ATV or AirportExpress or Both

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by tobi-wan-kenobi, Dec 24, 2008.

  1. tobi-wan-kenobi macrumors newbie

    Dec 24, 2008
    I am planing a whole-house entertainment system. My new home is in just starting to get built so I can still have them run ducts or wires where needed.

    The first step was that I want to use Apple products instead of the more expensive dedicated solutions that are out here.

    For sound I am planing to use BOSE in ceiling speakers in connection with this amp. The Parasound Zamp has the benefit of having a function that can wake up the amp depending on if there is a audio signal detected. Has the benefit that I do not have to turn on and shut of the amp. It will do that for me.

    The idea was to use 2 dedicated computers (mac mini?) with large external drives as music server. Using iTunes and the handy little "remote" application for iPhone or iPod Touch. I have 8 rooms or bathrooms that I want to have music in. Kitchen, livingroom (downstiars) and Master Bed, Master Bath, Gym, Kids1, Kids2, Kids Bath (upstairs).

    I want to control upstairs and downstairs independently or together. Therefor I need two loops. As I have fewer rooms downstairs than upstairs I will place to AirPortExpress for every room downstairs and one per room for the upstairs rooms.

    All the equipment will be in the utility room. I can wire the APE with the mac minis. Connect the APE with the Parasound Zamp amps and then run the speaker cables to the rooms. The speakers downstairs will receive input from two APE so that they can play from the mail loop or the secondary loop.

    This will allow me to play different songs or the same song upstairs and downstairs.

    Now why I am posting this in the Apple TV forum. I understand that ATV has the same functionality as an APR. It can receive music that is streamed from a mac mini and patch the audio signal to an amp the same way as an APE.

    So am I better of buying 8 ATV instead of the APE? I am planing to have "only" 4TVs in the house. Kitchen, Livingroom, Gym, Kids1 (guest room).
    People will never listen to music and watch TV at the same time.

    So I am playing with the idea of having ATV instead of APE for those 4 rooms. How would I manage so that every TV could watch a different movie? I understand that if I stream then a computer can only deliver one stream. The ATV HD is much to small to hold a big library of films.

    But if I hold the music in the computers for streaming then I can not have films that not stream, or? But I do not mind hacking the ATV and having a 1TB HD anging of it to hold a big library of films. But I do want to stream the music. Can that be done?

    Thanks for your help
  2. BoulderBum macrumors 6502a

    Feb 3, 2008
    Something that might help your decision is that Apple TV's can be used as content sources for an Airport Express. You can be streaming movies from your computer to one Apple TV while streaming music from an unused Apple TV to an Airport Express.

    The "Remote" app works the same way for both your computer and Apple TV except with Apple TV, Remote can also be used to input text.

    As to "how can I stream multiple movies?", it's a good question, but how often do you plan on watching more than one movie on separate TV's simultaneously? Rentals will be no problem, of course, as they can be downloaded on a per-Apple TV basis, but I don't think Apple's system was designed for multiple streams from a single source.

    You may be able to have multiple virtual machines running on a single computer as content servers, but that isn't the most elegant of solutions.
  3. Mr Kram macrumors 68020

    Mr Kram

    Oct 1, 2008
    obviously the atv is much more flexible than the ape. if money is no object, then that is a no-brainer.

    as for the capability of the atv, you can stream up to 5 atv's from one library. i can't speak first hand of the performance, but i'd assume you'd need an N connection if wireless.
  4. BoulderBum macrumors 6502a

    Feb 3, 2008
    I was just going to follow up and say that I just tried streaming music to my Airport Express at the same time that I streamed a movie to my Apple TV and it works! One computer can apparently support multiple streams and if what Mr. Kram says is correct, I'd be hopeful about multiple simultaneous movie streams to Apple TV's!

    I checked the file size vs. the length of some of my movies and it appears that movies need to stream at the rate of about .16-.18 MB/ps.

    I've heard of real-world benchmarking for wireless N hitting the range of 14 MB/ps and G hitting about 3.7 MB/ps, so the possibility seems pretty plausible with the right hardware (hard drive, router).
  5. tobi-wan-kenobi thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 24, 2008
    Can one trigger the music stream and the Movie stream from the iPhone via "Remote" app?

    In my system everything will be out of sight and "Remote" is the key to making it all work.

    Also if one can stream to 5 ATV simultaneously, I would assume that the server sends one signal that 5 ATVs pick up. Rather than 5 identical signals to 5 ATVs.

    I read the thread on ripping 720p content from BlueRay. That is the way to go and I would like to know if that is also 1 server to 5 recipients?

  6. Mr Kram macrumors 68020

    Mr Kram

    Oct 1, 2008
    in regards to the remote, i believe you can only pair one remote to one atv at a time. i don't think you can use one remote to activate all your atv's simultaneously.

    back to streaming, i don't think your server actually sends out any signals. the atv's just access the database while the server is on the network. you can't really stream the same content in each room unless you have someone start each video at the same time.
  7. tobi-wan-kenobi thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 24, 2008
    OK. So if I understand things right the ATV access the server to pull the movie from it. If the HD is fast enough one can have 5 ATVs pull different videos from the same server.

    I can connect the ATVs and the Macintosh via GB ethernet (have to look at the specs for the ATV)

    As for the iPhone or iPod Touch. Lets say I have one for each guest of the house. In their room they want to start a video. They lock onto a ATV named Guest-Room#1 and brows the library. They start the film and it gets sent via HDMI to the flat-screen in their room.

    At the same time different iPod Touches can lock onto other ATVs and start separate videos in different rooms, or alternatively have the ATVs stream music to the rooms.

    As I have 8 rooms with 5 TVs I would buy ATVs for the 5 TVs and 3 APE for the other rooms.

    The problem is that I would want to play the same song in every room. (during a party) With APE that is perfectly doable. But is the same true for the above set up?
  8. Okes macrumors newbie

    Aug 10, 2008
    North Devon, UK

    Not 100% sure on the rest, but the quoted bit works fine, the ATV works exactly as an APE. With the latest firmware you can stream synced music from one of the ATV to the rest of the network without needing a mac or pc to be turned on. You can select which speakers (APE & ATV) to stream music to using the remote app.

    We have used our setup in a similar/smaller way - 2 APE & 1 ATV using a mac or streaming from the appletv wirelessly although the ethernet network might be needed with streaming to 8 different devices but you have that covered anyway.
  9. Mr Kram macrumors 68020

    Mr Kram

    Oct 1, 2008

    the atv is 10/100, but that should be sufficient in this application.

    you have to pair the atv with the remote, so you would have one dedicated ipod touch per atv.



    yes, you can now use the atv as a remote "speaker" for itunes.
  10. BoulderBum macrumors 6502a

    Feb 3, 2008
    Actually, that may be incorrect. See below.

    I have both an iPhone and an iPod Touch set up as an Apple TV "remote" (with the Remote app), and I can confirm that you can have more than one remote per Apple TV.

    Both remotes also act as a remote for my computer's music library, thus I can confirm that you can have multiple "libraries" per Remote app.

    Lastly, I notice that I have the option to "Add Library", and the verbage states: "To add an iTunes library... (snip) To add Apple TV...".

    It would surprise me if you couldn't add a second Apple TV given the above. Does anyone have two Apple TV's and a Remote app to confirm or refute?

    Yes. The music stream would have to come from an iTunes library on a computer while you watched a movie on your Apple TV, however, even if the movie is streamed from said computer.

    Yes, but note that the "Remote" app doesn't completely replace the remote that comes with the Apple TV. You can selected downloaded content with the Remote App, but not use it to watch YouTube or your rentals (oddly enough) or Flickr, "favorite" Podcasts (i.e. Podcasts you stream instead of download), etc.

    You can buy an RF universal remote that replaces the standard Apple TV remote while keeping everything out of sight, however.
  11. tobi-wan-kenobi thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 24, 2008
    Ok with all your help we are getting to the bottom of things.
    I am currently using the "Remote" app with APE and AirTunes and yes I can see several libraries that I have on several computers.

    Now it seems that one can also see several ATVs in a similar fashion.

    One of the things I still need to solve is if I can have one depository of all files. Lets say a mac mini with a TB raid drive and 5 ATV and all could have different Movies playing. And on the other hand on a different occasion have all ATVs play the same song.

    I think I understand that one "server" can stream one movie to 5 ATV but NOT 5 different movies, right?

    So what would the set up have to look like to have independent video streams? I guess one solution would be hacked ATVs with massive 2TB HD hooked to the USB drive and have complete duplicates of the video library on each HD.

    Could I still have the music on a central computer. So for music I would stream from the mac mini and for videos I would use the ATV's internal library?

    At some point I am going to draw a "schemata" to get the whole setup straight.
  12. Okes macrumors newbie

    Aug 10, 2008
    North Devon, UK
    I believe that you should be able to stream five different movies from one mac or a mix of music and movies. I'm not 100% sure that the network would handle the traffic without stuttering, especially if the movies are hd?

    Have you thought about using a mac pro instead of a mac mini instead as you could lump a load of internal drives inside instead of hanging USB drives outside. Also the drives would be faster and stand up better to a lot of use better than the mini's drive.
  13. tobi-wan-kenobi thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 24, 2008
    I will get whatever the system requires. I am always looking at the minimal requirements to do the job. The mini has gigabit ethernet. The ATV not, so that is more than I need already. So a FW400 with 480 Mb/s will get a lot of data to the mini.

    What we need is the next ATV to have gigabit ethernet and we can talk about if the FW400 is not enough. But right now the ATV seems to be the bottleneck.

    Is anybody out there that is using more than one ATV and is streaming from a central source to them? That person could put an end to speculation, whether two different movies can be streamed (HD?) at the same time or not?

    Oh.. and one more thing. Does anybody know if the ATV puts a signal on the audio out while playing a movie via HDMI? I am asking because my amps will auto-detect if there is an audio signal and switch themselves on and start playing through the in-ceiling speakers. So it might be desirable to be able to get sound to the audio out of ATV even when using HDMI.
  14. Alrescha macrumors 68020

    Jan 1, 2008
    "5 Apple TVs, 5 Airport Expresses"

  15. tobi-wan-kenobi thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 24, 2008
    Thanks a lot for the link. Exactly what I was looking for COOL !!

    Have to get onto a network forum. I think to remember that the n protocol will downgrade to the lowest denominator in the household. So if I have some MacBook Pro sitting around with g then the whole network will not perform at n . Will report back.

    So that leaves the question on the output. Does the ATV send the audio signal to the audio outs even when streaming a video and using the HDMI to link to the TV?
  16. flyB6 macrumors newbie

    Nov 27, 2008
    So that leaves the question on the output. Does the ATV send the audio signal to the audio outs even when streaming a video and using the HDMI to link to the TV?

    Apple Tv - HDMI to Sony HDTV, Optical to Sony Receiver.

    I was able to play both a movie, and use airtunes at the same time. You would only want to play one at a time, since the audio overlapped.
  17. BoulderBum macrumors 6502a

    Feb 3, 2008
    You could even have the content on several different computers and it will all be the same to Apple TV, which simply aggregates all the content in the movie menus! It's very easy!

    That said, what I did is have all my iTunes content stored on a home NAS. You figure that computers get outdated, but drive space is forever, and home NAS systems usually scale and protect data better than an internal drive.

    If you're Windows-centric or you have Macs and don't mind not having the ability to use all its features like automated computer backups, there's the HP MediaSmart Home Server. It has 4 hot-swappable SATA drive bays, the ability to backup its own content (in case one of the disks fail) and is a generally well-designed piece of machinery.

    With today's drives topping out at 1.5 TB, you figure that it can house up to 6 TB of data internally (less if you want everything backed up), and it also has the abilty to expand storage via external drives.

    It's super nice because all of your internal physical disks appear as a single logical disk (e.g. they are all part of the dynamically sized "Z:" drive), which works well for iTunes since it requires a single folder as your library's primary storage.

    In Apple land, I guess there's also Time Capsule, which backs up Macs, but it doesn't scale as well due to the lack of multiple internal drive bays.
  18. tobi-wan-kenobi thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 24, 2008
    Just to clarify. I understand that you were able to use HDMi for movie and optical out for playing a song.

    You are right that would not make sense for the same room. But is it possible to play the audio from the film to the optical out and use my in-ceiling speakers for the film sound.

    I am not sure how to best handle the sound in connection with the ATV. I am sure there is somebody that has done something like this.
  19. tobi-wan-kenobi thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 24, 2008
    I am a mac guy so no windows for me. I am planing to use a LaCie raid drive with 6TB of storage. That should be OK for a few years.

    I do want to keep everything in one place. Possibly with a back-up to a time-machine disk that I will keep off-site.
  20. Chris Rogers macrumors 6502a

    Chris Rogers

    Jul 8, 2008
    my house
    A Suggestion

    Why not get

    - 'x' amount of Apple TV's

    - Home Wireless network (Time Capsule OR Airport Extreme with external hard drive(s))

    - Boxee on each ATV

    With this 'solution' each ATV can access the network hard drive(s) for movies and other media content. Boxee will also scan each computer for media as well.

    I'm about 85% sure you can do the same with music.
  21. tobi-wan-kenobi thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 24, 2008
    I think that "Remote" holds the key to my system. Do not know enough about Boxee, but I think REMOTE is what will make my system. Plus I think Apple is a long way from making REMOTE complete.

    I am sure they have seen the light and realized that this litle application will sell them tons of systems if only they hire a couple of guys to support and further develop it.

    I will read up on Boxee though just to get educated. But unless it has the iPhone support it is a no go for me.
  22. Chris Rogers macrumors 6502a

    Chris Rogers

    Jul 8, 2008
    my house
    :/ yeah, boxee doesn't work with the Remote app. But it could be for movies only and then you can just run the Apple TV normally w/ the remote app for Music.
  23. mpshay macrumors 6502

    May 19, 2008
    I also love the capability the Remote app provides. Currently using a couple different ipod touches to control an ATC and 2 Mac Minis being used as media servers. Works like a charm
  24. flyB6 macrumors newbie

    Nov 27, 2008
    That is how I use my set up. For DTS and all surround sound needs (from mp3 or video), otherwise I just use Sony TV speakers.

    My Sony receiver has no HDMI, just Component and Optical. ATV Optical to Receiver Optical.
    My Sony HDTV has one HDMI, ATV Hdmi to TV HDMI.

    I hope it makes sense. ATV will output sound on anything connected at the same time.
  25. MagnusVonMagnum macrumors 601


    Jun 18, 2007
    I use one computer as a server for my house and three rooms. Any AppleTV unit can request a song independently from iTunes (i.e. those rooms can play different music from other rooms) and an iPhone or iPod Touch can control those AppleTV units independently and move between them quite easily (i.e. I can bring the iPod Touch with me from room to room and control that room from the same unit independently of other rooms). If I want the whole house to play the same song, I select the iTunes libary from the PowerMac server itself instead and enable whatever Airtunes room speakers I want to hear. With the last "Remote" update, it's very easy to do as the speaker controls are on the "Now Playing" screen.

    The downside of using Airport Express units is that they only function as Airtunes devices so they can only play whatever either the main library is playing or as of the last AppleTV update, whatever that unit is playing (it can now act as an iTunes server, although it cannot play on your computers, only "Airtunes" devices). And that AppleTV does NOT have to be playing "local" music from its own hard drive. It can be streaming the files from your iTunes server computer and still control the other rooms in the house! And you can control THAT AppleTV from your iPod Touch. So basically, as long as you have an iPod Touch or iPhone with Remote on you, you have a lot of control options. So you might want to use Airport Express units for places like the bathroom (mainly because they're cheaper (like 1/3 the price) and take up very little room; just an outlet, basically) and use AppleTV units in more 'primary' listening locations where you might want independent music control and/or want to watch music videos and/or movies, etc.

    What I don't understand is why you want to use TWO computers to drive the system. Unless you are planning on having all 8 rooms play independent music of each other at the same time, one computer should be sufficient to drive several rooms even playing different music in all of them (again, AppleTV units would be needed to achieve that, though as Airport Express units are Airtunes only devices). I have one computer serve 3 rooms and it has plenty of room to spare to add more rooms and that way I only need to keep ONE master iTunes library with ALL my music, videos, and movies. I have two wireless networks in the house so if I ever did max out one wireless network, there's always a second one connected to my Gigabit router (right now I use it so my "N" devices don't slow down when connecting a B/G device like the iPod Touch or iPhone).

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