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Internet Radio! How to Listen to Music?

As a self-proclaimed (he he) musician, I've always had an obsession with surrounding myself with music. My second self-proclaimed education (he he) in computer science has always merged with the first, resulting in some unexpected alliances. But let's start from the beginning.

In the beginning, there was the radio and some playback devices like cassettes and records. Then came the personal computer. It had a little speaker! The PC Speaker could do incredible things. The first games, I think even Windows 3.11, attempted to play something on it. Unfortunately, there weren't too many sources.

Then came some sound cards, but some of them didn't even make a sound at the line output. However, until the era of constant internet access, it was challenging to access music. Sure, there were CDs and MP3s, but their source was limited. I always resonated with the idea of having constant access to music.

I had a Walkman, of course, but the batteries ran out quickly, and the headphones broke. I had a Discman, heck, even a Discman with MP3. But the batteries ran out there too.

Then I became an adult. I even had an amplifier, and I always had the idea of how to listen to unlimited music from the internet. I'll skip the intermediate layers and tell you how I'm currently trying to tackle it. In other words, I'll skip the details.

So, the stack: * Source of music: Spotify - it's a reasonable compromise between access and price. Of course, I preferred behavioral targeting from, I liked looking for alternative music in strange places, or listening to well-curated music on internet radio. However, Spotify and its adaptability to devices did the job. * Source of music: Internet radio streams (foreign) - that is, random streams of music (e.g., provided by VLC Player). * Hardware: Phone - the battery doesn't run out as quickly, but it can play music through headphones or in the car. The downside is that it's a phone and not something solely dedicated to playing music. Laptop - it's obvious when working or using the computer, but I try to avoid staring at the screen as much as possible, so it addresses a specific part of the problem. Chromecast Audio - a little device that turns my old amplifier into a Spotify player. The downside is that the interface is, unfortunately, on the phone, and sometimes it can get confused with Wi-Fi (but it might be an issue with my Wi-Fi). Raspberry Pi with Raspotify connected to a small, simple amplifier and speaker. This is a middle-of-the-road solution. It's somewhat portable and sounds good. The downside is, again, the phone is the interface, and it's quite bulky. Raspberry Pi Zero + Bluetooth speaker. This was an experiment I conducted. The first version of this experiment involved HDMI audio + some weird HDMI cable with a jack adapter. Unfortunately, it didn't provide sound. The second iteration was connecting a Bluetooth speaker to the Raspberry Pi. The problem turned out to be the interface, and I didn't have the patience to look for a web or app-based player. My main goal was to use sources other than Raspotify. Tablet + Bluetooth speaker: almost an ideal duo, the tablet plays what it wants with a reasonably friendly interface (screen). However, the whole setup is too large and power-hungry.

I'll also talk about what's on my mind to test: * Internet radio in the form of a ready-made set solely for this purpose. What I've seen seems too expensive to me, and assembling it myself is somewhat intimidating due to the need to find an interface. But a self-contained set that can play something like a radio from Mauritania or Indonesia would be interesting and portable. * A voice assistant that is also a speaker - this is another thing I've seen in practice. It plays what you ask for. Of course, the ones I've seen didn't fully understand that I wanted to listen to radio from Alaska and only played YouTube or Spotify. But if I get my hands on some cheap equipment, I'll give it a try. * Some DIY project - it's basically a variation of the ready-made internet radio set I mentioned above. If I come up with a way to encapsulate a music source reasonably well, with a reasonable speaker, power supply, and interface, I'll test and experiment with it.

So, how do you listen to music? 😊

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