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Workshop audio solutions

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I’m nearly done with building the workshop and thoughts have turned to the audio - I quite enjoy having the radio on while I work, partly to listen and also I find the hourly news broadcasts help keep track of time.

I have a fairly old stereo/hi-fi type thing which I have used for years, but it’s quite bulky and as it’s FM it relies on a half-decent signal. I don’t have good FM coverage and what I do have is limited to the core BBC offering and one local station. No DAB so that’s not an option.

In the house I use a Sonos thing which is great as it streams over the WiFi and is controllable from my phone, however they’re too expensive to have in a garage where it would get covered in dust/dirt. This got me wondering if some kind of streaming-based solution would be a better option, not reliant on FM and as a bonus I could get Classic FM and other stations that don’t broadcast near me.

It seems that my options are either a standalone internet radio, or a wireless speaker that I can pair my phone with and stream via that.

Any experiences or suggestions?

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I just have a old Sharp portable stereo radio/cassette player, [the cassette bit doesn't work anymore] one of these

image.jpeg.dacec9265aa6c3a4ac85fb2be58e4734.jpeg

 

I just have it on the FM local independent radio station.it runs off the mains so takes up 1 socket in garage. I have 2 more sockets for power tools.

as for via your phone/internet depends on how consistant the signal is in your area & your contract allowance for streaming services.

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I just have one of those little cheap Bluetooth speakers from Amazon (was about £12) but it has a microsd and FM built in as well. Never figured out the FM but the sound is very impressive for something about 2" in diameter and 3" tall. Lasts for about 2 days on its battery or you can just leave it plugged in to a USB charger. I just have some music on a microsd and take it outside if I'm chopping wood or working outside. Sits in the JCB or various workshops (because I have that problem at the moment :blush:).

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When I’m working on the house in Wales, and in some rooms I can get a good dab signal now. Previously and in some areas of the house  I still use my phone as a hotspot (4G unlimited data) and stream from that to my iPad.  

So depending on what your house WiFi or mobile data package is like, I would look at a cheap internet radio or a smart speaker for the garage.  Otherwise you’ll be just plugging your phone in and listening/streaming from that on speaker. 

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Thanks all. The streaming would be through the house WiFi whether via the phone or not, so no issues on data limits. I’ll maybe get a cheap Bluetooth speaker and see how I get on. I’d prefer something that works over AirPlay/WiFi as I don’t really like the way Bluetooth kills the battery but it probably isn’t a major issue unless I’m out there all day in which case I could just put the phone on charge.

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I’ve been thinking of a chargeable speaker on the basis I could use it in the garage, as an ICE set up in the 80”, and for when we go camping.

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You can get a bluetooth receiver that you connect to your existing stereo with a line input. I have a Logitech one at the shop, was around €20 I think.

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Googling now just brought some tests done of Bluetooth vs AirPlay - Bluetooth was the more efficient....

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I play direct from my iPhone through the headphone jack to a single powered speaker of the type that sits with a desktop PC. I listen live through BBC Sounds and also use that app for 'catch-up' (like the Radcliffe and Maconie's weekend shows on Radio 6) and podcasts (like the two series Thirteen minutes to the Moon). I could listen live to none BBC stations but don't seem to. There's also Spotify for music.

By the way, if you have an older Sonos that will not now talk to an app like BBC Sounds, I found a fix on Git Hub that works perfectly. More details if you need them.

 

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Thanks. The Sonos seems to be available via AirPlay from any app on the phone, it’s only a few months old so must be new enough for that not to be an issue. 

I’ve bought a cheap Bluetooth speaker to try so we’ll see how it goes. Wireless is a key feature for me as if I want to grab the phone to take a photo or look something up,  it being plugged in would be a pain.

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I've an FM transmitter that I plug into the laptop, I tune a bulky old but decent sounding radio tape player into this. You could plug the transmitter into a smartphone, or whatever you wish to stream from over WiFi.

They're about £5 on eBay, and run off a micro usb power supply. 

 

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Rotel amplifier + 4 x 150 Watts

Mp3 player

Network cable & laptop

A lot of noise at times - but I like it

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19 hours ago, elbekko said:

You can get a bluetooth receiver that you connect to your existing stereo with a line input. I have a Logitech one at the shop, was around €20 I think.

That’s what I’ve got in the workshop. Only it was a cheap eBay £5/6 one just to try it. Got it plugged into an old amp and a couple of speakers. I’ve not found that Bluetooth rinses the battery on my phone (iPhone X) or my previous one any more than normal. 

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On 5/23/2020 at 8:17 PM, elbekko said:

You can get a bluetooth receiver that you connect to your existing stereo with a line input. I have a Logitech one at the shop, was around €20 I think.

Or just an aux cable for your phone unless you bought an apple one :ph34r: aux = line in

I have a bluetooth speaker which runs off the mains and has a USB lead to charge the phone, so the phone battery doesn't run down and I can stream from the phone.

Splashed a tenner on a cheap in-car wireless charging cradle now attached to the toolbox so I just drop the phone into it and it starts charging whilst streaming.

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13 hours ago, FridgeFreezer said:

Or just an aux cable for your phone unless you bought an apple one :ph34r: aux = line in

Sure, but then you can't carry it around anymore.

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I’ve had all my previous iPhones plugged in with an aux lead.... I went to the Bluetooth adaptor so I could keep it on me and be able to take pictures or look stuff up. 

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Posted (edited)

Personally, I'd go for either:

a) Cheapo bluetooth speaker and phone charging dock screwed to wall.  Keeps it out of the way and stops it making accidental trips to the floor.

b) Take your phone completely out of the equation.  Workshops aren't phone friendly, and tend to distract you.  Instead, use an old Laptop running the streaming service of your choice and some PC speakers.  Sacrificial cheapo keyboard and mouse so you can use with dirty paws.

c) As above but Single board computer (e.g.  Raspberry Pi 4) + Old Monitor screwed to wall.  Makes for a neat installation.

Options B or C allows you to look up stuff, have parts catalogue PDFs open, etc, without getting your phone out constantly.  Option C is worth doing if this is your 'forever' garage. 

Edited by UdderlyOffroad

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I've got an old but quality separates receiver, cd player and a decent pair of big (Wharfedale) speakers that are buried at the back of either end of the top shelf. My choices are limited to whatever on the radio, or CDs, but it's nice to have decent quality sound.

I think I got the whole lot for less than £20 off Gumtree, probably 8-10 years ago now.

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8 minutes ago, daveturnbull said:

I've got an old but quality separates receiver, cd player and a decent pair of big (Wharfedale) speakers that are buried at the back of either end of the top shelf. My choices are limited to whatever on the radio, or CDs, but it's nice to have decent quality sound.

I think I got the whole lot for less than £20 off Gumtree, probably 8-10 years ago now.

My amp is that kind, I’ve just got a phono to 3.5mm jack adaptor for the Bluetooth adaptor. 

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Going a bit wild here...

Cheap double-din car radio, e.g.:

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/7-LCD-Car-Stereo-Double-Din-Full-Touch-Screen-Radio-Audio-MP5-Player-FM-USB-AUX/373062679428?hash=item56dc44bb84:g:0AEAAOSwiOxeyOQD

Gets you FM radio for when you want it, and any content off your phone or SD card when you don't, hands free calling so you can answer the phone when your hands are covered in schmoo, 4x45W output, a remote control, RCA out if you want to connect to an external amp.

Some cheap speakers, fitted into your walls (true infinite baffle, almost...): https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/NEW-Cheap-Budget-700-Watt-6-x-9-Inch-Car-speakers-4-Way-pair-350-Watt-Each/142354731945?epid=7019561990&hash=item212500d3a9%3Ag%3AYEEAAOSwSypY95C8&LH_ItemCondition=1000

Combine with an old PC PSU for the 12V supply and you are away.

Stereo was the first one I came across, there are likely better ones out there.

 

 

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17 minutes ago, Bowie69 said:

Going a bit wild here...

Cheap double-din car radio, e.g.:

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/7-LCD-Car-Stereo-Double-Din-Full-Touch-Screen-Radio-Audio-MP5-Player-FM-USB-AUX/373062679428?hash=item56dc44bb84:g:0AEAAOSwiOxeyOQD

Gets you FM radio for when you want it, and any content off your phone or SD card when you don't, hands free calling so you can answer the phone when your hands are covered in schmoo, 4x45W output, a remote control, RCA out if you want to connect to an external amp.

Some cheap speakers, fitted into your walls (true infinite baffle, almost...): https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/NEW-Cheap-Budget-700-Watt-6-x-9-Inch-Car-speakers-4-Way-pair-350-Watt-Each/142354731945?epid=7019561990&hash=item212500d3a9%3Ag%3AYEEAAOSwSypY95C8&LH_ItemCondition=1000

Combine with an old PC PSU for the 12V supply and you are away.

Stereo was the first one I came across, there are likely better ones out there.

 

 

That’s a genius idea!

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1 minute ago, landroversforever said:

That’s a genius idea!

Ta, I have my moments, rarely, but I do.

 

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Posted (edited)

I have a 5.1 surround sound home cinema kit that used to be on my PC when I had a fixed tower. It's all up in the eaves so I have one speaker in each corner and a sub woofer on top of a storage unit. The input is via 3.5mm jack, so no Bluetooth or patchy connections. I stream music from my phone, which in turn is connected to the house wifi. You can get these systems for £50 for a fairly decent sounding one and the benefit to so many speakers is that you don't have to have it up loud as you'll be near a speaker no matter where you are. This was an important consideration for me as:

a. I have neighbours

b. I like terrible music

The cable runs for those systems tend to be fairly long too as they are designed for wide separation, which means you'll have plenty to go around - though admittedly mine did need some extending because of how I routed it.

On the more general subject of garage entertainment, I also have a old TV and Xbox so I can watch youtube or Motor Trend and teach myself things as I'm doing it, or, far more usefully, blow up diagrams to see what goes where without dragging a laptop around greasy/smashy things. Worth it even in a tiny garage like mine. 

GarageSetup.jpg.4a9a9ed022b4708e1c6884ed81989c2c.jpg

One to consider while you're thinking about these things.

Edited by ThreePointFive
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