Computer Music 11: remote control

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We'll wrap this series up with installment 13 and get on to other business. So far, we've succeeded in getting music onto our Mac or PC, edited the information so it's accurate and good looking. We'll next need an easy, slick way to control and browse the library. We'll then connect to our DAC and do what we can to get the best sound. One of the reasons I still use iTunes as my main music manager is the ease and simplicity of its interface. Are there better ones? Not many. JRemote, the mobile app that control JRiver's good, but JRiver isn't the easiest program to get along with for the uninitiated. We routinely recommend JRiver to our Bridge customers who do not use a NAS. Many users have great results. But, for those who are a bit computer adverse, JRiver can be challenging. Then, there's Roon. Ahh, Roon. Roon is near and dear to my heart. The people behind it are wonderful–dedicated music lovers with a brilliant product. The king of kings when it comes to the user interface. But, Roon isn't for everyone. Roon's expensive. Roon requires a computer (of course iTunes does too). And Roon assumes you already have a ripped library and kind of know what you're doing. Roon's perhaps where you want to graduate to: like Harvard or Yale. But, in the meantime, for those getting their feet wet experiencing the joys of a first music library, there's iTunes; free, easy, approachable. We can control iTunes through our desktop mouse, keyboard and video monitor. But that's not really in the spirit of how we want to interact with the music in our listening room. Instead, we'd prefer to sit in our easy chair, iPad in lap, and browse through the library–like Henry the Eighth–a musical kingdom at our beck and call. We'd like to build playlists, stream our favorite radio stations, choose our CDs, enjoy our systems. So, the next step in our journey is to add a slick remote control that does all this. Meet Apple's Remote. A free app that does exactly what I described. iPad remote If you're running iTunes, as I've described throughout these posts, you're ready to connect. Download the free Apple Remote app to your iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch, and connect up via your home's wifi. A rich user interface is your reward. You can sort by album, artists, song, genre, playlist and more. It's pretty intuitive so I won't waste space explaining how it works, but if you get stuck - and I doubt you will - email me and I'll be glad to help. You can also use a laptop to connect remotely, but that may be beyond the scope of this tutorial for now (though it's easy). Whenever I travel to shows, group meetings or presentations to audio clubs, I bring a little wifi router (just to connect to the iPad), my Mac Mini, and an iPad. I connect to the DirectStream DAC through my favorite JCat USB cable, and play extraordinary music to everyone's delight. More than a few times I have taken this little rig to audio clubs who, upon first listen, abandon their own attempts at servers and CD players - yes, it is THAT good. Will your setup sound as good as mine? No. Mine's tricked out. But yours can come close. Tomorrow, we'll investigate how. Today's takeaway: the real excitement and fun of a digital music system starts when you first scroll through your library. Then, you understand.
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Paul McGowan

Founder & CEO

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