Build my own touchscreen-capable multizone system to distribute audio from a NAS or a Mac?
June 24, 2006 9:33 AM   Subscribe

Build my own touchscreen-capable multizone system to distribute audio from a NAS or a Mac?

Would prefer not to pay for a CEDIA-certified installer when all I want is a way to:

- Connect to my music collection via one touchscreen
- Select music via that touchscreen (not just on/off, zone-switch and volume controls)

The Escient Fireball looks interesting, but I don't want to spend extra $ on a dedicated music server. Ideas?
posted by VeniceGlass to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Sonos? Squeezebox (with a wifi PDA or PSP)?

More details?
posted by kickingtheground at 10:54 AM on June 24, 2006

Do you want to be able to have multiple zones synced playing the same music?
posted by Good Brain at 11:04 AM on June 24, 2006

Best answer: Mac only? Some people use Media Center (Windows only for now, unless you get it on a specific standalone) for management, and link it with VLC or BeyondTV for PVR functionality with NetRemote (using PDA screens) and Girder to glue it together. With MC I like being able to specify different playlists for different "zones" (ie, rooms).

For my PVR functions I use a couple of networked ReplayTVs driven by the Java-based DVArchive and a custom VLC that autoskips ads on playback. They basically act like decoupled capture cards, and I can use any other networked machine for storage of the captures, transcoding, or playback. I see that XBMC now has a front-end for ReplayTVs so I will probably set one up.

AVS Forum is your best friend here.
posted by meehawl at 11:09 AM on June 24, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for your responses. I think Sonos is my best bet so far, but I'm not convinced that I need to spend that much $. Here's what I envision.

Though I like the Sonos remote (lots), I'd like an in-wall touchscreen that can flip thru either iTunes or WMC playlists, songs, and artists. I'm also a bit leery of interference with wireless streaming, but I hear the Sonos does nice sound. FWIW, I'm also strongly considering investing in an Irfant or other NAS device.

I've given up on looking at software DVR functionality until something comes out that can record encrypted digital cable channels. Would be great though.

As far as multiple zones being synced, that would be nice but not critical.

That NetRemote looks very intriguing.
posted by VeniceGlass at 11:19 AM on June 24, 2006

Oh, forgot to mention, MC also has a uPnP server that can control network streaming devices like the SqueezeBox, SoundBridge, Sonos, etc. What I have found is that while some of these devices work okay, many of them are just slightly off-standard enough that some manual tweaking of the uPnP templates for each device is required. Tivo is sufficiently idiosyncratic that there is an entirely separate Tivo Server to control those.

Why use MC to control your streamers? It means that you can store your original audio is whatever format you want (Ogg, FLAC, APE, etc) and then get MC to do transcoding on the fly into mp3/aac/wma of desired bitrate, because these devices usually have a limited gamut of supported files. You don't have to touch your originals, unless of course you want to add ReplayGain or new tags. The desired bitrate feature can be good is you have flakey wireless or want to access your library remotely over the Internet on a dodgy or limited connection.
posted by meehawl at 11:35 AM on June 24, 2006

The Escient Fireball looks interesting

It's interesting to note that when DNNA bought Escient and ReplayTV, it basically froze ReplayTV at its 2000-era level of development and moved most of the ReplayTV developers over to the Escient line. I guess DNNA figured that the margin on ReplayTV was too low and it preferred the high-end Escient gear. So to see where ReplayTV might have ended up were it not for the lawsuits, see Escient. But it does mean that some of the ideas (such as the Escient PC client for NAS) seems also to be trickling down, in the form of the long-rumoured Hauppauge-branded ReplayTV software. And it does seem as if the TV Guide info will keep on running.
posted by meehawl at 11:56 AM on June 24, 2006

I am the author of the Nokia770 "skin" for controlling Slimserver 6.5 and one or multiple squeezeboxes. The web interface supports album art, playlists, multiple zones, full player controls, etc.

The Nokia 770 internet tablet is a small handheld touchscreen with a nice browser (Opera).

FWIW, you could still use my skin, which is optimized for touchscreens, and a different touchscreen (or even a plain ol' PC) to control your music in this fashion.
posted by mcstayinskool at 11:36 AM on June 26, 2006

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