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In Use

When I had everything connected, I powered the Sirocco back up and the Control Panel appeared (Figure 8).

Control Panel

Figure 8: Control Panel

From the Control Panel's main screen, I selected my remote Sirocco device and clicked the Connect button. Figure 8 shows the main screen with a single Sirocco device on my LAN. The main screen also showed that a good connection existed for the Windows XP SP2 install running natively on my MacBook Pro. Once you're connected, all audio from your computer is directed to the remote device. All applications such as iTunes, games, and DVD playing are supported normally.

For managing the sound playback parameters, Sondigo provides a number of configuration screens in which to adjust your settings. Figure 9 shows a Mixer menu where the balance and other settings can be adjusted.

Mixer Menu

Figure 9: Mixer Menu

Figure 10 shows the Effects menu, a more complicated menu where you have more control over the sound. In this menu you can adjust for the room size or adjust an equalizer, either with predefined values or manually.

Effects Menu

Figure 10: Effects Menu

Figure 11 shows the Audio Setting menu where you can define the type of speaker system you have and the use of digital and analog output for the device.

Audio Setting

Figure 11: Audio Setting

A quick wireless range test of the Sirocco showed that it worked well in my house. My access point is located in a poor location. It is in the basement around a lot of metal ductwork, around 7 feed and a floor away from my entertainment center. But I found I could use the Sirocco in most places in my home. Of course the poorer your signal, the more chance you'll have audio dropouts. The only signal strength meter shown was during the initial configuration when the device was connected via Ethernet. If you need to move the Sirocco around later, you may have to do some guesswork about the signal strength.

Another issue with the "Decode on the Computer" method used by Sondigo is buffer handling. It becomes difficult to feed a continuous stream of decoded music across a wireless LAN without occasional breakup. To address this, Sondigo provides a method to define the cushioning playback buffer size as shown back in Figure 8.

In my testing with the default one second buffer, I heard a (very) occasional "pop" that probably indicated that the buffer had run dry. Increasing the buffer size would address this issue for music, but trying to have a large buffer while playing a game or watching a movie would mean that the sounds would be out of synch with the action on the screen.

I'll also note that once I heard a slight "pop" from my speakers when I had no music playing at all. The Sirocco can also be used on a wired network, so if you have issues with the buffer running dry on your wireless network, and you have Ethernet available, my testing showed you'll likely get better performance with fewer dropouts using an Ethernet connection.

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