"Somewhere There's Music..."
When I wrote my first blog post about “Music + Audio” for this site in December 2015, I spoke of some of the ways in which my spouse and I were listening to recorded music in our home that particular day as an illustration of how much things had changed from the preceding decades of playing LP’s and, later, CD’s. The three different ways of streaming music I described at the time were: 1) using an Apple TV in the kitchen to tune into a free internet jazz radio stream, 2) listening to a classical station on Sirius XM via the iPad (with a Bluetooth-connected Bose speaker) , and 3) sampling a new jazz artist on the Apple Music subscription service on another the desktop Mac in my office.
All three of those approaches are still options in our digital household today, but my current “go-to” music delivery system of choice is a hardware/software combination created by Bose Corporation and branded as their “SoundTouch” line of wireless speakers and related devices. My discovery of Bose’s SoundTouch technology came about during our preparations to relocate from New England to Nova Scotia in the summer of 2017.
Our media room in the Avon, Massachusetts house where we had lived for 21 years was equipped with a 7.1 channel AV system driven by a Sony receiver, which served as both a home theater setup for video and a music listening center. The home theater setup in Avon employed eight installed speakers which did not lend themselves to an easy relocation. Fortunately, the new homeowners were interested in buying the existing setup in place, giving me the opportunity to start fresh with something that might be better suited (and less obtrusive) for our farmhouse living room.
Enter the world of “soundbars”, where rather significant strides in audio have occurred in recent years. I had no previous experience with soundbars as a replacement for a conventional AV system, but was willing to give them a look, based on their compact profile and our need to conserve space in own new home. Unlike stand-alone speakers, which require a separate amplifier, powered soundbars are self-contained systems, which can dramatically reduce the amount of space required in a room.
When I sampled a Bose Soundbar 300 at a Bose Store at a nearby outlet mall, I was blown away by the sound quality and capabilities for such a slender, low-profile unit. The SoundTouch Soundbar 300 can also be paired with wireless satellite surround speakers as well as with a wireless subwoofer. Using the Bose listening room at the outlet mall, I decided that a pair of surround speakers would enhance the spatial dimension of the sound, but felt the subwoofer would not be needed, given the amount of bass response built into the soundbar itself. Our movie viewing enjoyment no longer requires the room-shaking movie special effects that subwoofers typically bring to the party.
At home, I tested the new soundbar in place of my eight-speaker setup and was amazed that I could get the equivalent (or better) sound response from the Bose soundbar/satellite combination, but my home testing of the Bose soundbar before moving led me to another surprising discovery. The SoundTouch software that accompanies the hardware, when paired with either my iPhone via a Bose mobile app or my computer via a Bose desktop app, opens a door to a wide range of music sources that can be played directly through connected SoundTouch devices. Some of these sources are free, such as internet radio stations organized by genre, and my own wifi-accessible iTunes music library housed on my computer. Other music sources accessible through the Bose app are available to paid subscribers, such as Sirius XM, and Spotify.
Based on the features of the SoundTouch software, I also purchased two Bose SoundTouch Wireless Link Adapters for our kitchen and office in the new house. These Link Adapters are essentially small square boxes (about the size of a hockey puck) that connect wirelessly through your home wifi network to the internet and have audio output jacks that allow any speakers to be connected to play the sound sources that are available through the SoundTouch software.
The above described items of Bose hardware proved to be just what the doctor ordered to satisfy our sound and music source streaming needs in a compact way in our Nova Scotia house. The “cherry on top” of the whole Bose venture was a hidden gem known as Jazzgroove.org, a streaming jazz radio station that happened to be pre-selected on the Bose SoundTouch software when I first explored the app.
Jazzgroove.org quickly became our “all-day, everyday” music choice playing in our kitchen (our cats love jazz too - that’s why they’re called cats), from the day we first unboxed the Bose equipment in our Nova Scotia house. Jazzgroove.org is a professionally-curated, commercial-free, not-for-profit streaming radio service based in San Francisco, California. We happily make a monthly contribution to The Foundation to Advance Jazz (the organization responsible for jazzgroove.org) to help keep them going. If you love jazz, or simply want appealing, affirming music in your life, check out this terrific resource. Jazzgroove.org has its own stand-alone iOS app, which provides an easy way to tune into this resource from your iPhone or iPad.
By now, some of you may have figured out that the title of this blog post happens to be the opening line of the classic jazz standard “How High the Moon”, immortalized by Ella Fitzgerald and later popularized by Les Paul and Mary Ford (they are featured in the photo thumbnail for this blog post). Your day will be enriched by taking a listen to “How High the Moon by either Ella or Les and Mary. Enjoy!