audio technology

I have music again!

So, my Squeezebox Touch got here today. In a lucky break, so did my switch and ethernet bridge. To recap, the SB Touch is a network/internet music player you can hook up to your stereo. I can stream the music from my computer via the network to it, or I can use it independently to listen to internet radio stations.

Here’s how I set it up. Since I’m on FIOS, I was able to use a MOCA ethernet bridge to get the internet from the coax cable in my room. I took that ethernet cable and attached it to a 5 port switch. That gave me 4 more ethernet ports. I then simply hooked the computer and the SB Touch into the switch and I was done. I now have the music from my computer going over our network in the house.

I have been enjoying listening to my music without having it bog down my computer. I’ve also been enjoying the radio. I listened to my college’s radio station WICB for hours, they are still one of the best college stations I have heard. I can also get all the worthwhile local stations like WTOP for news, and the Public stations too. I need to figure out when a Prairie Home Companion comes on so I can start listening to it again… All of these sound much better than regular FM, and as far as I can tell I can get damn near any station in the US.

Of course the other great thing that internet radio allows is the ability to use services like Pandora or Slacker. Slacker is a really good internet service. They sound great and have a lot of diverse stations. Pandora is a service that allows you to make your own stations based on an artist or song. It will pick others like the one you picked and then you can tell it what you like and don’t like to narrow the view down. So far, I have made Buddy Holly radio, Silversun Pickups radio, Tito Puente radio, Beck radio, and Where is My Mind radio (from the Pixies song).

I overspent on all of this, but I am already really enjoying the experience and plan on taking the radio around the house since it ties into the wireless network as well. My iPod touch controls it through the wireless as well. This is the first audio toy I’ve bought in years, and it’s a winner. I’ll let you know if I find any hidden gems out there while “twisting the dial….”

audio odds and ends

You never know when you’re going to be an idiot

I’m a huge audio geek. I’ve been pouring over amp schematics for years, I’ve listened to more systems than I can remember, and I love reading about all the new tech in audio. I’ve been troubleshooting audio problems for oh, 20 years or so.

I had been mildly disappointed in the audio quality of my iPod touch hooked up to my car’s stereo. It was still better than FM, but there were problems. There were times that I just didn’t have enough gain, I couldn’t turn it up loud enough to get the volume I was looking for. Plus, when I did crank it up, I heard all of the nastiness in my car’s stereo, including engine whine as I accelerated.

Well, imagine my surprise when I hooked it up the other day. I had been demoing it to a customer in the store and had to turn up the volume all the way. Guess what? If you TURN THE VOLUME UP, it gets louder. Sheesh, audio 101. Now there is decent bass response, there is no engine whine, and I can play plenty loud.


Moral of the story, even if you’re an expert in something, it doesn’t mean that you won’t overlook the obvious from time to time. I’ll remember this until the next time I catch myself being stupid…

audio technology


I went into Best Buy today looking for a particular item. They weren’t really helpful, and I couldn’t find what I was looking for, but I did get a chance to wander around a bit. I hadn’t been in one for quite a while. The TVs were, as always, quite impressive. If I actually watched much, I would have bought one straight away.

The LPs surprised me. They didn’t have many, but there they were. I had heard that vinyl had made a comeback, but I had assumed that it was mostly for DJing. They had a Springsteen, GnR, and something else that didn’t really lend itself to mixing. Later o, I also saw about 5 or 6 record players, most with USB outputs.

The oddest things I saw were both from Sony. Did you know that they still make a cassette walkman? It’s 40 bucks! I don’t think I saw any cassette tapes around, but there were the players. I cannot imagine anyone wanting to use a cassette deck these days, mp3 players are around the same price and are oh so much better. Even the LPs included mp3 downloads of the albums. Why cassette?

The other oddity was a 300 Cd changer, it was around $300 if I remember correctly. If this was 1995, it would be the most amazing thing ever, but now? It would be far better, in all respects, to simply rip those 300 cds to your computer and then hook that up to your stereo. Even if you ripped them in a lossless format to preserve the sound quality the cost, the reliability, and the functionality would be far higher with the computer.

The sad thing is that the record players seemed more sensible than the cd players these days, how’s that for irony?

audio music technology

Radio reborn!

App Gallery – Welcome to!: “”

I had heard about the Squeezebox from Logitec for years, but I never paid any attention. My loss… Listening to the radio was always fun in the past. Part of it was the thrill of the hunt, cycling through different stations in order to find something that fit my mood was a common pastime. The problem is that FM is a total wasteland now. Even the satellite stations don’t do much for me.

Here’s where the squeezebox comes into play. It is a device that allows you to stream your music collection to a sound system. No big deal, right? An airport express will do the same thing. Ah, but the squeezebox allows you to stream internet radio, even if your computer is off. In addition, it is easy to move it around or add more devices in your house. These can be linked together or operated separately. Logitec makes devices that you would hook to an existing system or stand alone devices much like a table radio.

There are over 20,000 stations by my quick count that you can get on there. In addition, there are services like the BBC, classical music organization, and the live performance archive that you can play on there. Then there are the customizable stations like Pandora, Last, and Slacker. You pick a song or group and they will play songs similar to them.

I love the music on my computer and listen to it all the time but it is nice to be able to get exposed to new music too. I think the squeezebox touch (as well as an app for my iPod touch) will be my next audio purchase. I’ll hook it up to a table radio I own right now and in the future I’ll hook it up to a pair of active speakers via its digital output. Stay tuned, don’t touch that dial! I’ll be back soon with more exciting audio news from Isaac!:-)

audio music

Itching for a stereo system

Being cooped up in the house for so many days in a row has made me start missing my stereo system. I still own a really nice one. The trouble is that I don’t have the space for it, so it has been at a friend’s for the last three years or so. One day I’ll have space again, and then I’ll be able to listen to it again.

But in the meantime, I need something to listen to. And I want it to be a real system, one that this audiofool can appreciate. It needs to be small, inexpensive (in audiophile terms), and suited for my cramped living space. Here’s what I’ve come up with…

My music source will be my computer. I will simply play the music I have on it. Over time, I will get access to my CDs again and do proper, lossless copies for the best sound quality. For an amp, I will get one of those cheapie, but decent tripath amps that put out around 15 watts a side. For the time being, I will just use the analog out from either my computer or an airport express. Eventually I will add a digital to analog convertor in the chain to improve things more.

I think I’ve settled on the speakers. They are going to be a bit of a departure from my usual type of speaker, but that has a lot to do with my current situation. I’m going with some full range, single driver speakers from Tekton. I’ve been talking to the builder and he thinks his 4.1 speakers will be the best fit for me.

Here’s what I like about them:

1) The price. These will be new speakers, and they will be built for me. I’m still trying to decide on the finish, I’m leaning towards either cherry or walnut.

2) It is easy to drive which means I can get decent sound from a 40 dollar amp.

3) This type of speaker is supposed to excel in low volume listening.

4) They are small enough to work well in my room.

5) And finally, they are a type of speaker that I want to own at least once.

I have a few things to take care of before I do this, but I will at some point in the near future have a working system again!