Help Me Architect My iHome!

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by winstonwolf, Mar 7, 2011.

  1. winstonwolf macrumors newbie

    Dec 6, 2010
    With the advent of Apple TV, NAS and the various sharing technologies Apple has released I'm wondering if I can now take advantage of all these and come up with a cohesive 'dream' solution for all my home media - lets call it iHome! I've no idea if all of this is possible - I think some of it might be. I'm sure you experts will know how much of this is currently possible.

    Here's what I currently have:

    iPhone 4
    Macbook x 2
    iPad 2(soon!)
    Airport Express & speakers
    Ethernet and Wireless network

    Here's what I want to do:

    Store my mp3 collection on a NAS and stream it to an existing Airport Express & speakers controlled via iPhone & iPad using Apple remote app
    iMac and Macbook have access to mp3 collection via NAS and local iTunes install
    Apple TV has access to mp3 collection via NAS with iTunes support

    One iPhoto library on the NAS - view/update by both iMac and Macbook using local iPhoto installs
    Apple TV views iPhoto library on the NAS
    iPad views iPhoto library on the NAS

    Apple TV views my saved videos via the NAS

    Use the NAS to serve general files to the iMac/Macbooks

    Generally I don't want to have a iMac or Macbook switched on for the above to work - ie, the heavy lifting is done by the NAS with iTunes support.

    Here's what I think need:

    Apple TV
    NAS with iTunes support
    Patient girlfriend ;-)

    Can all of this be done today?
  2. apunkrockmonk macrumors 6502a


    Nov 20, 2005
    Rochester, NY
    I'm not sure if there is such a thing as a NAS with iTunes support cause I'm not very familiar with NAS systems.

    However I do the same exact thing you're trying to accomplish with the items in my signature.

    The Hackintosh is set to go to sleep after 20 minutes of inactivity and has WOL enabled.

    When I turn on an Apple TV and click on the Hackintosh in the source list the computer wakes up and stays on for however long I'm watching/listening and then it goes back to sleep afterward.

    The only other issue I see with what you're trying to do is the iPhoto databases becoming out of sync with each other.

    However I don't really use iPhoto either.
  3. stompy macrumors regular

    Jul 22, 2002
    iPhoto seems the hardest. I can't answer that question, I've never figured it out.

    Here's some info on setting up a networked Drobo (or Drobo FS) with iTunes sharing:
  4. rayward macrumors 68000

    Mar 13, 2007
    Houston, TX
    I don't think that there is a NAS that can supply directly, without an intervening PC/Mac, an Apple TV. So you're going to have to have a Mac on all the time - and logic dictates this be the iMac. If it's new enough, it can at least sleep the CPU and wake on network (I think 2009 or newer, but I'm not sure, but I know my old 2008 iMac could not wake on network).

    I have a "media drive" attached to my iMac (via Firewire) which stores all my iTunes media. I find it easier and quicker to have this directly attached as everything has to run through iTunes anyway (see below). From this iMac, I feed multiple 1st generation ATVs with all my movies, tv shows, music and photos - any of which I can control with the iPhone remote app as necessary (FYI, it is possible to control iTunes with the remote app, so you can control iTunes when it is streaming directly to remote speakers). It is irritating that we have to leave the iMac "up" all the time, but that's the price we pay for the elegance of the Apple TV interface.

    You should be able to share your iTunes library with other PCs / Macs - including Macbooks - using the home sharing feature.

    You should also be able to access files on your locally attached external drive via your network. This would be a touch easier if your external drive was network attached but, as everything on your Apple TV(s) has to run through iTunes, you end up clogging your network. iTunes would draw the media through the network from the NAS, and then turn around and dump the same file back on the network to send it to the ATV. Having the media stored locally means the media only hits the network once.

    FYI, I have a NAS in addition to my external media drive. This backs up everything - including the media drive - and could be partitioned to have network storage of non-iTunes data alongside the back-up files.
  5. EvilC5 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 22, 2010
    Hanover MD
    the synology used to have support for an itunes server, but to my knowledge, nothing out there does this right now.

    I have 4X ATV2's and 2 ATV1's wired and wirelessly to my mini with 2X 3TB externals. Have an AE in my garage connected to a stereo to play music, but plan to put one of the ATV1's in there as soon as it warms up enough to be out there allot.

    from there, I stream photos, music, and video thru my house using the remote app from my iphone or itouch....

    I really want to get an ipad, but cant seem to sell the wife on one considering we have 3 iphones, and 2 itouches....:mad:
  6. KeithJenner macrumors 6502a

    Sep 30, 2010
    As has been said above, you can't do it directly from the NAS. Maybe it is possible with a Jailbreak, but I don't know about that.

    You can fairly easily do it with the kit you are talking about though. Depending on the size of your media files you may not even need the NAS. I have two 2tb hard disks on my iMac to host my media and it works fine.

    Just put your library on iTunes on the iMac (either stored on external USB drives or NAS, your choice). Use that to feed as many Apple TV's or Airport Express's as you need. After next week it should supply media by wi-fi to your iPhones and iPad as well. That is easily sorted.

    I wouldn't worry about the iMac being turned on. Wake up for network access works fairly reliably in my experience (although I use a time capsule for my network, others may not work so well). If you can let your iMac sleep then it is fairly efficient.

    Your problem will be iPhoto, as suggested. If you have your library on the iMac then it can feed to the Apple TV's, but sharing an iPhoto library over the network seems to be a big problem. I just manually transfer my main library to other machines that need it every now and then, but this bit is certainly a problem.

    I use a very similar setup to share my library around two Apple TV's and an Airport Express. I currently use Airvideo to view the video on my iPad, but soon I should be able to use home sharing. Literally, the only issue I have is if I am going away and want to take some video, as my iPad syncs with a different computer to the one that is our server (my choice, I could have used the same one). I get round that by copying files over using home sharing and then syncing. It works fairly well.
  7. adbe macrumors 6502a

    Jul 11, 2008
    Wake on ethernet is rock solid, wake on wireless a little less so IME.

    If the iMac can be wired directly to the main router/switch then there should be no problem at all. I use my wife's iMac as the media server for the house in exactly this way. It's been hooked to both Netgear and Linksys routers, and switches over the last year, and has never failed to wake once.
  8. winstonwolf thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 6, 2010
    Thanks for all replies guys, I'm going to test with the iMac permanently left on and forget the NAS for now. Doesn't look like theres a iTunes friendly NAS available that would serve the ATV and Airtunes.

    Whats the best power settings to choose to put the iMac to sleep when I'm not using and to ensure it wakes every time I want to use Apple TV and Airtunes?

    I did have an old (like > 5 years old) iBook doing the iTunes mp3 serving to an Airport & speakers, but I found using the Apple Remote App didn't always connect 100% to the iTunes library on the iBook. I don't know if it was a power setting thing or if wake on LAN doesn't work well on the old units.

    iPhoto libraries look like they can't be shared/updated easily!
  9. EvilC5 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 22, 2010
    Hanover MD
    for wake on lan, you have to run 10.6 and have the latest firmware on your airport.

    i always forget to turn my imac off and it goes to sleep in the factory setting.
  10. adbe macrumors 6502a

    Jul 11, 2008
    Wake on ethernet is available on older Macs and is pre-Snow Leopard.

    It used to be called 'wake on ethernet for administrative access' or some such. Depending on what you were trying to do with it, you sometimes need to jump through a hoop or two to make it work like the newer 10.6 general purpose 'wake for network access' option. It's not true to say it wasn't there though.
  11. rayward macrumors 68000

    Mar 13, 2007
    Houston, TX
    Wake on ethernet is available in the OS, but it doesn't work on older iMacs. My '08 iMac would not wake on ethernet despite running the latest and greatest OS.
  12. rayward macrumors 68000

    Mar 13, 2007
    Houston, TX
    If you have a newer iMac, it should be able to be nudged awake by your ATV, but I do not know if you can rouse it using the Remote app. The best thing to do is test it.

    I suggest using the factory sleep settings, which will sleep the CPU as well as turn off the screen. Once it's fully asleep, try to watch something on your ATV, and see whether it's available or if you get the generic and non-descriptive "can't play this" error on your ATV. If you do, simply change the power setting so that the CPU is always on.

    If your ATV wakes your iMac, try the same process with the Remote app and see if you can fire up iTunes from remote. If you can't, the solution is the same as above.

    FWIW, the CPU draws a bare trickle of power if there's no activity. All the juice is used by the HDD and the screen.
  13. adbe macrumors 6502a

    Jul 11, 2008
    The older NICs in Apple gear would react only to 'admin' packets. Typically ethernet broadcast packets. Remote Desktop for example would wake an older Mac when the wake on admin option was ticked. Trying to access apache wouldn't. THe solution for non-admin duties was to send a wake-up packet before initiating a general purpose network connection. Hence the extra hoops I mentioned.

    The remote app will wake a modern iMac as long as iTunes was running when the device went to sleep.
  14. blevins321 macrumors 68030

    Dec 24, 2010
    Winnipeg, MB
    My Synology DS411j has an iTunes server. It will appear as a shared library in iTunes. The trick is that it cannot serve encrypted files (any tv/movie purchase, pre-Plus music). Only iTunes itself can do that.

    I'd suggest a Mini to be a media host with Plex server installed along with iTunes running. You could then JB the ATV2 and install Plex client to it. Or XBMC using a NAS' SMB file sharing would work too, but the format needs to be something supported by the ATV hardware decoding.
  15. EvilC5 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 22, 2010
    Hanover MD
    does the synology have itunes 10.X on it, before that, im not sure if the newer version of airplay was working...thats what led me to get the mini vs synology....
  16. blevins321 macrumors 68030

    Dec 24, 2010
    Winnipeg, MB

    The unit doesn't actually have iTunes on it. It just emulates an iTunes server. Can't do Airplay in the slightest. I don't have any iTunes movie/tv purchases though, so the Synology was fine for me using its DLNA server to XBMC on the ATV2. If you desire Airplay though, as well as the ability to play iTunes purchases, Mini's the best way to go.
  17. jschonert macrumors newbie

    Dec 5, 2010
    This question is more to adbe, but with your setup, do you get any skips or pauses when playing music to multiple speakers?
    Also, how is the initial lag? A big improvement or not much of one?

    It seems like it would a pretty big project to wire everything in a house, but if it jumps the speed and quality up, it's probably worth it.
  18. adbe macrumors 6502a

    Jul 11, 2008
    I've never really suffered with skips through my AEs even when using WiFi. My v1 ATV sometimes burps even on pure audio streams. So far my AEs have been rock solid though.

    My lag is about half a second or so, although volume changes using the remote app can often lag a second or so behind. I'm not really fussed about the delay though. Wired vs wireless doesn't seem to make a difference. I think this is due to the compressed nature of the audio stream. The delay is in transcoding and sending a full initial block, rather than standard network latency.

    It depends on the house. My house is a split level style, so for most of the house, I can get direct access to a ceiling through an attic. I just punched through the ceiling of the basement, into a coat closet, ran a load of speaker wire along the obscured corner, and up into the lower attic. A little bit of trim work later, and you'd never know.

    Other house styles would be more tricky. Then again, in warmer climates than mine, you could run along outside walls too.

    Really it was not that much work at all. I'm currently remodeling the Amp cabinet, but that's mostly just because doing so forces me to get motivated on fixing up that whole area. ;)

    I moved to fully wired mostly because I noticed that the number of WiFi devices around me was increasing, and broadcast range seems to be going up. I'm clearly picking up signals from neighbors over 100ft away from an exterior wall. Sooner or later I'm going to start seeing wireless performance issues.

    As for hiding the amps away in the basement. I just wanted to move everything out of sight. No radios, no speaker wires, and no speakers in the middle of the room. It also keeps the wife happy.

    I don't think there's any material benefit if you're not currently seeing performance issues.
  19. jschonert macrumors newbie

    Dec 5, 2010
    I'm afraid my neighbor is probably moving that way as well. Currently in my living room, I can easily get 20 different routers in range. I wish I could just switch it all over to 5ghz, but having an iPhone without the capabilities for it essentially cancels that idea out.
  20. paulgarb macrumors regular

    Jun 15, 2010
    North Berwick
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_2_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8C148 Safari/6533.18.5)

    Amazing - you have an idea & then there is a thread like this that answers all your questions & raises more. Thanks guys - plenty to thInk about here but heaven is getting closer.
  21. djrobsd macrumors 6502a

    May 2, 2008
    I toiled with this forever. Eventually, I bit the bullet and just got tired of waiting for Apple to release a 5GHZ wi-fi enabled iphone.... (thought they were going to with iphone 4 but those clueless only did 2.4ghz wireless-n)...

    I bought a Netgear WNDR3700 N600 dual band router. It does both 2.4ghz and 5ghz at the same time on seperate antennas so you can enjoy the much nicer interference free 5ghz spectrum while still using your 2.4ghz devices like the iphone.

    I am very impressed with it... About $50 bucks cheaper then the Airport Extreme.
  22. jschonert macrumors newbie

    Dec 5, 2010
    The problem with that is you essentially cut out the option of AirPlay to you for your iPhone to apple tv/airport express.

    Sorry to keep bugging you abde, but what amp/speaker brand/price setup do you have?
  23. adbe, Mar 9, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2011

    adbe macrumors 6502a

    Jul 11, 2008
    Yeah, my Netgear does dual band, but I don't use it for that reason.

    No problem, but I think we're way off topic. Feel free to follow up by PM if you want.

    Anyway, my current set up was kind of an accident. I started with just one speaker system for the dining room/front room, as I just wanted something unobtrusive that could play background music when we have guests. As such, I wasn't looking for power, or quality, just the outright convenience of an iPhone/iPod Touch remote, and an amplifier that didn't need turning on or off (I'd always forget to do the latter).

    The amp I chose for that room was an AudioSource AMP-100. They're listed at 200 USD, but Amazon nearly always has them for under a hundred. For the money it's a surprisingly good amplifier, and is capable of driving both 4 and 8 ohm speakers, as well as working in bridged mode. The auto-sensing works great (ignore the pillocks on Amazon who can't be bothered to read manuals), but when it first kicks in, it does tend to drop a second or so of audio. That's the price of not having to walk downstairs to turn it on or off. ;) In case you're curious, the amp switches itself off after just under 10 minutes of silence on the audio input.

    The speaker I tend to find myself using most is the the Polk RC6, which is a single unit 6" stereo in ceiling speaker. Two tweeters provide the stereo sound, bass and most mid is provided by the single drive. Obviously not ideal for pristine audio, but then neither is placing speakers above your head. The single unit gets the wife's approval too (in ceiling speakers aren't unsightly as such, but with standard 7 foot ceilings, they're still sort of obvious). Again, I opted against the 8" cones for purely aesthetic reasons, and frankly for the intended purpose, that room doesn't need them.

    As the room is 30ft long, and 'L' shaped, I opted for two RC6s, driven from one AMP-100 (it'll drive two stereo speakers). At normal listening levels, the two devices pair beautifully. They'll go loud too, but I haven't sound treated the attic above well enough to enjoy the experience. At the very least, I'd need to throw a layer of R25 or similar on top of the speakers to stop them from using the entire attic as a bass box.

    As a result, when I came to do my pool and patio, I decided to go with another Amp-100, though this time paired with a set of Yamaha external speakers. The positioning of those speakers is not great, so I'm still not sure whether I just dislike the Yamahas, or the location. Either way, I'm going to augment them with a set of ground level near-fields that are closer to the pool. I did actually toy with dropping an Amp-210 into that mix, but I like my neighbors, so really it just didn't seem like a good idea. ;)

    For the bedroom, I had no doubt that I was going to retread the RC6/Amp-100 combo, although in this case, just the one RC6 is being used.

    The kitchen is less ideal, simply because I had very little space to work with. I didn't want an in ceiling, so I used a smaller set of speakers to and fitted them in a lowered ceiling that was designed for recessed lighting. Because of the space constraints, I shopped more by form than anything else, and found a set of Pyles that work well.

    Because the ATV in the family room is connected straight to a Denon amp, I have no need to do that room. Similarly, I have a small hobby recording studio in the basement, so nothing much to do there either.

    I'm thinking the garage is lacking an AE, and a set of speakers though... :)

    Anyway, long story short: in ceiling doesn't come close to competing with properly positioned stereo speakers. The layout, as with car speakers, is all compromise. As such, in this case good enough *is* good enough. The results than can be had a for a few hundred dollars per room are to the equal of most mid-range custom in house systems, and in many ways surpass them. Price up a Bose system with five zones, for example.
  24. Hook'Em2006 macrumors 6502

    Sep 9, 2009
    Plano, TX
  25. adbe macrumors 6502a

    Jul 11, 2008
    Over wifi? You'll need an Airport Extreme Base Station, and Snow Leopard.

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