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Most Minimalist, Simple Airplay/Amplifier Solution


macrumors member
Original poster
Jan 31, 2013
I am trying to help my parents set up a whole home audio system (that isn't Sonos) and have settled on using Airplay, as all of their devices are currently Apple ones. Most of the speakers will be in ceiling, so what I need is a aesthetically pleasing way to have airplay and an amplifier to run the speakers. I am planning on using a separate amplifier for each room.

I looked at in wall amplifiers, but none of them seem powerful enough to do the job. Are there any reasonable small amps with airplay built in (that we could put like on a counter and would look nice)? Or is their a way that the amp and airport express could be hidden, and have a wall plate that controls the amp? Any help would be appreciated.

I am looking for an amp that could power these speakers (and possibly a sub).



macrumors member
Aug 28, 2012
You don't need the $300 speakers. I did a whole house setup for $300 per room total.

Per room:
Airport express $100
This amp: $100
In ceiling speakers $100 (Amazon, fantastic quality)

You just need a place to put the amps. I put them all in an extra closet in a media rack. You put the airport expresses right next to the amp, so they have a short audio cable to feed the amp. In fact, my airport expresses plug into a power outlet on the back of each amp. Each airport express access point is named by the room (kitchen, living room, outside). It works perfect, sounds amazing, and is easy to set up.

The only issue you may have is with wireless range to the airports. What I did was put a networking hub (a switch) in the closet, and ran an Ethernet cable in my attic from my AirPort Extreme to the hub, and then Ethernet cables to each airport express, so that I only need to be in range of the main router (AirPort Extreme ) to make it all work.

Some potential problems that will save you headaches: be sure to turn off the wireless antenna on the airport expresses if you do it this way. If they try to crest/extend, having multiple of them will confuse your iOS device and make it "skip" as it switches networks.

So I have the amps and airports on shelves in a rack, and a hub on a shelf in the rack. It all looks pretty and works perfectly. Was super cheap. I did this for my parents after they were quoted a many thousand dollar system using ancient technology with ****** wall plates. I then did it in my house too. Not a single complaint.

And you don't need wall plates to control plume, etc. you control volume on your iOS device. You set a volume on the amp, but thats really your max volume. You can then controls volume from 0 to max on each iOS device. And the devices remember your volume for each airport express (it's intelligent). With all the free radio apps, pandora, siriusxm, podcasts, music, etc, there is everything available they could want to listen to.
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macrumors member
Aug 28, 2012
Polk in ceiling speakers, from Amazon. $100 to $140 depending. I could have sworn I got the 8s for $100 though. Maybe I'm wrong.


macrumors member
Jul 10, 2004
Airplay Amp Solution

Hi guys... I'm doing the same thing at our house. We have home runs from each of 6 zones around the house. The in ceiling speakers are monoprice 4929s (8ohms 80 watts). I was going to use airport expresses to control each zone through airplay. The amps listed above seem interesting. I don't really know which wattage to use. I read somewhere the amp should be 50% more wattage. Seems like overkill for in ceiling speakers to get a 120 watt amp for each set of speakers.

I also found these airport amps from Griffin called Griffin 20.

I wonder if this would work? We're not trying to rock out in every room, just have some audible sounds that is controllable via iOS.

Any insight on how to pick (6) amps for this system, would be appreciated. Thanks.


macrumors 68040
Sep 8, 2011
Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Griffin 20 looks interesting, obviously designed for the previous-generation Express but probably would work fine with the current one.

I would not recommend an amp rated higher than your speakers - you want the speakers to be sized to handle the maximum power your amp can provide, otherwise you're asking for blown speakers. You do want the amp to be more powerful than your intended need, e.g. if you're pushing 10W RMS to get the volume level you need from your speakers, use at least a 15W amp to prevent clipping.

Eric C

macrumors newbie
Mar 9, 2014
I have airport extreme with Time capsule. is there a way i can use this with an amp to power 2 speakers in ceiling. i have two separate rooms so what could i use for second room. Would i need another airport device?


macrumors 603
Feb 15, 2009
Toronto, Canada
I have airport extreme with Time capsule. is there a way i can use this with an amp to power 2 speakers in ceiling. i have two separate rooms so what could i use for second room. Would i need another airport device?

The Extreme doesn't have any audio ports. You'll need an Express and a stereo amplifier, as a bonus it'll also act as a WiFi extender on your TC.

A better option might be a Denon CEOL piccolo. had them for $199 which was a bargain.
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