Is there an Airport Express alternative (like raspberry pi) for only streaming audio?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by kavika, Jun 25, 2013.

  1. kavika macrumors newbie

    Oct 23, 2007
    Hi. Not sure if my title asks my question correctly, but thanks for being patient with me if it doesn't.

    I would like to build an audio speaker that incorporates airplay/airtunes music streaming but without using an actual Airport Express. My understanding is that raspberry pi can do that, and that it costs around $45 or so. It sounds like raspberry pi can do other things as well.

    But I am only interested in the airplay/airtunes music streaming, and I'm interested if there is a hack (I guess that's the word) for doing it less than raspberry pi costs and without using an Airport Express.

    Thank you for any helpful feedback.
  2. errol macrumors 6502


    Jan 11, 2008
    Do you have any reservations about picking up a used airport express? They are pretty cheap on craigslist.
  3. kavika thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 23, 2007
    Thanks for the question. I'm not completely opposed to a used Airport Express. However, there are few for sale in the locale I am in and they don't dip below $50, or even close. I'd prefer a hack (again, for lack of a better word) that I could use on an ongoing basis to build lots of speakers, and not just a couple. Thanks.
  4. waw74 macrumors 68030

    May 27, 2008
    not sure what kind of "hack" you think can happen with no hardware, and $45 isn't a lot for the full blown computer that you get with the raspberry pi.
    you'll need something with network, processing, and some sort of audio output.

    the refurb old style express is still probably your best bet at $69, as it's got wifi or ethernet and it's a pretty solid solution, not much to go wrong.

    or even better, the iw2 from iHome, fully self contained airplay speakers. they're $130 right now on amazon, (or for about $50 more the Iw1 with a battery)
    they're not going to get stupid loud, but they're great for getting audio around the home.
  5. errol macrumors 6502


    Jan 11, 2008
    Ah I see. You must not be living in a major city. I see many of them for under $50 in Boston.
  6. marzer macrumors 65816


    Nov 14, 2009
    The previous generation 802.11n Express is selling on eBay for less than $50.
  7. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    The Pi is great for this sort of thing, provided you regard 'getting it going' as part of the fun. There's tons of help available online, but don't expect it to work as a media centre 'out of the box'. I haven't tried Airplay myself (but there are instructions online) - but it runs XBMC or MPD quite nicely. You might not be thrilled about the audio out quality, though, and might end up wanting to add a USB soundcard.
  8. outie2k macrumors regular

    Jun 20, 2010
    The Raspberry pi will most likely cost more than a previous-generation airport express:

    The board is $35, wifi adapter is $10, then you also need a SD card and possibly a case to protect the board. You also need to buy microUSB cable/adapter if you do not already have one. Also it only has an analog audio out, while an Express has both analog/optical.

    Not sure where you live but if you are in the US you can try getting an used airport express (previous generation, 1-piece design) on ebay. Personally this is what I would do if I just wanted Airplay audio.
  9. robpow macrumors regular


    Feb 10, 2007
    I use a mix of devices, an Airport Express, an Apple TV, a Raspberry Pi and generic Bluetooth audio streaming receivers to do exactly this depending on what they are connected to.

    For basic background music any Bluetooth receiver is sufficient, for higher requirements the Airport Express is best and for audio/video I used the Apple TV or RPi as a cheaper alternative.


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