I remember my first "music centre". I can't find a picture of the sort of thing it was (but did discover Dustygizmos). I inherited it from my gran; it was a whole piece of furniture - a sideboard sort of thing. It had three sections, the two side ones were speakers and had space for your 12" records. The centre section had an AM radio and a turntable (that could be cued up to play five records in a row!). This stuff wasn't separates as it would be now - you had the whole thing or nothing.
Nowadays, we can do rather better. I've long had an MP3 music player at home, and it really does make listening to music much easier. I've got access to my music collection without having to fiddle with CDs, and I can listen to zillions of Internet radio stations too.
You can too - all you need is:
- Netgear ReadyNAS Duo [buy]
- SqueezeCentre (which is free software)
- A SqueezeBox [buy] (for your hi-fi stack) or a SqueezeBox Boom [buy] (for your bedroom, or anywhere else you don't have a hi-fi amp).
(Actually, it's even possible to just use the SqueezeBox on it's own if you want)
The ReadyNAS isn't wireless, so plug it into your broadband router and follow the instructions to set it up. Then, install the SqueezeCentre software onto the ReadyNas (actually, it's already installed so you might be able to skip this step if it's already the latest version). Then, rip your CDs into MP3s (which you store on the ReadyNAS). Next, tell SqueezeCentre where to find those MP3s, it scans them and you're under way. That's it.
If you're a bit of an audiophile, then don't rip to MP3 - instead use FLAC format (basically, FLAC is like a lossless version of MP3). If you do this, you'll be listening to CD quality music through your music players, and can even use the FLAC files as a source to generate MP3s for your iPod.
If you're worried that storing your music on a harddisk might be risky because hard disks break quite a bit - don't worry - the ReadyNAS can be setup to use RAID, which means that you can use two hard disks to do the job of one. That way, if a disk breaks, the other one takes over until you fix the broken one (the ReadyNAS will even email you if this happens, so you'll know when to buy that extra disk).
Once you've done all this, you can listen to all of your music collection any time you want. Your alarm clock can play your favourite music. You can listen to online music services (like last.fm) or hundreds of Internet radio stations. Most of all, you can show off to your friends at how très moderne you are :-)