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Music Hardware

Simple, Cost-Effective, Multiroom Audio? 438

jimicus writes "I'd like a multiroom audio system but I'm thoroughly confused by the options available — and the difference in prices is huge. For instance, Philips have a wireless system which starts at around £280 — and Russound have a product which comes in around £1,000. I've already got all my music as MP3s and it lives on a NAS box — I don't really want to repeat that process. I also have a perfectly capable amp and speakers in my living room, so I don't really need anything else there. Whatever I go for has to pass the wife test — so something which requires a separate amp, speakers and PC in each room and requires a keyboard to control is right out. I don't mind spending a little money but I don't really want to find that every little extra thing adds up to £thousands. Has anyone else dealt with a similar problem? How did you solve it?"
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Simple, Cost-Effective, Multiroom Audio?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 07, 2009 @07:04PM (#30017448)

    Just set numrooms = 1 (or even better, 0). Makes the problem much easier.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by biryokumaru ( 822262 ) *
      Would it be possible to send the audio signal through the mains in the house? I guess that would only send it to every room on the same circuit... And would likely be a terrible idea. Why don't you just wire your house for audio?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by vtcodger ( 957785 )

        Yes ... but ... At least two problems. First, the AC power frequency -- 50 or 60Hz in most countries is in the audio range. Second, the US (and Canada?) wire houses with a sort of split 220 volt system where the house has two sets of circuits with the hot wire on one circuit set at 220 volts wrt the hot wire on the other set and ground half way in between. That allows stoves, driers, heaters to operate at 220 volts while most appliances and devices see 110 volts. The problem is that without some sort of

  • Sonos (Score:5, Informative)

    by eggman9713 ( 714915 ) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @07:06PM (#30017474)
    I haven't tried it myself, but this looks like a very interesting product. http://sonos.com/ [sonos.com]
    • Re:Sonos (Score:5, Informative)

      by parishboy ( 1673678 ) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @07:34PM (#30017660)
      I have installed many of these systems, and I second Sonos - could not be easier to set up and use. No need for separate amp/speakers/PC in every room, as they now have a product that is an all-in-one player/speaker. Many of the solutions mentioned here are great ways to go, but I can't think of one that's got a better/easier interface for your wife or similarly tech-challenged household members. Only real caveat is that it won't play DRM-protected audio files - but all the unprotected file formats and internet radio that you can shake a stick at. This beats most of the other solutions because there really is no need for separate audio equipment, including amplifiers.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nahdude812 ( 88157 ) *

        Wow, this is pretty pricy. You could put an AppleTV in every room for much less money; they don't need a TV attached to them, you can control it from iTunes or an iPhone with the Remote application. Or you can use an Apple AirPort for each room, and control it in a similar fashion.

    • Re:Sonos (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Annymouse Cowherd ( 1037080 ) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @08:40PM (#30018092) Homepage

      I don't get why all you people are suggesting computer-based solutions.
      Running wires to each room in the house would be both cheaper and have sound quality independent of network quality.

      • Running wires to each room in the house would be both cheaper and have sound quality independent of network quality.

        Yep, and with a handful of these $35 impedeance matching volume-controls, [smarthome.com] he can use a regular old stereo receiver to drive multiple rooms - note that you have to buy at least two (and do two rooms) with this model.

    • Re:Sonos (Score:5, Informative)

      by cbreaker ( 561297 ) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @09:36PM (#30018418) Journal
      I'm sure the Sonos system is nice, and from the enthusiasm here it sounds like it works. However, it's also very expensive. The starter bundle with speakers (one controller, one zone) is $1200.

      The original poster was looking for something low cost.
  • squeezebox family (Score:5, Informative)

    by rolfpal ( 28193 ) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @07:08PM (#30017478) Homepage

    The squeezebox family from Logitec (used to be slim devices) rocks. It will read all of your music + internet radio stations plus more, available as inexpensive component audio, boom boxes and even high end audio components

    • Re:squeezebox family (Score:4, Informative)

      by Belial6 ( 794905 ) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @07:16PM (#30017534)
      Correct. Here [logitechsqueezebox.com] is a link. You don't get much simpler than this. One nice feature that a presume has not been removed in newer models is that they can be synced with each other. So, not only can you have separate music in each room, but you can also have the same music in each room.
    • Re:squeezebox family (Score:5, Informative)

      by dschuetz ( 10924 ) <david@d a s net.org> on Saturday November 07, 2009 @07:18PM (#30017552)

      I second this. I'm using squeeze server on a linux box with all my mp3s on it, slaved to a bunch of old Dell Rio Receivers that aren't fantastic, but work good enough for squeeze. They're all in the basement (I've actually got in-ceiling speakers throughout the house wired to the server room) and controlled through browsers and an iPhone app.

      In most cases, though, just stick those in different rooms (find 'em on eBay, maybe) or a bunch of Squeezebox players (slimp3, etc.), hook them up with ethernet, and you're good. Use the browser, or an iPhone or iPod touch for controlling them, or you can even buy a fairly cool gui controller from Logitech that works with the whole thing. (though I'd probably recommend the iPod Touch route, 'cause you can do a lot more with it and it costs about the same as the controller does).

      Anyway, it's cool, and reasonably open too (their hardware information is even available on a wiki, with block diagrams and software source code).

      • Listen, I was about to ask the same question. I am glad this guy beat me to it. But of all the solutions posted, yours actually seems to be the best option.

        My second, but more important, question: When can I move in to your place? Basement's fine; and I promise not to bogart the nachos.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Yup, the Squeezebox family of products is your best bet. It integrates fine with your existing setup (you just need a free aux input on your amp) and can be standalone (Standalone boom box). All of them support WiFi or Ethernet. You can operate each station completely independently or you can synchronize them (same music everywhere). If you have your musick already ripped to mp3 and your tags are clean then most of the work is done. The product family is about a decade old, so it has some history and the bu

    • Totally agree with this, as well. I have a squeezebox in the living room, and control it (most of the time) via the browser.

      The one caveat: There's no IR blaster output on it so that I can control my receiver. That being said, none of the other cheap options have this capability, either.

    • by notanatheist ( 581086 ) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @11:23PM (#30018864) Homepage
      Sonos = cheese when you factor in cost, flexibility, freedom. Squeezecenter runs on Windows, Mac, Linux. Web interface. Internet radio. Quite affordable. Very flexible. They're so damn good that most people don't own just one. I have four at home and two at work. One is the BoomBox which is perfect for the kitchen or other small rooms. The newest models have touchscreens which I'd love to get my hands on (literally too!!). You can keep a setup small and the sound big when you pair a Squeezebox with a T-amp and a nice set of bookshelf speakers. You could buy a unit with a speaker built in. You can even get a unit without a display and a pretty remote.

      And flexibility in Squeezecenter is unmatched! You can stream FLAC, MP3, OGG, WAV, AAC, or darn near anything else and choose what to transcode and where to do it, server or client side!

      Seriously, Sonos can even come close?
  • I would get a bunch of old netbooks on Ebay. That would work with either Linux or Windows (shudder;).
    • by SuperQ ( 431 ) *

      That would work well with Squeezebox server and the squeezeslave client. The audio quality and sync wouldn't be that great but depend on the setup it could be good enough.

  • Logitech Squeezebox (Score:3, Informative)

    by TuballoyThunder ( 534063 ) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @07:10PM (#30017492)
    I have the Boom and it works great. It also comes up with server software that runs on Linux or Windows so you can serve your music. You can read more details on the Logitech [logitech.com] website.
    • by SuperQ ( 431 ) *

      The Squeezebox Server software is also open source. Many people have written plugins for it. From simple things like IR Blaster for doing remote amplifier control to Inguz room correction DSP software.

    • I have two Squeezebox Classic units. They are extremely well thought out devices with great software. With your music on a NAS server and wifi you can have distributed access to your music collection throughout your house. These things support streaming of FLAC files so lossless reproduction to very high quality levels is supported.

      You can use a device like the Boom, or attach a Squeezebox to an existing setup equally easily.

      These support playing back streaming audio from the internet as well.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 07, 2009 @07:11PM (#30017494)

    If you want good class-a amps, you'll have to pay for them. If you want good electrostatic speakers, you need pay for them and sample your CDs at 400kb otherwise what's the point?

    'Good' relative to a high end system is about 'good enough.' Nothing is simpler to configure and operate than physical cable connecting your consumer-grade speakers to your class b or class d amp.

    After that, it really doesn't matter what your source is 128 vbr is effectively indistinguishable from higher on consumer grade sound gear.

    • by sakdoctor ( 1087155 ) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @07:24PM (#30017608) Homepage

      If you want decent audio you need oxygen free speaker cables. Hand made valves for the amps are a given.
      Oh sure, if your gear is CONSUMER GRADE then you could hook it up with a coat-hanger wire.
      I personally avoid anything digital, because I inherited superior hearing, and those 70 kHz frequencies are conspicuously missing from digital compressed audio made for mere mortals.

      Enjoy your 44.1 KHz on your CONSUMER GRADE gear you PEASANT.

      • by earlymon ( 1116185 ) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @11:12PM (#30018812) Homepage Journal

        Enjoy your 44.1 KHz on your CONSUMER GRADE gear you PEASANT.

        So much is bandied about regarding time and frequency domains, but so little of it is valid.

        An impulse is not band-limited - it contains an infinite number of frequency components.

        Any digital sampling of even a simple sine wave - absolutely regardless of sampling rate - is going to present to the electronics as nothing less than a series of impulses. Regardless of the optical illusion that the sampled points look like the sine wave sampled (dots on an x-y graph) - that's not how it's going to work out.

        An impulse is not band-limited; a series of them certainly won't be. The resulting frequency components in error (aliased frequencies - not solved by any amount of oversampling) can - and do - have measurable deleterious effects.

        This is the basis for some people preferring higher sampled digital signals and for some people to prefer analog to digital.

        It's not there are expected to be frequencies above 16 kHz - the second harmonic of a struck triangle - in most music sources. And it's not that any harmonic distortion of signals above 10 kHz even matter - because those second and higher harmonics are above 20 kHz, the accepted upper limit for the norm of hearing.

        The point is therefore not frequencies at 44.1 kHz, it's to acquire the signal at 44,100 samples / second. For an 11 kHz signal - not at all unreasonable for violins, harpsichords, or synthesizers - you're getting only 4 sample points per wavelength. Chances of getting reduced sampling error - to even hit the peaks and zero crossings in time of that frequency or higher is absolutely laughable. That's 8 points at 5 to 6 kHz, and 16 sampled data points in the critical voice range.

        Given the reality of the math, it's a wonder that CDs - uncompressed from their 44.1 kHz standard - manage to sound as good as they do.

        (Wikipedia laughably multiplies this by 16 bits / sample in an insane misunderstanding of digital signal processing and pulse-code modulation, so I'm foregoing that as a reference.)

        The tighter spaced in time the sampling, the less chance of a high delta V per sample, and therefore, the less chance for overshoot on the drive electronics being given a piecewise continuous function to deal with.

        But sampling error is like the infinite energy requirement when trying to get to the speed of light - it's just a fact.

        By the way - I'm one of those peasants that owns electrostatics and a class A amp. Missed the hand-made valves, though.

        Hope this helps.

  • Memory (Score:5, Funny)

    by sakdoctor ( 1087155 ) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @07:11PM (#30017496) Homepage

    I just replay the music in my head. This helps avoid copyright infringement suits.
    Be sure not to get carried away, and hum or whistle because that's a performance not covered by Section 117.

  • by Woodmeister ( 7487 ) <woodford DOT jason AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday November 07, 2009 @07:11PM (#30017498)
    A serious solution that is neither expensive nor foolishly complex? Try connecting an FM-band microtransmitter [canakit.com] to your server's audio output and using a remote control system via an HTTP-based system.

    Any internet connected machine will control the audio programming, and any old FM-radio will do the trick of receiving the signal. Simple. Effective. _AND_ Wife-Friendly(TM) (at least, according to my wife ;)

    Because of FM-modulation, this technique is not hi-fi. But a decent transmitter does an admirable job in retaining audio quality.

  • by bmfs ( 467488 ) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @07:12PM (#30017502)
    I like the combination of iTunes and Airport Express - http://www.apple.com/airportexpress/ [apple.com] - devices. Each Airport Express can join a wireless or wired network and has an optical digital and analogue audio output which you can connect to a hifi / radio with aux input etc. Each Airport Express appears as a remote speaker in iTunes and you can tell iTunes to play to any / all remote speakers. And you can control everything with Apple's free Remote app - http://www.apple.com/itunes/remote/ [apple.com] - on an iPod Touch / iPhone. It all works rather well.
    • by gte619n ( 1653209 ) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @07:14PM (#30017522)
      I second this. If you're already using iTunes, it's a no brainer. They're cheap ($100 new, ~$60 on eBay), contains all the networking stuff inside the box. I connect them to small powered speakers in the remote rooms (Klipsch ProMedia 2.1) and it just works. I've had Crestron and Control4 stuff before for TONS of money, and it just always seemed like overkill for my needs.
      • I third this. The powered speakers is a nice simple idea.
        plus you can also label each Airport express if you want, Bedroom, Livingroom, Basement, etc etc...
        This is what I do in our house, my wife loves picking music from her laptop and then hearing it upstairs and downstairs.
        It's pretty no-brainy and cheap. Especially if you just have one central computer controlling the music and you never want to have separate streams, then you just set it and forget it.
      • iTunes, Airport Express, and iPod Touch with (free) Remote app here. Works great, not particularly expensive. I'm not really contributing anything other than giving one more bit of anecdotal evidence that Apple delivers on usability.

    • I live by this setup (Score:5, Interesting)

      by wandazulu ( 265281 ) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @08:12PM (#30017918)

      I have 3 airport express', one in the bedroom, one in the dining room, and the other in the kitchen. They all work wonderfully and it has replaced our stereo to the point where we simply don't use anything else. That was great, but the thing that kicked it into overdrive was the remote control app; with the iphone or ipod touch, I can control everything wherever I am. Absolutely brilliant setup!

      I assume there are other setups like this, but I don't know of them.

    • by Tom ( 822 )

      seconded and third. I've got the same setup, and friends have copied me and are also happy with it. Also, you can speak to the same speakers from different sources, basically anything that runs iTunes can connect to them (if you let it on your network, and I think you can password-protect each Airport Express, if you want).

    • by v1 ( 525388 )

      I see lots of "me too" for airport express. I have one myself but I rarely use it for audio. It's my "make the ethernet jack wireless" tool in my laptop bag.

      I tried to use it for halloween to play spooky music to outdoor speakers. It worked perfectly until I power cycled it 5 minutes before rounds started. It failed five attempts scattered through the evening to fix it. When I took it back inside after the night was done, it worked perfectly. Wouldn't be half as annoying if it hadn't done the exact sa

      • by slarrg ( 931336 ) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @10:11PM (#30018584)

        I can't answer what issues you created by using the Airport Express outside in you Halloween scenario maybe you had a weak signal or other obstacles. It's not really an outdoor device. However, your other assertions are completely wrong. You can stream to as many AirTunes devices (Airport Express or Apple TV) as you like with no problem. In addition, you can stream to them while also playing the same source on the computer's local speakers.

        In my household, we have multiple Airport Expresses and Apple TVs and we have a central server with several terabytes of music, movies and TV shows and we love being able to stream our content to wherever we like. It's very simple and allows you to reconfigure how you use everything with ease. For example, you can have internet radio streaming to my desktop computer and two other rooms while my wife is listening to her playlists in two other rooms and someone else is watching a ripped DVD in yet another room. In addition, we can select music from our laptops and a shared library or from our iPhones and iPod Touch devices.

        As for the Halloween party you were speaking about, I also enjoy throwing Halloween parties and have found this setup ideal for my needs. I usually have creepy music playlists playing in the front yard graveyard while I have other music streaming throughout the house and a theme specific playlist playing in the backyard, too. (I tend to keep the devices inside the house and run cables to the external speakers, though.) As the night progresses, I usually clear out a dance floor area and begin playing dance music in that area while the other streams continue. Now that Apple has added video playlists, I can also keep sufficiently spooky video going on the TVs all night. Also, with the Apple Remote App, I can turn on the DJ services and allow users to vote from their own iPhones on what songs will play on the dance floor. It's really fun and everyone really enjoys it.

        I've been using this setup for years and each year Apple keeps adding new, well-considered features that keep making the system better. To me, that's one of the coolest features; I sit back and do nothing new while Apple keeps creating new features that enhance my entire system and make my friends think I keep adding new stuff. What could be better?

        • by slarrg ( 931336 )
          Moderators, please read more than the first line before moderating. This is in no way flamebait.
      • by Winckle ( 870180 )

        You are mistaken, you can stream the same audio, synchronised to multiple airports, and you can remote control it using an iPod touch or an iPhone. Moreover you can remote control which aiports are streaming the audio from the remote.

    • There is one glaring issue with this setup: it requires iTunes. I love this combination and it is what I use to play music in my living room. The ease of control afforder by using an iPod touch or iPhone as a remote offers is one that is unparalleled by any other solution I've seen on the market.

      But... it requires iTunes, which means I have to run my noisy and power-hungry computer. My NAS on the other hand draws as much as a single lightbulb when active, is quiet, and for those reasons it's always on
      • But... it requires iTunes, which means I have to run my noisy and power-hungry computer. Next best thing would be to snap up an old Mac Mini and stick iTunes on that, I suppose...

        That's what I do, but my only computer at home is a Mac mini, so that was an easy decision! The mini draws very little power.

        One could also buy an Apple TV and hack it to run a full version of OS X, if you want a a really cheap, small, quiet Mac (~$200). This is not for the feint of heart though.

        Also, I assume that iTunes under Windoze can talk to Airport Expresses and Apple TVs (Apple TVs can also act as iTunes remote speakers), which means that your "power-hungry computer" could be a netbook running XP.


        • You could probably ebay an older Mac Mini for this purpose too.

          Unfortunately iTunes doesn't automatically pick up added/removed/moved files in its music directory, so this means that if you're constantly adding to your collection, you have to babysit it a lot; so it doesn't do well as a headless option.

          You can get clever with an Automator script to add new files automatically for you on some interval (not too hard to set up or figure out), but it's a bit error prone (tends to beach ball indefinitely sometim

      • by slarrg ( 931336 )
        Well, I guess it all depends on how you have your home set up. I have an office upstairs and my media server is there and always running. In other rooms there are no noisy computers because the Apple TVs and Airport Expresses are driving the attached devices silently.
      • But... it requires iTunes, which means I have to run my noisy and power-hungry computer.

        Well, not actually. An AppleTv can play to Airport Express speakers and and is controllable from the ipod touch/iphone, you just need to make sure it has a copy of your music. It's also great if you are running iTunes to add an additional point of control to such a system and keep synchronized libraries.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 07, 2009 @07:13PM (#30017506)

    C Crane sells an FM broadcaster which has a variable potentiometer which can be easily adjusted to boost the range beyond what the FCC allows.

    If you attach this to your NAS as an audio output or your main stereo, you can relay what you're listening to in nice FM stereo throughout most of a large size house (goes well through my 3-story house and even our detached garage).

    FM broadcast is cheap, it's easy to add new devices that are easy to use, and the music is perfectly in sync.

    If you're broadcasting from a NAS, add a usb sound card to broadcast the music, and control it with MPD, which will allow you to change music via a lot of clients, including an iphone.

  • by Junior J. Junior III ( 192702 ) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @07:14PM (#30017510) Homepage

    I hired a band of six-piece midget mariachi band to follow me around. I had to buy a mini-bus, but it's by far the best solution.

  • I have a 5.1 speaker system in the living room. Another in my bedroom. Usually they are connected to the same source (my bedroom computer), but if I want them playing different music, I have my older laptop next to the one in the living room, so I can easily use it as a source.

    When they are both on, they easily cover the apartment. If your house is bigger, just get more speaker systems. I never gave wireless any serious consideration. The wires are barely noticeable. I don't understand your wife test; she
  • Use your phone lines (Score:2, Interesting)

    by lcampagn ( 842601 )
    If you have stopped using your landline like most people I know, you can attach your amp to the phone lines and small speakers anywhere in your house that's near a phone jack. You need a reasonably sturdy amplifier if you want to drive more than 6 speakers or so, and the sound quality won't be dazzling, but it's real cheap and easy. You can also attach a cheap potentiometer to each speaker for volume control.
    • by BitZtream ( 692029 ) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @08:09PM (#30017898)

      No, do NOT do that.

      The result is going to be a bunch of speakers wired in parallel, reducing the load across the amp down to less than an ohm, just go ahead and short your amp output now and save yourself the time of getting it all hooked up before you burn it up.

      The reason the sound quality won't be good is because you're amp will be overdriven, carrying far more current than it expects to carry for a given output voltage. The result will be an amp that overheats and fails. You'll have to turn the volume up to 15 to hear it, really over driving the amp. If you're lucky and the amp is smart, it'll clamp itself down to an acceptable current level, resulting in it turning a nice audio signal into a clipped, distorted mess. You're more likely to just end up with a burnt out amp since obviously neither of you are aware of how this stuff works.

      This is modded interesting, but ignorant is more appropriate, dangerous would be better yet.

      Amps are designed for a specific load, generally 8 or 4 ohms per channel although you can find others, and some allow bridging of channels for different loads and output levels but you obviously have no clue.

      Please don't ever give anyone advice on wiring ever again, it is clear you don't understand the basics of electricity. While unlikely in this case, this sort of ignorance results in houses getting burned down and people dying on a regular basis.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Dare nMc ( 468959 )

        He is not going to get down to 1 ohm with telephone wire, 24 gauge (typical phone) wire has a resistance of .03 ohm/foot so as long as these rooms are at least 50 feet of wiring away, it would be 1.5 ohms to the first speaker + 1.5 ohms back. so even if all 6 of his proposed max were at this distance (4 wires, 2 for each loop) it would still be 8/3+3 thus roughly 5.5 ohms to the amplifier. Amplifier efficiency will suck, but I doubt you could come up with a very damaging configuration using phone wire and

      • He won't blow his amp with phone wire... over the distances he's talking they probably won't deliver more than an amp or two before melting/burning. He might lose his amp to a fire, but I highly doubt he'd cook his output stage regardless of the speaker load. :)

      • The result is going to be a bunch of speakers wired in parallel, reducing the load across the amp down to less than an ohm, just go ahead and short your amp output now and save yourself the time of getting it all hooked up before you burn it up.

        As I posted in another part of this discussion - use these $35 impedance matching volume controls [smarthome.com] to handle the problem of running a bunch of speakers in parallel from one source. They will s support up to 16 or 32 pairs of speakers depending on if the amp does 8 or 4 ohms.

  • C.C.Crane (Score:4, Informative)

    by doctechniqal ( 516085 ) * on Saturday November 07, 2009 @07:22PM (#30017590)

    My S.O. and I are KCRW.com freaks. We also have FM radios throughout the house, along with the living room stereo system - where my S.O.'s PC also lives. I split the audio line from her PC: one line goes to the living room stereo, the other goes to a cheap C.C.Crane FM transmitter. This is the absolute cheapest way to get a single source of audio (CDs, MP3 library, streaming audio) into every room of the house. Note: the FM signal strength from the Crane transmitter sucked at first - then I found a web page that showed how you can open up the Crane transmitter and tweak the signal strength to maximum. Works great now.

  • Low Power FM radio (Score:4, Informative)

    by shking ( 125052 ) <babulicm@cu u g . a b.ca> on Saturday November 07, 2009 @07:28PM (#30017622) Homepage
    About five years ago I, spent about $75 on a low power FM transmitter from CanaKit [canakit.com]. I can get music anywhere in my house (or at close neighbors' houses) with a simple radio. CanaKit's transmitters cost from $20 up to $300 and have about a 150 meter range (about 500 feet).

    Recently I added the "Remote" app to my iPhone. Now I can chose songs and playlists without needing to walk over to the computer. Obviously this will not work if you can't, or won't, use iTunes.
  • (Disclaimer: I actually DID used to work for a place that set systems like this up, and have designed several myself as well) To determine what you need, a little bit more information is needed. Do you simply want on/off speakers in each room, all listening to the same thing? Or, are you looking for a system that lets you listen to different sources in each room? If you want different sources/songs/whatever in each room, you're actually looking for what is called a "multi-zone" system, which is where yo
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jimicus ( 737525 )

      Hi, I'm the OP.

      The reason I asked the question is that I've spent some hours digging around and I can't give you intelligent answers to most of those questions - because I don't fully understand the questions. I didn't know there was a difference between multiroom and multizone until I read your post.

      What I had in mind was some sort of central unit which can stream my MP3s to the amplifier in the lounge and also to a number of units elsewhere in the house - preferably with the choice of "same thing in ever

  • by wmshub ( 25291 ) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @07:33PM (#30017654) Homepage Journal

    The Rocketboost system at best buy is a wireless solution that will work for you: http://www.bestbuy.com/rocketboost [bestbuy.com] gives a good summary of how it works.

    You can add speakers and audio sources around your house, and the speakers have a "next source" button that lets you flip between your audio sources. It is modular, where you can buy as many units as you need and they all join together into one big network in your house. It isn't super-cheap, but it is cheaper than other products that are equally as flexible in how you set them up.

    Disclaimer: I worked on this product (wrote the protocol stack for moving the audio data over the air), so you may want to take my recommendation with a grain of salt, but I am happy with how well the product turned out and I think it's pretty neat.

  • by pla ( 258480 ) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @07:38PM (#30017686) Journal
    You want a "distribution amplifier". These usually downmix to mono (seriously - You want mono for this purpose. Stereo coming at you from several direction at unbalanced distances will get annoying fast), and have a large number of channels (12-16 would work well for most houses, unless you really need it in every corner of every room including the attic, basement, and garage).

    They don't cost all that much, which leaves you to spend your money on decent speakers. Depending on your home layout, you may want surface-mount, or recessed, or just cube-in-the-corner. As for wires - Keep in mind you either have signal, or power, or both going to them. So wireless doesn't really buy you all that much unless you absolutely positively cannot make discrete 1/8" holes hidden in the corner/wall/floor/ceiling/whatever. Personally, I consider speaker-wire easier to hide than power, so have chosen to just run an array of speaker wire through the basement up through small holes between the floorboards (old-style New England house with a decent gap between floorboards, so as close to invisible holes as you could ever want).

    But yeah, you don't want a high-tech solution, you want an old-school distro amp. What you feed it with depends on what the wife will put up with, but you can find a huge number of digital car audio solutions that provide minimalist interfaces with decent functionality.
  • I just use speaker wires to distribute the audio. I use a cheap stereo amp (~$150) and then a 4 pair impedence matching speaker distribution box w/ volume controls for each pair of speakers (~$150). The amp & distribution box are in the stereo rack with the rest of the stereo equipment. I have this amp connected to the 2nd room output of my receiver. I get the 5.1 in the main room + 4 pairs of speakers for other rooms. Wiring is very easy this way. Only benefit of the more expensive systems is that they
  • by icebike ( 68054 )

    Its called an iPod.

    You don't have to listen to someone elses choice in music, and they don't have to listen to yours.

    You will no sooner get this installed than you will realize what a huge mistake this was. If/when teenagers arrive in the house you have a disaster in the making.

    Music, like your reading material should be a personal issue.

  • I've got two systems setup (home and work):

    A Mac Pro (could just as well use a Windows PC, but this is my home server) running iTunes. AirPort Express with AirTunes units in my bedroom, office and kitchen, with powered speakers attached to each. AppleTV (ehem - "enhanced", of course - http://wiki.awkwardtv.org/wiki/ [awkwardtv.org]) in my lounge, hooked up to the TV and hi-fi. I use an iPhone or iPod Touch with the Remote app to control it, and it works great. You could get more functionality with a Sonos setup, but I

  • by flyneye ( 84093 ) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @08:01PM (#30017850) Homepage

    I filled one of my houses with sound simply by using a 500 watt P.A. system with some 15", 12", horn, speakers purchased at a flea market for around $500.
    Another house I put the same P.A. in the basement, eq'd it for low end and split the signal to my home stereo upstairs. Basement as a sub.
    Neighbors will love ya. Bathe in sound.

  • Just move into a studio apartment. Problem solved.
  • I haven't used Sonos [sonos.com], but once I have enough extra cash that's what I'm going to get. I currently have a bunch of hand-me-down iPods and laptops in the various rooms that I want music. But this system does not scale very well, and comes with its own complications. I did a bunch of research, and Sonos pretty much the only system that has what I want:
    • Uses my existing amps/speakers -- I have an existing audio setup in each room already. Sonos can just plug into that.
    • No media synchronization required --
    • To me the big advantage of Squeezebox over Sonus is that I already have a computer that is running 24x7. Since it is a generic PC hardware I don't have to buy into the closed and expensive to expand Sonus server stuff.

      So there is no booting or anything like that for my Squeezebox setup - it is leveraging stuff that I (and I would guess a lot of other Slashdot readers) readers already have, and the cost is far lower because of that.

  • Just broadcast it on FM. You can easily set up a lot of radio stations multiple ways.
    1. Buy some 0.5W (thats 1km) stereo mini Radio Station for $15 on ebay and hook it to:
    A. 4GB mp3 player $10. Download one flavour of music here. Repeat, and leave connected to the USB port.
    B. One of many PCI or USB soundcards on your PCs and stream from Muziic, TubeRadio.fm, Grooveshark and Pandora(Only US) on some.
    2. Get some FM radios. Both table, wearable and rack will work.
    3. Enjoy

    This may sound simple and low tech, b

  • by inu_maru ( 843192 ) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @08:49PM (#30018148) Homepage

    In the upcomming months plenty of companies will start offering DLNA DMR devices (https://coherence.beebits.net/wiki/MediaRenderer).
    You can stream the music from your NAS directly to this devices, as long as you have the software (ushare, twonkymedia, windows 7 has it as 'Play To').
    There are not many devices available as of now, but they will be in the next few months.
    DMR software: foobar2000 (need a plugin), rythmbox (needs a plugin)

    Just an idea, you can google the rest.

  • requirements? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bcrowell ( 177657 ) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @09:08PM (#30018250) Homepage
    Maybe you could clarify your requirements. You say "something which requires a separate amp, speakers and PC in each room and requires a keyboard to control is right out." Which of those things do you have to avoid? You certainly can't avoid speakers. When you say you don't want an amp, do you mean you don't want any amp at all, or you just don't want one the size of a traditional stereo amp? If you don't want any amp at all, then you're going to have to run speaker cables around the house, and that's that. When you say you don't want a separate amp, speakers, and PC in each room, do you really mean you just don't want a PC in each room? What kind of audio quality do you need? If all you want is the ability to play some tunes while you're cleaning the bathroom, then a portable music player would probably do the job.
  • I'd unhesitatingly recommend sonos. Its one of the few electronic products that I own that I am completely satisfied with. It should pass the wife test - the controller is very pleasant to use (though controlling it with the iphone is pretty nice as well), and its hassle free. You don't need to do anything on the computer at all to use it or even to set it up. They have 3 solutions for audio output - a bare module which outputs line-level audio and so requires an amplifier + speakers, a module with a built
  • something which requires a separate amp, speakers and PC in each room and requires a keyboard to control is right out.

    If installing an amp and speakers in each room is out of the question, then perhaps the best solution is a hardware mod to your existing amp so the volume goes to 11. That way you'll be able to hear it all over your house, and as a bonus, you can extend it to your neighbours' houses at no additional cost.

  • I bought my first home about a year ago, and even before I moved in I installed a whole-house audio system. I didn't put in the expensive source-selection room controls, but I did install per-room volume controls and in-ceiling speakers in each main room. I have home-run speaker cables to the same spot where my network cables go and an input cable that runs to where I have my receiver in the living room. The speaker distribution panel I have actually has two inputs and per-output switching, so I could se

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell