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From his column Church Tech

church-tech-07-13-1Our smartphones are replacing more and more devices, and I like that. The fewer items I need to carry around and keep track of, the better. My phone has largely supplanted my digital camera, video camera, flashlight, magazine, newspaper, scanner, GPS, road map, portable game machine, radio, portable music player and likely—in the future—my wallet.

To replace your portable music player, you first need to digitize your music, which we discussed in a previous article. Next, you need a way to get the music out of the smartphone and into the amplifiers and speakers around you. Here are some recommendations for listening out loud.

Overall, there are three common methods for sending your music through an amplified speaker system. A wired connection offers the best sound. You can either use the headphone port, which is pretty good, or, on an Apple device, you can use the docking port, which offers a clean unamplified signal. Bluetooth is the most common wireless connection. It is short range (you have to be within a few yards of the device), relatively inexpensive, and works with nearly every brand of smartphone. Lastly there is Wi-Fi, which offers high quality and a much longer range, but it usually requires a certain brand of smartphone to connect to a certain device.

Connecting at Home

If you already have a stereo system at home, then all you really need is a docking station. For less than $30 you can purchase and connect a phone dock to an input on your stereo. Most also allow for connection of a power supply to recharge the phone while you fill your house with music.

Logitech offers a Bluetooth adapter that connects by wire to your stereo. Then wirelessly from your phone you can sync and send music to it. No need to leave your phone physically connected.

If you have Apple devices and don’t want to be limited by the range of Bluetooth, you could purchase an Apple TV and connect it to your stereo and home Wi-Fi. This will allow for transmitting music from any Apple equipment to your stereo throughout the house.

And there are more elaborate, whole house streaming audio systems such as equipment by Sonos.

On the Road

When travelling the streets and highways, the wired option consists of a tape deck adapter, auxiliary input port, or a built in iPhone 30-pin connector (or adapter for use with newer Apple devices). In these cases just connect and go.

Many vehicles also allow any phone with Bluetooth to transmit music, map directions, and other audio wirelessly. Just match phone with your car once. Thereafter, whenever the device and car are near, they can make beautiful music together.

In the Great Outdoors

Getting outdoors is often a good time to get away from electronic devices and sounds. But when the cicadas are perky, it might be nice to play some tunes or listen to an audio book. There are many options for battery powered speaker systems. Look for one that includes Bluetooth as well as wired options, then you can connect either way. This type of speaker can be used plugged in at your home or office and then unplugged and taken with you for hours of portable use—like in a boat or on a picnic. My favorite options for this purpose are the Logitech Bluetooth Wireless Speaker which has 8 speakers in it and sounds wonderful, or, for a bit more, the Logitech UE Boombox which keeps the full sound going even when on battery, and allows up to three devices to connect simultaneously, so everyone can contribute songs.

Who knows, once you master the basics of connecting your music, you may grab a pair of Sennheiser cans, your favorite DJ app, and start scratching, juggling, and stuttering between votes at the next annual church meeting.

Mark Evilsizor has worked in Information Technology for more than 20 years. He currently serves as head of IT for the Linda Hall Library in Kansas City, Mo. Views and opinions expressed are strictly his own.

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