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9/22/06 Solution for sending MP3s through wireless network to stereo

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / September 21, 2006 6:23 AM PDT
Question:

How do I play my computer's MP3s on my home stereo via a wireless network? My idea is to be able to quickly drop a few music folders into my Winamp playlist area, randomize the tracks, and hear what?s playing on the stereo in my living room. I have only a few simple guidelines I would like to work within.

1. I want to use my existing wireless home network. I know there are a few devices on the market that send a signal from a USB device to another device plugged into the receiver; however, I want to avoid these types of devices.

2. I would also like to be able to use whatever music-playing software I like, whether it is Winamp, iTunes, or anything else I choose. I do not want to be restricted to special music software that works only with the stereo receiver unit.

3. The receiver unit should be able to play all music files, whether they be MP3, M4A, WAV files, or anything protected I may own.

4. I would like to stay under $200 if possible.

The receiver unit should be somewhat stylish, small, and nonintrusive. Thanks!

Submitted by: George L. of California

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Answer:


George, it's a problem many of us are familiar with. We have an extensive music library on our computers and iPods/portable music players, and we would like to listen to it at home, but our computers are too far from the stereo or the rest of the family wants to listen to music while you go out with your iPod. Or perhaps you'd like to listen to Shoutcast radio stations on your stereo at home--something portable music players are at the moment largely incapable of.

Many companies have products for sale that fill this need. Here are some of my recommendations below.

The first product is a Logitech Wireless DJ Music System which is about $169-$220.The Logitech Wireless DJ Music System streams audio--including copy-protected DRM music and Internet radio--from your PC to your home stereo. The system is controlled from a handheld remote with a built-in display and an iPod-like scrollwheel that lets you view and navigate your music collection. The system utilizes a USB transmitter that hooks to your PC, along with a receiver, which doubles as a recharging station for the remote, so it doesn't need a wireless network. The scrollwheel isn't quite as responsive the iPod's, and the wireless range--while decent--is less than advertised. The PC Control mode allows for maximum file compatibility but disables the remote's ability to browse when activated. But the Logitech Wireless DJ Music System lets you access your PC's digital music collection from the palm of your hand.

The second product is a D-Link MediaLounge DSM-520 and cost $199-$220. The D-Link MediaLounge DSM-520 is a network media device that can stream HD video, still images, and audio from networked PCs and USB-connected drives. It plays DRM-protected Windows Media files and supports Rhapsody streaming, as well as Live365 and Radio@aol Internet radio services. Its extensive connectivity options include built-in 802.11g wireless networking, an HDMI jack, and analog and digital audio outputs. A clunky file-search function mars an otherwise solid onscreen interface and straightforward setup options. Equally adept at streaming audio, photos, and HD video, the D-Link MediaLounge DSM-520 offers a winning combination of impressive features and performance at an affordable price.

The third product is a Sonos Digital Music System which is about $1200.
Sleekly designed; easy setup; wireless, color screen remote for accessing your music from anywhere in the house; easily expandable (up to 32 rooms); built-in 50-watt-per-channel amp; Rhapsody compatible; audio inputs for streaming music from other sources; impressive sound quality. Somewhat expensive; no amp-less option yet; no digital audio output; remote's rechargeable battery isn't removable; doesn't play protected WMA or AAC files. While pricey compared to other digital single-room audio receivers, the multiroom Sonos Digital Music System is currently the slickest solution for affordably distributing your music throughout the house.

The fourth product is Creative Sound Blaster Wireless Music, which is valued at $185-$205.Compatible with 802.11b/g networks; RF remote with a built-in LCD for navigation; fairly simple setup; robust software package; optical digital output. No support for AAC and secure WMA music files; no MPEG or JPEG video support; music-management software could be more integrated and user-friendly. A remote with a built-in LCD for music navigation gives Creative's wireless music solution a competitive edge.

The last product is a Roku SoundBridge M1000/M1001 for $179-$229. The good: The Roku SoundBridge M1000 is a network audio receiver that offers a sleek attractive design, bright front-panel display, and excellent compatibility with digital music files, including DRM WMA files purchased from online music stores and premium subscription services such as Rhapsody and Yahoo. Digital and analog outputs provide connectivity to any stereo or speaker system, and it will work with any wireless or Ethernet home network. Setup and navigation are simple and straightforward, and it can stream music from Windows or Mac systems. While it seamlessly interfaces with iTunes software running on a networked PC, the Roku SoundBridge can't stream secure AAC files purchased from iTunes store. It can connect to WEP-encrypted wireless networks but not those running WPA. Also, its screen can be hard to read at a distance. Striking looks, easy setup, excellent compatibility, and an improved design put the Roku SoundBridge at the forefront of the digital audio receiver category.

Hope this helps.

Submitted by: Joshua W.


[Edited by: admin --to edit some confusing text in this week's answer. We sincerely apologize for any confusion that this may have caused you. ]
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Honorable mentions
by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / September 21, 2006 6:23 AM PDT
Answer:

You need a music bridge. Linksys has one for under $100. Since you have wireless already, straightforward set up. Just pay attention to details ....manual MAC filter settings if you use, WEP key etc.

I encourage you to look at some of the user feedback forums on the popular internet stores to understand the possible limitiations and advantages.

Many users have great success and love the product.

Some users complain about choppy sound when network has heavy use. duh.

Some users complain video on PC is out of sync to sound on stereo for streaming video or watching video files on PC and listening on stereo. another duh.

Some users complain about dropped signals (watch out for that 2.4Ghz home phone) Some users complain about poor reception through walls. Remember, it is taking a signal from your router, not your PC antenna . A friend tried to put his router on top of his kitchen cabinets. You know, put the antenna up high ! I tried to explain 16 inches of porcelain plates were probably bouncing signals all over the room and his signal to basement was not as good as he imagined. He finally moved it.

Watch out for your neighbor's wireless network weak signal triggering auto detect on the bridge or on your PC. Set the PC and bridge up for single network only, not best available or autodetect.

Follow the directions and have a bottle of your favorite adult beverage handy in case you have a snafu.

Submitted by: Mike in Georgia

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Answer:


George, the ultimate answer would be to add a ?Media Center? PC to the stereo system, but while that probably is the ?best? solution, it?s more like a $1,000 solution than a $200 solution.

Considering that simple iPods and other more sophisticated MP3 players alone are over $200, solutions involving putting an actual MP3-playing device at the receiver are not likely to meet your price target. Thus, to stay within the price target, it?s probably necessary to approach the problem as nothing more than a search for a sophisticated ?wireless cable?, with the actual playing of the MP3 files still being done on the PC.

If that?s how the problem is defined, it is an easy thing to accomplish as there are plenty of wireless audio transmitters, including many that work simply as very low-power FM radio transmitters (some are intended for sending the output of an MP3 player, CD player or Satellite Radio receiver to a car radio. This works well for the receiver as there is no additional hardware at all .... you just tune the FM receiver to the appropriate frequency and listen to the music). You can find lots of these at any consumer electronics store or mobile audio store. And since most of these are powered from 12 volts, you could steal the power from an extra disk-drive connector inside your PC, eliminating the need for a power plug or ?wall wart?.

However, a digital solution not using the FM band will probably provide better quality and less setup hassle. An option that looks to me like it meets all of your requirements (including price) is the Logitech Wireless Music System:
http://www.logitech.com/index.cfm/products/details/US/EN,CRID=2653,CONTENTID=10855

What I like about this solution is that it not only addresses the signal transmission issue, but it also addresses the remote control issue.

Here are some more links to other various devices that might meet your needs:

This looks like the kind of device you are thinking of but it?s a lot more than $200:
http://www.slimdevices.com/

And here is another system, again I think it?s what you want, and again it?s above your price target:
http://www.sonos.com/products/?tref=ghome

Here is an RCA ?Lyra? system somewhat similar to the Logitech system:
http://www.amazon.com/RCA-RD900W-Lyra-Wireless-Transmitter/dp/B00008VFCW

US Robotics ?SoundLink? Wireless Music Delivery System:
http://www.usr.com/products/device/p-device-product.asp?sku=USR6003

StarTech wireless audio transmitter and receiver
http://www.compusa.com/products/product_info.asp?product_code=51541031

Here?s a $13 FM transmitter intended for use in an automobile:
http://www.mp3playerstore.com/buy_it_now__/carstar.htm

Here?s a system that sends video signals (not one of your requirements, but may be of interest to other readers):
http://www.smarthome.com/7656l.html

Another wireless Video transmission system:
http://www.allthings.com.au/Wireless/video%20transmitter%20set.html


While I think that you want an actual ?player? at the receiver (rather than just an audio signal transmission system), such systems don?t meet your price objectives, and I don?t see any real advantages to such a configuration over just playing the songs on the computer and wirelessly sending the audio to the receiver. Therefore, to meet the price objective, I?d go with a wireless signal transmission system, and the Logitech and RCA Lyra systems have the added bonus of dealing with the remote control issues as well as the matter of audio signal transmission. Therefore, those are the products that I?d explore first.

I hope that this is helpful.

Submitted by: Barry W. of North Canton, Ohio

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Answer:


I am using the Roku Soundbridge (http://www.rokulabs.com) but it does not meet your $200 price limit. The Soundbridge runs about $299 or so. I am very happy with it. It uses Windows Media Player/Windows Media Connect but can be configured to use iTunes, Win Amp, Rhapsody or Musicmatch and you can rip your CDs into the library or download music online. There is an additional feature that allows you to stream internet radio to your house system.

Submitted by: Mike H.
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Gold Standard in MP3 Distribution - Turtle Beach's AUDIOTRON
by wweirich / September 22, 2006 1:35 AM PDT
In reply to: Honorable mentions

By FAR the GOLD STANDARD for distributing MP3 (other formats as well) music in a home network to your stereo system - was the Audiotron, by Turtle Beach (http://www.turtlebeach.com/site/products/audiotron/producthome.asp)

This device is hands down better than anything on the market today, had a nice web interface you could use to control it, and had the best ease of use by far. Unfortunately, Turtle Beach and the market didn't see it the same way - and its no longer produced.

We own both the Audiotron AND the D-Link DSM-520. The D-Link plays more than music - but IT IS CLEARLY INFERIOR TO THE AUDIOTRON in ease of use, playlists, playing genre's, complete artists, grouping, and the like. You must control the DSM-520 via a clunky hand held slow reacting tiny buttoned remote control. Yes, the DSM-520 plays other file types, pictures, "some" MPG and MPEG files - NOT ALL - and can stream *.avi (MPEG4 only) files to your big screen. That is super stuff - however, the question on this thread was music access. The DSM-520 pales to the old Audiotron.

Sad to say - that the market didn't see things the way of the Audiotron fans. Great reliability, super stability, and a well written HTML Interface (Web Browser), streaming audio - for free - as well as a clean hand remote - made the Audiotron the best out there. The other guys aren't even close.

I own the "new" stuff - and its not even in the same league as Turtle Beach's Audiotron is/was. My bias comes from putting my money where my mouth is.

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(NT) lets go one step further
by tday1969 / September 22, 2006 6:01 AM PDT

Will any on these media extenders allow me to access my collection via my music player(music match juke box in my case)? That would make it worth it to me, if I could sit in front of my downstairs tv and receiver, and search and play on the tv just like I'm sitting at my pc.

maybe I'm asking for too much?

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AudioTron - Thumbs Up! - Available on eBay
by jturner9 / September 22, 2006 7:37 PM PDT
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Compatiblity of Logitech Wireless Music System
by cdcutelo / January 23, 2008 2:13 AM PST

I need a similar product to the Logitech Wireless Music System
Or either he must receive the signal from any audio stereo of a cellular telephone bluetooht and sending to the audio one to audio amplifier.
The Logitech Wireless Music System (for iPod or for PC)
he compatible with any cellular phone bluetooth?
Or either it receives the signal from audio stereo of any cellular ?
Logitech 980441-0403 Wireless Music System for iPod

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tunes to the Stereo.
by djujecmaoseoionnn / September 22, 2006 7:16 AM PDT
In reply to: Honorable mentions

I have tried many different approaches to this as I use my own custom speakers and a very nice very powerfull ES series Sony Audiophile shop Reciever. The wireless systems all lead to issues of signal ro reception issues. If you want the best sound I definatly would use a dedicated media center pc. With a X-Fi Platinum and remote control. They can be built if only for audio and no video for about 800. Then you get the worlds most powerful audio processor connected directly to the input jacks on your amp. MY system alltogether cost around 7,000 but that includes 5 custom built surround speakers , and a large 700 watt sub with Punch audiophile 12. and a command console custom made to house the computer amp, Monitor, Printer all media everything. All the buttons and controls are remote but the way I designed it and built it I dont need them because everythign is allready with in arms reach. Amp and computer. And it rock to any type of file and records me, Its awesome better than any wireless setup. The sound difference alone is worth the money if you have top notch audio equipment. Phwee Think long and hard.

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More on the Honrable Mentions...
by po94110 / September 22, 2006 12:00 PM PDT
In reply to: Honorable mentions

I have experimented with numerous ways (some of them mentioned above) to distribute music not just from my computer to my entertainment center, but throughout my entire apartment.

There are two problems here really; 1. Audio distribution and, 2. Remote control.

Audio Distribution

For computer to entertainment system the RCA Lyra 900 has worked better than any other solution I've tried(even a high-quality cable with a ground-loop isolator). Note that even cable has it interference problems and usually requires a "ground-loop isolator".

This device can currently be had for a mere $26.00 at overstock.com. But don't count on using it's sofware or remote. The hardware is excellent, but the software and remote stink. I previously had similarly successful results with a similar device from D-Link (which is no longer made and cost $150.00).

For whole-house audio distibution, I am still experimenting with FM Stereo distribution. I am currently using a C. Crane FM transmitter. There are lot's of advantages to using FM. Any FM receiver/radio you have is already a receiver and hooking up a pocket-sized FM receiver to the Bose headphones I already had, I instantly had the best set of wireless headphones I'd ever tried.

Unfortunately, there are very few empty FM frequencies in my area and lot's of interference. I have tried just about every one of these transmitters made for auto, home, MP3 player and computer and had the greatest success with the one from C. Crane. Although probably not endorsed by C. Crane or the FCC, I was able to improve that device's signal by adjusting a potentiometer inside the unit according to one reviewer's suggestion on Amazon. While this gave pretty good results it's still not flawless.

Not quite ready to give up FM distribution I have just ordered a amatuer FM transmitter from Hobbytron. FM distribution is the most flexible solution I've found.

Remote Control

This is the more difficult part of the equation.

For my entertainment center I am using an infrared remote extender from solidsignal.com. This is a neat little device which can turn the battery in your existing remote control into radio remote. This works quite well.

Now of course you want to be able to select media from your computer too, not just control the volume etc. For this I have not yet found a reliable/flexible solution. I am currently using VNC software with a Pocket PC and WiFi to remotely control both my Mac and PC. This however has seriously screen real estate problems. Sure I can control iTunes from my bedroom but it's a total pain.

So why have I gone to all this trouble? Why not just go for an all-in-one solution? Because I have doen a lot of research and there is no truly all in one solution. Most of these device only support very specific media types and platforms. And the other reason is that I'm a tinkerer. So don't "flame" me for trying.

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MP3 over WIFI
by deusnyc / October 1, 2006 10:36 PM PDT
In reply to: Honorable mentions

I have accomplished this in two different ways.

1. Via my xbox 360 using windows media connect I can stream music, images and movies from shared folders on my laptop. This works great but you must use the xbox 360 and the xbox 360 controller for this setup. THe xbox is already connected to the AV system digitally so it works well.

2. I also stream all of my iTunes music using a Airport Express(120$) connected to my AV reciever optically. This works great and you use the laptop to control it all. If you have a remote for your lap top it is handy or just buy the wireless keyspan remote which allows you to pause, fast forward and rewind in a songlist. This sounds fantastic and is my favorite way to listen to music. If you have a Sony Vaio or a laptop with intel wireless pro wifi card make sure you have the updated driver so it doesn't lag. Also the Airport express works as a wireless print router so don't waist the extra money on a wireless printer like I did. Just get a nice printer with USB or ethernet connection. Also the Airport express works as a wireless extender and works on most non apple wireless routers as well. I use an ambit wifi router from time warner.

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Playing mp3's on a Home Stereo
by DADSGETNDOWN / October 14, 2006 12:27 PM PDT
In reply to: Honorable mentions

I'm not sure if it was mentioned or truelly applies, BUT, How about burning them to CD'S or DVD'S ?..how simple, cheap, and I believe quality wise is that ?..

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Other recommendations from our members
by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / September 21, 2006 6:24 AM PDT
Answer:

I don?t normally answer many of these questions only because I usually seem to be in a rush when I read the messages but this question is rather poignant as I too have recently been looking at purchasing a home theater system or receiver. In addition, I have a wired setup that does the trick for now but it is a bit convoluted and not as sleek as some. I believe you have found yourself on the cutting edge for receiver technology. I did some checking at a few of the sites I had been shopping at (Best Buy, Circuit City, New Egg, Zip Zoom Fly, etc.) and to my surprise I found many receivers at New Egg to have PC connectivity via USB and be under $200. The only downside I can see is that none of them mention anything about wireless though I am sure you could connect a wireless bridge via USB and you would be all set. The other item of interest that I noticed on many of the receivers available today is that they are ?iPod ready? implying that you can connect an iPod without to much hassle but if you have a large collection as I do an iPod just won?t do.

I might however have another solution for you depending on how interested you are in game systems. This is the setup I have and it seems to work out quite nicely. I actually use my X360 to pump out my tunes through my stereo. What you will need is a PC running Windows XP, Media Center or Vista when it comes out (Vista will do the connection natively XP requires a quick download), and an X360 with a wireless network adapter. It is a fairly basic setup process, just setup the Xbox and as it is going through the first time setup program it will give you a website to use to download the software for your PC. Once you have that setup and the files shared that you want you can connect directly to your PC via your network and stream the media through your X360. If you are running Media Center on your PC this process becomes even simpler as the X360 is also a Media Center Extender. That is it mirrors your PC when it is in Media Center ?mode.? I have been using this setup for quite some time now and it is working great though I do have it wired vs. wireless but the principal should remain the same. As far as types of music files goes the X360 cam definitely do MP3, WMA, WAV and probably the unprotected version of M4A. The bonus however is that the X360 is also iPod ready, you can play music right off of your iPod using the X360. The 2 biggest downsides to this are that so far you cannot stream video from you PC through you X360 unless you have Media Center and the cost. I know you had said you were looking for something around $200 and unfortunately right now the X360 (I suggest the premium version since you might end up spending more to acquire all the accessories that come with it) is priced from $299-$399. Plus that still leaves you without a receiver.

Price-wise I have a feeling that the X360 will drop around Christmas time so that might be something to wait for. Plus for the extra dough you have a gaming system that even if you don?t play the latest and greatest games out there are plenty of arcade style games on Xbox Live Arcade which are quite addictive. Games like UNO, Texas Hold?em and Frogger to name a few as well as something that will easily stream most of your music out to your living room.

In summary, I would go for the X360 option if you possibly already have a receiver or can find a decent one fairly cheap but otherwise I would check out New Egg and see if anything seems to strike your fancy and check out Circuit City and Best Buy because right now as I am writing this there is a sale on Home Theater equipment. I hope this has helped.

Submitted by: Travis B.

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Answer:


George, I had the same problem 12 months ago and I thought that I would have to spend $400+ (Australian) to solve it.

My wife and I had moved to a regional area of Australia from Sydney and, being classic rock lovers, had only the local radio station to listen too and we were far from impressed with their music taste.

I was running a cable from my computer sound card into my loungeroom stereo so that we could listen to internet streaming radio stations, but the cable running along the floor did not look good and we were limited to only being able to listen in the loungeroom.

However, I was reading about Belkin FM transmitters being used to enable people to listen to their iPods through car stereos and I thought to myself that I could use the same procedure for my computer.

So, here is an inexpensive but very effective solution to your problem:

1. Purchase an iPod FM transmitter (I use a BelkinTuneCast II);
2. Tune it to a FM frequency that doesn't clash with a station;
3. Plug it into your sound card.

The end result is that, whatever you play on your computer, can be listened too on the tuned in FM frequency on any FM radio in your house.

I find that the signal can be picked up, not just in my house, but also outside so that, when I am working outside in the garden, I can listen to music files or an internet station on a portable radio. The signal is also picked up by the car stereo so I can listen when washing the car on the front lawn.

I also run 3 times a week on a treadmill in the house and find the running more enjoyable when I listen to up-tempo music tracks that I have put together as mp3 playlists on my computer using either Winamp or Real Player.

So, looking at the four guidelines you mention in your question, I believe that my solution meets all of them:

1. You only require one device plugged into your soundcard;
2. You can use any music software installed on your computer;
3. You can play any form of music file; and
4. It is an inexpensive solution. The Belkin transmitter cost me A$70 (approximately US$56 based on current exchange rate) and it is a small and unobtrusive gadget.

I would also suggest that you purchase four rechargeable AAA batteries as the Belkin uses two, and this leaves two charged batteries ready to use.

All up, the total cost to me (Belkin transmitter and four rechargeable batteries) was A$100.

ENJOY!

Kind Regards.

Submitted by: Peter F. of Ulladulla, Australia

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Answer:


Based on your question, you are looking at a PUSH type system. That is, you're creating turning your PC into a mini radio station, with pre-programed play lists simply routed from your PC to your stereo system.

In that case I would recommend the Linksys Wireless-G Music Bridge.

This device hooks up to your stereo via standard cables and your PC streams the output of whatever media player you choose to the device via a virtual sound card.

Thus the advantage and disadvantage: The device isn't decoding the music, your PC does.

Advantage: Because your PC is doing all of the music decoding, any file format you can play on your PC, you can play on the device.

Disadvantage: Because your PC is doing the actual decoding, your playlists will need to be set up in advance on your PC. You won?t be able to skip a song on your list, or repeat a song, or change the playlist without going back to your PC and modifying the playlist there.

The price for this device is right around $80.00.

One step up is the Linksys Wireless B media adapter, which allows you to control your playlist from the adapter itself via a remote control, rather than having to listen to a pre-programed play list. The media adapter also allows you to view various image formats as well. However, it is limited to playing only a small selection of audio formats. Availability of this device is shrinking, however. If you can find one it could be priced anywhere from $30 to $100.

There other DAR's out there, ranging in price from a couple of hundred bucks into the thousands of dollars. Turtle Beach, Sound Blaster, Sony, and Sonos produce higher end versions. However, for the most part these all require a wired network connection and are limited in the number of formats that they can play. Any of the devices which allow you to modify the playlists from the device themselves by "browsing" your PC's music archive will be likewise limited in supported formats, as the device is actually decoding and "playing" the music.

Submitted by: Robert S. of Dillon, South Carolina

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Answer:


The answer to this one is really easy. Laptop. Look on E-Bay and there are hundreds of laptops for under $200, or even under $150 that have more than enough horsepower to run Win98, Linux, or whatever OS you want to run, using your favorite player software. At that price range, you may or may not be able to get one that can handle XP. Don't forget to ask your friends, or tech guy at work, and you may even find one for free or at a killer price, or maybe even in trade for something.

Most laptops come with built in sound, which means you would just need the proper cable to go between your laptop and the receiver. If you want higher end sound, you can get PCMCIA cards that provide 5.1 surround sound or at least higher quality sound that the laptop may have built in. For average needs, what comes with the laptop would probably be just fine.

Get the laptop configured the way you want, and set it so that when you close the lid (screen) it doesn't cause the laptop to turn off or hibernate or anything. That way you can sit it on the shelf with the rest of your stereo equipment and never have to touch it, and it will barely even be noticeable. Oh, but don't you have to touch it to load the songs, select your playlist, etc? Not at all. Ever hear of remote control? If you have XP, it's built in. If not, there are free programs that do a great job and are easy to set up and use. RealVNC and TightVNC are a couple of my favorites. Of course, you can always just open the lid too if it's sitting in a spot where that's possible. Anyway, whichever way you decide to use at the moment, just load up your song list and start playing. The songs can be held on the laptop, or remotely on the PC of your choice. I won't go into the legal ramifications of this, but let's just state that you need to be aware of what's legal, how many copies of your music you can have, where you keep it, etc.

I have done this exact same setup many times for many people and they just love it. It's simple, and it lets them have control over the software they use and the look and feel of it.

Hope this helps!

Submitted by: Floyd N.

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Answer:


There are many ways of tackling this challenge depending on the requirements, and in your particular case, I think there may be some parameters you have not thought through. For example: "Are you going to need this solution to provide music to multiple rooms, and if so, do you need the flexibility of having different "playlists" playing simultaneously in each room?" Also, what kind of controller are you going to want? Do you need the flexibility of a handheld wireless controller to choose and change tracks, or are you ok with having to go to centralized PC to adjust what is playing?

For me, the best solution for all of this is Sonos (http://www.sonos.com). It will play MP3s and WAV files. It will index all of your MP3s based on the tags embedded in your files. If you prefer WAV files (which have no tags), you can organize your files by directories. All of this can be fully accessed using a remarkable wireless controller. And if you purchase separate devices for several rooms, you can fully control music in your whole home from a single handheld wireless controller.

Sonos is basically a combination of networked audio devices (called "Zone Players") and software running on the networked PC containing the music files. The devices and the networked PC must be on the same network, but as long as your network is fast enough, it will do fine. It is a brilliant solution.

Hope this helps.

Submitted by: David B. of New York, New York

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Answer:


I have used my home PC for a whole house entertainment center for the past 6 years. The answer to sending my tunes (mp3s) into the ether is a simple FM Stereo Radio Transmitter. It plugs into the sound card output (I use a Y-splitter in the line to the desktop speakers). The transmitter is tuned to a fairly empty spot on the FM dial and I can receive full stereo sound throughout the house. Outside I wear a walkman type receiver clipped to my belt.

The range of those transmitters is up to 300 feet and they are FCC legal. Ramsey Electronics (http://www.ramseykits.com ) has several models, both in kit form and fully assembled. I built two of them and they both performed equally well, except the more expensive model had more bells and whistles. It is worth the extra money to purchase one of their tuned antennas. Another good source for transmitter kits is http://www.dckits.com , where they have several reasonably priced FM transmitter kits available. I built three of theirs, but don't know if they also sell them fully assembled. All three performed very well, but I would highly recommend the PLL models (no frequency drift or warm-up time).

You can use whichever program you normally use to play your favorite tunes over your desktop speakers.

Submitted by: Hagen S.

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Answer:


I hope you find a good answer, because I have had the same exact question for the last year and have never found a good solution, though it seems like such an obvious need. I can tell you what not to do- I purchased a linsksys wireless g bridge, that was supposed to bring my living room receiver into my home wireless network. However, despite repeated attempts, I could never get it to work consistently. I?m by no means a techie, but normally I have persistence in trying to get gadgets to work, but this one really wore me out and I gave up. On the rare occasions it did work (why it worked some times and not others, I never could deduce) it was not very good quality sound. I finally gave up and went for a less than perfect solution of buying relatively decent speakers for my ultra lightweight laptop, that can get on my wireless network, and getting music where I wanted it at home through that.

Submitted by: Barbara S.

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Answer:


Lots of systems are coming. The secret is to make sure that you do not have to run your PC to drive your playlist or to select the album or artist that you want to play. Most current systems need to link to you PC online - what a bore. I love my laptop but I don?t want to live with it! You need a system that allows you to link to your Wi-fi router and then use it as if it was a MP3/WMA player.
Some types include Sonos but very expensive around UKP 1000. It is important to get a screen so you can select your playlist. A lot of systems assume you are plugged into your one room TV with surround sound. Sorry but the other half is watching TV. I want to listen to my music ? hence you need a separate screen for your Hi-fi. There are wonderful BOSE systems that copy up your playlist from your CD?s but have restricted memory and need a good bank balance.

The nearest I have come across is a Terratec Noxon 2 Audio around UKP175. But I have not seen much else to meet our needs yet.

I?ll be following this discussion with interest.

Submitted by: Steven G.

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Answer:


Although, there is a wide variety of hardware that can stream music to stereo systems. The method I use is a simple $30 FM Transmitter. They can be bought at nearly any electronics store, and are very easy to use.

Simply plug the transmitter into the 'out' or 'ear' jack on your computer or speakers and into the transmitter, then pick an available channel on the FM Band. Tune any radio in house to that station and your ready to go.

I find it works best within a 40ft radius. Radio licensing laws usually do not allow for more powerful transmitters, so if your stereo is too far away, you'll need a better option.

The second advantage to this method, is if you have an iPod (or clone) and would like to play it on your car stereo, simply plug in in the transmitter, tune your car radio, and listen to your fav tunes.

Hope this helps.

Submitted by: Brad D.

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Answer:


I have tried several units in past years. Linksys recently released a newer version of their Wireless Media Link unit. I had the discontinued one, which worked quite well, but failed after about a year of use. I tried the Roku, but was very unhappy with the reception range, even after purchasing the power boosting antennas for my wireless router. The Sonos system seems to be a good one, but the price is way too high for my budget. I will likely return to the Linksys model which costs less than $100.

Submitted by: Chad R.

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Answer:


The music question is a tough one given the 4 parameters to work within. I do try to follow this topic and I do have a wireless music network that allows me to play my music on my home stereo (i use the Creative Labs that is no longer manufactured). The only way I know of to actually meet all 4 of the given parameters for this topic is to build your own. See site http://devices.natetrue.com/musicap/ for a discussion on how to go about this. I realize that this approach probably isn't for most people.

In my opinion the best off the shelf solution to this question is the new "Wireless DJ" system from Logitech. It costs a little more than $200 price, uses a USB interface, but it does do everything else requested. It will play all your music, protected or not, using your preferred software and also allows access to internet radio. The bonus I see with this system is the remote. It has the menu/display system built into the remote and the remote doesn't require line of site (it is a RF device rather than IR).

All other solutions I'm aware of meet far less of the 4 parameters... The Sonos system price is unbelievably high, Creative Labs solution is no longer manufactured. The Roku, Philips, Netgear, D-Link, X-Box, Slim Devices all seem to be limited to unprotected music (MP3 and non DRM'd WMA).

Good luck.

Submitted by: Wilkes

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Answer:


One of the best music transferring devices I have is slimdevices.com. I think they have one of the best to listen to your MP3's to any stereo device.

Submitted by: Russ S.

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Answer:


I know that this is copied from another website but it?s because I am lazy. This is a great product to use and covers everything you are looking for at a fraction of the top price you want to pay:

From http://www.smarthome.com:

? Play computer files through home audio system

? Included software provides for easy management of thousands of MP3 files

? Connects via Ethernet or wirelessly to computer

Play all the MP3s on your computer through your home stereo system. The Omnifi Digital Media Streamer connects to your computer and stereo to allow you to play CD-quality MP3/WMA files, Internet radio and other digital content on your home audio system. Using the included software, you'll be able to store all of your CDs on your PC and browse and play all of your music files, even creating playlists for one-step entertainment. With the included D-Link Wi-Fi adapter and an established wireless network, you can even stream audio wirelessly from your PC to your home audio system up to 150 feet away. The PC and stereo system are sold separately.


The Omnifi Digital Media Streamer connects to any existing home audio system. Functioning as an intelligent remote control, the Omnifi Digital Media Streamer allows you to play your digital files directly from your home computer. Multiple Omnifi Digital Media Streamers can play different music from one computer simultaneously.

The included SimpleCenter software helps you to organize your media library in order to manage thousands of digital music files and playlists. Use the software to convert your audio CDs to MP3/WMA file formats or to download music. Add, manage and organize the music you want to listen to on your Omnifi. Browse by artist, album, genre or favorites. The favorites function allows you to make a playlist of up to 20 tracks on your Omnifi Digital Media Streamer. You can also take advantage of music ID services, compiling info about artists, albums, and related artists. Use the Omnifi 3-line screen display to select the artist, the album and genre of your choice. Bookmark favorite songs to retrieve artist information at a later time.

Networking allows you to listen to digital music on your home stereo, without moving the PC to the living room or next to your stereo, or spending precious time burning and re-burning CDs. Connect the Omnifi to your stereo and PC using the included RCA and Ethernet/USB adapters, respectively. If you already have a Wi-Fi (802.11b) home wireless network, Omnifi can be used with the included D-Link Wi-Fi wireless network adapter. With the video output feature, you can even view content selections on your TV! You can also access and interact with PC content at your home stereo using the included remote control. The Omnifi IR remote control includes all of the functions available on the Omnifi front panel plus some added features that make browsing even more convenient.

You can direct SimpleCenter to watch various folders on your PC so that any new media files added to these folders will be automatically added to the Media Library. This can also be done manually.

Specifications
Omnifi Product No.:
DMS1
UPC:
780687318161
Dimensions:
10.98" H x 2.16" W x 6.77" D
Input Voltage:
110v 50/60Hz
Frequency Response:
20Hz to 20kHz
Media Files:
MP3 and WMA
Wireless Network:
802.11b (WiFi)
Display:
32 x 128 graphics display
Minimum System Requirements:
Home stereo with auxiliary inputs; computer operating Windows 98SE/2000/Me/XP; Pentium P2, 400MHz or compatible CPU; CD ROM drive, 128MB RAM; 100 MB free HDD space for software, 1 MB per minute of stored audio; IE 5.0; 802.11b network for wireless operation
Operating Temperature:
50
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Speakers
by jimcat1 / September 21, 2006 10:35 PM PDT

Before all the fm transmitters became affordable. What I did was purchase wireless speakers. RCA makes them. plug them in any outlet in the house.. I have both downstairs in the living room.. playing any tune off the PC from upstairs.

They are not HIGH FIDELITY sound, but they are very portable.. take them outdoors, in the garage, where ever. They have been working well for 5 years now. Each speaker has a volume control and bass and treble tone controls as well. Cost varied, 30-60 bucks a pair.

I have used fm transmitters before in autos, picked up a lot of static at times, I guess newer models are out. I may look into those for later.

One question I have regarding fm transmitters, I noticed a few health clubs, have the Televisions muted but you can use something like a ipod or walkman to pick up the sound.. would a old fashioned portable transitor radio pick up that signal as well?

Thanks
Jim

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Solution for sending MP3 music through computer
by miles41 / September 22, 2006 9:09 AM PDT

I played with the same issue, tried a Linksys wireless music system and it worked intermittently before thoroughly messing up my other wireless connections.

But then I found the Logitech Wireless System that works like a charm, a radio transmitter, doesn't go through your wireless network, which is GOOD. Serviced two places in my house. Best of all, the logitech transmitter's USB tab broke off. It happens. I called Logitech, waited five minutes for a techie (!!!!), and they're sending me a new one out. Amazing.

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The Scottish Connection

At the risk of reinforcing the stereotype of the tight-fisted Scot, why not simply take a little time to do what I did: run a bit of cable between your your PC and your home stereo. Mine are in different parts of the house.
Cost? $4 or $5.
Failure rate? 0%
Cost of upgrade? $0
Transmission quality? Excellent.
Flexibility? Admittedly not great, but I don't move my PC or stereo.
Niall Gibb
Scotland

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Tight-fisted solution best!
by vwmark / September 22, 2006 12:51 AM PDT

I have been pondering getting one of these audio digital receivers for a long time, was dismayed by the prices, the set-up (I do not have a home wireless network, yet). I tried a cheap FM transmitter, it worked for several years, but now there is some kind of new radio interference with it, so it is useless.
Direct cable from computer to stereo is not for everyone (particularly if you do not own your home), but I am seriously thinking of just running long audio cables under the floor into the basement and coming out the other end at the stereo.

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long wires may be a bad solution
by malbeau / September 22, 2006 8:28 AM PDT

For short distances, wire connection is absolutely the way to go. Unfortunately, for long distances, your copper wires may have severe drawbacks. If you choose a digital SPIF connection, then cost and installation hassles are your only worries. If you use an analog audio connection, then performance relies on how much you spend for shielded, low resistance, low impedance cables. I opted for the Apple Airport Express, and i love it.

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PC to Stereo connection
by winnapaug / September 22, 2006 4:49 AM PDT

I did the same thing as the Scottish Connection, except that I also used a Radio Shack AF amplifier (cost about $45) to boost the signal to stereo.

Works fine, except I only get(excellent)mono rather than stereo sound, since I had to take two plugs from stereo and merge it through a connector plug that converts stereo lines into single small black plug to insert into black audio outlet in back of computer. That was only way it would work (perhaps I missed something to deliver stereo?).

Overall, an effective, economical outcome.

Winnapaug

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So Much For "Not About Retail"....Where's the Answer?
by tnhiker865 / September 21, 2006 8:30 PM PDT

Joshua's featured reply promised (indirectly) that we'd be treated to a way to WiFi our music without using a ready-out-of-the-box retail product for this purpose. What Joshua provided was just the opposite.

Where's the promised method to hack a do-it-yourself solution to the WiFi networking of MP3's at less than half the cost of a retail solution?

Al

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More like a product review than an answer
by fangorn / September 21, 2006 9:48 PM PDT

I started reading the answer with great expectations of a novel "do it yourself" approach.

What I got was one mans review of a bunch of commercial products.

The person who posed the question really wanted a homebrew solution- not a sales pitch.

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Do it yourself
by wayne541 / September 21, 2006 9:59 PM PDT

I tried several ways to send music to my stereo. What I ended up with was a surplus pc running xp pro connected to my tv and stereo. I control this by remote desktop from my laptop or any other computer on my home network.

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Exactly
by Alucard_Bravo / September 22, 2006 11:10 AM PDT
In reply to: Do it yourself

That is exctly what i did, except my comp is an xp home, but it still works just as well.

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The most sensible solution
by Wheeda / September 26, 2006 6:26 PM PDT
In reply to: Exactly

I agree fully with the replies in this thread. The winning answer is too bad and defies the spirit of this forum. Please select more creative answers rather than sales pitches.
The solution of connecting a spare (who does not have one ?) desktop or laptop to your stereo, playing MP3 files from either the local disc or from a network drive on your wireless network, is the most practical.

Controlling this PC remotely from another laptop or PC adds convenience. This PC based in your living room can additionally be used for:

1. Tuning to internet radio stations through your wireless network.
2. Internet telephone like Skype through your wireless network.
3. Chat through Skype, Messenger, etc from your living room, sending messages to other PC 's in your home ("Honey , dinner is ready"), I agree somewhat extravagant.
4. Instant access to Google during dinner parties etc, to back up your point, contest, or find the name of that famous actor whode name nobody can remember, the age of Tina Turner, etc etc.

Leo.

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Forget the PC , get an old Xbox
by Blasturd / September 26, 2006 11:45 PM PDT

Has anyone here ever seen a modded Xbox in action with the free XBMC running?

It's exactly what this guy wants.

It can be wireless and it can play almost every kind of media there is, video or audio.

I can browse files over SMB (and many other) networks, and can be controlled remotely from a web browser.

There's a ton of them on ebay for cheap.

I highly recommend it.

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How Old Of an Xbox will work
by rarbar / October 4, 2006 1:42 PM PDT

Sounds like a good idea. But what generation Ibox will work? Also Older Xboxes come with ethernet connectivity? Is hard drive required? What is XBMC Could Wireless router be placed physically near XBOX to eliminate cost of wireless adapter for xbox?
Sorry for all the questions but perhaps you could provide a bit more detail.

Thanks

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modded xbox
by Blasturd / October 4, 2006 11:49 PM PDT

I think any generation Xbox will work. But, I think people stay away from Ver1.0 and Ver6.0 (the first and last model). Just have to make sure the mod chip installed is compatible with whatever version you get (have to check motherboard or serial number table). I think the versions run from 1.0 to 6.0. Some mod chips are no-soldering and some require soldering. If you go the soldering route, be sure you have some soldering skill, as it is not an easy solder job. But, most current mod chips are easily installed without soldering now.

All Xbox's come with ethernet connectivity, and yes, you can put a wireless router near the xbox and use an ethernet cable to the xbox.

XBMC is Xbox Media Center, it's a free Media Center application for the xbox. It's functions are very similiar to every other media center application on the market now. You can view videos, play music, playlists, run scripts that are available for free, view current weather, internet radio/video feeds, etc.. The list is huge. There is also a web server installed in XBMC so you can run the media player remotely from any network connected PC.

There is usually a 10gig harddrive in all xboxs. If you are not storing alot of media on the xbox, this is an ok size, especially if you store all of your media on your PC and have the xbox connected to the network. The xbox can connect to windows shares (SMB), and a variety of other sources such as internet radio feeds. If you decide to store alot of media on the xbox, then perhaps a larger drive is in order. Especially if you decide to copy all your games to the harddrive for playing without the cd. Most xbox games run from 1gig to 4gig.

The best place to check for info on this is www.xbox-scene.com. Their focus is on the xbox360 now, but a ton of info on the old Xbox is still available. There is also a ton of info on the internet waiting for a google search. I also see Ebay has some pre-modded xboxs for sale, just make sure its not fake (ebay is not what it used to be or what it will ever be again).

Some people are overwhelmed with FTP software, flashing bioses, installing the mod chip, running unsighned code on the xbox, but after some research, anyone should be able to mod an xbox. And, if need be, just buy a premodded one on the internet somewhere.
Keep in mind there is soft-mods and hard-mods. Soft mod being a software modification to the xbox that is often very easy, and the Hard-mod is installing a mod-chip. The mod-chip provides much more functionality, but may not be needed in some cases.

I'm not sure about all the legal aspects of a modded xbox. I take no responsibility for what others decide to do with an xbox, but if you are worried about it, then do some research before continuing. You lose your warranty immediately. And its almost impossible to play games on xbox live with a modded xbox, but the alternative Kai network exists, and works very well.

One thing is for sure, do some research before trying to mod one yourself. A live chat with someone with experience in an IRC chatroom would be nice.

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There are cheaper options.
by TreknologyNet / September 21, 2006 10:07 PM PDT

I ignored this question, because (like others) I expected an IT based solution, not a list of products. Most people have some device in their stereo setup which caters for an extra input--unused inputs on VCR, DVD, the TV itself etc., so I would use a very cheap product to solve the problem: a Video Extender.

You connect the computer's sound card to the transmitter, and hook the receiver into the unused input as mentioned above. Most of these units are around $60.00 and cater for Video, Left and Right.

The means it meets the original question of using ANY software to play ANY file format, and if there's a video output on the computer, you get a bonus ability to play non-DVD formats on the TV.

Mic

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I like this solution Mic
by tommygunn / September 21, 2006 10:23 PM PDT

Hey Mic this works for me and sounds simple enough to hook up. Like you say "This means it meets the original question of using ANY software to play ANY file format, and if there's a video output on the computer, you get a bonus ability to play non-DVD formats on the TV.

Not only that, if you are a gamer which I am not, and have the luxury of having a 60" LCD or platinum tv to boot then you can play all you computer games on the BIG SCREEN.
You got my vote on this one Mic
Tommy

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control
by djujecmaoseoionnn / September 22, 2006 7:24 AM PDT

How will you control the audio and vid on the computer if its in another area with this setup? I thought that was part of the question.

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Video extender? ....try again
by m1553 / September 21, 2006 11:40 PM PDT

I have tried the video extender solution (two different models) and I can tell you that for $60 (or even as much as $100) you will get a low power RF signal that SUCKS. I got popping, clicking, scratchy noises no matter where I put the devices or what channel they are on.

I do not recommend RF devices in the normal frequency bands. They are subject to FCC regulations that limit the power (and hence the quality) of the received signals.

HOWEVER, if you can find a digital one (good luck) you might be on to something.

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excellent point
by Robocoastie / September 21, 2006 10:21 PM PDT

excellent point, the answer was nothing more than product reviews (expensive ones at that).

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Worst answer I have seen in a long time
by meini / September 25, 2006 10:21 AM PDT

I don't like bashing, but this answer is the worst one I have seen as long as I can remember. I fully support your post, Al. Whoever decides on the winning answer should take a better look next time.

It is good that there is so much great advice from other members!

Meini
----------------
www.utech.net.au

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