I have been enjoying listening to the Naxos Music Library. (Some of this post originally appeared in an email message to my sister.) If one joins the sheet music library IMSLP, at a cost of about $20 for a year, one gets access to the Naxos Music Library! This is quite vast, over a million tracks. They are not all Naxos recordings, either; NML seems to have licensing agreements with a lot of other labels. There are only two drawbacks that I have found:
- it doesn’t support gapless playback – only an issue with a composer like Wagner or Puccini, where one section segues into another. (I had a free trial of Deezer for three months, and that doesn’t do gapless either; at least for Android.)
- it doesn’t have Chromecast capability. However Apple households are in the wrong ecosystem to use Chromecast.
I can play it back through my all-analogue valve stereo through a slightly Heath Robinson arrangement, which I describe below. (A modern stereo could probably use Bluetooth.)
I first tried casting a Chrome tab to my Chromecast. This worked fine, but the sound was a bit harsh. Enter a bit of slightly old-hat magic called MHL. This is something I only stumbled on when looking through the user manual for my Cambridge Audio disc player. MHL is an audio standard; I had never heard of it until a few weeks ago. It answers the present purpose, however, in allowing me to connect my old Samsung tablet to the disc player. Why do I want to put a digital audio stream through the disc player? The latter has a good digital-to-analog converter, which removes the hardness from a digital audio stream.
To use MHL one needs stereo equipment and a device (phone or tablet) that are both compatible. Look under “Home theatre” and “Mobile” on this list to see if you have the magic double. A HDMI cable and a special connector is also required to link everything up. The latter is el cheapo; I just got this from eBay, for about $12.
It is a bit of a fiddle to hook it all up, but not difficult:
- plug one end of the HDMI cable into one end of the connector, and the other into the disc player
- connect the mini HDMI cable from the connector into the tablet or phone
- scroll through the HDMI inputs on the disc player until it is looking at the correct one
- on the tablet or phone, connect to the IMSLP web site
- navigate to Naxos Music Library and follow that link
- in NML, select a piece of music and play it.
IMSLP membership only entitles you to the lower sound quality from NML. However, I think the sound is very good. Streaming music eats up a lot of battery on the old tablet; I just start with it fully charged.