Solutions for the Sleepless

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We’ve all been there. It’s bed time and you look at the clock and 15 minutes have passed but you’re still wide awake. Tick-tock, tick- tock, you look at the clock again…..10 minutes have passed and you’re no closer to sleep. Now you’re getting frustrated and anxious. You need to fall asleep and the more you think about it the less likely you are to nod off . You know your partner is unknowingly rubbing it in by being sound asleep, but you decide to start World War Three by turning on your radio (or Kindle or iPhone) so you can distract your thoughts and finally get some much-needed sleep.  Sound familiar?

If so, we have some solutions for you.

Our first option is the SoftSpeaker Pillow Speaker – This little device is also known as the marriage saver.  It is soft enough that you can lay directly on the plush covered speaker or you can place it under your pillow. Plug it directly into the headphone jack of your device and you can listen to whatever you want without waking your partner.  Now you’ve avoided World War Three and you’ve gotten to fall asleep (or at least learned something interesting) making tomorrow a much better day than it would have been otherwise. We have this version of pillow speaker available with a volume control.

Our newest solution in the struggle for slumber is the Amplified Pillow Speaker.  We created it based upon feedback from users of the original SoftSpeakers and it is designed to overcome limitations with newer technology. We’d heard from many of our customers that the devices they were plugged into such as iPads, Kindles, iPhones, Chromebooks, etc. were “too quiet” or “barely audible”.  This has even been a problem for some radio listeners. This prompted us to create an amplified version to allow you to listen at a volume that works for you, even when the device you’re using wants to limit the loudness. Whether the issue is your device or the fact that your ears don’t work the way they used to, the Amplified SoftSpeaker Pillow Speaker will allow you to get rid of the earbuds and the frustration of getting tangled up and enjoy your audio books, Netflix or radio show at the volume you prefer.

If you aren’t sure which solution is right for you, please call us and we’d be happy to walk you through making a selection.

Getting a good night’s sleep may be more important than you think.  According to the National Sleep Foundation, there are many negative health effects from inadequate sleep ranging from unsafe driving to heart disease. Listening to 45 minutes of music before falling asleep relaxes your parasympathetic nervous system, which helps your body relax. Sleep is such a hot topic, Oprah’s O Magazine had an entire section dedicated to it in January’s issue.

Enter to win! Do you listen to something to help you fall asleep at night? Please tell us in the comments below and be entered to win the Pillow Speaker of your choice. Drawing to be held February 20th. Please one entry per person.

A Hacker’s Guide to Alexa

FM Transmitter 2 with Amazon Alexa Echo DotAnother meaning of “hacking” is to “clear a path”. In this case I want Alexa to perform the way I want. I warn you I’m the guy who disabled the annoying “Bixby” button on my S8 android phone by gluing it down with two small dabs of clear silicone. This glue can be removed in the event of some incredible cosmic event where Bixby has something to offer me. Smart phones are only tools.

I am also completely uninterested in smart speakers including Alexa’s even with its extensive abilities except one . . . radio. I have seen oral navigation to a favorite radio station end up in terse arguments with a robot which keeps adding perceived insults to the request. The app that downloads to your phone is a not bad as long as you are willing to press the button a few times until it makes a selection. You can scroll through your history to find your favorite station without opening your mouth. This is particularly good when changing stations in the middle of the night. We keep the Alexa mic off after reflection of some of our home discussions. Question:  Can two people download the Alexa app and control one device?

I tried plugging Alexa close to my CCRadio 2E so I can plug it into the “audio-in” port. Unfortunately, the Alexa’s switching power adapter destroyed AM reception. I prefer over the air radio when I can get it because internet radio advertising is many times more repetitive and demeaning (IMHO). Plugging Alexa into another circuit about 25’ away solved the noise problem. Using an FM transmitter from Alexa to my CC Radio solved the transmission problem and gave me audio clarity I enjoy and an expanded radio dial that has infinite possibilities. There are a few potential obstacles to be aware of before you try an FM Transmitter.

  1. Some locations have a full dial of strong FM stations. You can check https://radio-locator.com/cgi-bin/vacant for a vacant station slot or tune the dial for dead air.
  2. The FM Transmitter-2 is low power so it only goes a maximum distance of about 45 feet line of sight with no obstructions.  In my location I was getting less. You can search “FM transmitter 2 mod” for user solutions if you’re not getting the range you need.

My predominant source of enjoyment is news (BBC), podcasts and late night radio, but I do love good movies and books too. I don’t think I am the only one who has shut off their cable after realizing all they want is keep your eyeballs looking at a screen any way they can in exchange advertising dollars.

Enter to Win: Do you have a smart speaker? If so, which one and how do you use it most? Have you found any useful tricks? Please answer in the comments below and be entered to win the FM Transmitter 2. Drawing to be held February 9th. Thanks! Please only one entry per person.

Congratulations to Charles Arneson on winning the FM Transmitter 2!

Wireless Audio Demystified

WirelessAudio-ThenNowWe’re living in a world full of contraptions that were once considered futuristic concepts. For audio lovers, this is a particularly exciting time. With the development of digital audio technologies, we’ve experienced incredible reductions in physical device sizes, while data storage capacities have increased greatly. More recently, wireless technologies have enabled audio to be transmitted from source to speakers without cables; however, many of us may be confused by the many wireless audio options that are available. This article will hopefully help clarify the differences among the various technologies and may serve well as a platform for further research.

Wireless Audio- The Basics

Despite many differences, all wireless audio systems share some common components: an audio source (this can be a Radio, a television, a stereo receiver, a smartphone, really anything that has an audio out or headphone jack), a transmitter, a receiver, and an audio amplifier. The audio source is the device that contains the audio signal. The transmitter receives the audio signal from the source and then transmits the signal wirelessly. The receiver picks up this wireless signal and passes it to the audio playback device which plays the signal back as audible sound.

WirelessAudio-SignalChainKeep in mind that wireless audio technologies deliver audio signals, not power, wirelessly. Depending on the design, wireless audio devices may be powered with batteries or with a power cable.

FM Transmitters

FM transmitters are great devices that serve a wide variety of applications. These devices are typically connected to the headphone jack (or audio output jack) of an audio source and are able to transmit the audio on vacant FM frequencies. These wireless FM broadcasts can then be received by any FM radio.

WirelessAudio-FMTransmitter

FM transmitters are very popular due to their ease of use and wide compatibility. The audio quality provided by FM transmitters is limited compared to other technologies. Top-notch FM transmitters may offer a frequency response of 30Hz to 15kHz. The operational range (i.e. broadcast distance) of FM transmitters varies. Some are low powered and will only transmit audio a few yards, while others may be able to transmit a signal 50 feet. The FCC places limits on the output power for these devices to prevent interference with licensed FM radio stations. The FCC output power limit is 250 Micro Volts at three Meters.

FM transmitters are often used to transmit audio from source devices like MP3 players, satellite radio receivers, etc. to car stereos, home theaters, or portable radios. Many times they can be found in gyms or fitness centers where they are used to transmit audio from televisions. People who are exercising simply tune their radios to the FM frequency listed below each T.V. to hear the audio. One point of confusion that often exists, is transmitting an AM signal over FM. The transmitter doesn’t “care” what is on the audio signal, it just uses the FM frequency band to send that signal to other devices on that same frequency.

One of the greatest benefits of FM transmitters is the fact that the transmitted audio signal may be received by any and all FM radios within range. As far as the radios are concerned, they are receiving an FM signal just like a normal FM radio station.

Bluetooth®

Bluetooth is a wireless technology that uses radio signals in the 2.4GHz band to transfer small amounts of data wirelessly over short distances. While Bluetooth can transmit various types of data, we will focus on its usefulness for wireless audio.

Many new mobile devices like tablets, smartphones, MP3 players (etc.), may already have Bluetooth communication technology built in. These devices are also capable of storing music or audio files, thus making them “audio source devices”. These Bluetooth devices may actually perform two functions of our wireless audio chain: the source and the transmitter. There are also Bluetooth transmitter devices which may be connected to the headphone jack of an audio source to transmit audio to a Bluetooth receiving device.

Bluetooth audio receivers are available in various forms. They may be devices which can be connected to input jacks on (non-Bluetooth) playback devices like home stereos, amplified speakers or headphones. Other times, they may be devices which are consolidations of Bluetooth audio receiver and playback device. These are typically stereos, amplified speakers, headphones, radios (etc.) which have integrated Bluetooth audio receivers.

WirelessAudio-Bluetooth

Providing 20Hz-20kHz frequency response, wireless Bluetooth audio offers better audio quality than FM transmitters. The operational range is about 30 feet with clear line of sight. A neat feature about Bluetooth is that because it can transmit data other than audio signals, it is possible for Bluetooth receiving devices to offer control of audio content such as fast-forwarding/rewinding, song skipping, pausing etc.

Most people familiar with Bluetooth may have seen the technology used in wireless earpieces for cell phone calls. (Some of us may just wonder why so many people seem to be talking to themselves nowadays.) Bluetooth is also used for mobile or home speakers systems. Since many new audio source devices (smartphones, MP3 players, tablets, etc.) feature Bluetooth technology, Bluetooth speakers offer a convenient and widely compatible way to playback audio without requiring special (proprietary) adapters, connectors, or docking mechanisms. This is one of the greatest strengths of Bluetooth technology in regards to audio. Due to the 30ft range of Bluetooth, audio products using this technology are typically optimized for single room (close range) environments.

WiFi

If you’re not familiar with the term “WiFi”, please click the link above to learn more. In regards to audio, WiFi offers the same provisions as Bluetooth, but the operational range is usually about 250 feet with clear line of sight. Compared to the mobile benefits of Bluetooth, WiFi is typically more of a home-based technology that is able to connect multiple devices together to form a network. This networking ability works out great for setting up wireless audio systems to serve entire buildings.

Many people may already have wireless networks in their homes. In these home WiFi networks, multiple computers, laptops, wireless printers, tablets, smartphones, etc. may all connect to a single WiFi router to share data between the devices. Music (or audio files) stored on one device may be shared via the WiFi network with the other connected devices.

WirelessAudio-WiFi-1

WiFi audio products follow the same basic signal chain as the other wireless audio technologies. WiFi audio source devices, WiFi audio transmitters, WiFi audio receivers, and WiFi audio playback devices are all available. Generally speaking, WiFi source devices are typically also transmitters. WiFi enabled playback devices (speakers etc.) are typically also receivers.

As with Bluetooth, there are also separate WiFi transmitter or receiver adapters which can be connected to external sources or playback devices.

WirelessAudio-WiFi-2

Proprietary

Some audio companies make wireless audio products which only work with other compatible products made by the same company. These wireless audio products are usually sold as transmitter and receiver kits. Often times, multiple receivers may be used to receive a wireless audio signal from a single transmitter or source. Products like these, which are only compatible with other products made by the same company, are considered “proprietary”. The benefit of proprietary products is convenience. Since the products are designed to work together, setting up and using the systems is typically an easy process.

Keep it Simple!

All of these mentioned wireless audio technologies provide great methods for sharing audio without requiring cables. No matter which type of wireless audio set up you’re considering, the easiest way to understand the system is to consider the signal chain.

WirelessAudio-SignalChain

Original article written for C. Crane by James Adams

25 Days Of Christmas

December 2nd, 2014:

Congratulations to winner Alan Wilson of the Senta Ally Bluetooth® Stereo Speaker w/ FM

CC BudsToday’s giveaway are the CC Buds.
For a chance to win, all you have to do is comment on today’s blog.

Today’s blog question: Real or Fake Christmas Tree?

The winners will be selected in a random drawing and will be announced tomorrow morning. Good Luck!

Give The Gift of Great Audio with our Portable Wireless Bluetooth® Speaker – The Senta Ally

Carolyn's niece performing her hula hoop routine with the Senta Ally Portable Speaker.

Carolyn’s niece performing her hula hoop routine with the Senta Ally Portable Speaker. Photos are copyrighted and cannot be used without consent of the owner.

 

With Father’s Day fast approaching and graduations for college and high school taking place around the world, we’ve been wrestling with what to give as a gift. We thought we’d share a personal story from our very own Carolyn, that elevated her to the “coolest Aunt” status and could possibly elevate you to a “cool” relative status as well.

Carolyn gave her niece the Senta Ally Portable Speaker as a gift: “My 19 year old niece is a drama major and enjoys going to street performances with friends in her home town.  She does a light-up hula hoop routine to music and puts on quite a show.  I sent her a Senta Ally last Christmas because she complained that hauling a radio around to play the songs on her phone was heavy and inconvenient.  She was thrilled that the Ally connects to her phone by Bluetooth, and that it’s so small and lightweight.  The volume is loud enough for sidewalk crowds to hear, and the audio quality gives her performance a pro feel.  I now have unchallenged “coolest aunt” status thanks to the Senta Ally Bluetooth® Speaker.”

The Senta Ally is a great sounding speaker and an excellent value for the money. See the Senta Ally in action and how easy it is to pair with your smart phone or Bluetooth® device. For other gift ideas click here.  We also have a great series on selecting the right speaker system for you .

 

Carolyn's niece with her Ally and Smart Phone.

Carolyn’s niece with her Ally and Smart Phone. Photos are copyrighted and cannot be used without consent of the owner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Bluetooth Logo and the Bluetooth® logo are registered trademarks of Bluetooth® SIG, Inc

C. Crane’s 30 Year Anniversary- 30 Days of Giveaways, Day 29!

Congratulations to yesterday’s winner KGRP77 for winning the Senta Ally Bluetooth® Stereo Speaker w/ FM, Charles Case for winning the Power Vivid® BR20 LED Light Bulb (Cool White) and Helen Scott for winning the GeoBulb®-II LED Light Bulb (Warm White). 

Today’s Blog Topic is: If you won the Lottery, what would be your first purchase?

Today’s giveaways are the CC Solar Observer AM/FM/Weather Windup Emergency Radio and the GeoBulb®-3 LED Light Bulb (Warm White). To participate all you have to do is leave a comment on today’s blog post. We will select two comments in a random drawing and post the winners Wednesday morning. Have fun!

GeoBulb®-3 LED Light Bulb (Warm White) & CC Solar Observer AM/FM/Weather Windup Emergency Radio

GeoBulb®-3 LED Light Bulb (Warm White) & CC Solar Observer AM/FM/Weather Windup Emergency Radio

C. Crane’s 30 Year Anniversary- 30 Days of Giveaways, Day 28!

Congratulations to Friday’s winner Steve Yoth for winning the CC SW Pocket AM/FM/SW Radio, Dan C for winning the Power Vivid® BR40 LED Light Bulb (Cool White) and Dennis Whitehead for winning the GeoBulb®-II LED Light Bulb True Color.

Congratulations to Saturday’s winner Sam Stewart for winning the CCRadio-EP AM/FM Radio w/ Lighted Needle & Dial, B Anurag for winning the GeoBulb®-II LED Light Bulb (Warm White) and Anna G for winning the GeoBulb®-II LED Light Bulb True Color.

Congratulations to Sunday’s winner Julie Mendelsohn for winning the Senta-40 Wooden Headphones w/ Carry Case & Detachable Fabric Cord, Fred for winning the GeoBulb® Under Cabinet Light Bar II (Cool White) and Tom Blackwell for winning the GeoBulb®-II LED Light Bulb True Color.

Today’s Blog Topic is: What did you do over the weekend?

Today’s giveaways are the Senta Ally Bluetooth® Stereo Speaker w/ FM, the Power Vivid® BR20 LED Light Bulb (Cool White) and the GeoBulb®-II LED Light Bulb True Color. To participate all you have to do is leave a comment on today’s blog post. We will select three comments in a random drawing and post the winners Tuesday morning. Good luck!

Senta Ally Bluetooth­™ Speaker & Power Vivid BR20 LED Light Bulb

Senta Ally Bluetooth­™ Speaker & Power Vivid BR20 LED Light Bulb

 

C. Crane’s 30 Year Anniversary- 30 Days of Giveaways, Day 27!

Today’s Blog Topic is: What’s one of the strangest things you’ve ever done?

Today’s giveaways are the Senta-40 Wooden Headphones w/ Carry Case & Detachable Fabric Cord, the GeoBulb® Under Cabinet Light Bar II (Cool White) and the GeoBulb®-II LED Light Bulb True Color. To participate all you have to do is leave a comment on today’s blog post. We will select three comments in a random drawing and post the winners Monday morning. Thank you for your participation!

GeoBulb® Under Cabinet Light Bar II (Cool White) and Senta-40 Wooden Headphones w/ Carry Case & Detachable Fabric Cord

GeoBulb® Under Cabinet Light Bar II (Cool White) and Senta-40 Wooden Headphones w/ Carry Case & Detachable Fabric Cord

C. Crane’s 30 Year Anniversary- 30 Days of Giveaways, Day 25!

Congratulations to yesterday’s winner Bob Confer for winning the CC Solar Observer AM/FM/Weather Windup Emergency Radio, Matthew Phillips for winning the Power Vivid® A15 LED Bulb (Warm White) and Matt for winning the GeoBulb®-II LED Light Bulb True Color.

Today’s Blog Topic is: What is your favorite movie?

Today’s giveaways are the CC SW Pocket AM/FM/SW Radio, the Power Vivid® BR40 LED Light Bulb (Cool White) and the GeoBulb®-II LED Light Bulb True Color. To participate all you have to do is leave a comment on today’s blog post. We will select three comments in a random drawing and post the winners Monday morning. Thank you for your participation!

CC SW Pocket AM/FM/SW Pocket Radio & Power Vivid® BR40 LED Light Bulb in Cool White

CC SW Pocket AM/FM/SW Pocket Radio & Power Vivid® BR40 LED Light Bulb in Cool White

C. Crane’s 30 Year Anniversary- 30 Days of Giveaways, Day 24!

Congratulations to yesterday’s winners Chris Anderson for winning the SoftSpeaker™-2 Pillow Speaker with Volume Control, Mark A. for winning the Power Vivid® BR20 LED Light Bulb (Cool White) and Suman for winning the GeoBulb®-II LED Light Bulb True Color.

Today’s Blog Topic is: What is your weather like currently? Are you in need of your NOAA Weather or Weather Alert Radio?

Today’s giveaways are the CC Solar Observer AM/FM/Weather Windup Emergency Radio, the Power Vivid® A15 LED Bulb (Warm White) and the GeoBulb®-II LED Light Bulb True Color. To participate all you have to do is leave a comment on today’s blog post. We will select three comments in a random drawing and post the winners Friday morning. Good luck!

CC Solar Observer AM/FM/Weather Windup Emergency Radio & Power Vivid® A15 LED Bulb

CC Solar Observer AM/FM/Weather Windup Emergency Radio & Power Vivid® A15 LED Bulb