9/22/06 Solution for sending MP3s through wireless network to stereo
by Lee Koo (ADMIN) - 9/21/06 1:23 PM
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 whats 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
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. ]