All posts for the month October, 2016

Amazon Music app hooked to sound system

Smartphone with Amazon Music app hooked up to sound system in media room

stereo phone plug to RCA phono plugs cable connects the wifi-only smartphone to phono jacks on our A/V receiver. You can use available audio inputs on your receiver, such as TAPE or VCR. Just don’t use PHONO; it requires a much lower voltage input.

If you have a Chromecast device, cast from your Chrome browser up to the big screen and sound system.

(See update at bottom for yet another way.)

Amazon Prime membership offers a free music opportunity: the Amazon Music with Prime Music app.

If you have purchased any music in any form from Amazon previously, it is likely to already be in your library. But note, some songs may be missing; see About Your Past AutoRip Purchases.

You can also upload 250 of your own MP3s free. After that it costs you. (That fact, and the internet bandwidth you use when you stream from the Amazon Cloud got me onto free Plex and Emby as ways to use our own home network for music and video at no cost.)

But in addition, a large number of new and classic albums are available for streaming by Prime members on the app. Add any album that tickles your fancy to your library. Free streaming playlists and “stations” a la Pandora are also available.

(There is an Amazon Music Roku channel, but it displays only the AutoRip music and what you have uploaded yourself, not this Prime material.)

Years ago, when I bought an LP album I really liked, I found that it went through three phases:

  • The hot period – Listen to it every day or week.
  • The rotation period – It still gets onto your turntable fairly frequently.
  • The dormant period – Revisit it on a yearly or decade-ly basis (or even longer!)

In the early 1990s, many people replaced their LPs with CDs. I bought a few CDs of my all-time favorite albums, but found that after one listen to the CD, it often returned to dormant status. Not really a good way to spend $$.

I did hang onto my LP collection, and I’m glad I did.

chicag-chicag_51analogjune1971But I traded my copy of Chicago Transit Authority to my brother for who-knows-what decades ago. It had long reached the dormant phase by the time we made the trade.

(I still have the June 1971 issue of Analog Science Fiction / Science Fact I bought with it.)

I got a yen to listen to it again recently after literally decades.

The other day, I listened to Chicago Transit Authority, plus Chicago II, and Blood, Sweat and Tears on Amazon Prime.

(My brother still owns all three albums. We saw Chicago at the Tulsa Assembly Center in 1972.)

Good music there, but it doesn’t have quite the same effect after all my listening in the intervening years.

CTA’s “Free Form Guitar” remains excruciating, and Chicago’s earnest early political posturing didn’t wear well, especially in light of their jettisoning it after Chicago V to become mostly hit-making smooth balladeers.

bloods-bloods_02I also might have soured a little on BS&T’s big hits from that album (“Spinning Wheel”, “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy”), having heard them way too many times in the 70s and beyond.

Plus, I recently saw two Merv Griffin shows circa 1970 on getTV, featuring Vegas entertainers working out on the BS&T hits with cheesy dance moves. No doubt these performers were baffled by the “kids’ new music” and grabbed onto the big band charts like a life preserver.

Nevertheless, the musicianship and diversity of material of both groups is still worth listening to.

georgebenson_breezin_107nGeorge Benson’s Breezin’ is an album I never owned, but whose hits were ubiquitous on the radio. It was too smooth for my taste at the time, but I remember seeing him with Glen Campbell on TV at some point in the 70s and realizing he is a monster guitar player (as was Glen Campbell).

It’s enjoyable today. A lot more was on it than just the overplayed hits, and even they benefited from a less time-compressed treatment.

(I saw him live at the JVC Jazz Festival in Houston in 1990 along with Miles Davis and Wynton Marsalis. My thought then was “You can take the man out of Vegas, but you can’t take the Vegas out of the man.” But he is still an incredible player, and has returned somewhat to his jazz roots.)

robintrower_rootsandbranches_5gmyMy Robin Trower LP collection stops at In City Dreams (1978). I was disappointed with the next one, Caravan to Midnight, and traded it at a used record store years ago.

But yesterday I listened to three of his more recent albums on Amazon Prime: 20th Century Blues (1994), Roots and Branches (2013), and Something’s About To Change (2015).

Dam’, the guy hasn’t been standing still. I hear nuances and harmonies that are definitely not from his original classic period.

(I saw him in the later 70s. What a massive sound “Long Misty Days” had in the Tulsa Assembly Center! I want to see him again next time he makes it to T-town.)

Crafty Amazon figures this is a good way to get you to try-before-you-buy. Albums available on Prime today may not be there tomorrow, necessitating a purchase if you still want to hear it. That’s OK with me.

This new music source goes well with my LP cover art slideshow on Chromecast, which reminds me of music I have and like.

Update, 11/16/2016: Just realized while writing the free Tulsa library music post that Raspberry Pi/PIXEL with Chromium browser is my best way of playing Amazon Music. No phone needed. Just a wireless mouse.

However, playing albums on the Amazon Music page (but not the Hoopla page) makes the Pi 3 run hot (a little thermometer icon pops up), yet I had attached the little adhesive heat sinks that came with the CanaKit Raspberry Pi 3 Kit I bought. There is no built-in fan. This is the first time I’ve seen a temp problem on the Pi 3.

Popping off the designed-to-be-removed clear case top improved air flow, but the icon eventually came back. A small external fan solved the problem. I ordered this USB-powered fan from Amazon for a permanent solution. Incidentally, the fan also lowered the temp of my original Pi by almost 30° F!

I learned the following from the Pi forum and Reddit/r/Firefox:

“All browsers are resource hogs. On the RPi you should NEVER open more than a few web pages at the same time. It will soon start swapping, because the browser will need more memory. You should restart the browser from time to time because it is caching a lot and will therefore use lots of memory.

“Both Firefox and Chromium are multi-threaded and use multiple cores. Some web pages are simply programs written in JS [Javascript] which are running all the time. This will take a lot of your processing power although nothing really seems to happen and especially when you are connected to multiple websites of this kind.

“A heat sink won’t help much without a good airflow. With most RPi cases the airflow is terribly bad or there is none at all. For my RPi3 I use a case with open sides and it almost never starts to throttle, even when all 4 cores are running at 100%.”


There is A LOT of JS loaded with Amazon. Was amazed when I watched my proxy logs and saw Amazon load.”