Sonos, one year in… post one of two

I suppose this starts with the scale of system you want.  Sonos, as a kit, can allow you to hide all the amps, the wires, while even your speakers can become invisible; see the Amina branded by Triad “DesignerSeries” in walls (as hidden by plaster skim coat).  The trade off, like many things, is flexibility of the system and certainly its future upgradability.  The strength of the Sonos, as most people will tell you, is the software controller. It is available for nearly every platform, mobile and desktop.  The Sonos units tap into to countless internet streaming music services as well as your locally (or cloud) stored music library.  The controller app is built for humans and allows seamless multi-room/multi-zone control.

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I received a Sonos Play:3 kit with wired to wireless Sonos Bridge for work rendered last year and also got a used Sonos ZonePlayer 80.  My tower speakers in the living room are old Advent Heritages.  I bought a used pair of 100 watt AudioSource monoblocks at some point on eBay  (replacing the 1979 Denon PMA 850 that finally stopped working).  In my office I ended up with a pair of Pioneer SP-BS41-LR’s that a friend didn’t want and an Emotiva mini-X a-100 50 Watt ‘Stereo Flex Amp’.  I took the spare RCA output of the external DAC that lives next to the ZP80 in the livingroom and sent it to the Emotiva in the office.  The Play:3 lives in the upstairs bedroom.

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I’ll start this by saying, for most people looking for kitchen or small room audio, the Play:3 and the newer and more compact Play:1 represent exceptional value.  This is of course not “architectural audio” with invisible plastered speakers, or even in-wall (grilled) speakers; rather the Play:1 and Play:3 are small powered speakers that sit on a shelf or desktop, sound good and happen to look nice as a bonus.  The price points of the Play:1 & 3 represent the “blue ocean”; people simply want to listen to their music collections or to Pandora, TuneIn Radio & Spotify (and literally dozens of other streaming services) – but control it easily from an application on their phone or tablet.  There will be those who argue the $200-300 is a lot to pay for a small powered speaker, but there is nothing else out there that does it quite as easily and elegantly as Sonos.

For bigger rooms that don’t have a television or projector the Play:3’s can be setup in software as a “stereo pair” giving an even larger sound stage.   Granted for most kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms a pair of powered speakers may be overkill (and/or examples of where you’d rather not see the speakers).  For users with existing audio setups the ZonePlayer 80 (now called Sonos Connect) has two digital audio outs (SPDIF Coax & Toslink) and a pair of RCA stereo outputs and inputs.  If you already own speakers you want to power, the Sonos Connect:Amp adds in a high-efficiency Tripath  (Class T/D) 55-watts per channel amplifier to the Connect (taking away the RCA stereo output jacks but adding a single RCA mono-subwoofer LFE output).

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In the next post of this series I’ll go into why using the Sonos system is a pleasure and what I’ve done to get the most out of it (including the local  Mac Mini audio server) and my thoughts after a year of usage.

“When I listened to these old tapes…”

http://thewire.co.uk/in-writing/interviews/burial_unedited-transcript

“When I listened to these old tapes, I took what these jungle MCs were telling me seriously. Rolling a tune out, I took it as a commandment about how to make a tune: roll it out, do it fast. I was into old hardcore, darkside, trying to do a properly dark record. Not this new, pumped up tech sound. I liked the old tunes, properly darkside like finding a body in a lift shaft: dank moody tunes, suburban tunes. I want to go back to that hardcore era of darkside someday, which would be rugged, film samples just pitched up and down with strings. It wasn’t just that pure monochrome thing, it was something else, it sounded like tearing through an empty building…”

http://pitchfork.com/news/53347-burial-shares-message-about-rival-dealer-ep/

“I put my heart into the new EP, I hope someone likes it. I wanted the tunes to be anti-bullying tunes that could maybe help someone to believe in themselves, to not be afraid, and to not give up, and to know that someone out there cares and is looking out for them. So it’s like an angel’s spell to protect them against the unkind people, the dark times, and the self-doubts.”

Insert ‘flip’ recipe here.

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From Classic Mixology, 1862:

Rum Flip

Winter, Holidays

(Another method.)

  • 1 quart ale
  • 3 to 4 egg
  • 4 ounce sugar moist
  • 1 fifth rum or brandy
  • nutmeg or ginger

Keep grated ginger and nutmeg with a little fine dried lemon peel, rubbed together in a mortar.

To make a quart of flip:—Put the ale on the fire to warm, and beat up three or four eggs with four ounces of moist sugar, a teaspoonful of grated nutmeg or ginger, and a gill of good old rum or brandy. When the ale is near to boil, put it into one pitcher, and the rum and eggs, &c., into another; turn it from one pitcher to another till it is as smooth as cream.

Avoiding the analog: Icecast2 for OS X, Sonos & Spotify Radio

Apparently, Spotify has finally released their Radio API to certain content management platforms, but until it’s built into Sonos the only way to actually get Spotify Radio on my ZP80 was to use the analog line-in.  What about creating an Icecast (Shoutcast, Podcast, etc.) local radio station that I tune in to on the Sonos locally? This would then avoid the analog hole (until I add a phonograph line stage).

There were a few sources I had to use to make this work, and I’ve only built/tested this under 32 bit 10.6.8 Snow Leopard (so your mileage may vary for 64 bit and/or more modern OS X machines).  Joao Ricardo’s blog post of  “Icecast Radio in Mac OS X” turns out to be a great starting point.  Note, that he recommends installing MacPorts, which may not strictly be necessary if you have Homebrew already installed.  I have not tried to port Icecast via Homebrew, but I imagine the installation would also work, as others have had success.   For example, here’s Josh Dzielak’s tutorial for Icecast & Darkice using Mountain Lion and Homebrew

So yes, per Joao’s instructions:

1) Install MacPorts (note: there are several dependencies, read up before you even install MacPorts)

2) In Terminal$: sudo port install icecast2

  • If doing Homebrew$: brew install icecast
  • Icecast vs. Icecast2?  I don’t know. You tell me internet, you tell me.
  • This took like 30 minutes using MacPorts on an old 32 bit Intel machine

3) Install Ladiocast.

4) Install Soundflower.

  • Reboot machine.

5) Make sure your admin/user has access/rights to “icecast -c /usr/etc/icecast.xml” as well as wherever an error for Icecast’s “access.log” and “error.log” files.  In my case they needed to added to /opt/local/etc.  You’ll need to adjust access with “chmod 755″ in this example.

6) Start playing some music on your Icecast server machine.  In OS X “Sound Preferences” make sure “Soundflower 2ch” is set as the “output device”; you can also “option + click” on the volume in the at the top right menu and select the source.

7) From Terminal$: icecast -c /usr/etc/icecast.xml

  • At this point Terminal will need to be open, obviously you can set this up as a background process, run on startup, etc. see Josh’s article linked above.

8) From within Ladiocast choose “Soundflower 2ch” as your source, click on the “main” button in Ladiocast.  You should see music bars making music.

  • From the menu in Ladiocast click on “Streamer 1” choose Icecast.  Set 127.0.0.1:8000 or whatever you machine’s IP is for the server.  The default user and pw is located the XML file.
  • For encoding, especially to work with iTunes and probably Sonos, I set it to AAC 320 kbps.  Ogg may in fact work with Sonos, I’ve not tried it.
  • Click “Connect” at the bottom there.

9) In a web browser, type in the IP for the Icecast server.  If said machine is localhost use 127.0.0.1:8000 which is the default port for the service. Click on the .m3u link and open in iTunes/Winamp or similar.  If you have music bars making music and you have a .m3u created you should hear music (double check OGG vs. AAC).

10) Final step: open the desktop Sonos App. Click “Manage” from the menu bar and then “Add Radio Station” and the enter http://127.0.0.1:8000/stream.m3u (or whatever your IP is for the Icecast machine).  Create that as a favorite radio station.

11) Works for me.  If you want an Icecast radio station globally on WAN, well, poke those holes. Google a bit.  That’s not this blog entry.  Let’s hope Sonos adds Spotify Radio sooner than later.

 

Versions, Heartbeats

Heartbeats » By Andreas Nilsson from The Knife on Vimeo.

One night to be confused
 One night to speed up truth
 We had a promise made
 Four hands and then away
 Both under influence
 We had divine sense
 To know what to say
 Mind is a razorblade
To call for hands of above to lean on
 Wouldn't be good enough for me, no
One night of magic rush
 The start - a simple touch
 One night to push and scream
 And then relief
 Ten days of perfect tunes
 The colors red and blue
 We had a promise made
 We were in love
To call for hands of above to lean on
 Wouldn't be good enough for me, no
 To call for hands of above to lean on
 Wouldn't be good enough for me, oh
And you, you knew the hand of a devil
 And you kept us awake with wolves teeth
 Sharing different heartbeats in one night
To call for hands of above to lean on
 Wouldn't be good enough for me, no
 To call for hands of above to lean on
 Wouldn't be good enough for me, oh
---
I'm just tired.  This seems true.  To call for hands.

Black & White Horse

The upside to the cloud, e.g. Spotify, is that I find tracks like ‘Aaron’ by Paul Kalkbrenner, which is nice.

spotify:track:3viy7i8ADUA6BMzMx61eGV
http://open.spotify.com/track/3viy7i8ADUA6BMzMx61eGV

Or this. I like too.
spotify:track:5iSEsR6NKjlC9SrIJkyL3k
http://open.spotify.com/track/5iSEsR6NKjlC9SrIJkyL3k

And Glitch Mob:
spotify:track:4lteJuSjb9Jt9W1W7PIU2U
http://open.spotify.com/track/4lteJuSjb9Jt9W1W7PIU2U

http://open.spotify.com/track/48n92l7OnLEURhalUBtsl7

And Africa:
spotify:track:2374M0fQpWi3dLnB54qaLX
http://open.spotify.com/track/2374M0fQpWi3dLnB54qaLX

And Dune:
spotify:track:5F5T8dz0bZJsYPIDVJAs6k
http://open.spotify.com/track/5F5T8dz0bZJsYPIDVJAs6k

So yeah, physical media, it’s been swell.

I want a beach house. I want to forget.

Blackbird Blackbird, ‘Blurred Lines’
spotify:track:7v7a6tymdgasrVaCOFtzC5
http://open.spotify.com/track/7v7a6tymdgasrVaCOFtzC5

Niva, ‘Dirty Water’
spotify:track:7mB4Hfd6XZ2BDwgNtOiu0B
http://open.spotify.com/track/7mB4Hfd6XZ2BDwgNtOiu0B

Air France, ‘Windmill Wedding’
spotify:track:1wk0p1no1BlXpjetteKwaI
http://open.spotify.com/track/1wk0p1no1BlXpjetteKwaI

Korallreven, ‘Loved-Up’
spotify:track:6ZnpsS8GegcDr7cyDtApFC
http://open.spotify.com/track/6ZnpsS8GegcDr7cyDtApFC

So I do not forget

Clown & Sunset, ‘Darkside – A1’
http://soundcloud.com/clownandsunset/darkside-a1

There is also by I Am The Cosmos from Dublin, Ireland, track is called ‘Remembering You’ from 2010:
http://grooveshark.com/s/Remembering+You/3oFtby?src=5

The Do – “Too Insistent” (Trentemoller Remix)
http://soundcloud.com/inertiamusic/the-do-too-insistent

Elite Gymnastics http://elitegymnastics.tumblr.com/:
Korallreven – Sa Sa Samoa (Elite Gymnastics Remix) – Acéphale
http://soundcloud.com/acephale/korallreven-sa-sa-samoa-elite

Jamie Harley http://jamieharley.tumblr.com/, more video/film there:

How To Dress Well: "Suicide Dream 2"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MoW7gCpq0BY

The Sound Looking In

I don’t have much to contribute to the discussions about modern electronic music, or what Burial means, but I do think it’s important to mention the idea of reflexivity.  Music looking in on music being played.  I think this is central.  And certainly all performance must eventually be held up to a mirror…

Daft Punk - Revolution 909
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7kgiguNgQY

In a near future post I’ll discuss half-step gearing on my vintage ~’72 Gitane and all grain home brewing, round one (no spelt! WTF!).

Ice, no ice. You don’t make friends with Ubuntu.

I mean maybe you do. I haven’t gone to any Linux nerd fun camps. Probably it’s safer to go to homebrew meet ups.

M & I got the “Abbey Style” Tripel bottled, we didn’t mix in any Kriek. Which is fine. Approximate ABV prior to bottling was 7.6%, which is not bad. We can probably hit higher gravities with a bigger kettle, we ran out of space with the sheer amount of fermentables we were moving in, and likely should’ve left it in primary for at minimum a whole month. The “Dubbel” is now conditioning in the 5 gal. glass carboy. Next up is hopefully two or three batches of mild “session” style English ales, quicker to ferment; I’d be happy keeping them all below 4% ABV, the key here seems to getting our production pipeline rolling a bit more than once per month.

There has been no ice. Or snow really to speak of. It was 60 degrees out, which is good for me going running, not good for the squash courts which are kept at approximately 1000 degrees, which makes it sort of like a fitness sauna. We may have to play some tennis this Summer apparently as the the courts don’t have proper AC.

That’s about all I’ve got.  If you haven’t bought Burial’s Kindred, go buy it now.

Power Squash, 3 Parts, dig it.

Three excellent links to the Power Squash, instructional videos:

Power Squash, Part I: The Basics

Power Squash, Part II: Defending

Power Squash, Part III: Attacking

This may not change your game. In fact, tonight, I played pickup with a young woman on the courts who very nearly whacked me in the head several times with her wild backhand, and prior to that I played a Frenchman, who was most certainly still developing his backhand, so if you take away one thing from these videos, it’s this: cocked wrist in the ready position, and ‘eye on the ball’ matey.

EMU 0404 USB driver finally updates….

I’ve never been displeased with the price performance of the Creative/E-MU 0404 USB 2.0 [DAC] MIDI audio interface, but seeing as how I mostly use it for music listening I’m not super reliant on the latest and greatest drivers, it’s worked fine with OS X.

From past experience, I know configuring just about any USB audio interface in Windows XP was a headache, and I am told Vista/Win7 fixes some of the audio path issues. But I don’t run Windows 7. I have 10.6.8 on my systems now, the Mini is the main playback hub. The E-MU drivers for it were old, think Rosetta, possibly PowerPC binaries, as in old, but they worked. And despite being capable, Creative/E-MU has never enabled 24 bit 192KHz playback with the 0404 USB under OS X. I’m sure it’s possible. This is all to say, when I updated to the latest drivers for 32/64 bit Snow Leopard / Lion compatibility I just wanted to make sure it didn’t break anything, if it sounds better, great, so long as it doesn’t break functionality.

Here’s a link to the October 14, 2011 64 bit Lion driver download page: http://support.creative.com/downloads/download.aspx?nDownloadId=12115

I can’t hear any difference but it didn’t seem to break anything. Still no 192KHz up-sampling option.

On a side note, C says it’s not worth it yet to sync all the songs to the cloud, too much lag, in which case I need to upgrade to a 1TB 9.5mm 2.5″ SATA drive in the Mini, as I’m running low on space. I like having most albums at 16bit/44.1KHz lossless audio, and I occasionally buy CD’s and rip it to such. For streaming over the cloud 320kbps .mp3/aac seems to be standard. At $5/mo Spotify doesn’t sound very good, comparatively, $10/mo apparently bumps the streaming quality. At home FLAC/Apple Lossless sounds better, for sure.

I don’t eat, I don’t drink….

Some shots from a sunset before New Years 2012 in Joshua Tree National Park.

Joshua Tree Under Spell

http://vimeo.com/34806345

The music clip is ‘Under Your Spell’ by Desire, available from their album, II (Italians Do It Better, 2009) as well as on the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack for the 2011 film Drive.

Streaming:
http://soundcloud.com/5titresss/01-desire-under-your-spell

Brandon Biondo / Walsh

I’ve been feeling Brandon Biondo’s alter egos Walsh and COOLRUNNINGS a lot lately.

Fool Moon 7″ by COOLRUNNINGS
http://coolrunnings.bandcamp.com/album/fool-moon-7

These are his tags, not mine “80s creepy electronic mid fi hip pop post rad Knoxville“. But I think they fit. I’ve liked all the albums he’s created and collaborated on that I’ve listened to so far.

Babes Forever EP by COOLRUNNINGS
http://coolrunnings.bandcamp.com/album/babes-forever-ep

You can pay what you like for the downloads on Bandcamp; FLAC / 320 mp3 / or vinyl. So that’s something.  Dracula Horse links to other Knoxville artists and albums.

BIRTHDAY GIRL from KARAOKE by Walsh
http://walshmusic.bandcamp.com/track/birthday-girl

Thom Yorke: Bok Bok & Roska Remix of Modeselektor’s ‘Art & Cash’

Thom Yorke - The Twist (Unreleased Excerpt) + Art&Cash (PHON.O Rmx)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPiA8-qekRo

C liked this. So did I. Pretty killer. Here’s the full mix streaming/download, with some glitches during the playback presumably to limit reuse (full link: Electronic Battle Weapons Xfm Music: Response: Thom Yorke MoneyBack Mix 2011.09.15).

More Modeselektor,’Art & Cash’:

Modeselektor - Art & Cash
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wM0oz5rlHE

On a totally different note, if you use Google Reader it’s never a bad idea to backup your RSS feed to an OPML / XML file, you know, just in case they pull that plug.