Back on the main interface there’s the PA Value slider for signal strength, which the seven-page illustrated Word document posing as a manual recommends is set on maximum. There’s a Play button too, which is more complex than it seems, but more on that in a moment. The two arrow keys set the broadcast frequency that appears in the display above, and the speaker icon mutes the output.
The transmitter software features broadcast options to suit receivers in different territories
When it comes to the Play button, the perceived wisdom is that it appears as a triangle when it’s inactive. When playing, the icon toggles to show parallel lines to suggest you click on it if you want to pause the playback. Alas, this application has it round the wrong way. The triangle shows when it’s playing, along with the broadcast frequency. When it’s paused, the transport button and the frequency display changes to those parallel lines.
If you’re the sort who takes the intuitive approach to set things up, you could be in for a bit of head scratching given this reversal of conventions. The easiest way to remember what mode you’re in is, if you can see the frequency display, then you’re broadcasting.
When you’ve chosen the frequency you want to broadcast on, you simply play whatever you fancy. Unlike an Internet radio, the choice is made from the computer and the tuned in FM radios are slaves to the rhythm. I tried out Internet radio stations from iTunes, shared media from my Nas, even the BBC’s Listen Again service, testing with five different radios, all without a hitch. CDs played too, as did DVDs, the radios picking up the audio and presenting no lag whatsoever with A/V synchronisation during playback.
Within the home, the reception was quite good with just the TX Value needing pushing up slightly to match volume expectations. In most cases, interference could be dealt with by repositioning the receiving radio’s aerial. There was even enough reach for garden listening; tuning in with a PMP. That said, the further the distance, then the fewer obstructions the better and if you wander about, interference does creep in. As with indoor use, it’s really a matter of positioning for best reception.
Playing dumb: the software's play/pause conventions are reversed
Sonically, there is some low level hiss present which, for the most part, is going to be buried by ambient noise in most listening environments. It was only during quiet passages with the amplification turned up loud that this became obvious, and most music will drown it anyway. Whines and buzzes were largely kept at bay by repositioning the transmitter wire – the device itself even has an eyelet at its end to hang it up with.
Sounds great right up until you forget you've got it plugged in and are broadcasting your gaming / skype conversations and porn viewing habits to the neighborhood :)
This is nothing new, I used to pick up my Acorn Electron's audio output on an FM radio back in 1984. Admittedly it was due to lack of RF shielding rather than design, but I found it quite amusing at the time.
Pity it doesn't just work like a USB sound device
That would have avoided the need for any special software on any kind of CD, and would have made it work with Mac OS and Linux too.
Would-be private broadcasters station in a package
All those would-be pirate broadcasters could hang a suitably sized wire on this device and have themselves a low power station! Ofcom's nightmares realised!
More seriously these would be handy for playing language courses or other computer-bound sound files to play through a sound systems without all those interconnecting wires.
New country alert
Interesting that 75uS pre-emphasis is used in 'USB and Japan'!
I know that the US has had a pummelling of late, perhaps it has been downgraded!