Wireless home theater, possible?
December 27, 2004 4:34 AM   Subscribe

In considering the home entertainment setup for the house I've just purchased, I'm looking for suggestions and advice on going wireless and streaming music from a PC to, well, everywhere. How best to do this? The main PC doing the work can be located anywhere, but I'd sure like some sort of control over what's playing in each of the main locations. Stereo in the living room, maybe some small speakers in the kitchen and upstairs... whatever. Your experience and product recommendations, please.
posted by danwalker to Technology (11 answers total)
The Squeezebox was made just for you.
posted by Jairus at 5:59 AM on December 27, 2004

We like the Netgear MP101; it may not be exactly what you want, but it's another way to go....
posted by deliriouscool at 6:01 AM on December 27, 2004

wired's third and second to last page in their Ultimate Buyer's Guide has a review on the kind of hardware you might be interested in.
posted by lotsofno at 6:10 AM on December 27, 2004

How about Airport Express?
posted by armoured-ant at 6:34 AM on December 27, 2004

I asked this question a little while ago. I settled on the Soundbridge by Roku Labs. So far I'm very happy with it.

The wireless model comes with an 802.11b card and it has analog and digital audio out. You can use it with a stereo or powered speakers.

To feed it music, you can use iTunes, Slimserver, or mt-daapd.

I did run into a problem with my Netgear wireless router, the signal strength wasn't strong enough at the Roku. As I had had other problem with the Netgear box, I bought a DLink router for $10 after rebate at BestBuy and now everythings great.
posted by beowulf573 at 6:34 AM on December 27, 2004

It depends on how dirty you want to get your hands (figuratively speaking), and how much you're willing to spend. here's what I'd do:
  • First, hook up a wireless router (the Linksys WRT54G or Linksys WRT54GS are the best choices because with hacked firmware you can triple the range of the wireless).
  • You'll need to get a wireless access point for each room you want separate control over. There are lots of different brands, get something reliable that you won't have to replace in a year.
  • Now here's the tricky part. For each room you want hooked up, you're going to need an amplifier, speakers, and some way to interface with that wireless. My recommendation? X-BOX. Very simple, very cheap, tons of options built-in. You get a DVD player, you can use the terribly-awesome X-BOX Media Center to interface (like a supercharged TIVO), and you get a built-in media server to boot So you can stream movies (any format) as well as audio to any room in your house. And you can play thousands of old arcade games when you're bored. The really cool part is that each system can act independantly from each other, but if you want to, you can also have them all work in conjunction. That is, you're wife can have every room playing ABBA's greatest hits, but when you sneak away into the study, you can switch it up to listen to a streaming radio broadcast of ambient music (yes, you can listen to radio station streams, too!). Each modded X-BOX will run you about $150. If you wait a month or two, they'll probably going to drop the price to around $100 for the base model. I honestly cannot think of a cheaper solution, and I can't think of a more feature-rich solution. It's the best of both worlds.

    posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:52 PM on December 27, 2004

    The problem, of course, is that you'll have to buy a WiFi adaptor for each xbox, which'll raise your costs significantly.
    posted by Jairus at 9:34 PM on December 27, 2004

    No, Jairus, X-BOXes come with a built-in ethernet adapter. You hook them up to the wireless bridge (as I said already in point #2). It's a given that any device you buy will require this if you plan on a wireless route. The difference is, most devices that support WiFi aren't as cheap, and don't offer anything resembling the level of options. You can buy wireless access points for $55. The X-Box will cost you $150 completely modded. That's the same price as the Squeezebox, only you get a free video server, games console, weather checker, web interface, etc., etc., etc.

    The choice is obvious.
    posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:06 PM on December 27, 2004

    Plus, you'll need a TV in each location you want to use your XBox as a receiver.

    Don't get me wrong, I have a modded xbox that I use in my living room with XBMC all the time -- but if I wanted a low-profile wireless solution to stream music to my kitchen, it wouldn't be an XBox-plus-wireless-AP-plus-television.
    posted by Jairus at 10:32 PM on December 27, 2004

    There's got to be a way to hack a cheap LCD display onto the XBox, though. Wouldn't even have to be fully graphical: a couple lines of text would be enough to deal with most functions.
    posted by five fresh fish at 9:34 AM on December 28, 2004

    fff -- Done.
    posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:57 AM on December 28, 2004

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