Preparation Pt. 6 – Adding music files / Integrate with Zumo 660

Introduction

In part 5 of this series, I talked about the big picture, and how to setup all of the communications gear efficiently.  Now, for the sake of this article, I’m going to assume that you’ve got all of your communications gear operating correctly, and you’re simply trying to figure out how to include/incorporate music into your audio/navigation/cellular platform.

There are numerous ways to skin this cat…

Let’s first understand what we’re trying to do, and then we’ll discuss the various ways available to us to meet the requirements or objectives.  In my case, I do not condone the idea of listening to music while riding on busy streets, or even at any time when you will regularly be coming up on intersections and decision points.  With that said, I’m trying to solve the problem of boredom, while riding for longer periods of time, on some of the roads in Argentina, and Chile (while on my excellent Patagonia adventure).

While driving on long stretches of Route 40 (Ruta 40), I assume that the road is well maintained, generally straight, but has fantastic, even magical vistas.  On roads like this, when I’m not concerned about lots of oncoming traffic, I figure that it will be nice to be able to listen to some music.  I do however assume that at varied distances and intervals, the Navigation system needs to alert me to a decision point, or an upcoming turn.

So, what I need is to be able to be listening to the turn-by-turn navigation instructions from the Zumo, but when there is not an immediate turn up ahead, I should be able to listen to music.

It seems to me that there are several ways to solve this problem.  So, let’s look at the different approaches, and try to figure out which approach is best.

  1. Play music from my iPhone, through the Scala G9, and have the Zumo interrupt the audio stream any time that it needs to alert me to an upcoming turn, or distance to target.
    1. Advantages
      1. The iPhone can play MP3, MP4, or AAC format files
      2. Syncing the music to the iPhone is very easy, using iTunes and a PC
    2. Disadvantages
      1. I’m concerned that since my iPhone is now powered on the rental bike, the battery will run out, and I’ll no longer be able to play music, or use the phone for any reason at all.
    3. If the bike has a USB charging port, or a cigarette lighter, I could recharge it periodically, but I’m looking for a better solution.
  2. Play music from the Zumo, through the Scala G9, and have the Zumo interrupt the audio stream any time that it needs to alert me to an upcoming turn, or distance to target.
    1. Advantages
      1. In this case, the music files will be storted on the Zumo, which consolidates all of my way points, routes, music, and maps onto a single device
      2. The integration of the media player, with the Zumo 660 Navigation is assumed to be the best integration possible (although this may not turn out to be true)
    2. Disadvantages
      1. The Zumo will only play MP3 files.  MP4 and AAC files cannot be found, and cannot be played on the Zumo
  3. Play music from another music player, through the Scala G9, and have the Zumo interrupt the audio stream any time that it needs to alert me to an upcoming turn, or distance to target.
    1. Advantages
      1. The media player I choose can be virtually any type of player at all
    2. Disadvantages
      1. It seems to me that this will cause me to have to integrate yet another device, into what is fast becoming a very complex configuration of parts and pieces

How to load files, and configure the devices

Option 1 – Play music from my iPhone, through the Scala G9

Content goes here

Option 2 – Play music from the Zumo, through the Scala G9

First of all, I’ve read numerous forums to try to understand what problems others are having and it seems that there are numerous questions that need to be answered.  So, I’ll simply ask and answer those questions, and hope that this will provide enough of an explanation in order to solve everyone’s issues.

Question: I’ve loaded music files onto the Zumo but when I try to access those files through the media player, I see an error message that says that there are no MP3 files availble

Answer: My experience was that while I loaded a number of files and directories into the Zumo, because iTunes is my primary music player, and because I’ve been updating my iTunes library quite a bit lately, all of the files that I chose were MP4 format, not MP3.  So, while I had loaded music, I did not load the files in the correct format.

Question: The “internal storage” on my zumo is almost full, so I want to load the music files on to a memory card, will this work?  if so, describe what having it “work” actually means.

Answer: Yes, you can use the extra memory card to store your music files, and once again, as long as the files are .MP3 format, the Zumo will find them, and allow you access to them

Question: If I install the files on the Zumo memory card, is there a specific place that I need place the files?

Answer: I’ve tested this a number of different ways, and all of them work.  On my PC, the Zumo Internal storage is mapped as the G: Drive and the memory card is mapped as the H: Drive.  I’ve placed music files (dream on.mp3) for Aerosmith as H:\garmin\Music\Aerosmith\Aerosmith’s Greatest Hits\Dream On.mp3.  I’ve also placed the rest of the songs from this CD into this same location.  In addition to the music by Aerosmith, I’ve also loaded files for Counting Crows, along the same lines.  Counting Crows files are at H:\garmin\Music\Counting Crows\This Desert Live\01 Hangingaround.mp3.  So, you can see that I’ve organized the files by Artist, Album, and Genre (since all songs contain metadata that describes their Genre).

All of those files are loaded off of the root for this drive, below the “\garmin\Music” folder.  I wanted to also see whether it was possible for the Zumo to locate and recognize the files if they were not located under the \garmin folder.  So, I loaded some more music at a different place in the folder hierarchy.

To test this other location, and to see what functionality will be presented, I loaded an Antonio Banderas CD at the root of the H: drive, rather than under the “garmin” folder.  In this case, the file structure is H:\Music\Antonio Banderas\Desparado\03 Jack The Ripper.mp3.  So, I’m loading songs onto the additional memory card, with some songs loaded under the H:\garmin\Music folder, and other songs loaded directly off of the root, at H:\Music folder.

When I open the Garmin, and select tools, and then media player, I am asked to browse all content.  The content from all 3 of the albums is available, and is presented through a single interface.  So, I don’t have to choose different points where the MP3 files are stored, simply by placing the files onto the memory card, the Zumo has found them, and presented them for playback.

All of the songs are indexed and presented in the standard iTunes format, where you can browse by Artist, Album, Song or Genre.  So, the answer to this question is that you do not need to place the files into any specific place, just load them on the Zumo, and they will be accessible, as long as they are .MP3 files.

Question: How do play lists work and how are they integrated?

Answer: I don’t know yet, I’m still working out the bugs, and am in the process of doing more testing.

Question: How does it sound?

Answer: If you’ve used a Bluetooth headset with a MP3 player, then you’re familiar with the issues that usually crop up when people are trying to objectively describe the quality of the sound for a given headset.  So, I will try to describe the level of quality in a pragmatic way, so that we can all move on, and make a decision about which of these configurations makes the most sense for you or for me.

It is undeniably true that when you play these MP3 files through the on-board speaker in the Zumo 660, they should like crap.  Trying to play rock and roll, or classical, or jazz, or for that matter, just about anything through a very small speaker that is mounted on the back panel of the device will not produce great results.  However, if you connect the Zumo to the Scala Rider G9 via Bluetooth, and play the music that way, you’ll find that the sound is quite good.  Don’t expect to get real-world, lifelike bass frequencies, as the speakers in the helmet are just not designed to produce extraordinary bass notes, they are there to faithfully reproduce the spoken word, and to also allow other audio streams, but their primary function is for human-t-human communication.  In this regard, they do very well, and the sound is quite acceptable.

Question: What type of music should we load, and does it matter

Answer: Now, we’re out of the realm of objective thoughts, and into the world of subjective thoughts and opinions.  But, this is my blog, and it’s my prerogative, right?  I think that if you’re going to listen to music while riding a motorcycle, you should be very careful to choose music that will help you get through those long stretches of pavement, but not compromise your ability to hear outside and other sounds.  For this reason, I tend to choose jazz, light rock, acoustic, and other music types and artists that meet my listening objectives.

Question: Did I miss anything?

Answer: Well, probably.  If I did, then ask a question or comment on this post, and I’ll try to address it.

About the Author

Cliff Musante

Cliff Musante is a technologist, business leader, motorcycle enthusiast, father, grandfather, and more. In June, 2013 his passion for motorcycles was revitalized, and he set out to ride across Patagonia. This 'Blog is the story of all of his adventures.

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