Computer As Radio?

michael diemer

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Not sure if this is appropriate post here, but can't figure out where else to put it. If I want to use my computer (Gateway desktop) to play music instead of my radio, how much electricity does that consume? I like to have classical music on in the background (great for the mood as well as keeping demons away). But our commercial classical station went off the air recently, leaving me only with Public, which I can't get in stereo (also they talk too much and it's only classical part of the time). I know there are hundreds of online options (I particularly like one from Finland), but I hesitate to make my computer my radio for fear of the electric bill, and also the toll on the computer. Good idea or bad?
 

mjslakeridge

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I think with iheartRadio, you can "build your own station", based on the type of music you listen to. I haven't done this, as I always listen to one of two local talk radio stations that have poor over the air reception where I live, but the internet version is crisp and clear. One thing I have noticed is the iheartRadio stations are on about a 2 minute delay from the over the air stations. I called in to the sports talk radio station from another room in the house, and when I got off the air and went back to where my computer is located, I could hear the last 2 minutes of my call.

Unfortunately, the iheartRadio stations cannot broadcast the actual baseball or basketball games due to licensing issues (I guess), so I have to listen on AM radio, which at night are sometimes un-listenable even though I live within the city limits (Houston).
 

weberdarren97

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Playing music is not much of a payload. Most computers will not consume a noticeable amount of power unless you're making them do a fair amount of work. Playing audio is incredibly simple for a PC to do and really doesn't make it use much power at all, in fact it's almost idle usually.

As for software, I usually use iHeartRadio. https://www.iheart.com/

Pandora isn't too bad either. https://www.pandora.com/
 

Jonathan Cave

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If you have a mobile phone, use that as your music player and if it supports Bluetooth , buy a Bluetooth speaker.

A computers power draw from the wall varies depending on hardware specifications & use.

A bluebooth speaker and phone charged once a day will be less, i assume.
 

michael diemer

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Thanks! That's encouraging. I just need to figure out how to connect them. Computer is in basement, radio is upstairs. I'll probably go with a simple wire through the floor, with adapters at each end.
 

michael diemer

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Thanks for your reply, but I don't use a mobile phone at this time.
 

michael diemer

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Appreciate the reply, but I'm not using a mobile phone at this time (I know, shocking...).
 
There is no easy way to determine how much electricity your Gateway does consume. There are devices for consumer use which do just that. You can also try to figure this out by looking at your own electrical meter (with PC ON and OFF).

I would say you can budget power consumption like 200W max, or 4.8KWh/day (if radio plays non-stop). Multiply this by 365, then multiply by the price per KWh. If you get more than $50 - get a cheap tablet / second-hand phone / etc just for that.
 

mjslakeridge

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By radio I assume you have a receiver, which is an integrated amplifier/tuner. Those typically have RCA connections for inputs. Your computer will most likely have a 3.5mm TRS jack (usually green). So you will need to buy a cable with a 3.5mm TRS plug on one end and 2 RCA plugs on the other end (or make one yourself if you can solder).

Edit: Here is a link to a site with a 25' cable. They make them longer also:

http://www.mycablemart.com/store/cart.php?m=product_detail&p=1635
 

weberdarren97

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Good link, but there's something here that OP should know.

While that 25ft cable should be fine, 3.5mm and RCA cables longer than 30ft may need to be hooked up to a signal booster bc the signal can degrade over long cables. Those boosters are hard to come across nowadays and are often expensive if you can even find them.

If you need a cable longer than 30ft, I'd recommend using a different strategy for getting your audio fix.
 

michael diemer

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Great information. I thought about checking the electric meter. I should do it to get a ballpark estimate anyway. The current situation (no pun intended) is that my massive rooftop antenna feeds the downstairs stereo receiver, which has a zone 2 output, which goes to the upstairs receiver. So, in effect I'm now running two radios to get the signal upstairs. That may be just as bad as running one computer.

But what about wear and tear on the computer? also, is it more of a safety risk, having a computer on most of the day?

 

michael diemer

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Yes, no problem. I may even have a long wire hanging around somewhere. I can run it directly upstairs to the computer, they're in the same corner of the house, fortunately.
 

michael diemer

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Great point, but the distance will be well under 25 feet as both computer and radio are in same corner of house. also, we have low ceilings. The connection won't present much of a problem, I even have a long "wire" (single) cable that will do the trick, with adapters. Even though a single cable it transmits stereo. I'm not all that concerned about the sound quality. My serious listening is with the downstairs receiver. I just want good background music for the upstairs.
 

mjslakeridge

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Not a safety risk having the computer on all day. But all electronic devices will eventually die. I have a Pioneer receiver that is almost 40 years old and it still works. My current main computer is on for 12 hours per day and has been doing so for the last 4+ years. I have iheartRadio going for most of the day, listening to sports talk radio and other talk radio. Assuming you have WIFI from your router you could buy a cheap smartphone and connect to iheartRadio or similar over WIFI and keep it on the charger, and connect it's 3.5 mm output to your receiver and listen all day. I don't think you would even need a cellular phone plan to do that.
 

michael diemer

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Thanks, I'll consider the phone idea. At first, I think I will just try the desktop and see how that works out. If a phone or laptop seems more convenient and cost-effective, I may go with that down the road.
 

mjslakeridge

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A couple of additional internet music services I use are Spotify and Tidido. Both offer free versions, but on Spotify you have to listen to a 30 second promotion every 6 songs or so. I use them to listen to classic rock albums. I don't know how extensive their classical album collections are. You could create a free account on one or both and search around for the music you like. You may even be able to search around the sites without creating an account, but I am not sure of that since I have had accounts on both for quite a while.

If you want to save electricity, consider some powered computer bookshelf speakers that you could connect to your desktop, or a phone if you go that route in the future. That way you wouldn't have to run your receiver to listen to music. I got a pair of JBL Pro's for $10 at an electronics place that sells overstocked stuff. I think the JBL Pros were originally bundled with HP desktop computers. Not audiophile quality, to be sure, but they are fine for listening to music in the background. Mine came with a "wall wart" transformer that probably only consumes a few watts. Mine don't have an on/off switch, so I have the transformer plugged into a surge protector with individual on/off switches for each outlet. My Wife's computer has some small powered speakers that do have an on/off switch and a volume knob. I don't know the brand, just some generic ones my dad had laying around.
 

michael diemer

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Another great idea, the powered speakers. I have a pair, but they're used for my music computer (the one I compose on I mean). I really like my B&W bookshelf speakers so I'll go with those. If electricity consumption is too high I may rethink things.

As for the source of the music, I'm thinking more in terms of actual classical stations, so I can just listen, like I do now to public, but with more music, less talk. There are hundreds all over the world. There's even a dedicated Beethoven station somewhere! One for Bach too I think. but I like variety. Foreign ones are nice; you don't get as upset about the chatter, as you don't know what they are talking about anyway. [/i]
 

mjslakeridge

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I think with iheartRadio, you can "build your own station", based on the type of music you listen to. I haven't done this, as I always listen to one of two local talk radio stations that have poor over the air reception where I live, but the internet version is crisp and clear. One thing I have noticed is the iheartRadio stations are on about a 2 minute delay from the over the air stations. I called in to the sports talk radio station from another room in the house, and when I got off the air and went back to where my computer is located, I could hear the last 2 minutes of my call.

Unfortunately, the iheartRadio stations cannot broadcast the actual baseball or basketball games due to licensing issues (I guess), so I have to listen on AM radio, which at night are sometimes un-listenable even though I live within the city limits (Houston).
 
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