My Poor Man’s Sonos

Sonos is considered the Mercedes of the music media servers, but I have had to make do with my Toyota-like SoundBridge.  What makes the Sonos system so deluxe is it’s $400 hand controller, which has a LCD screen to aid in locating songs.  The Roku Soundbridge has a tiny handheld remote which controls the SoundBridge device that has a 280×16 pixel LED display for selecting songs.  For this to work I need to stand in front of the SoundBridge because the remote may work across the room but I can only see the LED display if I’m right in front of it.

In my La-Z-boy laziness, I wanted to kick back in my recliner and play  songs with fat-butt staying-in-chair ease, which the Sonos controller was designed for I’m sure.  Now I’ve discovered RokuRemote, a iPhone/iPod touch app.  My iPod touch is now my Sonos-like controller to my SoundBridge, bringing me to near nerdvana.

I say near, because complete bliss would only be achieved by voice command to a house controlled computer.  I would say telepathy song control was the absolute ultimate, but I have to be realistic sometimes.  Voice control is possible, but it would be far more expensive than even buying into a Sonos system, and so I make do with my $2.99 RokuRemote app.

For those people who only listen to music via white ear-buds, you will never understand the nature of my problem.  I have a computer in my man-room with 18,000 mp3 songs on it.  I have a stereo receiver with floor standing Infinity speakers in my den.  My computer also has access to Rhapsody music, with a library of millions of songs.  Any album I own, or one that I tell Rhapsody to save in my library, can be played on my den stereo system through the SoundBridge.

The X-Prize problem is to sit in my den chair and tell my computer what to play on the stereo with the least amount of hassle.  Now you can understand why I wish I could just say, “Computer, play ‘Cowgirl in the Sand’ off of Everybody Knows This is Nowhere.”  Since that isn’t possible, I launch RokuRemote on my iPod touch, and pick my SoundBridge, and then say I want to search by albums, and type in “Everybody” and hit search, and then punch on the title of the album, and the poke the song and it plays.  Pretty damn easy.

When you connect to the SoundBridge you have the choice of searching by artist, album, song or playlist.  Since my collection is large, there a good size pause before seeing whichever listing I choose.  This is probably due to the limitations of the SoundBridge, and not the RokuRemote program.  If the SoundBridge had some memory and extra CPU processing power, it could maintain the information about my music collection and periodically talk to the computer for updates.

In the old days you have to find the LP, decide which side to play, and then place the stylus on the particular track you wanted to hear.  CDs were a big step forward.  Only one side, and you used a remote to select the cut number.  We are living in the 21st century now when all the music is in a database and it’s only a matter of retrieving it.  The song access time has gotten very short, but wouldn’t it be living a dream to be able to say a song’s name and album and hear it instantly?

If you own a SoundBridge and an iPhone or iPod touch, just go to the AppStore on your device and search on Roku.  It’s $2.99 well spent.  If you don’t own a SoundBridge but want a media server, Sonos now works with a free iPhone/touch app, so all you have to buy is the $349 Zone player.

JWH 12/2/8

One thought on “My Poor Man’s Sonos”

  1. Hey – This is a great write-up. I have been watching the Sonos system for about a year, but can’t bring myself to spend the big-bucks. But like you, I am looking for that hand-held control.

    Question – I have read you can do the same thing you’ve described here with MythTV.. Any thoughts on using Ipod Touch / MythTV front-end to accomplish the same thing?

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