Thursday, January 3, 2013

Got it Thursday

Whilst I still have one or two piccies from last year to stick on my Blog I thought I would talk about something from this year. Also since I have been doing a bit of ranting about cycling recently I have decided to avoid that topic as well.

Generally I find I can be quick to moan and complain if the service is poor. For the last couple of years in this household British Gas’ Insurance – which really means their repair and maintenance breakdown cover – has been the scoring lowest. (BT did a good job and so did the Dyno Rod part of British Gas). 

So for a change I thought I’d be quick to praise something – well two things actually (and no I don’t get any commission or discount for saying so).

I like listening to music and since it has become possible to do so digitally I have found myself buying lots more music. As a bit of a luddite I tend to buy most of it on CD and then rip it onto my main computer so that I can listen to it when working or stick it on my MP3 player for when I am cycling. (I have downloaded stuff when I just couldn’t wait though.)

I also subscribe to a number of radio podcasts, which I normally listen to when cycling. I still find it strange that whilst time-shifting is a big thing for TV programmes it does not seem so relevant for radio programmes.  Although having said that one of my DAB radios does offer a record facility. I don’t use it though – the computer is my radio download hub.

I am not sure quite how many CDs I have but probably 400  or so. Not all bought in one go, but more since the world has gone digital for me.  As a lad I always aspired to own a good stereo system. It was one of the things  lads did when I was young, where good meant big speakers and lots of power, later on I realised good meant more money than sense.

For the record whilst I am not complaining about audio systems I have owned, I have never splashed out loads of money on them. One boost did come when TV/Video switched to digital in our house and I was allowed to buy a surround sound system – good for films as well as music. In our house films have also been important and it is cheaper and more convenient to watch a film at home than go out to the cinema.  (We have not switched to Blu-ray – the quality on DVD is fine for films as far as I am concerned.)

Now my AV amp (Audio Visual amp) does have a network feed and is connected to my network and will play my music in the living room. The trouble is the interface is like something out of the Middle MSDOS ages. No pictures, old fashioned icons, retro colours and a stodgy interface. So for Christmas, but bought in the sales I have “invested” in a Sonos box.  My plan was to allow me to listen to my music in the living room, but using my iPad as my Juke box.

So I bought one – well I went to the store and ordered one. There were really three choices of store – John Lewis, Amazon or Richer Sounds. In this case I wanted to check out certain things which ruled out Amazon and suggested Richer Sounds. They were also the cheapest Their staff are knowledgeable and they offer great support and have a great range of stuff. I bought my AV amplifier from them and even bought the extended warranty – if you don’t claim they will refund the money (although T&Cs apply they don’t seem too onerous).  I even bought their extended warranty on the Sonos box.

Now my AV Amp is around 4 and a bit years old and the warranty is for 5 years. In the time between ordering my Sonos box (Sonos Connect) and it turning up – you’ve guessed it my AV Amp went on the blink. Well I rang Richer Sounds and they said bring it in. They only needed the Amp and not the controller etc. So I did, no fuss they documented it and then found me an AV box that I could borrow whilst mine was being repaired.

So my Home Video system is back and working and I had something to connect my Sonos Connect to – phew. The Sonos box turned up when it was supposed to and with minimal fuss will now play music on my Desktop computer in my living room.  The biggest problem I had was working out how to “program” the AV Amp lent to me by Richer Sounds. I ended up downloading the manual which provided the answer.

So how am I finding it – well I am bowled over. The Sonus Connect box isn’t cheap, however it transforms the playing and listening experience. I can use my iPad to play music, easily selecting from my 400 or so CDs (by track, artist or album), it will also play the radio and the beauty is it is fast and frictionless. As I was able to connect my network to it by cable next to the amp it was playing through I didn’t need to buy anything else. The control is either through my iPad, iPhone or computer.

It was so much fun that last night I played a game where I selected tracks and my daughter tried to identify them as quickly as she could. She can also control the system from her iPhone as it happens. It is really good.

So thank you Richer Sounds and thank you Sonos.   Funnily enough there was a report on the BBC discussing the Christmas Season for the High Street shops and also sales of music.  Well lets face it buying on-line is bound to drive some high street shops out of business – there are all sorts of things you really don’t need to check out before buying.

One store that is bucking the trend – John Lewis – well they combine Internet and offer more than Internet only stores.

Richer Sounds also fit into the category of a shop that combines with the internet and offers more. In the old days TVs used to break down quite often and the TV Stores used to provide loan TVs whilst they fixed yours (well some did).

My Sonos Connect

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