The end room takes shape

Our spare end room over the last few months has been stripped down to bare walls and concrete floor.  We have plastered painted and decorated. Including painting the roof and open roof beams.studio-2

This weekend we finally laid the new floor.

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We just have the beading left to put round the edge and its finished.

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Then its new book cases and we can unbox the books and also finally setup my hifi. Then we have a smart new space which we can use as a reading room, music room and when necessary a studio space and even somewhere to layout quilts.

Hifi in the Office

So with the new Sonos speaker in the kitchen I got for my birthday last year, we have decent music in the house again that is until I finally get my separates system setup in the room we are currently decorating.

Enjoying the Sonos made me think about my office, how to get decent quality sound from the PC without too much cost.

I wanted stereo so another Sonos was not going to cut it, purchasing two would be more then a quality set of active speakers, plus I also wanted to stream from other sources not just using the Sonos app.

Quality wise, CD was good enough, most of media is either vinyl or CD and also sat in my iTunes library at 16 bit at 44 kHz which is CD quality.  I do have a few other audio files which are at studio master quality 24 bit and 192 kHz but thats just over kill for a simple budget office system.

I am lucky enough to have an Apple AirPort Express in my office, as well as providing wireless internet I have my large format Epson 3880 printer plugged into one of the ethernet ports.  The device also supports Apple Airplay at 16 bit / 44 kHz so it could act as the music source for the speakers.

So first I set a budget, then looked at small desktop active speakers that fitted that budget.  By active I mean with built in amplification.  Basically it would be a simple setup.  Apple Airplay sending my music collection from laptop, or iPhone to the AirPort Express and direct into the speakers.  This meant I could keep my current cheap computer speakers and have the computer sounds come from them leaving just the high quality audio of my music streamed to the speakers.  Longer term I might upgrade and add a high quality USB DAC into the system, driving that from the USB port in my computer.

So what did I pick, well first job a trip to the website WhatHiFi and look at what they liked, then a web search to find the best prices.  After that it was a trip to my local Hi Fi shop who offered to price match.  We had a listen, using my iPhone as a source and I picked the Ruark Audio MR1.

 

Hi Fi and Convenience

I love listening to music, I also loving playing music (badly, but I enjoy it), I have a very nice separates Hifi system but with having to de-clutter to help sell the old house, it was in storage for over a year, and since we moved house, its been sat in boxes while we finish (well start) decorating the end room that will be the library and where the Hifi will be set up.

So for several years now the nearest I have come to listening to good music is whats on my iPhone or listening to music coming out of my basic computer speakers.  In other words, hardly Hifi.

So for a joint birthday and Christmas present I asked for and got a Sonos speaker.  Now there are lots of wireless speaker systems now on the market, but after reading up on the different systems and more importantly listening to some, (Sonos, Bose and B&W being the top three), I decided on the Sonos.

Their basic Sonos Play1 has excellent sound quality for the price and while others sounded better you had to pay a lot more.  There is also the fact that this will be for convenience listening, most of the time this will be sat in the kitchen while we listen to the radio streamed to it.

So far I am really happy with it and can see why people like their Sonos.  For easy listening it gives a good performance and only if fed a more complex base line, does the base start to become muddy and indistinct.

Its made me think now about music for my office, do I add another Sono speaker or maybe  something like a pair of powered speakers such as a pair of Audioengine A5+, at a later date you could upgrade them with a nice separate DAC such as the ARCAM irDAC and bring my office up to a decent budget Hifi level a lot cheaper then another Sonos.

Something to think about, but until then we have the Sonos and a room that now is stripped to bare walls and a concrete floor.  All doors and windows have been replaced and we have french doors leading out onto the rear patio so its going to a lovely room when finished and our next major project on the house now we have the vegetable garden in place and our hens.

Remote Access to iTunes

I have been thinking recently about getting a MacBook Air, the little 11 inch model.

With it having a solid state disk then going much higher then 128 GB soon ups the price, which for a secondary machine for travel is not justifiable.

You can carry an external hard drive, and I might have to for photography backup, but often I might just want to travel light.  So I was wondering how can I access my music, video and photographs at home.

A bit of research, a little bit of port redirection on my router, and I soon had the answer.  Now where ever I am in the world, with internet access, my local iTunes on our laptops can connect to my media server at home and play any of the videos and music on its iTunes library.

Oh yes, Caroline’s old 12 inch Powerbook is now my media server.