iTunes/Mac Mini/ATV & Multi-room audio

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by cjlee, Nov 15, 2009.

  1. cjlee macrumors member

    May 1, 2008
    Hello everyone!

    I am trying to help a friend decide which path to take in terms of multiroom audio.

    He has a couple rooms he would like to have the ability to stream audio to using the iTunes interface. His main concern is having the upmost of quality.

    The room where quality is of the upmost importance is the main listening room where he has a proceed avp2, levinson dac, levinson 2 channel amp, and Sonus Faber Guarneri with a pair of REL Stadiums. The problem with this room is that there is no hardline ethernet connection. Also, he has a very extensive cd collection, somewhere around 5000 cds that he will like to rip onto external harddrives.

    Would he be better suited with a Mac Mini in this room, or does an ATV have the ability to hook up a couple of TB's to it? The main use here is music, so if the ATV can accomplish this as well with external hard drives, then he would go this route.

    Now the other concern would be getting the audio streamed to the other rooms. What would he need here? He would ike to be able to control everything an iPod Touch.

    Can all of this be accomplished with multiple ATV's? Would that be the most cost effecient way?

    One more thing, two of the rooms have no displays.

    P.S. I forgot to mention he does have a laptop/PC. Can this be used in any way?

  2. 05slvrscape macrumors member

    Jul 17, 2008
    I am actually doing the same thing. I use any of the computers we have and send to Airport Express units depending on which room I choose in Iunes. This would be the least cost effective way for him to achieve this. Using Airtunes in iTunes he can select more than one set up speakers if wanted too.
  3. cjlee thread starter macrumors member

    May 1, 2008
    Can you expand on HD space with an ATV? He would like to be able to store the media on the device in the main listening room as opposed to streaming to it, and then stream to the other rooms from there.

    Assuming we can expand the HD space on the ATV, all he would need is that and a few airports right?
  4. 05slvrscape macrumors member

    Jul 17, 2008
    Natively Apple TV doesn't support hard drives connected directly to it. It can sync or stream. There is a program that you can download that activates the usb port on it for use with a USB hard drive for additional space. Max internal drive is 320gb as it still uses IDE laptop drives.

    I am thinking of getting a ATV for the bedroom to stream video but for audio I just use iTunes and Airport express units with speakers plugged in.

    I am not sure if ATV supports airtunes or not.
  5. alFR macrumors 68020

    Aug 10, 2006
    Here's what I'd do:

    • Mac mini as the main media repository/server. Either put this somewhere out of the way or in the main listening room, depending on whether he has some specific requirement for connectivity to the main system (e.g. optical digital from the mini to his DAC) or not. Remember though that the mini/external HDs will make some noise, so if he's a real audiophile then that might bother him. The mini has wireless LAN built in, so it doesn't matter that there's no wired connection (esp.if he has an 802.11n network e.g. using an Airport Extreme).
    • Rooms with just audio systems: Airport Express unit linked to the stereo system, playing audio from the iTunes library on the mini controlled by apple's Remote app for iPhone/iPod Touch.
    • Rooms with a TV: Apple TV linked to itunes library on the mini.
  6. cjlee thread starter macrumors member

    May 1, 2008
    Perfect! Took all the guess work out of it for me!

  7. tshort macrumors regular

    Jul 20, 2007
    Airport Express does not have a display or remote control. Some add-ons can add remote control capability, but I like the Roku SoundBridge M1001. It has a display, a remote, and it hooks into iTunes.
  8. alFR macrumors 68020

    Aug 10, 2006
    er yes, that's why I said he could control it with the Remote app on his iPod Touch/iPhone. ;)
  9. purplesaber macrumors member

    Nov 15, 2008
    You don't need any 3rd party equipment. An iPT or iPhone functions just great as a remote and display. The mini is the iTunes server to the Airport Express; the iPT/iPhone with Remote app allows choosing any song, seeing all pertinent info (album art, time remaining, etc.), pausing, changing volume, turning on and off transmission to any and all speakers throughout the house.

    That's how I run my audio at home -- it works fantastically. I just added outdoor speakers that run to a small amp in the house connected to another AEX. Sitting outside by the fire pit and dialing up my entire music collection on my iPhone is just sublime.

    **alFR beat me to the post -- you got it right on!
  10. Hberg macrumors member

    Feb 19, 2009
    Overland Park, KS
    I have a Mac Mini on my main system and I stream the music using Airport Express & ATV to other systems in my home. I run the Mac Mini through my Classe SSP-800 using the optical and DVI connections. I have recorded all my CDs using Apple Lossless and it is sound quite good on my B&W 804s.

    If he is an audiophile, I don't think he will be disappointed. Remember he can always listen to a disk using his CD player as another alternative.
  11. tdmac macrumors 6502

    Feb 9, 2008
    What about audio syncing with multi-room audo?

    If you have multiple room going at once is there a noticable delay between rooms, especially if you walk from room to room, or is it synced?

    I have been toying with this myself.
  12. TuckBodi macrumors 6502

    Jan 10, 2007
    I've done this exact setup as well and actually took it a step further. I've used a cheap tool called Signal, which was first made to run on an iPhone as a web app (before the Remote app came out) which connected to an http instance running alongside iTunes on my media server. I then customized it to run in different browsers on machines throughout my house. For example I have it running on iCab (in kiosk mode) on a Twentieth Anniversary Mac (OS 9) in my hand built entertainment center, on an old bubble iMac (OS X) in my basement connected to a stereo via an Airport Express. And when I have parties during the summer, I have an old iBook (OS X) setup in kiosk mode outside where speakers are located from my main stereo. Lastly, there's also an ATV in my bedroom, which acts a remote speaker as well, through powered speakers. All these are hooked up via AirTunes, from the Mac mini media server, playing the same song throughout the house.

    The killer part though is the kiosk's (through Signal), in full screen mode, displaying the cover art of the currently playing song and automatically switching when the next song comes on. And through the browser you can also switch to the next song, previous song, pick a different playlist, song, etc. As a sidenote, I've replaced using Signal on the iPhone with the Remote app, as that works well too, but continue to use it with my computers. This is all done via a wired and wireless setup.

    The looks/comments I get when people see the TAM with the changing CD art is priceless.
  13. beaner454 macrumors regular

    Apr 22, 2003
    This sounds like a great option to me. There's also one thing I'd add: AirFoil. For the unaware it's a piece of software that replicates The AirTunes ability of the Airport Express, but with two main differences. One being that it can transfer any audio on the computer not just iTunes. And secondly it can turn any computer into a virtual speaker as well. Using this option every Mac or PC in your house can also be an audio point.

    Now this would only make sense if you had somewhat decent speakers connected to your other machines. If you don't, it'd probably just be easier using the standard Apple Airtunes option.
  14. cjlee thread starter macrumors member

    May 1, 2008
    Sonus Faber Guarneri Mementos,3 REL's (now that I think of it, I cannot remember which ones) Levinson 2 channel amp/Levinson Dac with a Proceed AVP2 is what he has for his primary system.

    My system is no where the Magnitude of his, nor do I have the library he has which is why I went with an ATV. On the brighter side of things, I just upgraded my amplifiers to Primare 33.2/30.3. Next step is the Pre30 and the right DAC.
  15. kage207 macrumors 6502a

    Jul 23, 2008
    I stopped reading halfway through. I too am looking to do this as well.

    What I'm doing, is having a computer setup to my main TV in my main room with a sound system setup. The second room is a bedroom with my laptop connected to speakers. The third room I have ATV connected to a TV. If I want all of them to play music then I just go to my main computer in the main room and play, then use the multiple speakers part of iTunes and just play. Simple.
  16. alFR macrumors 68020

    Aug 10, 2006
    cjlee: be sure to let us know how he gets on, yeah? Be interesting to hear what the final setup is.
  17. Flynnstone macrumors 65816


    Feb 25, 2003
    Cold beer land
    Airport Express is the Bomb ! :D

    I have one hooked to an amp with speakers outside.
    Typically I use the remote on my iPhone to access iTunes running on my iMac.
    Sit out by the firepit and play/select tunes.

    Some times I grab my laptop and sit by the firepit (etc) and play "do you remember that tune"? We search the web or typically iTunes store and play & download music.
    Really quite cool. And lots of fun.

    Would like to add an AppleTV. Waiting for 1080p.
    And another Airport Express (stereo in living room) or an AppleTV.
  18. TuckBodi macrumors 6502

    Jan 10, 2007
    Soon. The hack will hopefully be soon. :D
  19. FamiliaPhoto macrumors 6502a


    Jul 24, 2009
    Chicago, IL
    I always thought it is a hardware limitation not a software issue. Or am I wrong?
  20. TuckBodi macrumors 6502

    Jan 10, 2007
    It'll take a software hack to get this working. They're just waiting for approval and release of the driver.
  21. kage207 macrumors 6502a

    Jul 23, 2008
    I've been wondering what's going on why people say that 1080p isn't supported for ATV. And maybe this is a stupid question, but since I have hooked my ATV up to my HDTV via HDMI I have the 1080p option on my ATV video settings. I know this seems stupid, are they just flat out lying that is it not 1080p even though that's what they say the setting is?

    EDIT: I don't get that, it says 720p on the ATV site but why put it in the video setting? That's like lying to the consumer. I've never actually thought it was 1080p because of what everyone has said here.
  22. cjlee thread starter macrumors member

    May 1, 2008
    You got it buddy.
  23. cjlee thread starter macrumors member

    May 1, 2008
    Maybe it means that natively the content is 720 but that it is scaled to 1080p?
  24. markfiona macrumors newbie

    Dec 16, 2009

    This 720 is an issue for me too. Mine is connected HDMI to a NAD PreAmp, then to Pioneer Kuro. I find it has a lot of trouble negotiating the connection. Is see my TV switching from 720p - 1080i - 1080p, I can hear the amp's relays sometimes switch 5 or so times. It is not an HDCP issue from anything other than ATV as Xbox and TiVo work, and I can switch between the two without issue and fast! The amp (repeater) is 1.3c compliant.

    It does not scale it properly either I find, I have to switch to "dot by dot" mode to see the full image area. And it is clear the image quality is not comparable to even FTA TV- 720p from TiVo. The HDMI setting is best being set to YPbPr (component), as on Auto it sometimes whites out the blacks.

    You definitely need a Mac Mini until the Time Capsule becomes iTunes server capable. I wonder who is using a QNap and how good they are.
  25. djc45 macrumors newbie

    Dec 24, 2009
    Airfoil and Airport express questions

    Don`t mean to hi jack this thread, but thought it was relevant enough, and better than starting an entirely new thread.
    Firstly, this is my first post, so please be gentle. Now I have a Mac mini and ipod touches, but am using a PC atm as my main music tank. [ducks head below parrapet lol]
    Anyway, here goes:

    I am considering moving to Airport express units for my multi room audio, and have a few questions, that hopefully someone can answer.

    1) To use airport express units for multi room audio, would I also have to have an Airport Extreme base station?

    2) I am on cable broadband and have a main PC, with a wi-fi cable router and a second router used only as an additional wifi access point. Do I have to replace the main router with the Airport Extreme, or is there a way to connect the Extreme to the existing setup in a way, perhaps bridge mode, that will still work for transmitting to a number of airport express units, but will not require changing my existing router?

    3) I`m thinking of using airfoil software to send the audio to the airport express units, as this can send audio from any application, not just itunes.Can someone who has used it tell me, can I send different sources to different airport express units with it, or is it only the one source to them all?

    Any advice that anyone could give would be really helpful. ATM my setup is like this:

    Cable modem to 4 port wifi router
    16 port ethernet switch plugged into router.
    Belkin N router ( In wireless access point mode) plugged into 16 port switch.

    I have hard wired speakers and amps in each room connected to the main pc output, and use J River Media centre to send different music tracks to different zones, using different sound cards, or itunes with the itouch as a remote to send the same audio, or itunes audio to all rooms. This is a bit clunky and felt that the airport route, might be a better all in one solution
    I hope I`ve explained that a little more clearly than mud.

    Any ideas on my best way forward?

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