When last we met we were celebrating the joys of true analogue recordings. A well-recorded vinyl album is hard to surpass or even duplicate in any other medium. Today, however, we are going to look into the advantages of casual and convenient listening. Whatever we might say about vinyl we surely will agree that is not the most convenient form of listening over an extended period. We should always clean the record with the proper brush (more on this later). We will have to get up and change the record, flip it over, or put it back in the case and extract another. To the audiophile this is exciting and well worth the effort.
But even audiophiles may succumb, on a lazy day, to listening in their home to the music collection that they take on the road. Convenience is nice. That is what iTunes is all about. I am a fan of iTunes. I have ripped many a CD into my iTunes library. I have even purchased music from the iTunes music store, especially albums that have been “Mastered for iTunes” (more on this later).
How would it be to sit in your easy chair and have all your tunes from your iTunes library available to you in a few clicks? You would not even have to use iCloud or iTunes Match. Your hard drive, which contains all your music, could be in another room. You could use your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad as a remote controller. Your music would not even have to be on the remote device of your choice. Again, the music may be stored in another room.
Today, I sit in front of my wonderful AudioEngine 2A+ speakers and dial-up some of my favorite recordings by using my iPad Mini. I do not really have enough memory on my Mini to store all the songs I want. But it can access all my songs, display them, and play them. Now that is convenience.
Forget bluetooth speakers which have poor sound. Forget about having expensive high-capacity memory on your portable device. Forget about specialized airplay speakers, most of which or not so great. I am talking about the ordinary AudioEngine 2A+ speakers, or should I say the extraordinary?
How is the sound? Pretty darn good, especially if the mastering was done well. Forget vinyl or high-resolution digital recordings with poor mastering. The medium of recording will not be able to make up the difference.
I am enjoying my iTunes. Yes, it is casual listening. I don’t have the volume turned way up. I am just enjoying the performances. If if really want to get into the live “performance” I will have to get back to vinyl.
You might be wondering what type of equipment I am using for all this convenience. I am using low-cost equipment and I am using Apple’s AirPlay. If you are not an Apple fan I am sorry. But if you were here listening with me you might just become one.
Connect your speakers into the audio port of an Apple AirPort Express and plug it into an electrical outlet. After you connect, AirPlay can wirelessly link to your existing network on which your iTunes library exists. The setup is somewhat tricky and difficult to explain here. The best thing would be to consult YouTube for how-to examples.
Once setup, be sure that home-sharing is turned on. Go to the iTunes AirPlay button and be sure to list the Apple AirPort Express connection. You must also dial-up AirPlay on your remote device, in my case the iPad Mini. Just slide up the controls from the bottom of the screen and select the Apple AirPort Express connection as well. Now you must open the iTunes player or your remote device. At the bottom of your iTunes screen go all the way to the right where it say “More.” Press “More” and then press “Shared“. Wait a few moments for the device to configure itself. Once a check mark is shown to the right of “Shared” all your iTunes music will come into view. You are not tapping the cloud. You are tapping your own computer hard drive. Be sure your computer is on and that iTunes is selected. Also be sure that the iTunes AirPlay button has selected your Apple AirPort Express in your listening room.
Sorry if this sounds a little convoluted. Once done you have nothing but easy access and easy listening. All your iTunes library literally at your finger tips.
What about high-resolution sound? Will it be available in such a convenient package? Time will tell. I believe it is coming. Apple now requires all the record publishers to submit their recordings in the highest resolution possible. This is needed for the “Mastered for iTunes” program. Storage capacities are increasing and pricing is decreasing. The pressure is on Apple. Neil Young is breathing down their necks. Let us hope for the best. Apple has the largest music catalogue. But iTunes will be to be revamped. Some would say that such a revamp is long over due.