sound advice
April 15, 2006 9:47 AM   Subscribe

My PC is in the living room. I want to be able to listen to iTunes in the kitchen and the bedroom. I have a linksys router, if that helps. What sort of setup works best for this? Wireless speakers? Which ones. I mostly listen to talk radio and audio books, so I don't need amazing sound. I would love a relatively cheap (under $200) solution.
posted by grumblebee to Technology (25 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Have you thought about the airport express? You can plug it into any stereo and it'll be a part of your wireless network.
posted by k8t at 9:51 AM on April 15, 2006

How about this thread.
posted by kcm at 9:51 AM on April 15, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks, but I don't have a stereo system (well, I do, but it's really old and crappy). I was going to upgrade to a new one, and then iTunes came alone. So now my PC is my stereo. I was hoping there was a way I could do what I want with just some sort of wireless speaker solution.
posted by grumblebee at 9:54 AM on April 15, 2006

Airport Express + self-powered speakers = wireless speakers

I really like my Cambridge SoundWorks cubes; they've lasted forever, and they're cheap; available here.
posted by AaronRaphael at 10:06 AM on April 15, 2006

Phillips makes mini stereo systems that they call their Streamium line, which will connect to your network, and play music off your computer, or streaming internet stations.

If you live in a part of the country that has Fry's Electronics stores, they have been selling one model for $99 (that originally retailed for $300). It doesn't have wireless capabilities, just an ethernet connection, so you'd probably need a wireless access point to use this particular model.

I see from their website, though, that wireless is built in to all their latest models.
posted by curtm at 10:08 AM on April 15, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks. Does anyone have experience with Airport Express on a Windows machine? I've read some negatives about that on Amazon.
posted by grumblebee at 10:09 AM on April 15, 2006

Response by poster: Also, isn't airport express just a wireless router? I already have a linksys router. Can I use that?
posted by grumblebee at 10:14 AM on April 15, 2006

MicroLink: I haven't tried it but this doodab might be precisely what you're after. I think that so long as you have or can get hold of a stereo with stereo inputs this will take care of the rest. Might need a bit of looking into, though, as I haven't read up on the specs and requirements fully.
posted by nthdegx at 10:16 AM on April 15, 2006

Response by poster: (though I'm thankful for them), I'm wondering if the solutions so far are overkill. You know the normal PC speakers that you plug into your sound card? Aren't their wireless versions of these? I.e. you plug some kind of transmitter into your sound card and that transmits the sound to your wireless speakers.

THAT'S what I want. Only I want it to be able to transmit to multiple speakers in multiple rooms.

The benefit of such a system would be that I wouldn't have to worry about it playing nice with iTunes. It would just transmit ANYTHING playing through my sound card.
posted by grumblebee at 10:22 AM on April 15, 2006

This is out of your price range, and overkill for your needs, but I didn't want to pass up the opportunity to pimp the SoundBridge Radio and RokuLabs in general. They rock and I love my SoundBridge.
posted by intermod at 10:33 AM on April 15, 2006

I don't have an answer for you grumblebee, but if you don't mind me piggybacking... I'd love any/all suggestions for self-powered speakers.
posted by dobbs at 11:14 AM on April 15, 2006

Does it have to be speakers? You could probably do wireless headphones for a bit cheaper.
posted by quin at 12:00 PM on April 15, 2006

I have a feeling THIS is what you are looking for.
I have a friend that bought a system off eBay and he loves it.
posted by Gerard Sorme at 12:20 PM on April 15, 2006

I've set up two Airport Express units using a Windows machine and I have to admit, they were kind of a bitch to set up. I don't think Apple cares about making things as friendly on a Windows setup to administer, so I ended up having to directly connect the units to my network in order to set them up -- I'm sure it would have been easier to do from a Mac.

But, after fumbling around with the setup, they DO work great -- I have one set up in the living room and one in the bedroom and it's a kick to be able to throw the sound around the apartment on a whim.
posted by wubbie at 12:37 PM on April 15, 2006

I second what wubbie says.
posted by k8t at 1:11 PM on April 15, 2006

i can't recommend the squeezebox (paired with some powered speakers) enough - it's wonderful. the best things are that it is completely independent of your pc, and you can use it to update your iTunes play counts and so on (if you need that)
posted by ascullion at 1:59 PM on April 15, 2006

You could try this...
posted by curtm at 4:48 PM on April 15, 2006

these? and maybe a splitter, so you can have your regular speakers plugged in too. fwiw, I like my Airport Express (and it works fine with my Linksys) but that might be easier.
posted by mrg at 6:43 PM on April 15, 2006

dobbs - meridian make "real" speakers that are powered (so do b&o, if you want pretty and aren't worried about value).
posted by andrew cooke at 7:08 PM on April 15, 2006

dobbs writes "I don't have an answer for you grumblebee, but if you don't mind me piggybacking... I'd love any/all suggestions for self-powered speakers."

Andrew makes a great suggestion, but if you're interested in a more modular (and cheaper) route, and especially if you have some non-powered speakers laying around that you might be able to dedicate to the cause, I'd recommend taking a look at this portable amp. There's been a lot of internet buzz about it in the last year or so: the consensus seems to be that the quality of the sound is wildly out of proportion to the price. Anyway, I recently invested in a new set of primary speakers, and I decided to shift my old speakers to my computer. I bought one of these suckers to get the job done, and have been completely happy with the results. Better than any powered speakers aimed at the desktop market than I've ever heard....
posted by mr_roboto at 9:17 PM on April 15, 2006

I bought some Edirol monitors a while ago (for home use), and am very happy with them.
posted by ascullion at 12:23 AM on April 16, 2006

Thanks for the answers, folks.

mr_roboto: I'm not a tech geek and most of those reviews on the amp are gibberish to me. Do I understand correctly: I plug that device into the wall and then I can plug non-powered speakers into it and, say, a SqueezeBox into it and I'm set?

I've always liked the look of these speakers and they get very good reviews. Would these, a Squeezebox, and that portable amp be all I need?
posted by dobbs at 8:49 AM on April 16, 2006

Yep; that should do it. You probably also want to buy an AC adapter for the amp, otherwise you'll be burning through a lot of batteries.

I just want to make it clear that you're not going to get audiophile-quality sound out of this thing, but it is very nice bang for the buck, especially if all you need is the amp...
posted by mr_roboto at 9:14 AM on April 16, 2006

Thanks, mr_roboto,
posted by dobbs at 9:27 AM on April 16, 2006

Some years back, in an outlet store for chain that sells coffee and stuff in Germany and the Netherlands, I found a wonderful pair of powered wireless speakers with a transmitter. I use them exactly as you describe, Grumblebee.

The nice feature of these is a switch that allows the spekaers to be Left, Right, or Both. In Germany, I used them for stereo in the kitchen. Since, I keep them different locations. The sound is decent for cheap little speakers, while mostly I'm listening to Air America, I do play music through them also.

The branding on the speakers is TCM. No other information available. Sad, one of them just started acting up yesterday (I bought them about 7 years ago).
posted by Goofyy at 5:03 AM on April 18, 2006

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