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
, 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
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.
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.