Using Macs for Multi Room

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by dseven, Apr 26, 2011.

  1. dseven macrumors newbie

    Mar 9, 2010
    Anyone clued up on Multi Room Audio using Mac Equipment?
    Need help.....
  2. LouisBlack macrumors 6502

    Jun 21, 2007
    Balham, London
    Have you got something set up already or are you looking for buying advice?

    You can stream audio around your house using Airport Expresses and AppleTVs - there are even several third party devices out or coming out that support Airplay (Apple's protocol for streaming media).

    From memory Apple recommend using up to 5 Airplay devices on a single network but that may have risen with newer n routers.

    Once set up the Airport Express/AppleTV/third party device will appear in the bottom right of iTunes. You can choose which speakers to stream music to. You can even then use an iDevice to control your iTunes on your Mac wirelessly.

    For a really elegant solution you could even set up a Mac Mini as an always on iTunes server hidden away that is only controlled by iDevices.
  3. irishv macrumors regular

    Oct 27, 2008
    LouisBlack covered the basics: iTunes, iOS devices, and Airplay. Here is my current setup:

    Living Room: Mac Mini connected to 5.1 surround receiver/TV
    Bedroom: ATV 1 connected to TV
    Office: Airport Express connected to stereo receiver/speakers

    Macbook and iPhone 4 are used throughout the condo. My movie/tv show library lives in iTunes on the Mini, although I primarily use Plex for playback on the TV. My music library lives on the Macbook, since I want access to that when I travel and use it to sync my iPhone. From iTunes on both the Macbook and Mini, I can select to play audio in all three rooms at the same time (Note: I added the recent Shairport hack to my Mini so it can act as an Airplay device). Using Airplay from the iPod app on my iPhone, I can stream to any one room, except the bedroom (because Apple didn't update the original ATV for Airplay). Using the Remote app on the iPhone, I can stream the iTunes library on the Macbook to all three rooms at the same time.

    There are some newer Airplay speakers including the B&W Zeppelin Air and iHome iW1 that do not need to be attached to an Airport Express/receiver. Sonos also just released an update so you can attach an AE to it. This site seems to be tracking new developments as they come up:
  4. milbournosphere macrumors 6502a


    Mar 3, 2009
    San Diego, CA
    The only problem i've noticed with using multiple airport expresses is that some rooms can be out of sync with each other. I usually only play sound in one room at a time, so it's not really a problem for me.
  5. Omne666 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 16, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    I've got an intel mac mini serving up to 7 Airport expresses and 1 ATV. Have no issue running all at once. Planning on 'grouping' some rooms together via one airport express in the ceiling with several sets of speakers set in the ceiling hooked into it.

    Anyone had multiple sets of speakers fed from the one airport express? Just want to know if this may be an issue BEFORE I cut holes in the ceilings!!:eek:
    Ohhh.....and this all runs beautifully controlled from my iPad! You gotta love Apple for bringing this to us!
  6. LouisBlack macrumors 6502

    Jun 21, 2007
    Balham, London
    Surely you could just connect up a few sets of speakers to one and test before you cut the holes :D
  7. EvilC5 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 22, 2010
    Hanover MD
    how are you going to power these sets of speakers? the AE only has a line level output or optical output. you cant drive speakers straight from it, you need a multi-room amplifier/switcher.

    I use my 3rd room output on my sony connected to a niles speaker selector with 3 pairs of speakers on it for my backyard, and can run all 6 speakers at once with no impedance issues.
  8. Omne666 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 16, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    For the good speakers....(I often just use PC Speakers in like the two sheds and such,) I have external Bose, Yamahas etc in the more 'serious' zones....I buy $20 car/motorbike amplifiers off eBay from China that are hooked into the AExpress'. Works beautifully. (Other then the fact I put more effort into hiding the extra cables.)

    In the ceiling I have the option of using the one AE/amp solution over multiple rooms, but would love to find some ceiling speakers that bypassed the need for this amp in between.

    I'm covering places that are spread over about an acre, hence so many AE's. The in ceiling zone idea is really just bringing the internals of the house with the rest of the property in a more logical fashion.
  9. RWinOR macrumors 6502

    Sep 11, 2010
    Greenest and wettest place in North America
    I am driving a multi-room sound system from many different sources. I have mine set up that any computer or iOS device can be the source or the receiver. I am running multiple Airport Expresses, and ATV2's. I have purchased Pyle Amps to drive my primary speakers hooked up to the Airport Expresses.

    Software I am using Airfoil for sharing, Pulsar to receive Sirius Internet radio, Prowl and Growl to send song name and artist to all receiving units. I also use Apples airplay and airtunes but that is mostly to the ATV2's and AE units. It will not send a stream to my Ipods that are in docking stations. (I know it will if I jailbreak, but I am not a jailbreak kind of guy)

    The system is working perfectly and all streams are in 100% in sync. We set each volume independently to a comfortable level for that room, as we walk through our home we can listen to music and the volume is enjoyable.

    The added benefit to the ATV's is we stream our entire photo library to any tv from any computer while listening to a music stream for any computer as well.
  10. hjsimpson macrumors newbie

    Oct 20, 2011

    Could you send me a link of one of the amps that you are using? This is exactly a what I'm looking for. I wired my house with speakers and have been looking for a multi-channel amp with airplay. but there is no such thing on the market.

    Do you have any issues with music being out of sync?
  11. Omne666 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 16, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    Never had a sync issue, though I have been finding that the more distant AEs can 'drop' sound on a windy (very) day. I am sorting through this issue out as I have a feeling the wind is more coincidental then causation.

    As for the link...just do a search for motorbike amplifier on eBay and you'll get tons showing up. As they're so cheap, I pick one and give it a go with the mindset that..."if it doesn't work, toss and get different one'. Haven't binned one yet!
  12. rneglia macrumors 6502


    Apr 18, 2006
    Does Airfoil provide a way to fine-tune the sync of each stream?

    I'm just using AirPlay from iTunes now, and things are in sync but they're a few ms off.

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