Friday, 2 December 2005

Music Machine

Last night I completed a project that I've been working on for 3months or so. It started when I bought one of these. This little box sits with my Hi-Fi (a moderately expensive separates system - I've probably spent about £2000 on it over the years) and connects into my amp. Its wireless network capabilities integrate it with my PC network and allows me to stream music from a PC and play it through my Hi-Fi. I bought the thing off EBay for about £35. A little test showed it worked pretty well so I decided that I needed a dedicated PC to store my music on digitally. As you do. So I bought all the bits and put together my very own digital jukebox. And it looks like this. Its about the size of a laptop, but twice as deep. It has a side loading CD Reader/Writer as well as a reasonable souncard. Best of all, it has a really cool blue light when powered up :)
Once built, I installed Windows XP Pro and, rather than using Netgear's server software, I installed Twonkyvision's Media Server. Apparently the Netgear software gets itself confused when you reach 10000 tracks or so. Also, I figured I needed a decent mp3 tag editor, so I got this one.
Next step was to be the most time consuming one, having a collection of about 600-700CDs was always going to be a time consuming process to digitise. Well, last night I finished. Almost. I still have a few compilation CDs & CD singles yet to do. I've held off doing the compilations as it will flood my Artist listing when browsing through the Netgear box. When I figure out how I want to handle this, I'll get these done too.
And it works really well. Thankfully after spending all this time on it! I can also plug the machine directly into my HiFi if I want - it certainly doesn't look out of place in the rack. I also wanted to be able to stream music to my other PCs on the network. On2Share offer a Windows Media Player plugin (or WinAmp plugin) but I couldn't get this working satisfactorily. So I decided just to share the Music directory on my server and install iTunes on the PCs. Not quite sure what I think of the iTunes interface but this is probably due to me not spending the time to figure out how to use it. (I'd like to be able to see just Artist & Album, not every track in every album by every artist - if anyone can tell me how to do this, I'd be gratefull!). Using iTunes also allows me to buy music online too - although it's probably a sign of my age, but I really like those silvery disc things.

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