Top Three Wireless Speaker Setups

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Transcript of The Maven’s Top Three Podcast

  • Hello, howdy, how you doing? What a week, what a week. I’m proud to announce that our little podcast is gaining traction. This is because of you, the fine listeners to this little station that could. The last episode had the most downloads yet, and we’re going to keep on rolling out great information and even better quality podcasts.
  • We’re recording live from the RV of enlightenment, my tiny home on the acreage, and have a great episode lined out for you. What are we talking about? My top three wireless speaker recommendations for whole house listening.
  • Weekly, I put out episode requests for topics you’d like to see me research. Last week Ryan, over on Facebook, what the best way to get music through his house was. Today, we will cover just that. Getting that delicious ear juice though you halls, into your bedrooms, and into your kitchens.
  • I wish I could tell you that there are tons of quality reliable systems that broadcast various streaming sources to recommend for you, but house-wide speaker systems matching that criteria are difficult to find.
  • I’m Rex Barrett with Maven’s Top Three and I do the hard work of gathering what’s best in media, tech, and fun then pass my TOP THREE lists on to you.

Segment One – Sonos Play:1

  • Do you have a Bluetooth speaker? I do, and when I’m listening to music it is constantly being interrupted by the notifications from my phone, like texts, calls, and various bings and dings. See, that’s the issue with Bluetooth, it’s passing on any sound your phone is making to the connected speaker.
  • This is why I’m placing the Sonos Play:1 at the tip-top of today’s Top Three. The Sonos speaker connects to the internet instead of streaming from your phone. Think about what this means, your volume isn’t paired to your phone so each speaker in each room can be at a different level. Big living room, BOOM, cranked. Tiny bathroom, little boom, not cranked. All of this driven through an app on any of your devices.
  • The Sonos also does a unified search through each of the streaming services when you’re looking for music. So, in my case, I have Spotify, Pandora, SiriusXM, iHeartRadio, MLB, Stitcher, Amazon Music, Soundcloud, and Bandcamp. I recently dropped Apple Music, but it does that too. Yeah, I have quite a few services. Guess what, Sonos streams every one of those and many more. You might not recognize the phrase “unified search” so let me explain it in an action you might use already. If you have a Roku or AppleTV, you’ve probably done a direct search for a movie, allowing the little black boxes to find which service the movie streams. Same with the Sonos and your music.
  • You won’t be able to add other speakers into the mix because Sonos keeps their little system locked down to just their speakers. This is not a bad thing, as they sound amazing and come in a handsome setup that will look good placed around your house. Oh, and these speakers won’t be obsolete anytime soon. Sonos keeps pumping out firmware upgrades to ensure that the speaker you buy will last a good long time.
  • The Sonos Play:1 goes for $199 per speaker, but if you’ve priced higher end Bluetooth speakers lately, you’ll immediately recognize that this price ain’t too shabby. I fully recommend you buy a house full of the Play:1.
  • Now, if you have richer tastes, you might want an even more powerful speaker. Let me introduce you to the Sonos Play:5. It’s literally four better. Well, actually it has six amplifiers with six dedicated speaker drivers, so it’s even better than that, actually. This guarantees a room full of rich sound. It’ll set you back $499.
  • You want a wireless soundbar for your home theater? Pick up the Playbase, it brags about giving you full theater sound and contains a 10 speaker array internally. Pair the with the Sonos Sub and a couple of Play:1s and you’ll have full surround sound. You’ll be rocking in under five minutes. Yeah, that’s all the time it takes to set these beauties up.
  • So, sure, these are a bit spendy, but come on, full wireless sound all over your house? Heck yeah.
  • Again, for those of you just looking to place a couple speakers around the house, you have the Play:1s at $199 each.
  • Head to http://Maven.Show to see the full transcript of this episode and I’ve put every link, affiliate, of course, for you to get your speakers on Amazon today.

Segment Two – Google Chromecast Audio Dongle

  • Want a cheaper solution? Well, it’s way less elegant and doesn’t stream the huge number of options that Sonos does, but it’ll get the dang job done.
  • The Chromecast dongle is a little puck that plugs into the minijack that the Bluetooth speakers you have all over your house probably sport on the back of them. At $35 from Walmart, you can pick up a few and use the speakers you probably already have. But, if you want to buy more speakers, just head to Amazon and pick up a few decently rated ones, place the setup around your house, and you’re playing tunes in no time.
  • There isn’t a slick app to do a unified search, instead, you open Spotify, for example, and send it to the Chromecast. Thus, the word “cast”. You’re broadcasting to the little wireless puck and the speakers you’ll connect. Now, remember, you’re casting it there, so you’re still not broadcasting from your phone, you’re streaming from the cloud. You’ll still get the cool benefit of not having your notifications ruining your music experience.
  • If you have an Android phone or use the Chrome browser on your computer, you can mirror your audio. Sorry, iOS.

Segment Three – Amazon Echo Dot

  • Now, this isn’t a house-wide solution, but it’s going to be one day. Hopefully. Maybe. String together five Echo Dots and music will play everywhere, this is the dream, but it is also the future. Echo synchronization is supposed to come sometime in 2017.
  • Until then, what’s a girl to do? Well, let’s connect some Bluetooth speakers TO THE ECHO DOT. Get one $50 Dot and a few JLab House Party Bluetooth speakers and you can add a room for $99, totally controlled by your voice.
  • I’m a huge Texas Rangers baseball fan, so I listen to sports radio out of Dallas, Tx.I just say, “Alexa, play The Ticket radio station” and I have instant sports radio. How about, “Alexa, play Motley Crue.” I’ll immediately hear Kickstart My Heart, much to the chagrin of my wife.

023 Wrap up and how to connect

  • Whew, that was a deep dive into wireless speakers for your whole house. There’s not $20 way out of this thing. If you’re looking for your house to be wonderfully saturated with sweet tunes, you’re going to have to pay a bit. But, this is why we work and earn money, right? We want to have nice things.
  • Again, I’m posting a transcript of this podcast onto my website at http://Maven.Show. There you’ll find the links to every little thing I mentioned today.
  • If this is the first Maven Podcast you’ve listened to, please look up past episodes. We’ve covered how to make cold brew, productivity apps, comic books, several that cover the best in fast food, and one of my recent favorites, top ways to get your caffeine fix.
  • Do you have any thoughts, questions, or comments? It’s easy to reach out…
  • Download the Anchor App in the App Store and call in to tell me about it. I might just publish your thoughts.
  • What to chat on Twitter? Find me @RexBOKC.
  • I’m Rex Barrett and you can Find Maven’s Top Three at Maven.Show or where all fine podcasts are distributed.
  • SEE YA

I Need to Sleep More – So Do You

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According to my friend’s many midnight (and after) Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Anchor posts, I’m not alone in my quest to have an actual restful night’s sleep. In a TED Talk by Arianna Huffington in 2010, she posits that sleep-deprivation is the culprit for many bad decisions by world leaders, and urged us all to create a better world by simply going to sleep. Seems right, we’ve all watched the news recently.

Here are a couple of sleep tips from plus one from me.

  • Dim the lights and avoid electronic screens. Harvard Medical School’s Sleep Lab teaches us that looking at screens before bed keeps us from falling asleep. Put down the iPad, turn off the TV, and pick up a paperback or a Kindle. Surprisingly, the Kindle light doesn’t trigger alertness. 
  • Get that bedroom cold. Take a hot shower then crawl into that cool bed. Research shows that you’ll fall asleep quicker and sleep longer [1]. 
  • Use some homeopathic insomnia drops called Newton Insomnia Drops. I bought this hoping it would be helpful. So far, my wife and I have been very happy with the results. Even better, we wake up in the morning without any kind of hangover.

[1] Silberman, Stephanie A. The insomnia workbook: A comprehensive guide to getting the sleep you need. New Harbinger Publications, 2009.

Top Three Podcasting Microphones

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Transcript of Episode 022

Top Three Podcasting Mics (Compton-Background Track)

  • Hello, boys and girls, it’s time to learn something. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we need to feel the pressure of being featured as “learn something” podcast category.
  • This category contains people who tell you what Wikipedia says in a fun way. Others tell you what Google turns up. One is a doctor, and he’s super legit.
  • So, today, we need to rise up and make the Learn Something category proud.
  • I’m Rex Barrett with Maven’s Top Three and I do the hard work of gathering what’s best in media, tech, and fun then pass my TOP THREE lists on to you.

Pre-Segment (Compton-Background Track)

  • Let’s kick out a great podcast today… You know how to make a great podcast sound even better? It’s your microphone.
  • You might think, “oh man, recording is going to be so difficult, it’s going to be so expensive.” It doesn’t have to be. You can get killer results for not a killer amount of money.
  • Today, we’re going to check out my top three recommendations for microphones used for podcasts.  I’m really happy with all the research that’s gone into this episode, I’ve ordered multiple mics and feel that the one’s I’m offering up will be perfect for those of you getting started with podcasting, especially for those of you using the Anchor app.
  • Now, for some of the geekier audio nerds out there, my criteria include the following…
    • This has to be simple. We don’t want to buy too much stuff to make a mic work. I want it to work nearly out of the box. Though we will require some sort of interface to get a mic cable to be a USB cable if you buy and use a standard mic.
    • I don’t want a mic that pics up the room noise. These are not mics meant for doing face to face interviews. This is a mic for you, the star of the show to use solo.
    • And finally, I don’t want you to have to spend over $100 dollars.
  • I’m going to post a transcript of this podcast episode on my website at Maven.Show. It will have ALL the links to what I’m recommending. So listen first, and if you’re interested in purchasing head there for links to every last thing I’m talking about today. Full disclosure, there will be affiliate links. Gotta hustle just a little bit, hope you don’t mind.
  • Here we go from the cheapest solution to the most expensive solution.

Unsolved Clip

Segment One – Pyle PDMIC58 (Parcel-Background Track)

  • This is a knock off of a very famous mic called a Shure SM58. It’s used all over the place, you’d find that mic in the arsenal of many a professional musician for live sound and for recording.
  • Again, this microphone is a knock-off of the more famous Shure, but it is VERY capable and the only real knock I can find is that it doesn’t take the abuse that the tank of a Shure can take. I guess one other knock is that the cable it comes with is one I’d not recommend you use. You need to buy a standard XLR mic on Amazon, which is cheap enough that it tends to be sold as an “add-on item” on the ol’ Amazon.
  • I haven’t even mentioned that this mic sells between $12 and $20 right now on Amazon and depending on the package you buy is between four and 4.5 stars. Talk about bang for the buck! They have a three pack that includes a carrying case for under $40. Might be worth it if you plan on recording more than one person at a time.
  • What I like about this mic… It eliminates distant noise and room echo. It doesn’t pick up what’s happening around your house as you record. It really just picks up you and your pretty mouth as you put it gently up against the pop filter, (foam top for the mic, which you need to pick up for $6.00).
  • $16 for a mic, Amazon Basics XLR cable is $6, maybe you have a mic stand, if not there’s a two pack that’s perfect for podcasting from a table for under $15. Finally, a pop filter for $6. That puts you at just over $40 for great sound!
  • One last thing here, if you don’t have an audio interface for your computer, you’ll need to pick one of those up. This allows you to plug your regular audio equipment, including a microphone in. The Behringer U-Phoria UM2 is what you should get. You’ll plug your mic in, plug your headphones in, and then connect it to your computer to record, and you’re in the money. It’s $30 on Amazon, currently.

Yessir Clip

Segment Two – Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB/XLR Microphone (Gold-Background Track)

  • This mic is magic. It comes with a USB connection and an XLR connection in the butt of the mic. This means that you don’t have to buy all the little accessories I mentioned in the previous segment. All you have to do is plug it right into your USB jack on your computer and you’re in business.
  • BONUS, it comes with the mic stand and additional XLR cable too, if you want to use it into a standard audio mixer. DOUBLE BONUS, it’s 4.5 stars on Amazon.
  • What I like, it eliminates room noise and room echo, it’s an all in one solution.
  • What I don’t like about it. You gotta get right up into the mic to make sure it picks you up boldly and brightly. This really isn’t a problem for us seasoned podcasting veterans. You’re speaking right into the mic, right? RIGHT? Like lips to the grill. Do that.
  • This unit is $70 on Amazon, but remember, it comes with everything you need right out of the box.
  • One thing, by purchasing this setup, you won’t have as versatile as a set up compared to the SM58 setup I spoke about previously. With that setup, you’ll be able to upgrade your mic as you get better and better at this thing. With this, you’ll have to start fresh, as the interface to your computer is built into the Audio-Technica mic.

Yessir Clip

Segment Three – Blue Nessie Adaptive USB Condenser Microphone (Highrise-Background Track)

  • This is one old school looking beauty. It, too, is an all in one solution. Perfect for your podcasting, recording your YouTube videos, and even picking up instruments as you play them, as it can cover a bit more of a wide area compared to the previous two microphones.
  • It has headphone monitoring, a mute button, a built in pop filter, mic stand, and a shock-mount to help it not pass on noise or vibrations from your table it’s sitting on.
  • It sounds great and is a really great deal even at the $92.99 it’s currently sitting at on Amazon.
  • It’s a solid solution to your podcasting needs, and with it being a way to podcast the second the thing arrives, it’s really worth considering. It’s four stars on Amazon.

Yessir Clip

Segment Four – Audio Interface Worth Considering (Parcel-Background Track)

  • If you buy one of the USB mics I’ve talked about, you are good to go. You will not need any additional hardware to get your audio into your computer. But, if you want to purchase a stand alone mic, or maybe have access to professional mics and just want to get them plugged into your computer, you need to purchase one tiny thing.
  • Option one that I mentioned it earlier, is the Behringer U-Phoria UM2. It is great for recording one person speaking. It’s only $30.
  • Option two. If you want to record a couple people, I’d upgrade to the Behringer U-Phoria UMC202HD. It’s only $60, and a very solid option with 4.5 stars on Amazon.

Segment Five – What am I using? Shure MVi Digital Audio Interface (Gold-Background Track)

  • Well, I’m doing something way different, I’m bypassing my laptop computer. I’m experimenting with direct recording into my iPhone using a Lightning audio interface called the Shure MVi Digital Audio Interface. It has 4.5 stars on Amazon.
  • The MVi has one input for a microphone, and I’m using the SM58 clone. As a matter of fact, I’m recording this episode straight into my iPhone using the MOTIV App (Shure’s recording app for iOS and Android) and my Lightening port. The app has an equalizer, shows how hot you’re coming in on the recording, podcast specific settings, and exports audio very easily.
  • I then send the audio to, name the file, slap on the background tracks, and we’re good to go!
  • The Shure MVi sells for $129 on Amazon, so it doesn’t fall under my under $100 rule mentioned at the top of the podcast. All in, this will cost you about $170 to record directly to your phone. Now, you are limited in your editing by the natural limitations that come with the reduced processing power of your phone and the limited screen size.
  • Yeah, it’s convenient, but there are legit trade-offs to doing it this way. I like that it forces me to keep the podcast simple.

Wrap up (Compton-Background Track)

  • Well, let’s wrap up and sort out what I’d recommend you do.
  • If you want the easiest way into your Mac or PC, I’d go with the Audio-Technica ATR2100. Seriously, all you have to do is plug it in, set it on it’s included mic stand, and start recording into Garage Band, Audacity, or whatever recording software you want to use.
  • If you think this is something you really want to grow into, then I’d buy the Behringer U-Phoria UM2 (4 stars), and the Pyle PDMIC58. If you plan on doing interviews in person and not over Anchor or Skype, then upgrade to the Behringer U-Phoria UMC202HD (4.5 stars), you’ll get two solid inputs and then buy the three pack of Pyle mics.
  • If you want to keep it simple and record straight into your iPhone or Android phone, get the Shure MVi Digital Audio Interface. Now, this only has one input, but it’s a solo recording beast. This is $130 plus the cost of your mic and cables, so it’s not a cheap solution, but it’s a very portable way to do a podcast.
  • Yes, you can get an adaptor to be able to plug the USB mics into your iPhones, but I like the option of experimenting with various microphones as my skills develop. That’s why I’d recommend the Behringer audio interfaces if you plan on really hone your podcasting skills.

Episode 022 – How to Connect (Compton-Background Track)

  • And there we go, tons of information to dig into. Again, I’m posting a transcript of this podcast onto my website at Maven.Show. There you’ll find the links to every little thing I mentioned today.
  • If this is the first Maven Podcast you’ve listened to, please look up past episodes. We’ve covered how to make cold brew, best productivity apps, favorite comic books, several that cover the best in fast food, and one of my recent favorites, top ways to get your caffeine fix.
  • Do you have any thoughts, questions, or comments? It’s easy to reach out…
  • Download the Anchor App in the App Store and call in to tell me about it. I might just publish your thoughts.
  • What to chat on Twitter? Find me @RexBOKC.
  • I’m Rex Barrett and you can find Maven’s Top Three at Maven.Show or where all fine podcasts are distributed.
  • SEE YA

A Clue Clip

Working from an iPhone

I’ve been working on a post about how to use your iPhone as more than just a text, social media, camera, and game machine for a while. This post at MacStories is probably the best quick breakdown of many of the ways I use my phone as a productivity tool, though.

While typing longer thoughts out on the iPhone can be a bit slower than banging them out on a full sized keyboard, I’ve found that processing email using an app with swipe gestures, like Airmail, is faster than using my laptop.

Hit the link and learn how to better use your phone for more than just a consumption device.

via Working from an iPhone – MacStories