Automating listening to Vinyl records using NFC - post No 42, The answer to life the universe and everything!

 There's a good chance that this I say last post for a while. I've sold my house. Funnily enough to an Apple employee... so they are pretty happy the house is HomeKit ready!.

I'll be starting all over again, in another country... the UK.

But, on to the subject!

I'm an old fart, and my music taste is from the late 70's onwards. By late 70's I mean Punk, New Wave and Mod Revival/Power Pop, delving into the New Romantics a little. It means I have some rare records that you can't find on any music service... plus I object to paying again for music I've already paid for. This means that over a great deal of time I digitised my Vinyl Collection, which is about 250 albums and roughly the same number of Singles.

I did this using a Mac mini and Audacity. It's quite a laborious process, as you have to play the record, then use Audactity to chop it up into tracks, and that is once you have set the level correctly. I also got better at it the more I did it, so I had to redo some records. Still, I finished it as an exercise and now I just have to do it occasionally as I add new vinyl... and Audacity has got better as it can now make a good guess as to when you get a track break.

So, now I have all of these records and I've digitised the content, and it's all in my Library in Apple Music, so what's the big deal?

Well, Vinyl is a very different experience than digital. To start off with it is more tactile and more visual. Sometimes it is exactly the same as Digital in that you want to play a specific album. Digital also is much better at browsing by Artist (Although all my Vinyl is in Artist order and then release order within ana artist), or by style of music. What I find, though, is that the Digital experience does not give you the browsing experience you get with Vinyl, where you flick through your collection with the thought of "I want to listen to some music", but not knowing what. I wanted to recreate that experience.

Enter the NFC tag.

I bought a bunch of NFC tags from Amazon, and tagged all my albums, which are in plastic sleeves (Another job I had meant to do and finally did).

Only for Sheep by The Bureau. Only released in Australia and Canada.

The idea is to be able to point the phone at the NFC tag and then the record will play on my Living Room Amp, which is a Denon AVR and is AirPlay 2 compatible. I've described my setup in one of my earliest posts. The reason for choosing my Living Room amp is that I have assumed I'm looking at my Vinyl, and thus I am in the living room.

So, now all I have to do is to program my phone to play the record. Each record takes about 2 minutes, so there is a time investment, but you don't have to do them all at once.

Following is the step by step Guide.

Open ShortCuts,a nd then elect Automations.

Select the "+" in the top right hand corner.

Create a Personal Automation. I wish you could do this as a Home Automation, so you can set it up for everyone.. but you can't :-(

Scroll down, and you select "NFC"

Tap on "Scan"

Now hold your phone up to the NFC tag, and it will scan in the tag.

Give the Tag a name. Be careful here because you can't change a misspelling, you have to scan again! Here you can see that I'm doing the Tag for the Album "Soft Parade" by "The Doors".

Select "Next"

Now you have to add what you want to do. So select "+ Add Action"

Select "Media"

Scroll down and select "Set Playback Destination"

It automatically defaults to the device you are on. Select "iPhone"

It now lists all the destinations you have. I selected "Amplifier". Note, you can get it to ask if you wish.

Optionally you can add another action to set the volume. I set mine to 50% every time.

Now you want to tell it what to play.

You'll need to scroll up, and then select "Play Music"

Type in what you want, in my case it was "The Doors"

I selected "The Doors - Artist". Sometime sit may show teh album you want at this level, but not in this case.

I then Selectd the Album "Soft Parade"

Now you can select a track if you wish, but if you want the whole Album, you select the + in the top right hand corner

The reason for selecting destination and volume first is because if you selected what to play first you will find you lose the first second or so of the music.

Now click "Next"

Optionally deselect "Ask Before Running". I can't see the point of asking s you'll only be playing music.

Select "Don't Ask", and then "Done"

And that's it!