I bet you’ve got a gorgeous singing voice. And with those poptastic Stock, Aitken and Waterman hits on your iPhone/iPod touch’s playlist providing a backing accompaniment, you sound like a velvet-wrapped angel drowning in honey.
The problem is, the most acoustically tuned room in your house - the shower - is no place for an expensive bit of water-sensitive multimedia technology like an iPhone. Fortunately, Pocket Gamer is here to put the 'tune' back into your bathroom’s iTunes, while keeping your iPhone, iPod or China’s finest generic MP3 player safe and dry.
Like all brilliant ideas, this one is as simple as the guy who came up with it, and they don’t come much more simplerer than me. Yet it’s so devilishly ingenious you’ll be forced to wonder how simple you are, given that you didn’t come up with it yourself.
Feeling mucky, yet tuneful? Then let’s get you ready for a spectacular shower-based chorus.
Step 1: An FM Transmitter
The option to get your playlist pumping out of a midi hi-fi or car radio isn’t a new one. The wealthy can buy Apple branded FM transmitters for your iPhone or iPod, but my advice is to go for something a little more generic.
As always, eBay is your friend when it comes to cheap electronics, and going for an FM transmitter that plugs into the headphone socket through a standard 3.5mm jack plug (rather than Apple’s proprietary connector) ensures that this transmitter will be just as useful for your iPhone as it would be for an MP3 player, laptop or anything else with a headphone socket and a drive full of MP3s.
The only thing to watch out for is a bit of impedance matching. This means not turning up the volume too high on your iPhone, or you’ll distort the music in the narrow FM bandwidth, and could potentially harm the transmitter’s pre-amp.
Set the volume to about half, and only turn it up in small increments if absolutely necessary.
It’s worth noting that no matter how much you crank the volume up, the iPhone is safe. It’s the transmitter that’ll get the headache.
Step 2: The shower-proof radio
Ah ha - now you see where we’re going, you songful soapy so and so.
You can pick these up all over, and there’s a bunch of different ones to choose from. For the most part, you shouldn’t need to spend more than 15 quid, and again, eBay can be a big help if (like me) you’re happy with a Chinese cheapy.
As with the FM transmitter, a digital tuner is no bad thing, as setting the transmitter and the radio to the exact same frequency can be irksome with a manual tuner.
To be honest, if you’ve got an old battery powered radio that you don’t really care that much about, it doesn’t even need to a proper waterproof one - just put it over by the sink or something (of course, this can make pumping up the volume mid-rinse a bit annoying, and it isn't going to last forever).
Step 3: What's the frequency, Kenneth?
Switch the radio on in the same room as your iPhone (i.e., not the bathroom), and start scanning through the FM bandwidth.
What you’re looking for is white noise between radio stations. Don’t be fooled when you pass by 'silent gaps’: these are likely to be adjacent channels to a broadcast station, and the quality won’t be as good as if you find a nice bit of loud, hissing white noise.
The upper and lower registers (around 88/89 on the lower end, 108 up at the top) is a good place to look.
Once you’ve found your patch of white noise, leave the radio on, and hissing. Start some music playing on your iPhone (or iPod or MP3 player or lappy or whatever), set the volume to about half, and then plug in and turn on the FM transmitter.
Set the FM transmitter to roughly the same frequency as the shower radio, but don’t be surprised if you need to tweak it up and down to get the best signal (there’s always some drift in cheap electronics).
Having the music already playing will help you to get the strongest, clearest signal, and to make sure you've tuned in to your iPhone and not a radio station (pause and restart the music, if you need to check).
If need be, you can increase the volume on the iPhone to strengthen the transmission a little, but there’s no point if it’s getting through nice and clear - just turn the radio up instead.
And there you have it - MP3s in the shower, and you’ll even hear the iPhone ringing if you get a phone call. You won’t be able to answer it, but at least you know someone wants to talk when you get dried.
Additional: Nowhere good to leave my iPhone
If you have to bring the iPhone into the bathroom with you (let’s say you’re a student, or a squatter, or some such communal dwelling entity) and leaving the iPhone and FM transmitter in the next room is unwise, here’s an easy way to waterproof the set up.
Get a sandwich or freezer bag (after first checking it’s not got any holes in) and dump the iPhone and transmitter inside, before sealing it good and proper with a clip, or Sellotape, or a twisty thing.
It’s still a good idea to put it under your towel and well away from the shower, of course, but this should keep thing dry, yet funky.