How to play internet radio & own music without TV on

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How to play internet radio & own music without TV on

Postby signalranger » Sat Aug 14, 2010 2:16 pm

Just got the Roku HD-XR. Is it possible to use the Roku to play internet radio stations and our own music (for example, mp3 and iTunes files on our own external HD) without keeping the TV on, by using the Roku non-HDMI ports (we use the HDMI ports on the TV for the Roku and another device) to connect to external speakers and say using a laptop to control the music?

While our LCD has good speakers, it has a fairly large screen, not a 60 in. monster but about 42 in., so it draws a lot of electricity. I would hate to keep it on just to play music.
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Re: How to play internet radio & own music without TV on

Postby Robert99 » Sat Aug 14, 2010 3:17 pm

signalranger wrote:Just got the Roku HD-XR. Is it possible to use the Roku to play internet radio stations and our own music (for example, mp3 and iTunes files on our own external HD) without keeping the TV on, by using the Roku non-HDMI ports (we use the HDMI ports on the TV for the Roku and another device) to connect to external speakers and say using a laptop to control the music?

My experience is that it works, yes.

Just cable up the ROKU to your stereo's auxiliary input, in addition to cabling it up to your TV. You then use the TV to find what you want to listen to, and then turn on your stereo (and adjust it to the auxiliary input) and you can continue to listen via the stereo even if/when the TV is off. And as an extra bonus, the audio from such an arrangement is often of higher quality than you get via a TV (which is why I'll often use the stereo to get the sound from a movie, instead of getting the TV's sound directly).

For example, I have my ROKU's left-right (analog) audio stereo outputs cabled up to a stereo, and the HDMI cable going to the TV. Since I'm using different ROKU outputs on each device, I don't even need a Y splitter cable to make things work. However, even if you use the same audio outputs for both devices, you can still use Y splitter cables to hook both up at the same time.

NOTE: If you don't have a full stereo that has support for an auxiliary input (and some cheaper stereos don't these days), you can also make do with just a set of powered computer speakers (i.e. any computer speakers that you plug in, because they contain their own amplifier). With the powered computer speakers you do have to get a little creative with the audio cables used (because you will need to convert from the ROKU's left-right stereo audio output jacks into the other gender mini-stereo plug most computer speakers use), but it does work with the proper audio cables (I tested that setup for a family member, and verified it worked).

NOTE: I use the ROKU's left-right audio jacks for "audio only". However, if your stereo supports the ROKU's digital audio output jack, that would presumably be another option to consider.
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Re: How to play internet radio & own music without TV on

Postby crassh76 » Sat Aug 14, 2010 3:33 pm

Are you trying to play it through your lap top or do you have a stereo or surround sound system? I use a digital optical cable to run sound to my surround sound and can listen to Pandora without the TV on or play movies from Netflix in surround sound. I use a HDMI cable for audio and video for some stuff but like my surrond sound when it comes to movies and music.
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Is there a way to use a regular computer LCD to browse?

Postby signalranger » Sat Aug 14, 2010 3:55 pm

Thanks that is what we were thinking of doing - our LCD TV has quite good sound - however we'd like to use good quality computer speakers for Roku audio while keeping the TV off.

It would be nice to be able to browse Roku radio/our own music without having to turn on the large LCD TV screen as well, but I guess for that we'd have to hook up another small LCD to the Roku with one of the non-HDMI cable options or with an HDMI splitter.

Is there a way to use a regular 17-19 in. computer LCD screen to browse the Roku?
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Re: How to play internet radio & own music without TV on

Postby crassh76 » Sat Aug 14, 2010 4:08 pm

Yes, use the A/V or S-video.
Roku2 XS S# 13A16X000466
Wifi 30 Mbps
Linksys WRT160N V3
Philips 47" LCD 1080P
Roku to TV by HDMI for A/V
Eastern Time Zone (Florida zip code 34987)
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Re: How to play internet radio & own music without TV on

Postby MoonChaser » Sat Aug 14, 2010 5:50 pm

I personally have my TV hooked up with the SD RCA Plugs (yellow video, R/W Audio) and I'm running an Optical to my home theater system. When using Pandora, I can turn off the TV and still get music through my surround system.

All outputs are "hot" all the time... no matter what you are using. use HDMI to the TV, Optical and R/W are still outputting signal. If someone wanted to, I imagine they could drive 3 tv's (one by HDMI, one by S-Video, one by SD RCA) and 2 audio outputs (R/W RCA, and Optical plus the audio integrated with the HDMI video feed) all simultaneously.
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Re: Is there a way to use a regular computer LCD to browse?

Postby Robert99 » Sat Aug 14, 2010 7:29 pm

signalranger wrote:Is there a way to use a regular 17-19 in. computer LCD screen to browse the Roku?
Depends upon the monitor. If the monitor only supports VGA, than it would be more trouble than its worth (as you would need something like an HDMI to VGA converter to make it work).

However, if your monitor supports one (or more) of the video formats that the ROKU has, than it is pretty easy to just hook the ROKU up to the monitor. For example, some monitors have composite video in, others support S-Video, and some newer monitors even support HDMI (for example, I have an 19" LCD that supports HDMI, which I used with the ROKU before getting my 32" LCD TV).

NOTE: If your computer monitor supports DVI (a computer monitor input format), you would also have the option to pick up a cheap HDMI to DVI converter. Since the HDMI and DVI specs are so similar, the HDMI to DVI converters are cheap to make (and therefore can be had for only a few dollars, if you hunt around).
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