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5.1 Sound Card Delivers 3 Streams of iTunes 259

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the that's-a-whole-lotta-streams dept.
An anonymous reader writes "How do you distribute simultaneous streams of DRM-protected iTunes from a single computer to multiple rooms of the house? Autonomic Controls demonstrated a unique solution at the recent Electronic House Expo (EHX). The company's Media Control Server EX software turns a PC with a 5.1 sound card into a three-zone music distribution server. (Add a second card for six outputs). At EHX, the solution was demonstrated with a multiroom audio system from NuVo, whose keypads could be used to browse and select songs, playlists, genres, artists, etc. The Autonomic software merges WMA and iTunes files into a single library for easy access." I have mixed feelings about this: on one hand, this is a really clever idea and a cool hack. On the other hand, the fact that DRM makes something like this necessary is truly infuriating.
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5.1 Sound Card Delivers 3 Streams of iTunes

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  • by imstanny (722685) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @11:14AM (#22940598)

    I have mixed feelings about this: on one hand, this is a really clever idea and a cool hack. On the other hand, the fact that DRM makes something like this necessary is truly infuriating.
    DRM has never been a road block to innovation. At worst, it is a nuisance that will eventually be bypassed.
    • by glavenoid (636808)

      In this case, I think DRM is moot, since most (?) soundcards allow one to read directly from their buffer (like connecting line out to line in, only through software), thus bypassing the DRM entirely. Vista is probably different since they changed the sound driver to protect DRM streams "to the speakers", but like you mention it'll eventually be bypassed.

      For those who want to try something similar (no DRM), you can easily use audacity to load multiple MP3's, FLAC, OGG or whatever and set each to play on a

  • Simple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jpmorgan (517966) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @11:15AM (#22940610) Homepage
    Whatever happened to the right tool for the right job? Screw iTunes and buy DRM-free music from Amazon.
    • Re:Simple (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @11:19AM (#22940646)
      Or buy DRM-free music from ITMS.
      • Except if you are not in US, then you are screwed. Apple doesn't even "offer" ability to buy non-DRM, so they are out. Amazon.com is for US only too. Essentially, you get screwed over up here in Canakistan. Instead of having DRM-free, they want to introduce a tax on all network connections so Britney can have more money as reported here before. http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/01/28/2043259 [slashdot.org]

        Where can I buy legal DRM-free online music in Canada? Yes, RIAA and similar, some people want to pay for good, DR
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Rogue Pat (749565)

          Except if you are not in US, then you are screwed. Apple doesn't even "offer" ability to buy non-DRM, so they are out.
          Incorrect. Itunes Plus (which has a higher bitrate and drops DRM) is available outside the US as well. Currently only for EMI artist (iirc). These "plus" tracks have the same price as other tracks.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mollymoo (202721) *
      iTunes DRM doesn't stop you playing your music on multiple devices. With DRM-ed iTunes tracks the devices would have to be computers or iPods; with DRM-free music (which plenty of people, including iTunes, sell) they'd have to be computers or any old MP3 player. You could burn a CD using either and use the CD player you already have. Not that I like DRM, I don't, but in this example iTunes reasonably permissive DRM doesn't present a very big hurdle.
      • Re:Simple (Score:4, Interesting)

        by mcpkaaos (449561) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @12:23PM (#22941198)

        iTunes DRM doesn't stop you playing your music on multiple devices.
        iTunes DRM stops your from playing your music on more than five computers. Once you hit that limit, you better hope you have access to the other machines to de-authorize them, otherwise you are stuck with resetting your auth completely (which you can only do once per year, if I remember correctly). This has bitten me more than once.

        You could burn a CD using either and use the CD player you already have.
        I don't want to burn a CD every time I buy something from iTunes just so I can listen to it on the way to work. It's annoying, cumbersome, and incredibly wasteful. Besides, if I'm going to burn music to a CD, I'm going to burn the MP3 and fit 10x the music on there (there are plenty of modern CD players that can handle this).

        iTunes reasonably permissive DRM doesn't present a very big hurdle
        I suffered iTunes for quite a while, hoping to figure out an easy way to deal with their DRM (like monitoring the directory I download the songs to and have QTFU automatically strip the DRM for me in a script). It worked, but it was a pain in the ass to manage and really didn't scale all that well with a huge library. Then I thought, "Why the hell am I jumping through all these hoops just so I can listen to music that I already paid for?"

        I am with the parent poster. Screw iTunes.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by stewbacca (1033764)

          Once you hit that limit, you better hope you have access to the other machines to de-authorize them, otherwise you are stuck with resetting your auth completely (which you can only do once per year, if I remember correctly). This has bitten me more than once.

          You have to be kidding or exaggerating. Since the first iPod and iTunes v.1.0, I've owned seven iPod devices and six computers with iTunes installed and have never come close to needing to reset my authorizations completely. Five computers and an unlimited number of iPods is MORE than plenty for the overwhelming majority of users out there. Resetting an account one time a year is also very reasonable, in case of that rare time I go through FIVE computers in one year and forget to deauthorize them.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by mcpkaaos (449561)

            You have to be kidding or exaggerating.
            No, and no. Your use case is not my use case.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by His Shadow (689816)
            You have to be kidding or exaggerating.


            There is no amount of whining that is sufficient for some people. If an iPod gave you no strings attached sex for the rest of your life, dorks would complain because it didn't make your breakfast.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by mcpkaaos (449561)
              I never said anything about an iPod. I was talking about the restrictions imposed by the DRM-laden m4p format.

              Next time you indirectly troll me, try to understand my point before sticking your foot in your mouth. Or better yet, keep it to yourself unless you have something remotely interesting to contribute.
    • Well iTunes also has non-DRM Music too. But the issue is what happends when you are stuck with DRM. Amazon doesn't have all the titles that iTunes has. And buying a CD and ripping it is expensive compared to a $0.99 download. And sometimes people want to stay in bounds of the system, Except for Screwing the Man, Just leave the Man alone and he wont get after you.

      DRM is not Evil, it is an Overreaction by the media companies. They have rights to protect their works from copyrite violation. But DRM is a Overre
      • I just wanted to note that you can "burn a cd" by making an .iso file that you then "rip" drm free .mp3 files from. It's a pain in the ass, but it's free as in beer.

        It's your music. You probably own half of it on CD. Circumvent the DRM as an act of civil disobedience. I get my music from itunes and use an ipod. I don't bother with torrent for music, and the DRM doesn't directly impact my life much... in fact, I have to reinput all the id3 stuff by removing the DRM...

        yet all 10,000 of my songs have no D
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by op12 (830015)

        Amazon doesn't have all the titles that iTunes has.

        That's unlikely, they have way more titles [usatoday.com]:

        Apple now has 2 million songs from EMI and independent labels available without DRM, out of its 6 million-song catalog. Amazon offers 4.5 million DRM-free songs.
        • by cellocgw (617879)
          Amazon doesn't have all the titles that iTunes has.

          That's unlikely, they have way more titles:


          Not relevant. Having *more* titles is not a guarantee that Amazon's library is a superset of iTunes. Simple example: iTunes has the song "FU" by the group "BAR" while Amazon does not have that particular song.
        • by mollymoo (202721) *
          Clue: 6 million is more than 4.5 million.
    • Actually, in any scenario where I would have the ability to implement something like this, I am usually listening to a shoutcast stream, and not my own collection anyway.

      But even so, I don't own any DRM'd music anyway.
  • by FredFredrickson (1177871) * on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @11:18AM (#22940628) Homepage Journal
    I'm still waiting for a good solution to provide audio throughout my house.

    I've always loved the fact that through Yahoo Music (or Rhapsody) you can access any music you'd like via subscription. Greatest Party Toy ever!

    I've purchased many toys to try to accomplish bringing this to my livingroom, and my results have been varied. I purchased the D-Link DSM320 Media Lounge. This wireless player hooked up to a UPNP server on my computer and played music (and video) in my livingroom, with TV-Remote browsing. The problem: It only integrated with my personal library. No full 2-million track searching. This of course was a problem, because at parties, I want people to take full advantage of the 2 million tracks available (and I don't want to add justin timberlake to my personal library, just because people at a party want to hear him).

    I've tried a sansa connect (mp3 player). This was the best solution yet, although it was a small mp3 player, it connects via wireless network and allows the full catalog search. Yahoo Music has just announced they're closing and the Sansa Connect no longer will offer this functionality.

    I've tried Napster's Media Center Plugin [fredrickville.com]- but it crashes regularly.

    I know that Tivo now offers functionality with Rhapsody- but I don't have cable, and I don't want to pay Tivo's subscription (not to mention high price for hardware I won't use).

    And of course there's Sonos- which has EXACTLY what I want, for about 4 times a reasonable price.

    I've chronicaled my adventures for anybody looking to learn from my mistakes: Digital Wireless Audio Age [fredrickville.com] , and my review of the DSM-320 and 520 [fredrickville.com].
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by argent (18001)
      What's wrong with a low end mini-itx box with passive cooling?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Well the other half of the battle is getting something that looks good on a TV screen. Media Center would be perfect -but I've already tried this. It will only stream my current library- not integrate with the subscription services. And even then- it's clunky for providing sound to multiple rooms
        • by argent (18001)
          Well the other half of the battle is getting something that looks good on a TV screen.

          So. At least it isn't a hardware problem.
    • by shark72 (702619) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @11:31AM (#22940734)
      I enjoy the heck out of my Squeezebox Duet [slimdevices.com]. A two-room system would be about $550, which is about half the Sonos price, so I guess it would be 2X a reasonable price for you. But it's still great.
      • Holy cow! This is new and exciting! Thanks for the recommendation I'm going to check it out. By any chance do you know if it integrates with Rhapsody's catalog (different than just your library, the ability to search for new music..) ??
        • by shark72 (702619)

          I guess I'm not sure what's meant by integration with Rhapsody's catalog, but here's what I can do with Rhapsody with the controller that came with my Duet:

          • Access my library (ie stuff I've added using the controller or the Rhapsody software)
          • Search the Rhapsody library by artist, album, track, composer or keyword
          • Browse playlists and channels
          • Access the Music Guide, with new releases / staff picks / just added, etc. along with browsing by genre, top artists / albums / tracks.

          In short, while it's certa

      • by Jonah Hex (651948)

        Add additional Squeezebox Receivers and listen to a different song in each room, or synchronize them and hear the same music everywhere.
        Reciever Details [slimdevices.com] That right there is what I've been wanting, especially the sync. Thanks! Unfortunately the Receivers are not available yet.

        Jonah HEX
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      What's wrong with a Airport Express? A hundred bucks per output. And a $25 more for a copy of Airfoil to patch your subscription service into that.

      I've been doing it for 4 years now (give or take) and love it. Had it come out a year earlier I could have saved a lot of dough on a high end CD player.
      • by cypherz (155664) *
        Doing the same thing here. The devices Airfoil can stream to, don't count towards the "five computer limit" either.
      • by shark72 (702619)

        I had an Airport Express. It was cheap, but non-interactive -- I had to run back to my computer to change music. It was good for setting up a long playlist to stream for a party, but that was about it.

        The Squeezebox Duet (which a few people besides me have recommended) has an interactive controller which feeds my music attention deficit disorder quite nicely. And, as has been pointed out, it's open source, so if the controller doesn't do what you like, you can make it bend to your will.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by rfunk (765049)
      I synch together a SlimDevices [slimdevices.com] Squeezebox v3 [slimdevices.com], an old SLIMP3 [slimdevices.com], and a couple machines running the SoftSqueeze [slimdevices.com] Java client, all clients to a server running the SlimServer [slimdevices.com]/SqueezeCenter [slimdevices.com] Perl server.
    • by radish (98371)
      I'll also repeat the recommendations for any of the Squeezebox product line (from Slim Devices, now part of Logitech). Fantastic audio quality, amazing support and full of creamy open source goodness. Look me up on their forums if you need any help with anything.
    • Look into the Roku Soundbridge [rokulabs.com]. Great little device. And it has a fully documented network control protocol, so you can write your own utilities to control it (and even write to its display). It took me all of 5 minutes to have my existing callerid daemon write to it, for example.

      Sounds great, has a nice interface, and takes literally minutes to set up (mine grabbed my neighbor's wifi before I even had a chance to configure it. DOH!).
    • Have you tried a squeezebox ( http://www.slimdevices.com/pi_squeezebox.html [slimdevices.com] )? It's open source, has binaries for Windows, Mac OS X, and linux (including a repository for Debian/Ubuntu). I've had one for a couple years and it's a nice way to listen to my music in the living room without having an extra computer there or the TV on.
    • by Machtyn (759119)
      I've tried a sansa connect (mp3 player). This was the best solution yet, although it was a small mp3 player, it connects via wireless network and allows the full catalog search. Yahoo Music has just announced they're closing and the Sansa Connect no longer will offer this functionality.

      Do you have a link for this? I'm not doubting, I just want to get a starting point on this. I got a Sansa Connect for Christmas (not for this feature, but it was some cool icing on the cake). Particularly, I'm wondering
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by russellh (547685)
      I have music throughout my house. . Lots of ceiling speakers indoors, and six outdoor speakers as well. Two amps - one run via iPod, one connected to a computer. It's wired up the good old fashioned analog way. But I suppose you mean and with the ability for any room to have its own different audio. That is still very expensive. And the fact is, I think it is absurd because it just cannot be cost justified versus a bunch of second-hand iPods each sync'd to a common computer. Ok, maybe you have a terabyte of
    • Have you checked out Jinzora [jinzora.com]? It's the coolest, most easily interfaced (both front end and back end) music server I've ever seen.

      Quick rundown of The Feature List [jinzora.com] to pique your interest:
      • on-demand streaming, you can play your media over a LAN or the internet using only a web browser and a player
      • on-the-fly transcoding
      • Jukebox Mode
      • When your computer is connected to your stereo set or a hardware jukebox device, you can use Jinzora to send your music to that device
      • Jinzora can automatically tag and orga
    • by pla (258480)
      I'm still waiting for a good solution to provide audio throughout my house.

      The solution exists, it just depends on exactly what you mean by your statement...

      If you mean manual remote selection from a central fileserver, you need nothing more than one totally-barebones PC (don't even need an HDD, just boot Knoppix) per location you want sound. Plus the file server, of course.

      If you mean centrally (or at least, single-point) controlled playback of multiple playlists in several remote locations, set up
  • If I recall some old experimentations, this is quite feasible technically with my good old SBLive and ALSA [alsa-project.org], by breaking out the outputs as different sound cards in your .asoundrc. Anybody got details?

    And yes, I realize having something "techically feasible" is completely different from "work like a charm with the click of a button" :)
  • Rear 5.1 outputs (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dj245 (732906) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @11:20AM (#22940650) Homepage
    The sound chips for those rear 5.1 outputs are often lower quality than the front on many 5.1 sound cards. Something to think about.
    • by Locutus (9039)
      and to top if off, the recordings are already degraded by compression. Then again, how many are really going to hear the difference when the speakers are recessed into the ceiling and cabling is probably not of very good quality, nor installation, either.

      It is a cool idea to split the 6 tracks and 6 outputs from a 5:1 system into 3 stereo streams. A palm hitting the forehead kind of moment for sure.

      LoB
      • by glavenoid (636808)

        It is a cool idea to split the 6 tracks and 6 outputs from a 5:1 system into 3 stereo streams. A palm hitting the forehead kind of moment for sure.

        Yea, it really is, however if you've ever used certain foreign language study tapes or the jazz "Play Along" or "Band minus One" tapes then the idea is a little less novel. The foreign language tapes usually have English on one channel and *whatever* on the other, and the play alongs have rhythm on one channel and melody on the other. Not to say it's anything like streaming multiple music tracks to different rooms in some organized fashion, but the general idea is the same.

        I've used audacity to stream mu

      • by ari_j (90255)
        Why not have 6 mono outputs? If this is for ambient music, that would work just fine and double the number of rooms per sound card.
  • Duh! (Score:3, Funny)

    by sm62704 (957197) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @11:22AM (#22940656) Journal
    How do you distribute simultaneous streams of DRM-protected iTunes from a single computer to multiple rooms of the house?

    Easy, download the MP3s from Kazaa or rip them from CD. The hard question is, why in Turing's name would anybody download something with DRM? That's just insane!
    • by geekoid (135745)
      Or download it from iTunes and rip to CD.
      The question is, are you willing to pay for it? In most cases, I will.
      • by sm62704 (957197)
        The question is, are you willing to pay for it?

        Most people ARE willing to pay for it so long as it's not garbage. The success of iTunes proves that. And if you rip it from CD you already paid for it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Z34107 (925136)

      Generally, I:

      1. Buy a track from ITMS or other DRM-crippled store. (Meh, I'm lazy.)
      2. Pirate the same track from a torrent site. I want a better-quality, unencumbered recording.

      I argue that they have my $.99, so I should get to listen to what I paid for. Better than just skipping to #2, I think, though it's a legal gray area.

  • Form DRM Music no one has ever hacked a sound card Bypassing the Digial to Audio Conversion and redirect the Uncompressed Digital Signal to a storage medium.
  • by plasmacutter (901737) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @11:26AM (#22940684)
    As much as I hate DRM, it's presence in this case does not "necessitate" this application in any way.

    Fairplay [wikipedia.org] allows up to 5 computers to share the same account key. As for larger households, well you asked for headaches anyway if you as parents have more than 4 kids who are the age most really get into music. I doubt you'll even notice one more.

    So it's not about DRM created necessity, it's about enabling an alternative to duplicating a library up to 5 times and paying for up to 5 times the storage and 5 times the power to keep that storage active. I personally am happy this choice is open to consumers.
    • Fairplay allows up to 5 computers to share the same account key. As for larger households, well you asked for headaches anyway if you as parents have more than 4 kids who are the age most really get into music. I doubt you'll even notice one more.

      Fair Use allows up to as many computers as I can cram into my household.

      So it's not about DRM created necessity, it's about enabling an alternative to duplicating a library up to 5 times and paying for up to 5 times the storage and 5 times the power to keep that storage active. I personally am happy this choice is open to consumers.

      I personally am disappointed Fair Use is not open to consumers.

      The music industry said "we'll charge less, but you'll get less" and millions of people happily went along with it.

  • by LaughingCoder (914424) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @11:38AM (#22940800)
    It's all about combining your various music file collections into one virtual collection. This device is cool because it can merge all your disparate collections into one big playlist, regardless of format (and regardless of whether some of the content is DRM'd).

    BTW, it is *not* helpful to keep blaming DRM for everything and anything. It only dilutes the argument against DRM when your claims are false, giving ammunition to its defenders.
  • Just like Data! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Monkey (795756) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @11:39AM (#22940806)
    Now I can be just like Lieutenant Commander Data and listen to six different classical compositions at once loud enough to rattle a star ships windows! Now I just need to make a pun about rattling a star ships windows while running Linux.
  • On the other hand, the fact that DRM makes something like this necessary is truly infuriating

    I was under the impression that iTunes allowed music sharing to other Macs and PCs with iTunes. Shouldn't you just be able to use that? and, if so, is the DRM really hurting that much?

    • by lancejjj (924211)

      I was under the impression that iTunes allowed music sharing to other Macs and PCs with iTunes. Shouldn't you just be able to use that?
      Yeah, but then you wouldn't need a rack-mount server or a whole-house audio distribution system. And that ruins a lot of the fun.

      Plus, if you wanted 20 digital streams running independently in your home, well, iTunes can't do that unless you have iPods as well - as iTunes is restricted to only 5 authorized computers at a time.
      • by smenor (905244)

        iTunes is restricted to only 5 authorized computers at a time
        I don't think even that restriction holds for streaming shared music.
    • On the other hand, the fact that DRM makes something like this necessary is truly infuriating

      I was under the impression that iTunes allowed music sharing to other Macs and PCs with iTunes. Shouldn't you just be able to use that? and, if so, is the DRM really hurting that much?

      In fact, with an Airport Express or Apple TV you don't even need another computer. Add a copy of Airfoil and you can even stream DRM material from other sources like Yahoo or Sirius.

      If you go the Apple TV route you can even have independent streams to each unit without the aid of another PC. Airfoil streams get hairy and may even need an additional PC per room.

  • O'Rly ? (Score:5, Funny)

    by The_Angry_Canadian (1156097) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @11:44AM (#22940834)

    Add a second card for six outputs
    No wai !

    Add a third card for nine outputs
    Add a fourth card for twelve outputs !

    ... Add a beowulf cluster of cards and it'll summon Nathalie Portman to dance for you !
  • by lancejjj (924211) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @11:45AM (#22940836) Homepage

    How do you distribute simultaneous streams of DRM-protected iTunes from a single computer to multiple rooms of the house?
    Would I really want three streams of centrally controlled audio from MY single 1U rack mount server with a single sound card coupled with a whole-house audio distribution system?

    Installing the analog wiring in all my rooms would cost me thousands of dollars. This seems like a very expensive solution to a problem that doesn't impact most people. It might make sense if you run a museum or something, with independent audio pumped into each room - but that's it. And it seems quite fragile to run - too many parts.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by qoncept (599709)
      [blockquote]Installing the analog wiring in all my rooms would cost me thousands of dollars.[/blockquote] These contractors you're hiring, they're getting paid by the hour, yeah?

      What the hell are you talking about? I don't know where you shop, but last I checked you could get about 700,000 feet of suitable analog wiring (be it RCA, speaker wire or 3.5mm jacks) -- enough to wire my entire house, anyway -- for well under $100 at Walmart. And, you know, I'm talking wire of suitable quality as to not be any
    • Yeah, I really don't want to run speaker wire all over my house, nor do I really care about broadcasting my music from some central source. The kind of solution I would find attractive is just something like a plain old amplifier that reads MP3 via a USB input, and that can manage MP3 music reasonably well (i.e., has the ability to select playlists, or build a playlist by searches on the fly). Right now, I'd like a reasonably compact stereo I could put in my bedroom that will play from a USB stick or USB ma

  • I have a similar dilema for my home audio solution. I have a 5.1 PCI sound card (Realtek chip) and a 5.1 cinema amp. I would like to drive two different sets of speakers in different locations from my Windows XP server (I would prefer to stick with Media Player or Winamp). I want to be able to select in software which speaker sets are enabled and their relative volumes. At the moment I only have one set of speakers installed and use optical digital from the sound card ot the amp. I am prepared to use the an
  • I have mixed feelings about this: on one hand, this is a really clever idea and a cool hack. On the other hand, the fact that DRM makes something like this necessary is truly infuriating.

    I don't do DRM due to the incompatibility. It's up to the distributor to figure out how to provide a product the public will buy. DRM only works because enough people buy it. Otherwise DRM would be dead long ago.

    Vote with your wallet. You vote counts. Quit voting against me. Down with DRM.
  • Not to let my inner fanboi take over, but I've been using multiple AirPort Express to do wireless whole-house audio for some time with great success. You don't even have to use iTunes to deliver the audio. I use Airfoil [rogueamoeba.com] from Rogue Amoeba software. It is an elegant solution and one that can be done at a reasonable cost.

    You can also burn the DRM music to CD in iTunes and then rip it into any format you want. It's a pain, but well worth doing. Not that I condone such behavior...
  • What's the necessity of that (cool) hack? Why not just put 3 5.1 soundcards in a single machine, and pump their audio into 3 rooms, with 5.1 sound in each room? Why not put 5 5.1 soundcards, or more if the machine's got that many PCI and USB slots? Why not mix and match 5.1 and 7.1, cards?

    Seems to me that while their hack is a superior hack, the superior sound quality and lower complexity hack is just using multiple soundcards in the "single" host that DRM forces one to use.

    Of course, the idea that I bought
  • by Zackbass (457384) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @12:19PM (#22941160)
    I'm quite sure it isn't a novel idea but I haven't seen much info about it on the internets. A few of my friends and I got together last year to set up a similar system where we live. We use a plain old Soundblaster Live! Value card hooked up to four different zones (bathrooms). It's connected through a network drive to our music server and has a simple web interface to control the music in each zone. The web interface just controls four different instances of mplayer with the appropriate flags for rerouting the audio to the single channels. I'm sure the sound quality isn't great, but it's perfect if you like to air guitar with Dragonforce in the shower.

    We'll probably write up a guide on how to do it if we ever get slightly less lazy. It's really simple if you don't get hung up by Linux's sound support. But yeah, lazy.
    • by kasek (514492)
      this is slightly different, as this is taking the output of say, iTunes, and playing the same audio stream through the speakers in three different rooms. So, if you are strumming some air guitar in the shower, the people in the other rooms would be listening to dragonforce as well. Probably trivial to setup given your system, but different nonetheless.
  • When I read the title, I thought "bah, computers have gone downhill if playing 3 streams simultaneously has become Slashdot-worthy. I could play 5 mp3 at the same time in BeOS back in a Pentium II 300"... And then I read the blurb and realized it was about DRM. Man, things have *really* gone downhill.
  • Ok here goes:  It's like if you were to buy a car that only let's you drive on certain days of the week, to certain place, at certain times.  And somebody made a box that would let you know automatically when you have permission to use the car, and help you plan your route so that you can get where you want to go under those restrictions.

    Which you have to admit would be very convenient if you lived in that asinine fucking world.
  • ..as music it would be interesting.

    Imagine if every time you cooked a meal in your house you had to pay the recipe owner a royalty..

    There would be two or three restaurants in the country and you'd eat there only. Every time you bought a frying pad you'd need to pay a fee to a McDonalds. Buy uncooked food that could be the basis for a meal that *might* infringe McDonalds and you'd pay a fee.

    No sharing burgers with your friend...

    There would be twenty or thirty "top" meals of the week. If you went out to eat y
  • I'll just keep my couple hundred gigs of non-DRM music files on my server and stream then to the 360 in the living room or wherever else I like.
  • by mmkkbb (816035) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @02:01PM (#22942226) Homepage Journal
    On the other hand, the fact that DRM makes something like this necessary is truly infuriating.

    It's convenient because you can buy one computer and one sound card and have music in three rooms, instead of buying multiple computers or really expensive Sonos appliances.
  • Just like with 'hard copies' of music, you are limited to playing back digital music (DRM or not) only in places where you have the proper equipment. Just like with any of those 'legacy' formats, they are useless without some sort of playback device, which for digital music is a computer, ipod, zune, etc.

    If I buy a CD, when I want to listen to it in another room, I have to take the CD to that room and put in the CD player. Just because I have a CD in the stereo in my bedroom doesn't mean I can listen to i
  • by juventasone (517959) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @12:54AM (#22948234)

    I'm amazed no one has mentioned this, but when Intel defined the HD Audio specification in 2004 (used in most new computers sold today) it included an ability called Jack Retasking. This allows any jack to function as anything, including a second or third stereo output, or even additional microphones. The problem is hardware manufacturers still don't implement the entire specification, even though the specification is part of Vista's new audio architecture called UAA (also to be included in XP SP3).

    IMHO, fully implementing HD Audio would be the greatest audio enhancement for multimedia and home theater PCs since their conception.

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