advice on combining existing stuff for house audio

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by billyboy, Jun 16, 2006.

  1. billyboy macrumors 65816

    billyboy

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    #1
    Hi
    Had some great advice and ideas on this forum regarding the choice between an lcd tv v lcd computer monitor, and now I am looking for tips on how best to set up an audio system in our house using what we already have, plus an economical purchase or two if required.

    So we have a Powerbook, an XP on a Dell laptop, a 120GB lacie external drive (formatted for the Mac) with loads of music, both laptops have itunes, we have a Belkin wireless router and a pair of great sounding Phillips speakers that currently connect to a crappy hifi system via a red and black cable!

    We spend most of our time either on the ground floor or on the third floor. With the router on the second floor reception is fine around the house. We arent audio nuts, just like to listen to our music, not the radio. I suppose it would be neat to be able to control the music from the first and third floor.

    Any suggestions please on how to put what we have to good use and with the minimum of additional purchases as we are just starting out and whatever I spend comes out my food budget ;)
     
  2. Carl Spackler macrumors 6502

    Carl Spackler

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    #2
    Really, you have more options than I have room to type. What's your budget? That will help narrow it down. Also, your Philips speakers...are they computer speakers or do they require speaker wire? Here are a couple of ideas.

    If you want to ditch the hifi, if all it's really doing is powering your speakers, run, don't walk and get one or two of these. One for each Floor, I'd say. You probably have a powersupply lying around to power the thing, or you can use batteries. Check the other products from Sonic Impact for some supringly good gear.

    One route would be to buy an Airport Express and take it from room to room with a pair of speakers. The ones you have may do just fine. You can also buy a boom box for the floor that doesn't have the current one and move either laptop between the two, taking the music with you. You could probably pick up an older desktop to sit next to the router to act as a music server if you don't want your laptops to do this. Since iTunes on each computer should talk to one another, an additional computer/music server may not be needed.

    My guess is that you want the same audio to be playing throughout your place without having to unplug a bunch of stuff.

    I think that you're going to find that controlling the music is the difficult part. I don't know of any economical setup that's going to allow you to carry something like a remote around your place and choose songs.

    Budget allowing...mix and match the following:

    I. Music delivery system:
    A) Powerbook (to control the music) and, possibly one or two Airport Expresses (to deliver the music to the speakers if you don't want your Powerbook tethered.
    B)SoundBridge
    C) Squeezebox

    **I don't know the range of these remotes on the Roku or the SoundBridge, but you may be able to simply put it on the second floor, though, I doubt it. You're probably going to have to haul one of these from floor to floor depending on your need for control.

    II. Speakers:
    A) Apple Hi-Fi
    B) Powered Speakers. Check M-Audio for some decently well priced speakers. There is also something like these if you want to do it on the uber cheap.

    The final option would be involve buying an amp, your "frappy hifi" may work if it allows for a/b speakers out, a pair of speakers for each room and lots of speaker wire. Incorportate the old deskop into this as your source.

    Rambling...I know, but I hope it gives you some ideas. If you find any of this interesting or possible on your budget. I'd be more than happy to help, or explain further.

    Carl Spackler
     
  3. billyboy thread starter macrumors 65816

    billyboy

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    #3
    Well that was a good start, thanks. For speakers I think the Phillips will stay downstairs and the Creative you suggested, they have good reviews dont they! or maybe a basic 2.1 with subwoofer would be ample for upstairs.

    Need to compute the rest of the puzzle!
     
  4. Carl Spackler macrumors 6502

    Carl Spackler

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    #4
    Here are a couple of other speakers to consider for your upstairs

    http://www.si-technologies.com/frontEnd/cm_productDetail.jsp?productID=31

    http://www.si-technologies.com/frontEnd/cm_productDetail.jsp?productID=15

    I've never heard these, but I have thier t-amp and it's really amazing. I'm guessing their speakers are proably quite nice. http://www.tnt-audio.com/ampli/t-amp_e.html

    They'll plug into a laptop, ipod or airport just fine. They even appear to pull power over USB so you wouldn't have to buy the extra powersupply. Though, it's a fairly common one and you may have on lying around your place.
     
  5. billyboy thread starter macrumors 65816

    billyboy

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    #5
    Thanks for the help.

    Would this gadget not get over the issue of sending music to different parts of the house and make use of what we have got? Plug the gadget into the headphones jack of the computer upstairs (with speakers running off the computer USB) and have the "crappy hifi" tuner with good speakers downstairs tuned in to pick up the music beamed by this gadget? Or is that really audiophile offensive?
     
  6. Carl Spackler macrumors 6502

    Carl Spackler

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    #6
    heh.

    I doubt this thing has the juice to send a signal through a wall, but I think you're on the right track. Who knows though. For $20 it may be worth it.

    If you can pick up an old desktop with a wireless card you could always put that in a corner upstairs with a pair of speakers like those from Amazon. I used to do this. I had an old PC that I ran to my stereo in another room. I'd run it headless with Microsoft's Remote Desktop. Since iTunes see other iTunes you may be able to do this with the Dell if you don't want to buy another cheap desktop. As long as it'll run WinXP you should be fine.
     
  7. billyboy thread starter macrumors 65816

    billyboy

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    #7
    Well, certainly learning a few things today, thanks.

    That gadget must have some oomph, doesnt it theoretically broadcast to a car stereo? $20 wont kill me to try it out though. If it works it would be more useful than AE as it seems from reviews that Airport Express wont broadcast throughout the house, ie only to one appliance at a time? And as I dont want wires everywhere, AE limits me to music to one floor only at a time. Something to do with the technical difficulties of synching.

    Sort of solved the remote control situation. A freeware utility called Romeo does a Sailing Clicker job and converts my Sony Ericsson bluetooth phone into a remote. Very easy to set up, except it wont quite go through 2 floors!!

    On that basis so far, a headless wifi music server (or one of our laptops till we find an old PC)) on the top floor with some speakers connected sounds quite practical, and if that gadget can beam the signal downstairs, excellent. Control the upstairs speaker volume with the bluetooth remote, and downstairs music from the hifi volume control.

    MacGyver eat your heart out
     
  8. Carl Spackler macrumors 6502

    Carl Spackler

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    #8
    It broadcasts to a car stereo, but that Sonic Impact transmitter is designed to plug into your ipod or similar device and sit on the passenger seat and transmit to the car radio. There's no reason you couldn't plug it into your Powerbook and transmit the audio signal to a radio in your home, but I just don't think it's designed to send it's signal very far.

    I like your idea of using the phone as a remote. I'd test it on your laptops since it won't cost anything. If the range works for you, then I'd go down that road.

    I found a remote called "Firefly" that should work with your Dell or if you invest in an older desktop to at as a music server. They say it works through walls.
     
  9. billyboy thread starter macrumors 65816

    billyboy

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    #9
    Well Carl, I got a Sonic transmitter for $6 plus post and a set of those $9 Creative speakers, all from Amazon. Upstairs we have the laptop with the "quiet" speakers and the sonic FM transmitter attached. We are changing tracks etc on the laptop with the Sony Ericcson mobile and Romeo software working via Bluetooth.

    Three floors down we have the music from the laptop beaming to the Phillips speakers connected to the crappy hifi tuner. We control the volume there direct off the tuner.

    To get the signal from upstairs to work relaibly we just needed an extra length of wire on the arial of the tuner.

    So for under $30 of add-ons, we have music top and bottom and pretty good it sounds too.

    Thanks very much for the help and guidance, and I reckon it is a better solution than the AirportExpress for a fraction of the cost. Of course we arent audiophiles so maybe the "FM" quality from the beefy speakers doesnt cut it for some aficionadoes, but really, it sounds good to us.
     
  10. Carl Spackler macrumors 6502

    Carl Spackler

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    #10
    Excellent! I'm glad it's all working. Sonic Impact makes some pretty neat stuff. If you ever find yourself in the market for a neat little amp, thier T-Amp is great.

    Take care!
     

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