June 20, 2019

Tech Rap: Summertime Fun with Amico

A vintage Emerson AM transistor radio. Picture from

Summer is upon us (for most of the world). It feels as if it took forever to finally get here. That means time for cook outs, heading to the beach, gardening, and other fun outdoor activities. It also means the time is overdue to think about taking your tunes with you on your various adventures. If this were the 1950’s or 60’s, you would go out and buy a little plastic transistor radio at your local drugstore and load it up with big alkaline batteries. The sound would be terrible, but that was the only portable radio option back then. Today, we are spoiled with choices like smartphones, portable MP3 players, portable Bluetooth speakers, and a good-quality, portable music system called Amico.

I own some vintage audio equipment but I do not own any portable transistor radios. I do own what I believe to be one of the thinnest, if not the thinnest, portable AM/FM radios in the world. I bought it when I was visiting Japan years ago. Since it is not big enough to fit a built-in speaker, headphones (“ear receivers”) are required, but it is a testament to technology that a radio can be made so small and thin.

Sony’s SRF-220 “super slim” FM/AM “card” radio including the Lithium battery, measuring a miniscule 0.19” thick. Photo by Peter Skiera.

Amico is another testament to technology. Sure, it has traditional FM radio, but it also provides access to tens of thousands of free Internet radio stations (when connected to Wi-Fi), is a Bluetooth speaker, has Spotify Connect, and will play music files from a USB thumb drive (which also doubles as a charger for your smart phone). If you find yourself in an area where Wi-Fi is not available, you can still listen to music via FM, Bluetooth, or the USB input. The included custom 2200mAh Li-Ion battery pack will give you about 8 hours of playback time (depending on volume level and source), which should be enough for most outings. Como Audio also sells Amico battery packs separately so you can always have a second pack charged up and ready to go if you are not in a place where you can connect the external power supply. All this technology is housed in a thick, marine-grade plywood box covered with beautiful, real teak wood veneer. This combination not only protects it from moisture, it makes for a very attractive piece to show off during your outdoor gatherings, and also contributes to the excellent sound quality Como Audio has become known for (there is a stereo headphone output in case your neighbors do not share your taste in music). If you desire extra protection for your outdoor friend, consider the optional Amico protective silicone cover. It makes it easier to grip and protects the real teak wood veneer.

A sneak peek inside Amico’s thick plywood substrate with real teak wood veneer exterior. Photo by Peter Skiera.

Besides multiple music sources, Amico also sports a clock, two independent alarms, adjustable sleep timer, six presets, an auxiliary input, stereo line output, and can be grouped with other Como Audio models for whole-house sound. You can control the Amico using the front panel knobs, the included remote control, and the free Como Control app for iOS and Android.  

Having so many options is not much of a benefit without good sound, and Amico delivers here as well. There is a 30 watt digital amplifier feeding a custom 3” woofer and ¾” soft dome tweeter. This two-way design ensures you will hear the highs and the lows, providing balanced, accurate sound reproduction, just like a real hi-fi loudspeaker. The menu offers adjustable bass, treble, and Loudness to tailor the sound to your preference. If you have the space, consider the optional wired Amica Speaker for authentic, two channel stereo reproduction. If you don’t want to deal with wires, get a second Amico and use the rear audio switch and the Como Control app to assign one as the Right channel and the other as the Left channel.

In case you want a Case
Amico’s back panel finger port, which doubles as the bass port, makes transportation easy, but we have also designed a custom, rugged, splash-resistant carrying case to accommodate Amico and its accessories. We had hoped to have it on the market much earlier than now, but we ran into supplier issues and had to start all over again. The good news is this case is better constructed than the original we had been working on and will do a better job of protecting Amico, while still fitting in the overhead bin of an airplane, thus the name CarryOn.

Making a case for Amico: An early prototype of the CarryOn 1 travel case.

Case closed.

Putting Amico to the test
I am fortunate enough to live a short walk away from a very small public beach. I took advantage of a recent beautiful, sunny weekend to spend some time there with an Amico. As there was no Wi-Fi, I listened to FM. The case got a little wet and sandy, but no damage was done, and the included knob covers made rotating the knobs easier with wet, pruned fingers. The sound quality was great, it played loud enough, and since I had fully charged the battery prior to leaving, I knew I had more than enough playback time. After I returned home from the beach with just enough of a sunburn to feel slightly uncomfortable, I set the Amico on my modest deck, connected it to my home Wi-Fi network, and switched to Internet radio.

Me and my Amcio. Photo by Peter Skiera.

Listening to Smooth Jazz (“Chromaradio Smooth Jazz”, 128 kbps/MP3) and watching the activity on the ocean on a gorgeous day is about as good as it gets. I must confess that cold Blue Moon beer with a slice of orange was eventually involved (just one, honest).

At Como Audio, it makes us happy to hear how much our customers enjoy using our music systems, so if you already own an Amico, or you take advantage of the current special website offer and purchase one, please email us a pic of you outdoors with your Amico.

For Your Consideration
To enhance your enjoyment, I offer you some summer-friendly listening suggestions:

  1. Direct from The Netherlands comes “North Sea Surf Radio” (192 kbps/MP3), bursting with classic fantastic instrumental surf music, and all commercial-free.

North Sea Surf Radio: Hey, Daddy-o, don’t be a square…dig this crazy surf music, man!

Music has the magical ability to turn a good time into a great time…

2. With a format described as “Tropicallia Reggae”, “Surf Shack Radio” (192 kbps/MP3) will get you in the beach mood even on a cloudy day.

3. Like a refreshing breeze on a hot summer day, “BeachFront Radio” (128 kbps/MP3) serves up a cool mix of summer tunes. Honestly speaking, I have never heard most of the songs they play, but they fit in perfectly with the summer/beach theme.

4. Having been to Aruba, I just had to check out their stations. “Sunshine Happy Radio Aruba” (192 kbps/MP3) will bring a smile to your face and a shake to your booty.

5. “Beach chill-out radio” (128 kbps/MP3) out of Toronto has a laid-back, jazzy vibe, appropriate for napping in your Adriondack chair or grabbing a snooze in your outdoor hammock.

6. “Beach House Podcast” (192 kbps/MP3) is not a talk podcast about beach houses, but is instead two hours of “deep, chilled out, soulful house mix” music in the name of designer Royce Cocciardi. Note this podcast will take longer to load and connect than an Internet station due to its length.

Music has the magical ability to turn a good time into a great time, and Amico does that for me. It can do it for you,too. Enjoy the (summertime) music.

Amico at the beach. Photo by Peter Skiera.

Peter Skiera lives in southern MA, worked in radio broadcasting throughout New England, and also worked for Cambridge SoundWorks, B&W Loudspeakers, and Tivoli Audio for 15 years before joining Como Audio as V.P. of Product Development in 2016. Peter can be reached directly at

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