We all love a social get-together, and while food and drink and music is important, lighting is one of the aspects that's often overlooked but can dramatically change the mood of the party.
If the illumination is too stark your guests will feel self-conscious, while if it's too dark the party atmosphere will be so bad, you’ll forever have a reputation as "that host that makes things horrendously dark." And nobody wants that. .
But as we often discuss here at TechRadar, there’s yet hope through technology, and the best smart lights are a great way to create the perfect atmosphere in your home, as they can be dimmed or brightened and have their colors tweaked. And best of all, every setting and customization option is accessible right from your smartphone.
Maybe you’re already on top of things, and have kitted out your entire house in smart lighting. But did you know that some can even flash and change color to suit the beat of the music playing? Smart lights are not only solid for general lighting, they can be the life of the party, too.
Philips Hue, LIFX and Nanoleaf smart lights have previously offered this feature through third-party apps, but they’ve always required the microphone on your smartphone to listen to the music playing before adjusting the lights accordingly.
Philips Hue has since teamed up with Spotify to use an algorithm that analyzes the metadata of the song playing on the app in real-time and controls the color, brightness and speed at which it flashes to suit the genre and mood of the music, as well as the beat.
Initially, the integration was only available to Hue users that had signed up to the early access program, but it’s now been made available to anyone that has Philips Hue smart lights - so here’s how to use it to make yourself the host with the very most when it comes to creating a full party atmosphere.
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How to get your lights into party mode
As we’ve mentioned, this feature is specifically designed for Spotify - it won’t work when you’re playing music from any other streaming service.
However, the good news is you don’t need a Spotify Premium account, as it will work with the free version. So if you’re not currently a Spotify user, you can rectify that by signing up for an account in just a few minutes.
The integration also works no matter what device you’re listening to Spotify on, whether that’s a phone, tablet or even through the best Sonos speakers.
And as it doesn’t require your phone’s microphone to be listening to the music playing, you could still use your smartphone to take a call without the lights failing to pulsate.
The feature only works with color bulbs and does require a Hue Bridge - a hub that connects to your router using an ethernet cable and then talks to the bulbs, so an algorithm can analyse the tracks that are playing through Spotify and relay relevant commands for color and speed at which they pulse to the Philips Hue bulbs.
The Hue Bridge isn’t necessary for newer versions of the bulbs to be set-up and used in the most basic way, as the bulbs have Bluetooth.
However, it is necessary if you want to control the bulbs when you’re not close by, and for features that see the bulbs sync with other products, such as your TV, as well as services including Spotify - so be ready for that extra expense if you’re a newer Hue user but want this fancy extra
The Hue Bridge comes bundled with starter kits, which are priced at $119.99 / £129.99 / AU$179.99 but it can also be purchased alone for $49.99 / £49.99 / AU$84.99.
So, what’s the integration actually like?
So what can you expect? We put the Philips Hue and Spotify integration to the test and were impressed. As we played tracks from different genres, we found there was a clear difference between the colors the bulb illuminated, as well as the intensity of the brightness they glowed.
There are five color palettes to pick from that have set shades; for example, Nocturnal is a selection of turquoise, blue and purple hues, as well as an Automatic mode that uses any of the 16 million shades offered by the Philips Hue bulbs when playing different tracks.
Listening to Michael Buble’s version of Feeling Good, the lights glowed pale shades of purple, light pink and warm peach and pulsed in a subtle way at the start, with the intensity increasing as the track built.
When we swapped to bass-heavy dance music, the color changed to vibrant intense shades of pink and orange and there was a more pronounced pulsating motion as the bulbs dimed and brightened too.
Up to 10 bulbs can be controlled in this way at any one time and each bulb glows a different shade with the color palette to ensure the atmosphere is reflected in every inch of the room.
How to set-up Philips Hue Spotify integration
To start with you’ll need to link your Spotify account with your Philips Hue app and you’ll need the Spotify app installed on your smartphone. Open the Philips Hue app and tap the Sync tab at the bottom of the screen, then select Spotify from the options display.
The Spotify app will open and you’ll need to agree to give Hue permission to access your account, by pressing agree. Spotify will close leaving you back in the Hue app.
As you can also sync Philips Hue lights with your TV, you’ll need to select ‘Listening to Music’ from the activities listed. Now you can select up to 10 Hue lights installed in your home to sync with Spotify.
You’ll also need to highlight on a diagram the position of these lights in your room in relation to where the speakers are, so Hue can create the perfect balance of colors when Spotify sync is active.
Just drag and drop the icon of each light you’ve added to the sync into its rough position on the diagram - you can also adjust at what height the light sits too.
Now the sync is complete, any time you want to activate it open the Hue app and press the Sync tab. From here tap the Sync icon in the middle of the screen to start or stop the Spotify integration.
Use the buttons above this labelled intensity, color or brightness to manually tweak these aspects or set them to auto mode. The artwork for the track playing is displayed above this and can be taped to open the Spotify app if you want to change the track, album or playlist.
We found the Hue and Spotify integration was simple to set-up and definitely gave our house the party vibe, so what are you waiting for - get it set-up and give your gathering the atmosphere it deserves.
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