I discovered a way to do something I have wanted to do since the 1970s. (No, I didn’t get rich selling bongs.)
Like most music fans of the era, I would put an LP on the turntable, then sit and stare at the album cover and read the liner notes while listening.
I had always wanted to display an array of LP art on the wall, but never found a way that was satisfactory.
One thing I really missed when CDs came in was the large-scale cover art.
Recently, I moved my old 1977 turntable and 1984 cassette deck into the theater room. They are now integrated into our system using my Logitech Harmony remote. When I select Phono or Tape, among all the many other “Activities”, the receiver is set to the correct input.
Of course, I still have to get up to change the records or tapes. Maybe I will have a robot to do that, and serve cocktails as well in a decade or so. (Other things that may happen in the future: The lighter side of transhumanism)
I currently participate in a Facebook group that discusses “analog music of all types and the equipment we play it on. Cassette, reel-to-reel, 8-track and of course, vinyl.”
Just a few days ago, I mentioned there that you could use a Chromecast device to show photos and art from Google while listening to your analog recordings.
But then I thought of using Chromecast to display custom LP cover photos. Turned out to be easy.
If you use any Google online apps such as Gmail, Google Drive, YouTube, etc., you already have access to your own Google Photos account. You can upload an unlimited number of photos to it without using any of your Google Drive storage allotment, and create photo albums for free, as long as you select High Resolution in Settings rather than Original resolution. The High setting is more than adequate for this purpose.
I found a site called AlbumArtExchange.com with a vast catalog of easily searchable LP cover art. I downloaded a few favorites into a folder on my PC, then used Google Photos to upload them. Then I created a photo album there called “LP Covers” and added the images to it.
Now using the free Android Google Cast app on my smartphone, under Devices, I selected Edit Backdrop. I turned off every source of photos and art except Google Photos.
Under Google Photos on the app, my new LP Covers photo album appeared. I checked its box.
Voila, when I turned on the TV and selected the Chromecast device input, there was a great-looking slideshow with my art! Note that it creates an attractive backdrop for the art as well.
Aside from finding lots more LP covers to upload, I did a few more things:
Used the app to control the speed of the display (sped it up). Note that your photos are downloaded from the internet, so it will use some bandwidth. We have the next-to-bottom tier of service with Cox. But even with all our TV/movie streaming, we have rarely used more than half our 250 GB allocation in a month. I looked at the past several days of usage to see if there was an increase. Couldn’t tell any difference. Just an FYI.
Started a free account with AlbumArtExchange.com. The advantage is not having to complete Captcha boxes so often.
Again, make sure you have selected High Resolution rather than Original in Settings, so you don’t use up any of your free space with Google.
I also added “soft” buttons on my Harmony remote’s Chromecast Activity so I can switch between turntable, cassette, FM tuner and Chromecast sound without disrupting the ongoing slideshow.
If you don’t have a fancy remote like this, just select Chromecast on your TV, and operate your old-school equipment separately.
I love the result. I’ve been adding lots more images to the show. Mostly I have covers from my old favorite LPs, but some are for CDs, and a few albums that I have only on mp3. Another benefit is the stream of reminders about music I really like. I used to sit in front of my album collection and mull over which one I wanted to hear next.
As you can see above, this beats any possible previous idea I might have had for displaying cover art. It even shows the time, temperature and a current conditions icon for Tulsa!
Hope you enjoy it, too.