Inter room music streaming, what's the best way?
December 4, 2011 8:03 AM   Subscribe

The best (quality/cost efficacy) method of streaming music from one room to another?

Two scenarios; one: The PC upstairs in the bedroom wishes to experience the Itunes library playing both through the PC's own attached speakers and also through the hi-fi amplifier downstairs in the lounge/living-room.
Two: The reverse, is that possible? The output from the amplifier also playing through the PC's own speakers?

posted by Wrick to Technology (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you have a portable MP3 player, you can plug that directly into your stereo with an RCA->headphone jack cable. They're under $10.

If your stereo is not hooked up to your TV, Airport Express is pretty simple for $100. You plug it in to the wall and your stereo, and it shows up as a speaker in your iTunes. That's it. Downside is that you have to control playback from the bedroom, not the living room.

If your stereo and TV live together, Apple TV is also $100. Apple TV has its own interface, unlike Airport Express, and obviously does a ton more. A Roku box starts at $50 and fills a similar role- it really comes down to cost vs. interface for you.
posted by mkultra at 8:15 AM on December 4, 2011

To get from itunes to another speaker (or amp) I highly recommend buying an Airport Extreme (works with Windows). You can get them used on Craigslist in perfectly fine condition for 60 dollars or so. Far better sound quality than bluetooth. Connect it to your Wifi network and plug the amp into the airport extreme audio port and you're good to go.

To get the amp to play through the PC speakers you'll need an intermediate PC connected to the amp and a program such as Airfoil or Audio Hijack. Probably not what you were looking for - but as far as I know the intermediate PC will be a requirement. Much cheaper to get a set of wireless speakers (and transmitter) and hook those up to your amp
posted by Poet_Lariat at 8:17 AM on December 4, 2011

Sorry I meant Airport EXPRESS not Airport extreme
posted by Poet_Lariat at 8:18 AM on December 4, 2011

Sony MW600 bluetooth headset. Plugs into anything via a 3.5mm socket, also portable. Pairs with multiple devices automatically. Froogle is telling me $40.
posted by davemee at 8:25 AM on December 4, 2011

Logitech Squeezebox and Sonos both do this (scenario 1, that is...I know of no human currently doing your scenario 2).

Both are a bit more expensive than the various solutions described above, but are much less kludgy.

Sonos is more expensive than Squeezebox, but it's UI is meticulously designed and thought out, and delivered by a company solely focused on its streaming audio products.

Squeezebox suffers from being produced by a company that can't focus well on anything, but it does have some technological advantages, e.g. the devices have screens and on-board UIs, instead of being solely controlled via smartphones/tablets/remote controls. Squeezebox is also open source, thanks to its heritage with the startup SlimDevices. It's also less expensive.

Full disclosure: I'm a former software developer for Squeezebox, and carry a ton of baggage from how Logitech dropped the ball with it, but I still have about 10 of them in my house and consider it the most loved technological device I've owned. I use them daily. I have great respect for Sonos and how they've concentrated on their core business and done it right. I just don't like the closed source part of it, but most consumers don't care about that.
posted by mcstayinskool at 9:27 AM on December 4, 2011

I've been using Airport Express for years for this exact thing and love it. I like that they show up in iTunes and on the Remote app on my phone so I can control everything wirelessly.

There is also the Airfoil software which will turn any PC or Mac into an Airtunes receiver, very useful.
posted by bradbane at 9:35 AM on December 4, 2011

Thanks for all your answers. I like the cut of the jib of that Airport Express solution. But just so I'm clear - I can then play the Itunes through my PC speakers AND through the amplifier downstairs, right? With no lag?
posted by Wrick at 12:41 PM on December 4, 2011

AirTunes adds a two second lag. This is streaming padding but keeps them in sync. I stream whatever I'm listening to to two or three or four places out of a possible six, a mix of Macs, PCs, Airport Express w speakers around the house, and iHome AirPlay speakers, which I love. The computer playing iTunes (or whatever, works for any audio) can be a speaker itself, too. It works so well I'm doing it to my other home in the new year.

Look at the second screenshot of the excellent AirFoil app on this page and you will understand everything. Any number, on or off. Works from iPhones and iPads too, so music can follow you room to room.

Many modern hifi receivers also support AirPlay so they can be either source or destination, apparently, but I haven't tried one of those yet.
posted by rokusan at 2:17 PM on December 4, 2011

(AirTunes, AirPlay, whatever. Confusing Apple names.)
posted by rokusan at 2:20 PM on December 4, 2011

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