Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Bluetooth to the rescue

It is a very unfortunate development, but CBC Radio 2 now has commercials. This blog post explains why. Blame Stephen Harper & Co for their ritualistic destruction of all that Canadians hold dear.
"Radio 2 gives Canadians a unique listening experience with its distinct format that doesn’t exist anywhere else on the radio dial. "
Which is true, but only to an extent. In terms of what I can pick up on a short length of wire antenna inside my 6th floor apartment, I have to agree. But that does not mean that I cannot find a source of classical music when I want it. And the CBC's earlier decision to limit classical to a few hours of the day (9am to around 2:10pm) means that I have become a user of other services. Just not FM radio through my stereo speakers. I can get music from the internet, which means using the rather tinny speakers on my MacBook Pro or headphones. I don't like wearing headphones. I have yet to find any that are really comfortable for any length of time, even though the sound quality produced by some of the (very expensive) Klipsch ones my son had (they got stolen, of course) are very good indeed. There is also the availability of streaming audio over the tv. Galaxie provides five channels of classical - and on Telus TV they can be found on these channels

Pop Classics 7860
Baroque 7852 
Classic Masters 7856 
Chamber Music 7854

There's opera too, if you like that sort of thing. 

Again the speakers on the tv are not bad but not up to the standard of my stereo system.

Ideally I thought that it should be possible to play the internet through the receiver. I noticed that it does have a DMPORT on the back with a slot that looks similar to a USB or HDMI cable. But different I am sure. Sony did at one time make a cradles/docks that could be plugged into this port for an iPod. Not that I possess an iPod (see my remarks about earphones above). But the only way to acquire such a thing now is through channels like eBay. There are actually quite a variety there but these things are not cheap and many sellers are not willing to send to Canada. 

It occurred to me that even if I could not buy one from Sony there ought to be other makers given the ubiquity of iPods and stereo systems. So I asked in London Drugs, where the salesman said that a dock isn't actually necessary. He showed me how he could play music from his smart phone over some speakers they had set up. All you need, he said, is Bluetooth connection. Plug that into the back of the receiver (it comes with both a jack plug and converter to two audio channels) and the music starts playing.

And, of course, you do not actually need an iPod. Any recent smart phone, tablet or computer has Bluetooth. It took me a little bit longer than that to set up, but not much. I had to do a bit of poking around in Settings, and it took a while for "pairing" to work. But right now I am listening to KING FM Seattle's classic music station through my stereo system speakers and iTunes on my MacBook. I can even control volume from my keyboard. Plus of course I can play anything that has been downloaded to the computer, or streamed. 

And yes there are "messages from our supporters" on KING FM which are only marginally less intrusive than the "four minutes of advertising per hour" permitted on Radio 2 by the CRTC

So quite why people would be willing to cough up $150 plus shipping and duty for an old Sony dock I cannot explain. I have an iHome iBT52 portable USB Bluetooth Receiver and it cost ~$50. And I did not have to wait for a courier to deliver it.

And I can also access the CBC streaming classical channels on line too. At present they don't have ads there except when you start a new stream - and not always then either.

UPDATE January 2, 2015

There are some bugs in Yosemite that might be interfering with Bluetooth.

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