Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Rattlesnake Confusion - July 2007

If I ever die of a heart attack, I hope it will be from playing my stereo too loud. ~Anonymous

Now there’s a quotation I whole-heartedly agree with! And in the interest of working toward that goal, I got myself a birthday present: The Logitech Wireless Music System for PC (http://www.logitech.com/), acquired through Amazon for forty-five bucks, is considerably less costly than any of the competing systems.

So what’s this thing do? Well, it wirelessly streams music from your PC or laptop to your home stereo system. This is important to me for two reasons: One, I download tons of music (all legal, thank you very much) and in order to listen to it in my living room, I have to burn a CD and cart it to the other side of the house just to blast it from decent speakers at the afore-mentioned heart attack inducing volume. And two, there are great radio stations out there that I listen to online, but I wanted the freedom to hear them throughout the house and in the backyard.

The gadget showed up on my doorstep one Friday afternoon and installation was so quick and simple even a Georgia boy could do it. There's a small transmitter that goes into a USB port and a receiver that plugs into the stereo. I used the tape input jacks. It fired right up and started working even without the included software. Using Winamp, I first cranked up some live Drive-By Truckers, and then I logged onto WWOZ from their website (http://www.wwoz.org/). It really sounded great, although there was some distortion at louder volumes. And when I say loud, I mean palpitation levels, although that could be due to several things, not necessarily my new toy.

Next, I installed the software, which is meant to offer an added degree of control. Specifically, this equipment hijacks your computer speakers and runs everything through to the stereo, including the Windows sounds, and the software lets you decide what goes to the speakers and what stays at the PC. However, after installing the software, it quit working! So after playing around with the controls a little, I uninstalled it and it worked fine. At some point, I may reinstall the software, but for now it does what I want it to do. I’ve had no problems with the sound dropping out and it doesn’t seem to interfere with the speed of my PC or my internet connection. There’s a kinda cheap looking remote control, and I’ve only had spotty success getting it to work. I’ve used Winamp and Windows Media Player to play several types of music files, including wav, flac, shn and MP3. Some people have complained about interference from cordless phones and microwaves as well as wireless internet, but I’ve had no issues at all.

Next step: getting my wireless outdoor speakers to work with it. They didn’t immediately talk to each other, so I played around with it and found that by moving the speakers’ transmitter from the tape out jacks to the VCR out jacks I was able to get them to play flawlessly and I'm here to tell you right now, brethren and cistern, I'm typing this on my laptop while listening to WWOZ in my very own backyard!

Anonymous, you got the right idea, my friend.

2/5/08 - update: the microwave and my wireless internet connection on my laptop both have effects on the signal.

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