV, but in general, the color transitions and patterns were a little too chaotic. Your mileage may vary, though - it's really based on setup and personal preference.

In the future, I'd love to see Nanoleaf do partnerships like Philips Hue has done with Syfy for Sharknado and Twelve Monkeys, pairing the lights with TV shows or movies in carefully selected patterns to enhance what you're watching. I'd also like to have more options for customizing and creating the patterns themselves.

Bottom Line

If you've already invested in a Nanoleaf Aurora setup and listen to music, the $50 Rhythm add on is a fun and inexpensive way to add utility and interactivity to the Aurora lights. And if you throw parties, it's a must.

If you don't already have Aurora lights but do a lot of entertaining or want to spice up a room, it's worth considering picking up a set. Aurora is not cheap at $200 for the starter pack (which comes with nine tiles) and $60 for each additional pack of three tiles, but it's one of the neatest modular lighting systems available. The only real downsides are the cost and the fact that they stick to the wall using adhesive.


I've had Aurora lights in my office since the beginning of the year, and I have no complaints. I still love to set the colors to match my mood, the game I'm playing, or the show I'm watching, and they've worked reliably with no issues. I've been steadily adding to my Aurora design and I'm up to 21 panels. Aurora is hard not to love, and the Rhythm makes a good product even better.

How to Buy

The Aurora Rhythm can be purchased from the Nanoleaf website for $49.99. The Nanoleaf Aurora itself is currently on sale from Best Buy for $187.99.

Note: Nanoleaf provided MacRumors with an Aurora Rhythm for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was received. This post contains an affiliate link to Best Buy.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
36 months ago
Look nice when turned on, but when turned off it's cheap white plastic on your wall.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
36 months ago
Lots of Hue competition starting to appear.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
36 months ago

When I got the Rhythm module in I thought it was "killing" my wifi too. After playing around with it a little bit a found out it was only affecting my router's 5GHz connection and not my 2.4GHz connection. Not until I connected my iPhone to my 2.4GHZ wifi to set up the Rhythm through the Nanoleaf app did my 5GHz wifi start working again.

Btw, I figured this out after I had already reset my router to "factory default" settings and try to reconfigure the router first (facepalm).

Just letting people know that the issue with wifi fixes itself once the Rhythm is properly set up... if you even have the issue in the first place.

Yes, this is exactly the problem that I had. It killed the 5GHz network. Problem is my WiFi didn't start working again after setup. No issues with the second one though.
[doublepost=1506719070][/doublepost]

Look nice when turned on, but when turned off it's cheap white plastic on your wall.

It's not too bad. But mine's on a lot of the time. No real reason these can't be running at different settings all the time. Dimmed for a nightlight, brighter in the daytime, etc.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Hands On With iPhone 12 Models Showing New Sizes and Design

Monday July 6, 2020 2:04 pm PDT by
Ahead of the launch of new iPhones we often see dummy models created based on leaked schematics and specifications, with those models designed to let case makers create cases for the new devices ahead of their release. We got our hands on a set of dummy models that represent the iPhone 12 lineup, giving us our first close look at the iPhone 4-style design and the different size options. Subscri ...

Everything New in iOS 14 Beta 2: New Calendar Icon, Files Widget and More

Tuesday July 7, 2020 11:38 am PDT by
Apple today released the second beta of iOS 14 to developers for testing purposes, tweaking and refining some of the features that are coming in the update. Below, we've rounded up all of the changes that we found in the second beta. - Calendar icon - There's a new Calendar app icon in iOS 14 beta 2, with the day of the week abbreviated rather than spelled out. - Clock icon - The clock...

iPhone 12 Sizes Compared with iPhone SE, 7, 8, SE 2, X, 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max [Update]

Tuesday July 7, 2020 6:49 pm PDT by
Apple is planning on launching the iPhone 12 this fall which is rumored to be coming in 3 different sizes: 5.4", 6.1" and 6.7". The middle size (6.1") matches up with the currently shipping iPhone 11, but the other two sizes will be entirely new. Over the weekend, there was some excitement about how well the new 5.4" iPhone 12 compares to the original iPhone SE. Those who have been hoping...

Tom Hanks Discusses 'Heartbreaking' Shift of WWII Film Greyhound From Theatrical Blockbuster to Apple TV+ Exclusive

Monday July 6, 2020 7:53 am PDT by
Tom Hanks' WWII drama "Greyhound" is set to premiere on Apple TV+ this Friday, July 10, and ahead of that debut the actor gave an interview with The Guardian discussing the film. "Greyhound" was originally planned to see a theatrical release this summer, and was repeatedly delayed in the wake of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Apple won the streaming rights to the film, and in the new...

Developer's Visual Comparison of macOS Catalina and Big Sur Offers Closer Look at Apple's UI Redesign for Macs

Tuesday July 7, 2020 4:00 am PDT by
macOS 11 Big Sur is the next major release of Apple's operating system for Mac, and following its preview at WWDC, one of the biggest discussions has revolved around the all-new user interface redesign. Developers are still learning what the impact the new UI will have on their apps, and with that in mind, app designer Andrew Denty has compiled an extensive visual comparison of the user...

5.4-Inch iPhone 12 Model Size Compared to Original iPhone SE and iPhone 7

Saturday July 4, 2020 9:44 pm PDT by
iPhone 12 dummy models based on leaked schematics have been starting to circulate online and in online marketplaces. Not happy with the circulating size comparisons between the rumored 5.4" iPhone 12 and the original iPhone SE models, MacRumors forum user iZac took matters into his own hands and purchased his own 5.4" dummy model to provide more detailed size comparisons between the original...

Shipping Estimates for 27-Inch iMac Continue to Slip, Now Into September

Monday July 6, 2020 6:55 am PDT by
Amid rumors and hints of a forthcoming update for the iMac, supplies of Apple's current 27-inch iMac continue to dwindle with mid- and high-end stock configurations now seeing shipping estimates pushed back into September. The 27-inch iMac has seen tight supplies and extended shipping estimates for months now, but the situation has been gradually worsening to the point where new buyers can...

Apple Cuts iPhone Trade-In Values as iPhone 12 Launch Nears

Tuesday July 7, 2020 7:46 am PDT by
With just two months to go until the usual timeframe for Apple's iPhone launch events, Apple is cutting back on maximum trade-in values of previous-generation iPhones for those looking to upgrade to a new model. Maximum values on more recent models have dropped by $30–$50, while older models have generally dropped by $5–$20 with a few models seeing no change in value.iPhone XS Max: $500 to...

Analyst Believes iPhone 12 Pricing Will Start $50 Higher Even Without EarPods or Charger in Box

Wednesday July 8, 2020 9:35 am PDT by
Despite multiple reports indicating that Apple will not include EarPods or a wall charger with iPhone 12 models this year, one analyst believes that pricing will still increase slightly compared to the iPhone 11 lineup. In a research note provided to MacRumors, analyst Jeff Pu forecasted that iPhone 12 pricing will start at $749 for a new 5.4-inch model, an increase of $50 over the base...

14-Inch MacBook Pro With Mini-LED Display Expected to Enter Production in 2021

Wednesday July 8, 2020 7:51 am PDT by
Apple suppliers will begin competing to win manufacturing orders for new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models with Mini-LED displays in the first quarter of 2021, according to Taiwanese research firm TrendForce. Rumors of a 14-inch MacBook Pro have surfaced since Apple replaced the 15-inch MacBook Pro with a new 16-inch model last year. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has previously said that...