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The Ill-Tempered Audiophool

Hue lights

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OK, I just spent $260 + tax on four light bulbs. Sue me. I've done worse buying metal halide lightbulbs for my erstwhile reef tanks (a hobby that makes audio look thrifty).

Here is what I bought:


These are made by Phillips. You can control them via a somewhat limited app from your iPad, etc, or via web browser interface, or, better yet, via URL syntax, e.g.:

curl -X PUT -d '{"on":true, "bri":255, "sat":255, "transitiontime":60,  "hue":0 }'
This turns on my lightbulbs over a period of 6 seconds, full blast, red.

I actually find the color setting less useful than the dimmer, timer, color temperature controls, etc. Anyway, this makes an entertaining addition to the listening room, and allows me to set the lighting mood as is suited by the music. The kids love screwing around with this.

The bulbs can talk to each other over an ad hoc network.

There is a good Arse Technica review here. The API and SDK are now available, and have reasonable documentation.


  1. Bob Stern's Avatar
    How many and what types of bulbs did the 4 new ones replace? I notice the 600 lumen light output of each bulb is equivalent to a 40 watt incandescent. However, I can imagine the LED being effectively brighter due to its whiter spectrum (if you choose to adjust it that way).

    Can you tell whether the radiated light is directly from the LEDs, or whether the LEDs are exciting phosphors? The latter seems to be a method used in non-adjustable LEDs to overcome the single wavelength radiation from an LED, but I don't know whether that would be useful in a variable color bulb. Perhaps Philips uses a mix of LEDs with a range of wavelengths.
  2. wgscott's Avatar
    I put four bulbs in the living room ceiling fan, so the bulbs point downwards from the Edison sockets. They replaced four 14 W compact fluorescents. The apparent brightness at the default on setting is similar. At higher color temperature, they do appear brighter, but more harsh. (They go up to 6500 K, which is considered "daylight" and looks good in a fish tank but is a very "icy white" in the living room). I think there are three primary emitters, as well as phosphors. I'll have to do some background reading.
  3. souptin's Avatar
    I find myself drawn to these every time I go to worship in church visit the Apple store. The main niggle for me isn't the price, outrageous as it is, it's that the fitting is not a common one in the UK so it would mean adapters or new fittings.

    I looked at the website. Some of the language used (about the benefits of different colour schemes) is right up there with the high end of audio wtf. Something about improving school pupils performance and behaviour... based on trials in one classroom.
  4. wgscott's Avatar
    The novelty is already wearing off.
  5. Bob Stern's Avatar
    That's a feature, not a bug.

    Now you have to buy a new gadget, thereby creating jobs for someone to design it and someone to build it.
  6. wgscott's Avatar
    I'm up to 10 Hue lamps now, and might pick up two more for another bedroom. I have six in the living room (four fan lights, and two track lights), three in my daughter's room, one non-colored one in my bedroom. (She also had a desktop lamp but broke it). I wrote web pages that I serve locally to control everything. There are also a lot of third-party control apps available now.

    When properly functioning, they are silent. I did have one of the original four start to buzz from the G phosphor, so I exchanged it.
  7. ted_b's Avatar
    Did you have normal dimmers before, and if so, did they buzz or hum through the stereo?
  8. wgscott's Avatar
    I've never had anything buzz or hum through my stereo, thankfully. I do have a bunch of conventional dimmer switches (Lutron), but they don't cause a problem. I have a devoted 20 amp circuit for audio, but even before I used that, I don't recall having any such issue. In the case of the faulty hue bulb, it was the bulb itself (specifically the green phosphor) that buzzed.

    I think the Hue lights would be worth a try. If you get them at some place like Best Buy, you can return them if they cause electrical interference. The ability to change the colors really grew on me, especially for watching movies.
  9. Bob Stern's Avatar
    2 years ago you said your entire family lost interest in the Hue after a week or so. What new use have you found for them? (The Hue, not your family.) Do you use certain colors at certain times of day?

    One useful application might be to reduce the blue output late at night to make it easier to fall asleep. I use the free "f.lux" program to reduce blue on my computer screen at night.
  10. Bob Stern's Avatar
    By coincidence, Hue and LIFX lamps were discussed yesterday on MacInTouch (a great Mac news source I subscribe to):

    After a power outage, Hue lamps revert to full brightness. If you install Hues in the bedroom, you could be awakened by blinding light when there's a brief power outage during the night!