How do I play music throughout my home on 2 stereo systems attached to a Powerbook G4 and WinXP Desktop, repsectively?
February 4, 2007 9:54 AM   Subscribe

Help me fill my home with music: I want to play my iTunes library over two separate home stereo systems at the same time. What's the easiest, cheapest way to do this?

(My apologies if this has been asked before; I searched every post tagged with "music" and "wireless" and couldn't find exactly what I was looking for -- perhaps it's out there and I'm just too dumb to know it when I see it.)

I live in a loft -- it's a big, open room (i.e., there's no way I can conceal long runs of wiring). I have 2 sets of speakers connected to amps / receivers on opposite sides of the loft. I want to play music on all of them, together.

Ok, here's my setup:

1. Powerbook / B&W / T-amp
Powerbook G4 (houses the master iTunes library), connected to...
Sonic Impact T-amp (via stereo mini-plug), connected to...
B&W bookshelf speakers.

2. Desktop / Onkyo / B&W
Windows XP desktop (running iTunes), connected to...
Onkyo 6.1 receiver, connected to...
B&W floorstanding speakers / surrounds.

Both the Powerbook and Desktop are connected to my network, which runs through a cable modem attached to a Linksys WRT54g router.

SO: How do I play music from the "master" iTunes library (on the Powerbook) through all the speakers at the same time?

Other posts mention Soundbridge and Roku and Airport Xpress a lot. Do I really need to buy new equipment to accomplish this? -- or is what I have enough already? (Mega bonus points if your answer says "You don't need to buy anything." Minor bonus points if your answer says "You need to buy something, but it costs < $100. absolutely no points at all if your answer requires me to spend> $300.)

I realize I can share my iTunes libraries, but this doesn't allow me to play the same thing simultaneously on both systems, does it?

Finally, I've considered moving the "master" iTunes library to a large external HD. Would this help or hurt what I'm trying to accomplish?

Finally: When it comes to networking, I'm a dumbass. Sorry. If your answer says something like "Just tunnel through the whatever with VNC client and open a port and..." you can assume you have immediately lost me.

Thanks in advance!
posted by fearless_yakov to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Buy an Airport Express... erm, buy a used Airport Express with Airtunes. Hook it up to your Onkyo receiver via the AUX line. Select AUX on the receiver. Share your XP iTunes library over the network so you can play it via your Powerbook. When playing music from your Powerbook there is a little box at the bottom right that will allow you to select from Multiple Speakers, Computer, or Whatever-You've-Named-Your-Airport-Express. Select multiple speakers, click both boxes, and your music will play through both systems. You can get an Airport Express for just under $100 new, and maybe a little less used. This is the setup I use and it works well.
posted by chudder at 10:39 AM on February 4, 2007

I suppose you could try splitting the audio signal coming out of your Mac, but it would involve running wires.

You can check your receivers to see if they have any kind of "multi-room" feature, but you'd have to double-wire your speakers on one of the systems, so that's wonky.

I'm running multiple 3 Airport Express boxes simultaneously, allowing me to stream my iTunes library to 4 locations (including the original Mac). Not quite a mega bonus solution, but Amazon does carry Airport Express units for just under $100 now.

I'd just bite the bullet and do that, especially on a Mac running iTunes and the need for wireless.
posted by wubbie at 10:41 AM on February 4, 2007

If your up to totally rearranging your setup, you could consider plugging your speakers into a receiver with radio, buy a (cheap) fm transmitter and broadcast your music to each room that has the radio-speaker setup. It won't give you the highest quality, but it's pretty simple.
posted by philomathoholic at 10:50 AM on February 4, 2007

Best answer: If you run this server program on the machine where all the tunes are, and this client program on both machines, the server will stream all the tunes over your existing home network to the clients, and the two clients will synchronise so that they are playing exactly at the same time (this is very important - without that, it will sound like shit).

You control it via a web interface from either of the two machines. If you are feeling rich later, you can buy a little wireless box with a remote that lets you control it without a computer, but that's not necessary.

You will need to show the server program where all the tunes are, and point both of the clients at the server, but that's pretty straightforward - I'm assuming iTunes has your music somewhere on your hard drive where you can find it.

Both the client and the server software are available for Mac, but I've never tried it on a Mac myself. It worked perfectly well on a mixed Windows/Linux network.
posted by emilyw at 10:51 AM on February 4, 2007 [5 favorites]

I second Airtunes. I just got it a couple weeks ago for my home stereo. Just try to keep the airtunes adapter as far away from the stereo itself as you can (usually just 2 or 3 feet). It will allow for better WiFi reception.

Another advantage of Airport is that it extends the range of your wireless router and since you're using a powerbook, thats very valuable.
posted by Thrillhouse at 10:58 AM on February 4, 2007

Good to know, emilyw. Thanks!
posted by wemayfreeze at 10:59 AM on February 4, 2007

Just get a Sonos system, hook it up to both amps and voila.
posted by lunarboy at 2:03 PM on February 4, 2007

Best answer: I'm doing this at the moment. It cost AUD $65.00 ($40USD)

Get a wireless transmitter and reciever from an electronics shop (much cheaper than an apple product).

On one of your amps - select the record out for the input that is transmitting the music (this will allow you to send from the amp to the transmitter) - if it's auxillary input from your laptop then select auxillary on the 'record out'. Connect the transmitter to the Record Out on the back of your amp with RCA cords.

Plug the receiver into your other amp. That's it.
posted by strawberryviagra at 6:24 PM on February 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

What's the easiest, cheapest way to do this?

Splitting the wire.

strawberryviagra's idea sounds better though....
posted by pompomtom at 11:34 PM on February 4, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for all the great suggestions. As I mentioned in the OP, running wires isn't a possibility. Same for the FM transmitter -- I've had bad luck with those in this space. So...

- emilyw's slimserver suggestion sounds best, assuming that the software (server / client) doesn't have any problems running crossplatform on OS/X and XP, respectively. assuming this works, this suggestion wins because it appears to be (a) easy and (b) cheap. score!

assuming that doesn't work...

- strawberryviagra, this sounds interesting. do you have a specific model of transmitter / rcvr you might recommend i look into?

- chudder suggests an airport express. i suspected this might be a possible solution, but have been avoiding it because from what i've read, getting it to work with a linksys router and an XP box involves some hassle -- plus it's $100 that i don't have to spend if emilyw or strawberryviagra's suggestions work.
posted by fearless_yakov at 11:37 AM on February 5, 2007

OK here are the units I'm using - I've seen different types available (even sold in supermarkets) that do the same, I don't believe there would be great differences.

They also handle video signals (I use a DVD player as a CD player and broadcast the signal to a TV, playing the sound through the amp - which works without problem).
posted by strawberryviagra at 5:13 PM on February 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks Strawberry!
posted by fearless_yakov at 10:11 PM on February 5, 2007

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