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Home Networking 101 - for Music Lovers

Posted by Brisbane HiFi on

Stereo systems used to be pretty much "plug and play". Plug in the cables to the right connectors. Put on your record or CD. Then press Play.

These days it seems like you need to be a computer professional to get your music system going. And we are going to step you through what you need to get your spanking new system going.

Why The Complexity?

With modern systems, having a network connection does yield significant benefits such as:

  • the ability to connect to your home computers or smart phones and tablets to stream music you may have purchased and downloaded from the internet
  • the ability to stream music from the internet through a subscription service like TIDAL or Spotify.
  • the ability to use a smartphone or a tablet on the same home network to control your music playback - not just pause, skip or rewind but to navigate an entire library of music
  • the ability to update the firmware or operating system to the newest version for new functionality and features - such as with your phone's operating system update

On the whole, you do gain access to some pretty nifty features. 

What you need then is to get a connection from your internet modem to the music playback device that needs the network connection.

If you are a regular reader, you will notice we are big fans of BlueSound systems here. So here's what a BlueSound Vault 2 looks like in the back.

BlueSound Vault 2 | Brisbane HiFi

See the port called "LAN"? That's short for Local Area Network. It's sometimes called an RJ45 or Ethernet connector. 

What you need is a RJ45 or Ethernet cable that looks like this:

Home Networking | Brisbane HiFi

 

 

One end of the cable plugs into the LAN port of the BlueSound while the other end plugs into one of the Ethernet ports in the back of your internet modem, which should look a bit like this:

Home Networking | Brisbane HiFi

And that’s it. QED.

A few of you are probably thinking there has to be a catch. 

This simple cable works well when you have the internet modem and your music system in the same room and they are close enough to run a cable between the two units.

For the majority of us who have the internet modem in say, the study room and have a dedicated listening room, the idea of running a very very very very long cable between the two rooms might upset our significant other. 

Happy wife, happy life - they said.

So here’s Plan B.

Look Ma, No Wires

Some audio devices such as the BlueSound Node 2 and Pulse speakers, that require network connectivity might come with a wireless module built right in. All you need to do is to step through the process in the instructional manual to scan for your home network and key in the password. Some units may have an external antenna you have to attach to the rear of the unit.

The main issue with wireless networks is that the coverage can be a bit patchy. Wireless signals are attenuated every time they pass through a wall. To test how good your wireless network is, you can use your smartphone or tablet and move it to where your audio device is. If you are getting a strong WiFi signal on your phone, chances are the audio unit will work just as well. 

But if you are not getting a strong connection and your music streaming keeps dropping or disconnecting, you need to find an alternative.

Enter Plan 9 from Outer Space.

PowerLine Adaptors

PowerLine or HomePlug adaptors are an innovative idea to send network information over the same cables that transmit power to your home.

You need to get a pair of PowerLine adaptors from your local computer store. One of the adaptors will need to be plugged into a powerpoint near your modem router and you have to run an Ethernet cable from the modem to the adaptor like so:

Home Networking | Brisbane HiFi

The second adaptor plugs into a power point close to your audio device and you run a second Ethernet cable from the adaptor to the audio device like so:

Home Networking | Brisbane HiFi 

 

So far so good. If all works well, you will get all 3 indicator lights coming on for both adaptors and ready to go. 

You may sometimes encounter issues where one PowerLine adaptor doesn't seem to see the other unit. This can happen when the two power points you used are not using the same phase of power. The signal can also degrade when you have old or very long power cables between the two power points. 

If you have made it this far and haven’t found a satisfactory solution or you just want a professional to take care of this problem, we have you covered as well. At Brisbane HiFi, we have an in house team of experienced and certified custom installers, who have security clearance to deal with all your networking needs. We can run and hide cables in walls and give you the most reliable and secure network connection your audio system needs. We also supply more robust and higher quality networking gear that will be required to stream high resolution audio and video, should your needs grow. Our team can also tackle the most complex solutions you may require such as multi-room audio, home automation and security systems. Just give us a call and we can have someone come by and give you an honest appraisal of your system and a free quotation of what you will need.

So you can get on with the fun part - just sitting back and enjoying the music.

In the meantime, happy listening.

 


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