Pinnacle – SoundBridge HomeMusic review

Wi-Fi media streamer for the home
Photo of Pinnacle – SoundBridge HomeMusic
£91

Many people now keep their music in digital form on their computers, downloading the tracks they want to play to a portable music player which they can take with them when they leave the house. When at home, though, music entertainment is often more fragmented, with CD players or radios in different rooms in the house. It’s rare that you have immediate access to your entire music collection.

Pinnacle’s SoundBridge HomeMusic aims to change that. It will connect to your computer, specifically to the folders that contain your digital music, and play your audio back over a wireless network. It’s a simple, cylindrical box with a 2-line, 16-character LCD display and a remote control, and it connects into any sound system or set of headphones for playback.

Before it can act as a client for your music, you have to set up the media server on your PC (it works with Macs, too). Pinnacle recommends an open source product called Firefly but to run this you need to install a piece of Apple networking software called Bonjour, first.

Neither installation is particularly tricky and both work automatically so, once installed, the SoundBridge HomeMusic automatically picks up and connects to the server. During the server installation, you aim it at the top level folder containing your music. The server software then makes it all available and you can browse through it, using the Pinnacle remote, by artist, album or genre.

Playback quality is good and there’s no unsightly aerial sticking out of the back of the unit, as it’s self-contained within the case. The device’s usefulness doesn’t end there, though. Internet radio is also built in, so if your wireless gateway has a broadband connection, you can choose from a huge range of different music and talk radio stations, from all over the world.

Music tracks are still titled on the SoundBridge HomeMusic display as they play and the display scrolls so you can read full sentences. Even so, it would be useful to have a larger display. Interestingly, the unit is very similar to the Roku SoundBridge M1001 (www.rokulabs.com), as Pinnacle has licensed the technology. The Roku unit, though, has a much larger display, making it that much easier to use. It’s available for around £125, if you shop around.

This is a WiFi-only device; there’s no Ethernet port, but then it only really comes into its own when used wirelessly. The key advantage of the SoundBridge is that you can have all of your music anywhere in your house.

Company: Pinnacle

Contact: 01895 442003


Verdict
This is a handy little device which extends use of your digital music collection to any room. At the price, you probably wouldn't buy one per room, though these things invariably get cheaper with time and it might be a viable option in a year or so.