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Old 14-08-2017, 06:24   #1
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Sound on Board -- Bringing it Up to Date

Now that I've got my ship's computer updated and in order, my thoughts turn to sound.

I've been using an Alpine Xda-100M head unit permanently attached to an out-of-the-way Ipod. Six 5.25" car speakers in salon, cockpit, and master cabin.

This has worked reasonably well, but I hate the IPod and long ago stopped fiddling with it and get through Fapple's labyrinth of digital rights management trying to manage the music collection.

So when I updated the ship's computer, I bought a cable allowing me to use the Aux input via 3.5mm analogue cable. Thinking I would play music from the computer. What I didn't know is now I can't use the Ipod. And on top of that, the analogue headphone cable picks up a lot of interference running through the maze of wiring behind my instrument panel. So it's no good.

So I think about changing the whole system -- I think it's a dignified retirement for the old system after 8 fairly happy years.

So what to do? The technology has changed enormously, and will continue to change.

Here are a few of my thoughts:

1. Find a head unit which can manage a portable hard drive and allow me to navigate it using the head unit's panel. Does such a thing exist?

2. Find a head unit which can at least take some kind of digital input from my computer -- maybe optical? Exists?

3. Forget the head unit as the control unit -- use a 7" Android tablet for that. I could set up a media server (far easier than it sounds) and let the tablet access it wirelessly. Find a head unit which allows some kind of digital (USB?) connection.

4. Buy a head unit with Bluetooth, or buy the Bluetooth adapter for the Alpine unit I have. Aren't recent Bluetooth version already capable of really high quality audio? I know the older ones weren't.


Design goals would be something like:

1. Access a large music collection on a hard drive, somewhere, and easily navigate through it.

2. Play music including youtube videos from ship's computer.

3. Listen to podcasts and streaming radio.

4. Minimize clutter, complication, extra devices/power supplies, extra wiring, to the extent possible -- I am losing the battle against device bloat as it is.


Any tips?

And what are others doing?



I might also mention video --

I think I have this solved, almost. I keep a large collection of movies on a 2TB portable hard drive, which is now permanently connected to the ship's computer. I display video by connecting ship's computer to a long HDMI cable connected to a 32" Samsung HD monitor on my bulkhead. I automatically get sound via HDMI, which is of satisfactory quality. I wouldn't mind real home cinema sound, but I'm really not willing to add all the wiring and extra devices that would require -- it's really a deal-breaker. So I'm going with the built-in Samsung sound for the time being, which is surprisingly good actually. Only problem I have with this setup is that I lose sound if I try to dual monitor with VGA attached to my nav table monitor. I have no idea why this is, and I will keep trying to fix it. Meanwhile, I just unplug the nav table monitor and plug in the bulkhead one.
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Old 14-08-2017, 06:57   #2
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Re: Sound on Board -- Bringing it Up to Date

Sonos, not cheap.

Not built for marine

RFI issues similar to WiFi
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Old 14-08-2017, 07:12   #3
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Re: Sound on Board -- Bringing it Up to Date

Sonos needs an Internet connection to work. We have it in our home, it's a great streaming system off of wifi.
We will probably bring it with us when we move aboard but I'm not expecting much use from it.
Could you not add music to the 2TB drive. You already have it set up, just have to wire in the speakers
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Old 14-08-2017, 07:20   #4
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Re: Sound on Board -- Bringing it Up to Date

A router can still create a local wi-fi network without being connected to the internet. Wire the speaker direct to router and you don't need a Bridge.

Also for portability many Sonos have a line-in.
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Old 14-08-2017, 07:42   #5
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Re: Sound on Board -- Bringing it Up to Date

Quote:
Originally Posted by chris mac View Post
Sonos needs an Internet connection to work. We have it in our home, it's a great streaming system off of wifi.
We will probably bring it with us when we move aboard but I'm not expecting much use from it.
Could you not add music to the 2TB drive. You already have it set up, just have to wire in the speakers
Yes, and I probably should have mentioned it.

Another option is to ignore the head unit and install a mini integrated amp, and connect the ship's computer directly to that. Play music from the computer. There are very small and apparently quite good integrated amps with various types of digital inputs which would not be hard to wire to the computer.

Problem with this is clutter, which I am fighting hard to keep down. Sticking to a car head unit of some type will be a neater installation with fewer wires.
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Old 14-08-2017, 08:04   #6
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Re: Sound on Board -- Bringing it Up to Date

what about soundbars connected via bluetooth?they would work in the salon and cabin and maybe upgrade the headunit to one that has bluetooth for streaming to the cockpit so no extra cabling required(except power to the soundbars)
use the computer with your favourite apps to manage your media,i like kodi for visual media and itunes for audio media.
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Old 14-08-2017, 08:09   #7
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Re: Sound on Board -- Bringing it Up to Date

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Originally Posted by john61ct View Post
Sonos, not cheap.

Not built for marine

RFI issues similar to WiFi
These are powered wireless speakers, right?

If I'm correctly understanding what these are, then the idea of streaming over wifi is pretty interesting. On a boat, you wouldn't be reducing the wiring, because you've got to wire AC power to every point where you have such a speaker.

But I guess you avoid having to have any kind of amp or head unit -- play directly from computer or Android device.

That's appealing, but I'm not quite sure where I would put the devices themselves. Built-in 5.25" car speakers are an awfully attractive form factor for boats -- out of the way and not taking up any space anywhere.
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Old 14-08-2017, 08:26   #8
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Re: Sound on Board -- Bringing it Up to Date

I'm not sure how useful this advise is since you've got a bit more complication than I have, BUT I have a Clarion Bluetooth headunit that is paired with my Android phone. It connects automatically when I turn the breaker on and pairs quickly.

I use any audio source i want, recently using Amazon music, IheartRadio and Pandora. Plays great I have reasonably new & good Kenwood marine speakers.

To my ears its great. I love having it through my phone because my phone is in my pocket so I can change stations, skips songs etc. But the most helpful feature is I can turn it off quickly and adjust the volume via phone. I leave my head unit on say 15 for volume, by adjusting the output volume on phone I can go up to 15 on stereo or tap to mute. Very handy coming into dock or needing to silence stereo when needed.

Bluetooth doesn't take much power so it really doesn't even matter for phone battery life. Plus a smartphone makes it easy to zip through music. I can't imagine scrolling through a headunit looking for music forget it.

So I would say if you had a tablet or phone dedicated to this, you could figure out how to stream or access your library on the phone and play through bluetooth? I know you can store a massive amount of music on an SD card so no reason it needs to be on a harddrive unless you have some crazy music library.

That's my system using a $100 bluetooth headunit and my phone. Yes my usage requires data since I'm playing music I don't own but in your case I think it would be even simpler.
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Old 14-08-2017, 08:26   #9
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Re: Sound on Board -- Bringing it Up to Date

I had fancy sound on my 47 mono. Being a musician I like my music. 6 Bose speakers , switchable etc. The problem is, on a boat you most often ended up very close to one speaker and cant hear the other. In the cockpit there really isnt a good place to mount them.
On a later boat I went with a high quality boom box. It could go on the foredeck, beach, cockpit under the dodger etc. and it actually sounded better as the speakers were tuned to the built in enclosures etc.
Today I would go with some quality wireless Bluetooth speakers you can move anywhere you want.
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Old 14-08-2017, 08:39   #10
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Re: Sound on Board -- Bringing it Up to Date

Hire a 15yr old, or 19yr old, from a local big electronics & music chain. Pay him in cash, pizza, & beer. Tell him what your budget is, what your end interface & system performance goals are. And that you want your boat to ROCK.


That, or take your "schematics" to such a store, & ask them to evaluate your options, & then set you up with the necessary hardware, cables, operating protocols, etc.


BTW, have you tried Crutchfield yet?
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Old 14-08-2017, 08:44   #11
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Re: Sound on Board -- Bringing it Up to Date

VIZIO SmartCast Crave wifi speakers have rechargable battery versions.

Bluetooth range is too limited.
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Old 14-08-2017, 08:46   #12
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Re: Sound on Board -- Bringing it Up to Date

Or a little powerpack with built-in inverter would make a Sonos portable.
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Old 14-08-2017, 09:05   #13
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Re: Sound on Board -- Bringing it Up to Date

If you have a TV on the boat, buy a little Kodi box. Kodi is for home entertainment what opencpn is for chartplotters, open source, continuing development and free. All your movies and music from your TV and remote. Add a sound bar to the TV that takes a 12v input and you are all set! I love mine. Streaming with internet, hard drive movies, TV and music for quiet anchorages with no wifi :-) Kodi.tv
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Old 14-08-2017, 09:18   #14
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Re: Sound on Board -- Bringing it Up to Date

Just read a review of the JBL Flip 4 Bluetooth speaker, on sale under $100...got a great review.....Best Buy I think but not sure
Bill


Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
I had fancy sound on my 47 mono. Being a musician I like my music. 6 Bose speakers , switchable etc. The problem is, on a boat you most often ended up very close to one speaker and cant hear the other. In the cockpit there really isnt a good place to mount them.
On a later boat I went with a high quality boom box. It could go on the foredeck, beach, cockpit under the dodger etc. and it actually sounded better as the speakers were tuned to the built in enclosures etc.
Today I would go with some quality wireless Bluetooth speakers you can move anywhere you want.
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Old 14-08-2017, 09:28   #15
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Re: Sound on Board -- Bringing it Up to Date

Fusion AV750 NMEA 2k DVD player (not bluray) I can control it from anywhere on the NMEA network or my iPad or android phone. Shop for price. https://www.fusionentertainment.com/...eries/ms-av750
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