HELP: Best Solution for Home Audio Setup?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by burms888, Aug 19, 2012.

  1. burms888 macrumors member

    Aug 16, 2011
    So hopefully this makes sense. Basically I am looking for the best way to set up home audio throughout my house, including outdoors. I live in a 2 bedroom apartment with an outdoor patio and would like to be able to at the very least have the option to have speakers in the living room for my Home Theater and also outside on my patio, and be able to listen to music through both at the same time, or switch between them. Possibly extending this to the bedroom as well. Currently all I do to listen to music is use my laptop without any speakers and take it inside or outside. Same goes for the TV and movies, I only use the built in speakers. So pretty bare bones right now.

    One idea I had was the following.

    Purchase this:

    I would use the switch box to plug my DVD, DirecTV and Apple TV(thinking of purchasing for airplay) into, then with the audio out, plug into a set of speakers for the house.

    The one issue I am running into is that I don't know how I would hook up and speakers for outdoors with this setup. Would I need to purchase an Airport Extreme or express for outdoor use? If I did that, could the music still play through both inside and outside speakers at the same time?

    Anyone have a better option or any insight? Thanks, home audio noob here.
  2. burms888 thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 16, 2011
    Actually, do I even need the switch box if I run the speakers through the audio out in my TV? Would Airplay still work in the living room through Apple TV if it is connected to my TV? Then I can just have an airport express for the outdoor speakers to sync with the house.

    Does this sound right?
  3. burms888 thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 16, 2011
    Another question, hopefully one will get answered :).

    So with Apple TV, for ariplay, do the speakers need to be connected to the Apple TV, or will just connecting them to the Television be enough?
  4. HobeSoundDarryl, Aug 20, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2012

    HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604


    Feb 8, 2004
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    Usually, this is handled with a receiver that has what is often called "zones". For example, several Onkyo receivers have at least a "zone 2". Zone 1 (the primary) would be the living room audio and zone 2 could run your outdoor speakers (together or independent of whatever is playing on Zone 1). I often have DD5.1 audio playing for some of the family in the living room while playing music (via Zone 2) on the patio.

    Otherwise, you simply need to be thinking about how to push the desired audio to two sets of speakers. Since you're in an apartment, you may not be able to easily run speaker wire out to the patio. If that's the case, you probably want to think about wireless speakers for your patio. Is security an issue (can others easily get to your patio and steal your speakers)? And you'll need power on that patio if you can't run amplified audio from inside to outside (the latter option usually requires holes that make landlords very unhappy).

    It sounds like you want to be able to feed audio from just about any source you have, so that is going to take some kind of centralizing switch to manage all those "audio ins". It sounds like you need at least 3 sets of audio in and 2 sets of audio out (the latter 2 is split between internal and external speakers). Again, this is very much receiver territory.

    That monoprice device you're looking at is an HDMI switcher. It isn't a speaker amplifier so you would still need something else to amplify the signals to both sets of speakers. And if you do that with another switch, then you'll be having to hit buttons to switch the source and hit another button to choose the speakers.

    Again, I think you need a Zone 2-capable receiver to manage the inputs and outputs and maybe a set of wireless speakers for your patio (only if you can't run wires out there (otherwise, go wired)). The only downside to "Zone 2" is that :apple:TV only outputs a digital audio signal and most "Zone 2" receivers need an analog signal to work. So that requires a digital to analog converter. These can be small, relatively cheap devices to hide behind the receiver but they are something extra to buy.

    If money is tight, then you'll probably want to go in the direction you were originally thinking, though you'll need 3+ audio inputs with 2+ audio outputs. The latter will have to be amplified or you'll need amplifiers for the audio out. The amplifiers then connects to the speakers, ideally via good speaker cable.

    If you want to add that bedroom to the mix, think "Zone 3" receiver (3 separate zones) or look for component parts with at least 3 audio inputs and 3 audio outputs. Again, you'll need amplification for each set of speakers, so that could be up to 3 amplifiers for 3 rooms if you do it all with separate pieces. Again, if your landlord doesn't like holes in the walls, you either have to run the cable along the floor to the bedroom or think wireless. Or you might want to go with separate systems for each room.

    Note that the non-receiver option (switch box) might be limited to passing through just one signal at a time. So, if you have a goal of feeding all speakers the same- or different- audio, you'll need to look for a switch box that can handle passing through multiple streams.

    Lastly, if most of your audio is Apple iTunes, don't overlook Airport Express as a way to wirelessly get audio all around your house (though this still requires amplification for the speakers that are attached to it). You could put a base station in the bedroom, link it to an amplifier (great or cheap) and then run the speakers out of that amp. Sometimes you can find an AE in the refurb store or used on Ebay or similar.
  5. Cartaphilus, Aug 20, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2012

    Cartaphilus macrumors 6502a

    Dec 24, 2007
    We use Airport Expresses in our house, and have successfully for many years now. Ideally you would have a separate AX in each area where you want sound, and configure them to simply join your existing wireless network. (An AX can also serve as your central wireless router, as a repeater extending your network, and to turn any USB printer into a wireless printer.)

    You then have an amplifier and speakers, or powered speakers, in each area plugged into the corresponding AX. To operate, you'd simply use your computer, phone or tablet to play your iTunes library (or by using the Airfoil app on your computer, playing sound from anything running on your computer).
    With any of these devices you can change what's playing, change the volume, and select one or more areas where you want the music to be heard. This is great for Pandora, Sirius/XM, or podcasts too.\

    Of course, you can defer some hardware for awhile if you are willing to simply move an AX from one area to another and/or the speaker/amp system. If you only rarely use the system outdoors, for example, you might want to make that area the last one to equip, and in the meantime just take the few minutes required to carry out powered speakers and the AX.

    The best part of this system is that it takes no time to set up, there are no wires snaking around your place, no complicated switching mechanisms, and you can leverage your existing wifi network. Throw in an AppleTV and you can play your music through your TV speakers as well, or choose the music through the TV screen. With this approach, you also have tech support through the Apple Store if you ever need it, although the Airport Utility app is pretty intuitive.
  6. warvanov macrumors 6502a

    Oct 13, 2011
    First of all, you nee a receiver and a decent pair of speakers for the TV. Start looking at 5.1 receivers at Best Buy or somewhere similar. You can buy online or wherever, but check out one in person to get an idea of what you're looking for. You can buy a whole set of six ore more speakers individually, or buy a cheap "home theater in a box" set up, or just start out with a couple bookshelf speakers. What you buy is entirely up to you. But basically, you need a receiver and speakers.

    At this point you can plug your TV and DVD player directly into the receiver to get sound through the speakers. You can also plug your laptop into the receiver using a cord to play music through your sound system.

    What you want now if you want to be able to play music wirelessly is to buy an AirPort Express (APX) or an AppleTV (ATV). If you have an existing wireless network, then buying an AppleTV will allow you to use the various other features of the device to watch video, netflix, youtube, etc on your TV. If you don't yet have a wireless network and you want to create one then you'll want an AirPort Express. To play music using wirelessly using AirPlay all you have to do is select the name of either the APX or the ATV in iTunes on your laptop and then play music as usual.

    Now, to play music outdoors, you have two options. If you are able to, the most simple thing to do is to connect a second pair of speakers to your receiver and run speaker wire from your home theater to your patio. However, this might not be possible for you to do depending on the layout of your apartment. Your second option is to create a similar set up outdoors to the one you have in your living room. For this you'll need an AirPort Express and a pair of powered speakers. Again, the speakers can be whatever you like. You can buy a pair of really nice outdoor unpowered speakers and buy a small amplifier, or you can buy a pair of powered speakers designed to sit on your desktop. Once you have it all set up you can use iTunes to select whether to play music to the home theater, to the patio, or to both at once. Pretty sweet!

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