The Rise of Digital Music

Before audio compression technology took the world by storm in the past decade, most digital music was sold on CDs. CD audio is an uncompressed form of digital audio file. Because uncompressed music files are large, they are impractical to transmit across the Internet quickly or to carry around on your portable music player. With the advent of portable music player / MP3 player and the convenience of converting and compressing CD music into music file by the computer, almost all music distributed today is in digital format and stored as audio files on computer. The most common formats are .mp3 format and .aac format. There are many other different ways to compress a music file. But the industry’s generic term MP3 will be used hereafter to represent all digital compressed audio formats. MP3 music has become the music format du jour and with good reasons. Top on the list is convenience. It is easy to store and to carry around. Because of its small file size, MP3 music is three to five times faster to download online than other uncompressed formats. Key benefits are: convenience of storage, speedy transfer online, and easy sharing of music with friends.

What Are the Difficulties of Using Digital Music?

When MP3 music was just getting popular a decade ago, the only way to enjoy the music was through the MP3 player software on your computer. While the computer can help source and store your favourite tracks it was never intended to provide the quality of a real hi-fi, and even if it could, it’s usually sitting in a different place from where you want to enjoy your music. In a continuously growing, evolving and increasingly converging multimedia landscape, there are a lot more choices with the different digital audio MP3 players available in the market. The main benefit of the MP3 players is that they are highly portable and suitable for commuting, travelling and workouts. But unlike the computer which is usually the central storage of the MP3 music at home, the MP3 players have lesser storage to store the entire music collection. Although MP3 player docking station is a common way to play the digital music in better sound quality at home, it is still not easy to access the whole collection of music and play it out loud with an external amplifier or your favourite home speaker system to enjoy the music at home.

How Digital Music Streaming Can Help

It would be nice where music lovers can instantly and easily access to high quality digital music collections stored on computer, whenever they want and delivered to wherever they are in the house--just sit back and enjoy the music. Modern consumers also want beautiful, easy to use products rather than large ugly boxes with wires trailing throughout the home. Audio streaming is one way of transmitting audio files on a continuous feed to a multiroom music system. A common way today is to stream the audio from the computer to a multiroom music system over the more convenient wireless technologies such as Wi-fi in a networked environment. The computer, which is typically used for storing music files, acts as a music server by means of server software, often compliant to DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) standard. And the multiroom music system is a typical receiver which starts playing an audio file as soon as some of the data has been received so that one doesn’t have to wait for the entire audio file to finish downloading.

What Is DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) and Should I Look for DLNA-Certified Products?

The Digital Living Network Alliance is a collection of international companies in consumer electronics, computer and mobile device industry that collaborate and develop products that are compatible by using widely available industry specifications and open standards. This collaboration began in 2003 and it comprises of over 200 companies. With products from different manufacturers that are certified by DLNA, they are built to work together where digital content such as music, photos, and videos can be shared through electronics devices in and beyond the home. (URL: www.dlna.org) What this means is that DLNA-certified products are designed to work predictably with your existing home network, without the need to use a proprietary technology or extra equipment in order to access your digital music, photos, and video. Many DLNA-certified products work together regardless of brand, meaning you have a much broader range of products to choose from without the need to re-buy networking products to work with a new piece of technology.

Audio Quality of Streaming

The MP3 music file is streamed to the multiroom music system in digital format, commonly in the original MP3 format. Therefore, the audio details of the MP3 music are sent wirelessly in the home to the multiroom music system as it is stored on the computer and without loss. The MP3 music file are then converted back into audio signal by the multiroom music system and played. Music lovers would be able to enjoy the music comfortably at home via the multiroom music system without worrying about the audio quality being worsened when the music is streamed to the multiroom music system.

Easy Access to Music Collection and More

As the MP3 music files are organised by the music server on the computer, the information is also sent to the multiroom music system where user can easily see all the music track information such as artists, genres or other identifying tags and even music playlists. This allows the user to easily browse via the multiroom music system display his collection of music that is stored on the computer, without needing him to go back and forth to the computer to select the music. Some of the multiroom music systems even have colour screen and the colourful album cover can also be displayed if the music server on the computer supports this. Furthermore, some of the music servers can even stream pictures that are stored on the computer. You can not only listen to your favorite music wherever you want in the house, but also enjoy the colour album artwork or even show your favourite pictures while listening to your favourite piece.

Internet Radio--More than Just AM/FM

Many of the local radio stations have started their broadcast over the Internet. With the Internet being reachable to different places in the world, so does the Internet radio. It has expanded enormously with tens of thousands of stations currently available, including many traditional FM /AM simulcasting their content over the Internet. Internet radio is free from geographic limitations and allows, for instance, an expatriate Dubai to stream a radio program from a broadcaster in London over the Internet. Internet radio programming offers a wide spectrum of broadcast genres, particularly in music, for your selection. There are free Internet radio stations as well as subscription radio services that are available here in the UK. Not only can a multiroom music system play the audio files stored on the computer, it can also play music from the Internet over the home network, even with the computer turned off. Unlike the traditional FM or AM radio transmission, the broadcast content is being sent over the Internet in digital format. The sound quality of the Internet radio is superior--no more hisses due to poor FM or AM reception.

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Explore More Products with Online Music Services

Internet online music services usually offers millions of songs and thousands of artists for users to choose from. Selection covers from the top of the chart to rare selection, from new releases to old-time favorites, from hip-hop to classical, and everything in between. By joining a subscription plan, which is generally less than the cost of a single CD a month, user can listen to endless music, as much as it is offered by the service provider. multiroom music system that supports online music services lets user access this vast selection of music tracks by searching artists, title or genre. If one just simply wants to relax with continuous flow of music, some services even provide personalised recommendations based on user’s recent listening history. All of these are possible without needing to turn on the computer.

Why Multiroom Music Systems Are Easy to Set Up

There are basically two types of multiroom music system: players and receivers. (Sometimes a transmitter is also needed, but most DLNA-capable systems can just pull music off of your existing home network.) No matter how many rooms you want to stream music to, you'll need to choose for each room whether you want a network music player or network music receiver.

A network music player has its own speakers and is typically compact in size. It can stream the music from the computer and play Internet Radio or online music in the room of your choice, and is usually best suited for smaller rooms where there's not already an existing audio system. In most cases, all you have to do is turn it on and make sure it connects to your existing home network and you're ready to go.

Network music receivers don't come with their own speakers and must be hooked up to an existing system. If the receiver has its own amplifier, all you need to do is connect one or more speakers and connect it to your existing home network. If it doesn't have an amplifier, you'll need to connect it to a complete audio system such as a shelf stereo or receiver/speaker combo in order to hear anything; usually just by connecting an RCA cable from the receiver to an auxilliary jack on your audio system.

Players and receivers connect to the home wireless router which is often Wi-fi B standard or Wi-fi G standard compatible. The router is also connected to the home broadband and the computer. Via this wireless connection, the multiroom music system can access the user’s collection of music on the computer or access the Internet radio stations and online music service via the home broadband. Some multiroom music systems even supports the one-button-connect feature (officially known as the Wireless Protected Setup, WPS, by the Wi-fi Alliance). This is an industry standard for easy and secure establishment of a wireless home network. Most of the new wireless router also supports this function. This makes the wireless setup even simpler.

Enjoy Your Music Anywhere at Home

Whether it is your music collection stored on the computer, or endless music from Internet radio stations all around the world, or select from a massive catalogue of music via online music services on the Internet, you can wirelessly stream and enjoy music to any room in your home through a multiroom music system.

No wires, no cables, no hassles. Just pure music enjoyment, unbound and unlimited.