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Simple, Cost-Effective, Multiroom Audio?

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the powered-monitors-and-long-cables dept.

Music 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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The obvious solution (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30017448)

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

Re:The obvious solution (1, Interesting)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017480)

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:The obvious solution (-1, Redundant)

HybridJeff (717521) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017514)

Why not just run some speaker wire through the floorboards/ceiling?

Uhhh... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30017458)

You have a wife?

Re:Uhhh... (1)

carlmenezes (204187) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017596)

I do. She loves the multi-room audio and video setup.

Re:Uhhh... (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30017768)

What are some other things that she loves?

Sonos (4, Informative)

eggman9713 (714915) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017474)

I haven't tried it myself, but this looks like a very interesting product. http://sonos.com/ [sonos.com]

Re:Sonos (5, Informative)

parishboy (1673678) | more than 4 years ago | (#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:Sonos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30017750)

I can't imagine using anything but Sonos. I have a 19-zone setup at my college's music department. It works flawlessly.

squeezebox family (5, Informative)

rolfpal (28193) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017478)

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 (3, Informative)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 4 years ago | (#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 (5, Informative)

dschuetz (10924) | more than 4 years ago | (#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).

Re:squeezebox family (1)

bem (1977) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017604)

I'll third this.

I have SB2's in the living room and bedroom, a Boom that gets moved around, a Duet in the Office and Radio at work.

All sharing from the same library. Great WAF.

One of the best purchases in my life was my initial SB2, which is why I keep expanding the player count.

And, yes, they can sync.. or not: each player is capable of playing its own stream so if you want one thing in the living room and another in the bedroom that's fine.

Re:squeezebox family (1)

cpinetree (1137549) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017656)

I'll fourth this. I have an older SB2 hooked to ceiling speakers inside and outside the house, the bathroom has a single stereo speaker. Slimserver runs on a Debian server hooked to a nas.
I used the sirius plugin until sirius went to a pay extra for internet radio model.

The slimserver also handles most all codecs.

Re:squeezebox family (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30017932)

Fifthed.

I've been running a multi-zone audio system using various Squeezeboxes for years, off a linux server. If the Squeezebox Server software will run on your NAS (and it will run on a bunch of them) then install it and you're done. A couple of the newer models have inbuilt speakers, saving the need for separate amp+speakers, but you may want to consider some standalone powered speakers if you want to bump the sound quality up a notch.

Re:squeezebox family (2, Informative)

markus_baertschi (259069) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017978)

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 bugs are gone.

In addition the server software is open source and quite portable (Windows, Linux, even some NAS boxes are supported). There are plenty of plugins and extensions. Internet Radio is well integrated too.

It is not cheap, but none of the alternatives are cheaper or better either.

Markus

Ebay for old Netbooks (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017484)

I would get a bunch of old netbooks on Ebay. That would work with either Linux or Windows (shudder;).

Re:Ebay for old Netbooks (1)

SuperQ (431) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017640)

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.

Squeezebox (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30017488)

Squeezebox: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Squeezebox_%28network_music_player%29
Have some, they work great.

I don't understand the part about not wanting separate "separate amp, speakers and PC in each room". I understand not wanting computers everywhere. But you pretty much need speakers in every room that you want sound (unless you are OK playing it louder in an adjacent room). Get some decent powered speakers if yo don't want a separate amp box. (Don't skimp on the speakers, btw. The squeezeboxes have exceptional sound quality.)

Re:Squeezebox (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30017966)

Yeah, no kidding. Without amps and speakers in each room, you might as well just get a stereo bluetooth headset and pretend that is actually music as you wander around the house. Or use the FM transmitter approach and some tinny "transistor radio" units in each room. I am utterly amazed that someone would go through the trouble of getting "sound in every room" only to have it sound like a supermarket's PA system.

Decent music will require several hundred dollars (minimum) in speakers per room, and perhaps one decent A/V receiver per pair of rooms if you reconfigure some of its 5.1 or 7.1 outputs for multi-zone stereo instead.

On a related note, can someone tell me how I can have dining in all my rooms without those pesky chairs, tables, plates, and flatware?

Logitech Squeezebox (2, Informative)

TuballoyThunder (534063) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Logitech Squeezebox (1)

tot (30740) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017610)

I do also recommend SqueezeBoxes, I have three. You have a variety of them for different purposes and the server is open source written in perl.

Each device can be controlled with their own remote, or by using the web interface or by bying a dedicated controller (running linux and you can ssh into it if you wish). iPhone/Android have controlling software available on their markets if that's what you use.

Very convenient.

Re:Logitech Squeezebox (1)

SuperQ (431) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017612)

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.

Re:Logitech Squeezebox (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017958)

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.

Good and cheap don't come hand in hand (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Obligatory audiophile post (5, Funny)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017608)

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.

Re:Obligatory audiophile post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30017766)

All joking aside, MP3's are going to sound horrible on any decent system. My girlfriend likes them, but I think she is half deaf. All the talk on Slashdot should be about an open format like flac, anyway. Flac sounds so fantastic that the only reason not to use it is if you do not want to spend a few hundred dollars on enough disc space (with as cheap as it has gotten) to hold the Smithsonian's archive of digital cultural artifacts.

Re:Obligatory audiophile post (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017946)

Yes, and as the GP pointed out, you have inherited superior hearing. When she leaves you, and tells you 'its not you, its me', she'll be right.

Re:Obligatory Blackadder post (1)

quercus.aeternam (1174283) | more than 4 years ago | (#30018060)

Pedant.

Memory (5, Funny)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017496)

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.

Re:Memory (5, Funny)

Cidolfas (1358603) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017580)

From: RIAA Dear sir, Recently you have admitted that you replicate performances in your memory. This admission has saved us the trouble of proving this in court, and makes you in violation of performance law. An internal performance is still a performance, at least until you give more to Senators than we do. Our lawyers and collection vans have been sent to your location, nevermind how many laws we broke to get that information. We thank you for your cooperation.

Re:Memory (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30017690)

Keep Lars Ulrich out of my head. At any cost.

You're Guilty! (2, Funny)

woolio (927141) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017670)

I just replay the music in my head. This helps avoid copyright infringement suits.

Nay, you only think you are...

I say you are guilty of illegally creating a derivative work based upon copyrighted material.

Re:Memory (1)

NoYob (1630681) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017902)

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.

My idea doesn't either: crank up the amps so you can hear it through out the house.

Deliver the audio via FM-radio (5, Interesting)

Woodmeister (7487) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Deliver the audio via FM-radio (1)

catchy_handle (705154) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017668)

Those look interesting, know if any 'auto level' the input? I am using two transmitters from CC.Crane http://www.ccrane.com/radios/fm-transmitters/fm-transmitter.aspx [ccrane.com] and they work well, but I am always having to adjust the input level pot on the side. Note, you can boost the RF output a bit by turning the trimpot hiding under the sticker on the bottom.

It might be tricky to find a clear frequency if you live in a metropolitan area. But you can set odd an odd spacing like 95.35 Mhz (assuming your receiver will tune that).

Re:Deliver the audio via FM-radio (1)

Woodmeister (7487) | more than 4 years ago | (#30018040)

I doubt any of these will auto-level like you suggest, but often the computer will do that anyways (see ReplayGain and the like). So set up your audio library to normalize to the same audio level.

As for finding a clear frequency, yeah, I never thought of that one ;P Rural areas should have no problems; high density metro areas might be... and your idea of odd spacing is a good one, but many 'digital' radio these days are designed to frequency step at 200kHz. Remember, YMMV :)

iTunes + Airport Express (5, Informative)

bmfs (467488) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:iTunes + Airport Express (5, Interesting)

gte619n (1653209) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:iTunes + Airport Express (1)

penalba (537191) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017562)

Third; I have the same setup as you (NAS box, MP3s, wife...) and iTunes + Airport Express + iPhone/iPod Touch Remote works great. I have one hooked up to the main stereo in the living room, and another one to a bookshelf system in the kitchen.

Re:iTunes + Airport Express (1)

microcars (708223) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017584)

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.

Re:iTunes + Airport Express (1)

starless (60879) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017772)

I also find airtunes to be wonderful. It does also cope with playing different music in different places providing you use different computers to drive the separate streams.

Re:iTunes + Airport Express (1)

Bob-o-Matic! (620698) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017594)

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.

Re:iTunes + Airport Express (1)

slackoff (644196) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017944)

It is simple and elegant enough that my elderly parents use one and love one. They bought Airfoil and enjoy tons of content from the CBC, NPR, and other online music sources with it.

Re:iTunes + Airport Express (1)

showmeshowyoukikoman (659208) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017560)

I'll third it, especially if you have the remote. Never fails to impress people at parties when you can skip a crappy song that accidentally slipped into the mix by hitting a button on your phone...

Re:iTunes + Airport Express (3, Informative)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017796)

It's even more impressive when everyone comes over and they can request songs from their own iPhones (or yours, if you pass it around).

Re:iTunes + Airport Express (1)

timothy (36799) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017754)

Curious (bmfs, or anyone else with knowledge pertaining), any experience / knowledge / anecdotes / suspicions of the airport express streaming being possible w/ a Linux backend rather than Mac+iTunes?

I like the Airport express hardware / concept, but not a fan of OS X -- or rather, I prefer Linux, and to quote the original Michael Bolton, "No way! Why should I change? He's the one who sucks!"

Yep, it's an Apple product, and yep, it's made to work w/ iTunes, just curious about alternative uses :)

Cheers,

timothy

Re:iTunes + Airport Express (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30017888)

Due to encryption you can not emulate the Airport Express hardware to make your Linux system appear as a set of speakers to iTunes. Apple has protected this with the DMCA.

You can output audio to airport hardware from Linux, however I haven't seen a good implementation of it. iTunes sucks, but I haven't found anything that duplicates this functionality as well as iTunes does.

Re:iTunes + Airport Express (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30017758)

The Airport Express is nice on paper and shit in reality. Most people don't want the device locking up several time in a couple of hours when they listen to music, especially when they have guests.

Re:iTunes + Airport Express (1)

makisupa (118663) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017804)

I can second this - I have three Apple TV's and four Airport Expresses in the house and can easily mix & match speakers across the whole property from the back yard to the garage, bedrooms and bathrooms. Controllable from any computer, iPhone, iPod Touch or Apple TV in the house (including guests' iPhones).

Re:iTunes + Airport Express (1)

Amarantine (1100187) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017876)

I have a similar setup, with a Mac Mini somewhere on the attic, streaming its music to several Airport Expresses through the house. I use the Airport Expresses only for the music, and have them connected through ethernet, not wireless. I also wrote an XML app for my Cisco IP phones, and can select the music from every phone in the house. With the birth of our son, i expanded it further and figured out that by running iTunes under different user accounts on the same box, i can play different music on different Airport Expresses, so our son can fall asleep on children's music, while i enjoy other music elsewhere in the house.

I live by this setup (4, Interesting)

wandazulu (265281) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:iTunes + Airport Express (1)

Tom (822) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017988)

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).

Re:iTunes + Airport Express (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 4 years ago | (#30018074)

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 same thing last year. So I think there are still some bugs to be worked out.

SECOND issue, possibly more important for OP, unless I am mistaken, you can only stream to one airport at a time? and must be at the source computer to change which express you are streaming to? is this going to be an issue? No way to say, send the music to all four sets of speakers scattered around the house at the same time is there?

But if you just want it to go to one or two other sets, and never at the same time, it looks like a very cheap and easy way to do it. But you would have to have an amp in each room, whereas if you ran wiring from say an amp in the basement you could save some expense, and maybe integrate a volume pad on the wall near the light switch for each room with speakers...

FM Broadcaster - simple, cheap, expandable, in syn (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:FM Broadcaster - simple, cheap, expandable, in (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30017928)

I boosted mine so high I'm picking up Free Bird from my teethe. Is that bad?

My preferred solution (4, Funny)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017510)

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.

Re:My preferred solution (1)

oever (233119) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017688)

I have a midget on each shoulder, much easier and they live on the food in my beard.

Re:My preferred solution (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30017780)

I have a midget on each shoulder, much easier and they live on the food in my beard.

Wait...Santa Claus is that you!?

Squeezebox Duet (1)

rudib (300816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017524)

Check out Squeezebox Duet combo which consists of a Controller (Wifi remote control) and a Receiver (small black player box that can also connect via Wifi). The central library can be installed on a Windows/Linux box and the software is written in Perl and open source - heck, everything is Linux powered, remote control included.

I think that you can use a single remote to control multiple players and it might even be able to auto connect to the nearest player automatically (not sure, I only have one).

It isn't very sophisticated or slick (the remote doesn't have a nice feel, the wheel isn't very smooth), but it's cheap.

Airport Express Boxes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30017536)

I use a couple Airport Express routers which do audio, each room has one Airport Express plugged into a stereo in the room. Through iTunes I can play something in one room or 2 rooms or all rooms at the same time. I control that via the iphone which can do with the ipod touch too. The main system us plugged in with a digital optical cable. If you have 2 itunes running you can have totally different music playing in different rooms using the same library.

Sonos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30017538)

SONOS [sonos.com]

Could not be simpler to set up and use, I won't go into all of it here as the site lays it out pretty well. Plays many non-DRM formats (MP3, FLAC, WMA, etc) but WILL NOT play anything with any DRM of any kind. Rhapsody, Pandora and a bunch of others are available for streaming.

All of the zone players (including the recently released all-in-one player/speaker) can be hooked up via ethernet or use their proprietary zigbee mesh network, and are all controlled with their own wireless (zigbee) controller, your iPhone/Touch, or a computer running the Sonos software.

One zone player/bridge has to be hooked up to your network, the rest can be wireless.

For your living room system, or anywhere that features other components, be aware that Sonos is an entirely closed platform - you can't control it except as mentioned above, and it will not send any feedback to a 3rd party system (you'll need one remote to control your receiver/dvd/etc, and another for Sonos).

Squeezebox (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30017556)

Duet, Touch or Classic in the living room - Boom or active speakers and one of the aforementioned in the other rooms.

linux boxes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30017558)

Get a couple of small computers like a alix1d (has audio)/sheeva plug(usb audio)/beagleboard install and configure (ssh) debian, pulseaudio and lirc.
If you buy a Zotac ION ITX A Series 330 or similiar and install a xbmc you have a nice HTPC as well.
Now you can send your audio around the place.

Now if only someone could make it easy to use rfidiot with pam (unlock the screensaver)and someway to track movement where I walk, I would chip my self. :3

Philips product info is lame (1)

mfearby (1653) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017564)

I've often wondered about this, too. Looking at Philips's product information though, I'm not sure I'll be handing them my cash. All I see are tiny product images and meaningless slogans all over their page. I want details, damnit! Like, does it also have built-in FM radio? What's the remote look like? Can I have multiple remotes in each room and does each thing receive commands from the remote? Does it have to be connected to the internet or can it operate stand-alone? Some companies' marketing departments are really so clueless these days.

As simple, cheap as it gets (1)

sayfawa (1099071) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017570)

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 doesn't want more speakers?

Anyway, I don't see why it would have to get much more complicated than that. The only thing I could wish for is the ability to turn either of the speaker systems on/off from other places in the house. Sometimes I forget to turn off the living room set while playing the type of thing that should really only be heard in the bedroom, if you know what I mean.

Use your phone lines (2, Interesting)

lcampagn (842601) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017576)

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.

Re:Use your phone lines (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30017800)

Further to this:

If you use the phone lines at line-level, and have an amplifier for each stereo you want to drive, you'll have better luck than trying to drive a bunch of stereos from a single amp.

Re:Use your phone lines (1)

Hamsterdan (815291) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017828)

Since the wires in a local loop are gauge 20-22, It would have to be really low power. But the biggest problem is the output impedance. Most good amps are rated 4-16 ohms. Each set of speaker you add to the circuit will lower the impedance (they would have to be wired in parallel to have their own volume control). so let's say 4 sets of speakers (8 ohms), we are now down to 1 ohm, much to low for most amps to handle. Besides, that's assuming the local loop has 4 wires, since a phone usually only requires two (tip + ring)

Squeezebox would be my choice

Re:Use your phone lines (5, Informative)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#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:Use your phone lines (1)

DevConcepts (1194347) | more than 4 years ago | (#30018018)

Correct! But what if the phone lines were used for line level output and then had amp'd speakers in the rooms?

C.C.Crane (4, Informative)

doctechniqal (516085) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Mac Mini (1)

solid_liq (720160) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017618)

How about a Mac Mini with a remote control? They have good audio hardware, you can connect it to your network wirelessly, and you can use Mac OS X, Linux or Windows on it for playing audio. They're also small, nearly silent, and women think they're cute.

Low Power FM radio (3, Informative)

shking (125052) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017622)

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.

Just Multiroom, or Multizone? (2, Interesting)

nate_in_ME (1281156) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017642)

(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 you start seeing the higher price tags. You mention you've already found the Russound products, which is actually quite a flexible system that gives you a lot of options. It looks like they recently came out with what they are calling their Collage system, which will pull music from any uPNP server on your network. In addition, the keypads have a FM reciever, and built-in intercom between keypads. It also uses HomePlug for communications between the various keypads and the media source, so once your individual keypads are connected to power, they will not require any additional wiring for data. The keypads also have a built in amplifier, so all you will need to add beyond the cost of each keypad and the HomePlug adapter for your server are speakers and wire from the keypad to the speakers. Russound has older systems that are quite cheaper, but not all of them are designed to handle the music being on a server like you currently have. It appears that Collage is specifically designed for this type of setup. The downside is that the cheapest price I could find for keypads was $549USD.

Airport Express (1)

guytoronto (956941) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017648)

Airport Express base station with a decent set of computer speakers. Remote control via iPhone or iPod Touch.

Rocketboost from Best Buy (3, Interesting)

wmshub (25291) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017654)

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.

Apple Airport Express (1)

Mindstate (1117201) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017664)

honestly, that's probably the simplest solution. add an airport express for each room you want and you have an instant wireless music network. add an iPod touch or an iPhone and you have a really excellent remote that lets you easily switch the music from one room to the next and multiples at the same time with no delay, as well as creating custom playlists on the fly and using itunes DJ and genius playlists. plus it can join your home wifi network and share printers, charge USB devices, or even extend your wifi network. to me, this is probably the most under-hyped apple product ever. it's made my life so much easier. i only have one, but i can just unplug it and move it to another room and have it hooked up somewhere else in seconds, and the remote app on the iPhone is worlds better than any other audio remote i've used.

The "right" answer, rather than the geeky one... (3, Interesting)

pla (258480) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017686)

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.

What about DNLA or UPnP? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30017702)

(subject)

xbmc multizone audio (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30017714)

maybe someday xbmc will have multizone audio support.
there is also a thread about this topic: http://xbmc.org/forum/showthread.php?p=367551

Just get an amp & distribution box (1)

lalena (1221394) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017738)

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 let you control the volume in the room itself and some repeat the remote IR signals that let you control everything from any room. Still, CD/DVD players that use radio frequency (not IR) remotes can be found for $50 so why bother.
I've posted some more ideas to my site: http://www.diyaudioandvideo.com/ [diyaudioandvideo.com]

Simple enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30017742)

If you're happy to run wires:

Plug a small/cheap portable mixing desk into an Airport's audio-out: You'll need a desk with multiple audio-outs and a pre-amp (Mine cost $100 in New Zealand). You'll be able to produce a bunch of line-level outs from a single audio source.

Run an RCA pair cable to each room, plug them into various amplifiers, and you're away.

If you need wireless, well:

(I do something similar to this to drive a bunch of hardware from a DJ mixer: I end up needing 4-5 stereo pairs at line level).

SlimDevices / Squeezecenter (1)

audionoom (165405) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017784)

You might want to check out Slim Devices (acquired by Logitech now) - http://www.logitechsqueezebox.com/how-it-works/overview.html.

I'm usually not a big fan of all-in-one solutions from vendors like Logitech - but this is a no-brainer. If you have a NAS, you can hook it up, and control it from any web-enabled device (computer, android phone, iphone, netbook, maemo, ...) throughout the whole house over wireless. There are remote controls that work over a wireless network (Duet controller), and they also got speaker+player combo's.

The software is free, and available for Linux and Windows (no Mac I think?) - and it scans your library you point it to, indexes pretty neatly, and sports a good search, shows new music added ...
Also - same system streams internet radio, and there are a lot of plugins and small apps available (alarm, multiroom vs. synced audio stream, ...).

In my setup, I hooked 5 players up over cable in the rack closet, which are connected over audio cable to separate amplifiers. Speakers in the ceilings are connected to those amplifiers.
My rooms stay clean and uncluttered, and I control the whole thing through my HTC Hero phone, and the misses through her Iphone. The navigation and lookup on all devices (webinterface, phone apps, duet controller, Nokia 770) is pretty quick - given that I run an MP3 library of around 60Gb.

To pass the wife test - you can try and set up one of the products they have, and expand later on.

Total cost, without amps or speakers - 5 rooms, 5 different streams --- 5 players, 1 Duet controller - around 750Euros (around 1000$, approx).
However - if you'd only need one room to be connected to the NAS over wireless - you'd be set with about 400$, I guess (Duet controller + player).

When clients or friends are curious about the setup - I just give them the Duet controller or the Maemo tablet, put them in one of the rooms that are kitted out - and let them have a go at it. Even the n00bs or the laymen understand it without any info, and are quickly listening to their own stuff ...

Just my 2 cents ...

iPod (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017806)

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.

Sonos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30017810)

The Sonos is the best deal out there and you can even control it now with an iPhone or an iPod touch.

Squeezebox or AirTunes (1)

djkitsch (576853) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017822)

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

Home:
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 already had the server and AppleTV, so it only cost me about $70 with eBay AirTunes units.

Office:
A VM running on our office server with Squeezebox Server, serving the tunes. A mixture of Squeezebox devices and PCs running the software player throughout the office. A whole load of apps and web interfaces to control the server, and the multiple streams coming out of it. With the exception of the Squeezebox hardware, it was free to setup, and you don't even really need those if you're happy to use spare PCs.

By and large, both arrangements work well - the aim was to have systems that we could just setup and forget about, and save the odd server reboot, that's what we've got.

The Bulldozer Approach (5, Funny)

flyneye (84093) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017850)

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.

Move? (1)

RichardJenkins (1362463) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017884)

Just move into a studio apartment. Problem solved.

Ampache (1)

CranberryKing (776846) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017892)

you might work something out with ampache [ampache.org] using localplay.

Sonos (1)

farnsworth (558449) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017908)

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 -- it can read files off of your NAS.
  • No computer involved -- I don't want to have to boot anything, or log into anything, or launch any apps, or care about remote endpoints. (yes, I'm sure there is a cpu in these things, but it's not a 'computer' to me.)
  • Expandable -- You can get just one and add more as you want
  • iPhone controllable -- I always have my phone on my person, so I can always adjust whatever's going on anywhere.

It does have downsides. The magic peering technology seems complicated and is not very well documented (at least when I was reading about it). I don't think you can use it purely wirelessly, I think at least one device needs a cat5 network connection. I think it then NATs all the other devices over an 802.11 network. It's also on the pricey end of things, although for a couple rooms it is not thousands of dollars.

They also have new models and capabilities pretty regularly so the above may already be out of date. Check it out, though.

I've also heard good things about Squeezebox, but it didn't appeal to me for several reasons that I forget.

Just set up some stereo mini Radio Station (1)

viking80 (697716) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017910)

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.
or
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, but a) it is cheap, b) has a familiar user interface (tune knob)

wired player with iPod iface (1)

davygrvy (868500) | more than 4 years ago | (#30017922)

http://www.auraliti.com/ [auraliti.com]
amp with volume control needed and speakers

headphones + ipod OR PS3 in every room (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30017954)

having your music on nas is a waste of electricity but if you insist on having it as part of your solution, get Playstation 3 for every room. As long as your nas supports DLNA, you should be able to stream any videos or music to it/them.
And you don't have to buy brand new playstations - there a lot of them available used or with broken bluray drive - since you don't need the drive for streaming or updating firmware, any ps3 that's not completely fried will do. What's good about ps3 is that you can get a bluetooth remote control - uses radio waves instead of infrared - works through walls. You can also stream content from PC to PS3 using free software - http://code.google.com/p/ps3mediaserver/ [google.com]

AE? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30017990)

What about Speakers and a few Airport Express stations?

Why multiroom music? (0, Flamebait)

Ivan Stepaniuk (1569563) | more than 4 years ago | (#30018012)

This makes sense in an office, or a dental clinic... but I don't understand why would someone want this in a house. What's next? a coffee machine in every room? Multiroom toilets? I think an iPod would do what you need, you can even get two iPods, one for you and another for your wife, she can listen to something else even in the same room!

Good quality wireless FM transmitter.... (0)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30018020)

...with a range of 20-30m or so. One that lets you tune the frequency within a nice large range. Provided it's legal where you live. Then all you need in each room is a standard radio to receive it. If you already have one, total cost is the purchase and running cost of the transmitter. Won't give you optimal quality but it's cheap.

Just turn it to 11 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30018038)

Just turn the volume on the equipment in the living room up to 11. Unless your house is huge, that should cover all the rooms.

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