Media Ecosystem

Since I bought the iPad in December I have been standardizing and building my media library and system. For the geeks out there, or just the plain nosy, here is an overview of my system at the moment.

I know I can build on this but this is just the beginning. I wish / hope that there will be some Nokia products in here – time will tell.

Sources: I have 2 sources for my music.

SpotifyItunes

One is from Spotify. I have a premium subscription and have access to almost any music that I want. I really like this services and the advertising on this site at least pays for this monthly subscription. The second source if my iTunes library. Since my ecosystem consists of a high proportion of Apple products it made total sense to use iTunes even though I am not particularly fond of it. I could have used the media library / playback though XBMC for example – but how to get the sound elsewhere.

All (most) of my music is ripped to 320kpps in mp3 format. I am about half way through my CD’s and plan to actually box them away when I am done. I also bought TuneUp too so I could tidy up my badly tagged music. This has been a really good investment though it has been by no means perfect. However it has saved an awful lot of time using the bulk “clean” features.

Storage: All my music is stored on an external hard drive connect to my Mac-Mini.

Currently I am using 500GB drive but may upgrade depending on how much the remnants of my CD library take up. The idea is that I have one centralized place for my music meaning that I can access this from anywhere within my house’s wireless network. As I have Plex Media Server installed here it is also possible to get music from outside using Plex on my iPad – but I will describe this later in the article (next section).

Output: Within my house I have 3 output targets.

MiniExpressAtv

I have my Mac-Mini – obviously. I listen to music a fair bit when surfing and coding if I ever do that so it is quite expected to listen to music while I sit at my computer.

For upstairs I stream to my (1st Gen) AppleTV. As I said earlier I could use XBMC however the way the library works would mean syncing / duplicating content – this is the cleanest way. Thanks to Airfoil I can also stream Spotify to the box so the family gets to appreciate my great taste in music.

A couple of weeks ago I added an Airport Express to my Apple Ecosystem. I can now stream music to my old hi-fi downstairs. I hope this will encourage us all to use the downstairs a bit more often. This is where the warmth is in winter time.

If I am out of the house and desperate for some of my own music I can get all tunes in my iTunes library through Plex on my iPad. And my iPhotos and my TV shows that are stored on my hard drives for that matter.

Control: With the introduction of the iPad I saw great potential as a bl**dy remote control.

Ipad

I have a cool “app” for the XBMC but for iTunes there is a free application from Apple that just works very well. It plays the libraries as if it were stored on my iPad and I can switch the output to wherever is connected at the time – or all. This will be a nice feature for parties I think.

I paid (under $2 each) for a couple of Spotify remote controls. To be honest, they are both very disappointing thus far, but I expect development on the both to improve things. Both applications required an additional install on the Mac-Mini but it seems to leave a small footprint – so no drama.

Scrobble: With my system all connected around the house this means that I scrobbling almost all my music these days.

Lastfm

The only thing missing is anything I listen to in the car or any CD’s the kids decide to play (maybe a good one to exclude). Although I don’t use LastFM directly to play music you can see what I’ve been listening to there through Spotify & iTunes. Check out my profile.