My Simple Yet Complex Distribution Plan for <$1000 - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 28 Old 10-05-2011, 06:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Here is my plan. (graphic on the left... diagram on the right....)

The amplifier allows you to choose the input per channel out. The options are the input right above the output or the input on the left of the box. This set up should allow for me to have four sources at one time (two ipods, an Ipad and a computer). Or using airplay I could select all four airport expresses sending the same feed to all speakers from one source. You can adjust the volume via the ipods/ipad as well as the walls (except for the porch).

What do people think. I think this seems pretty basic and inexpensive while at the same time very powerful but I have not heard of anyone doing this.

Please comment on weaknesses or strenghts.
Thanks
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post #2 of 28 Old 10-05-2011, 07:43 PM
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I've used an airport express as a source for my nuvo grand concerto. It works well, generally. No metadata on the keypads but, for $100, I'm not complaining.

If the amp lets you select any of the sources per output (and I assume it also let's you share a source between outputs) then you probably don't need four airport expresses. I think two would be plenty. How many times do you want to listen to four different songs in four zones?

You may also consider attaching a cable box to the amp for the music channels, especially if you can control the channel from those iOS devices. I do this with a directv box.
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post #3 of 28 Old 10-06-2011, 04:58 AM - Thread Starter
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I think that the amp allows one of two input options per output, (either the main input or the input which is matched with the output). It may even be a manual selection. I have not seen much documentation on it though so I may be wrong. If someone knows of a more flexible amp to achieve the same or better result I am all ears...

I like the idea of adding the cable to the main input. Maybe I should put another device in front of the main input where I could select any number of inputs, TV, Salellite, etc.
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post #4 of 28 Old 10-06-2011, 11:34 AM
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Considering the price and the hassle of dealing with an additional matrix switch, try looking at the home theater direct systems. The mid-level sounds like it could fit the bill.

I've not used their systems so I cannot answer any questions about it. Plenty on this forum are fans, though.
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post #5 of 28 Old 10-08-2011, 05:43 PM - Thread Starter
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I was in best buy today doing some more research and a was talking with one of the sales associates and it occurred to me that I think that my system is much better than most other reasonably priced systems for the following reasons:

1. I can expand to 7 sources unique sources (four now). This is overkill but the flexibility is nice.

2. I can have any number of "zones" given that any ipod "remote app" can group any number of airport expresses together to form a zone on the fly.

3. All controlled from one remote which also accesses all of my playlists.

Are airport expresses and "airplay" priced at $99 such a disruptive technology that no one has caught up yet (including people on this board)... Or am I missing something? Seems like a receiver with a/b zones and a large black plastic remote is so 2007.
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post #6 of 28 Old 10-08-2011, 09:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by finger123 View Post

Are airport expresses and "airplay" priced at $99 such a disruptive technology that no one has caught up yet (including people on this board)... Or am I missing something?

Neither. If you're happy with using iTunes Remote or iDevices as sources, and controlling only with iDevices, it's fine. But there are many other paths to take, which have more/different capabilities. A Sonos system, for example, may be a better fit, within the same price range.

I use an Airport Express for accessing my music server for my primary listening room, but the rest of the house uses a NuVo system (same music library). The "issue" with an array of Airports and iPad/iPod/iTunes as sources is the lack of coordination, overlap, duplication of controls. Not saying that it won't work - just may be confusing and cumbersome.

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Seems like a receiver with a/b zones and a large black plastic remote is so 2007.

Yeah, but you're comparing the worst-case implementation for multi-zone / whole house audio...

Do take a look at the HTD systems, and the Sonos gear as well. IMO, much better implementation and easier to access online services (internet radio, Pandora, etc.) The new NuVo Player system coming "soon" would be a good competitor as well.


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post #7 of 28 Old 10-09-2011, 06:45 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the response. Let me give you my reasoning for an airport express based approach.

1. Multiple people in my family have ipod touches, we have an ipad and two windows based computers which use itunes. I have a large music collection which has multiple rule based playlists. If I go with Sonos I presume would have to recreate all of those playlists (not sure that they can even be created in the same way with sonos). If I add music to my library the songs are added to playlists in itunes automatically without having to do anything. This then makes them available not only to all devices which sync with itunes for on-the-go beach vacation or long car ride but if my home system is based off of itunes they are available immediately after being downloaded.

2. Sonos as far as i can tell are 3.5x more expensive to do the same thing.

3. I get the feeling that an itunes based system will be easier to gradually upgrade (without huge purchases) as the software is separate from the hardware. I could be wrong on this one...

4. Internet radio is not really something that I enjoy. I see it as a fad. I rarely come across a song on pandora that I like that I do not already have. My rules based playlists give me what I want with better accuracy. Also apple allows you to stream all of the radio stations that are in itunes.

5. I will take function over form any day. (I do not get a thrill out of telling people that I have "sonos"). I couldn't care less who is a "Mac guy" or "who is a PC"... I just want a system that works. That is not to say that people only get sonos to brag but I would get more enjoyment out of a system that just works...

Can anyone point out something that justifies spending $350 per "sonos zone" rather than airport expresses at $99? Has anyone tried what I am planning with success or failure?
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post #8 of 28 Old 10-09-2011, 09:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by finger123 View Post

2. Sonos as far as i can tell are 3.5x more expensive to do the same thing.

They do the same things, but the Sonos will do more. But it doesn't sound like you want those. So, for your purposes, not worth it.

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3. I get the feeling that an itunes based system will be easier to gradually upgrade (without huge purchases) as the software is separate from the hardware. I could be wrong on this one...

The big limitation in a setup using iTunes is having only one output from the PC. In order to have multiple, simultaneous outputs, you have to use another device to access the library. To me, this is where the confusion/conflict can occur.

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4. Internet radio is not really something that I enjoy. I see it as a fad. I rarely come across a song on pandora that I like that I do not already have. My rules based playlists give me what I want with better accuracy. Also apple allows you to stream all of the radio stations that are in itunes.

If iTunes meets all of your needs, and you've already got it working...

Quote:


5. I will take function over form any day. (I do not get a thrill out of telling people that I have "sonos"). I couldn't care less who is a "Mac guy" or "who is a PC"... I just want a system that works. That is not to say that people only get sonos to brag but I would get more enjoyment out of a system that just works...

Yoiu bought a bunch of expensive iDevices when there are cheaper tablets and MP3 players... Why??? Because the work better.

Quote:


Can anyone point out something that justifies spending $350 per "sonos zone" rather than airport expresses at $99? Has anyone tried what I am planning with success or failure?

Again, if iTunes meets your needs, very hard to beat the price of the Airports plus an amp. The only real issue I see is that volume control, zone selection will be based on the last-source-used. iTunes and iDevices will remember the last state they were in. Whenever someone starts playing from a device, they'll have to know to select which Airport(s) to use.

There may be confusion/conflicts when multiple people want to access the library. I suspect what will happen is your kids will stream from their iPad/iPods, you'll use the iTunes library, and you'll avoid conflicts that way.

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post #9 of 28 Old 10-10-2011, 09:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by finger123 View Post

...
4. Internet radio is not really something that I enjoy. I see it as a fad. I rarely come across a song on pandora that I like that I do not already have. My rules based playlists give me what I want with better accuracy. Also apple allows you to stream all of the radio stations that are in itunes.
...

You aren't shut out of Internet radio with your iTunes solution. I've created a 'playlist' of my fav internet radio stations to get quick access to the ones I like.

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Originally Posted by jautor View Post

...
The big limitation in a setup using iTunes is having only one output from the PC. In order to have multiple, simultaneous outputs, you have to use another device to access the library. To me, this is where the confusion/conflict can occur. ...

Maybe I'm misreading what you are saying, but it is pretty easy to select output zones and set volume independently:



You can give each zone a meaningful name and control them either the computer hosting iTunes or with the Remote app on any iOS device.

Craig
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post #10 of 28 Old 10-10-2011, 11:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pvr4Craig View Post


Maybe I'm misreading what you are saying, but it is pretty easy to select output zones and set volume independently:

I don't know iTunes, but the way I read what he was saying is that you could only play one feed on all zones as opposed to playing jazz in bedroom and pop in kitchen at the same time....unless you had another device.


PS. Please let Tigger know my daughters are BIG fans!
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post #11 of 28 Old 10-11-2011, 03:31 AM
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Finger, I think you need to spend some time on the Sonos forum. I don't use Sonos, but I've gotten the impression that it is as flexible, and as well designed, as you would like, using iTunes.

Also, to clear things up, 'internet radio' is the streaming of radio stations online. You get most FM stations from around the world, plus thousands of internet-only stations, like radioparadise.com (a favorite of mine).

I think of Pandora, Sirius/XM, Spotify, and Prodigy as distinct from internet radio. Maybe I'm in the minority, though.

My Nuvo music server and Sonos offer internet radio through the radiotime.com streaming service, if you want to check it out.

And, that metadata on my keypads, to me, is priceless.

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense. -Buddha

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post #12 of 28 Old 04-20-2012, 07:30 PM - Thread Starter
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Just wanted to update everyone. I have pretty much done what I set out to do. Instead of 4 airport expresses I have 2 but otherwise the setup is as planned. I cannot emphasize how great this system works. All said and done the tech driving the the audio cost only ~$500 not including the computers, iPad, iPhones, and speakers which I already had. The music is perfectly synced when listening in two adjacent rooms via separate airports. I have 5 potential sources (laptop, desktop, iPad, iPhones). No new playlists. When I download a new song and tag it in iTunes it is automatically added to all smart playlists. This feature alone makes this setup better for me than sonos.

Btw. Don't believe the bad reviews of the osd multichannel amp on amazon. No issues with it...
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post #13 of 28 Old 04-21-2012, 08:32 AM
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i do the same thing you aree doing. i had a crestron system that was given to me but the procesor died so i used the airport expresses i had laying round and cobbled together a system with 4 airport expresses. i dont have volume controls inline since it was a crestron system but i just use the airplay volume. i almost never use more then one zone at a time so i just send the audio from my phone or ipad and have volume control thru that.

that being said can you give some insight on how you make these smart playlists. i have never heard that such a thing was even possible and it interests me greatly
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post #14 of 28 Old 04-21-2012, 09:19 AM
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Quote:
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...can you give some insight on how you make these smart playlists. i have never heard that such a thing was even possible and it interests me greatly

Apple - Smart playlist
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post #15 of 28 Old 04-21-2012, 07:07 PM - Thread Starter
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Link does a good job of explaining smart playlists but the key in my opinion is to create a labeling system which helps you create the lists. I chose the genre field to do so. The "genre" is stored in the music file therefore if you change players in the future your labeling scheme is preserved. Some examples are pop, classic, rap, live, acoustic, dance, workout, mood, chill, trance, jazz, dinner, etc... Some songs might have multiple labels.... For example: live, pop acoustic...
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post #16 of 28 Old 04-21-2012, 08:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post


The big limitation in a setup using iTunes is having only one output from the PC. In order to have multiple, simultaneous outputs, you have to use another device to access the library. To me, this is where the confusion/conflict can occur.

I'm fairly confident you can get around that issue if you use Apple TVs instead of Airport expresses. That's what I would recommend the OP to use. They are the same price, but the ATVs are much more capable. Plus they can also be controlled via the Remote app.
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post #17 of 28 Old 04-22-2012, 06:23 AM
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You will need to convert the audio out on the apple tv to analog.
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post #18 of 28 Old 04-22-2012, 10:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scl23enn4m3 View Post

I'm fairly confident you can get around that issue if you use Apple TVs instead of Airport expresses. That's what I would recommend the OP to use. They are the same price, but the ATVs are much more capable. Plus they can also be controlled via the Remote app.

Huh? None of the OP's zones appear to be television locations so how is an Apple TV going to do anything different than an Airport Express? They'll both just appear as AirPlay outputs...

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post #19 of 28 Old 04-22-2012, 11:14 AM
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Huh? None of the OP's zones appear to be television locations so how is an Apple TV going to do anything different than an Airport Express? They'll both just appear as AirPlay outputs...

Craig

You don't need a TV to use an Apple TV, it has an optical output (but as previously mentioned you would need a digital input, or a DAC). The Airport Express is basically an extension of your iTunes library, so if you have one library, but 4 AEs, you can only play one song on all of them. To play two, you need two libraries running. If you use Apple TVs instead, you can connect them all to the same library, but play different songs on each at the same time.

EDIT: I see your question, yes they will all appear as Airplay outputs. But if you control it as an Apple TV instead of an Airplay device, you'll have more individual control.
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post #20 of 28 Old 04-22-2012, 12:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scl23enn4m3 View Post

You don't need a TV to use an Apple TV, it has an optical output (but as previously mentioned you would need a digital input, or a DAC). The Airport Express is basically an extension of your iTunes library, so if you have one library, but 4 AEs, you can only play one song on all of them. To play two, you need two libraries running. If you use Apple TVs instead, you can connect them all to the same library, but play different songs on each at the same time.

EDIT: I see your question, yes they will all appear as Airplay outputs. But if you control it as an Apple TV instead of an Airplay device, you'll have more individual control.

If the Apple TV is not connected to a TV, how can you use it as anything more than an AirPlay destination? You won't be able to see any of the menus to select something to play.

Craig
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post #21 of 28 Old 04-22-2012, 06:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pvr4Craig View Post

If the Apple TV is not connected to a TV, how can you use it as anything more than an AirPlay destination? You won't be able to see any of the menus to select something to play.

Craig

You can select whatever you want to play via the Remote app from an iPad/iPhone/Touch. It lists everything in the library for each Apple TV.
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post #22 of 28 Old 04-23-2012, 08:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scl23enn4m3 View Post

You can select whatever you want to play via the Remote app from an iPad/iPhone/Touch. It lists everything in the library for each Apple TV.

I need to see a screenshot of this. Remote app controls iTunes on a computer. iTunes can send one stream to multiple AirPlay devices but CAN NOT send different streams to individual AirPlay devices. This was the limitation jautor pointed out. Apple TV's could do it using Home Sharing but, I believe, they need to be hooked up to a TV so you can see the menus and start the music playing.

Note that in practice jautor's concern is not likely to be a big problem. Suppose, for example, your wife is in the master bedroom and wants to listen to her favourite death metal playlist. She grabs her iPad and fires up Remote app to start it playing in her zone. Meanwhile, you're out in the garage and want to listen to Yanni while rebuilding your chopper. You grab your iPhone but you don't use Remote app to override your wife's choice. (At least, I don't! Instead, you stream from the iPhone music app to the AirPlay device for your garage zone. Each of you gets to enjoy your fav music without bothering the other. Lather, rinse and repeat for as many listeners/Airplay zones as you've got.

Craig
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post #23 of 28 Old 04-23-2012, 11:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pvr4Craig View Post

I need to see a screenshot of this. Remote app controls iTunes on a computer. iTunes can send one stream to multiple AirPlay devices but CAN NOT send different streams to individual AirPlay devices. This was the limitation jautor pointed out. Apple TV's could do it using Home Sharing but, I believe, they need to be hooked up to a TV so you can see the menus and start the music playing.

Note that in practice jautor's concern is not likely to be a big problem. Suppose, for example, your wife is in the master bedroom and wants to listen to her favourite death metal playlist. She grabs her iPad and fires up Remote app to start it playing in her zone. Meanwhile, you're out in the garage and want to listen to Yanni while rebuilding your chopper. You grab your iPhone but you don't use Remote app to override your wife's choice. (At least, I don't! Instead, you stream from the iPhone music app to the AirPlay device for your garage zone. Each of you gets to enjoy your fav music without bothering the other. Lather, rinse and repeat for as many listeners/Airplay zones as you've got.

Craig

Yup, I agree iTunes can only send one stream to an Airplay device, which is why the Airport Express limits your 'zones' from your library. I'm not referring to Airplay though. The Remote app can control iTunes and Apple TVs. Here is a screenshot of what it looks like when you select an Apple TV to control:

http://thedigitalstory.com/2010/10/2...te_on_ipad.png

That situation works until you want to play a song from your wife's library that isn't on your iPod. Or if your music collection exceeds the 64gb limit. I know it's not a big deal, but when an Airport Express costs the same as an Apple TV, and you don't need the wireless access point functionality, it's a no brainer.

This is the link that picture is from, which mentions using the Apple TV headless:
http://thedigitalstory.com/2010/10/m...e_tv_is_m.html

And this one refers to using two Apple TVs simultaneously from the same libraries (it refers to movies, but it works the same for music):
http://www.macworld.com/article/1159...v_1source.html
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post #24 of 28 Old 04-23-2012, 06:03 PM
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Thanks scl23enn4m3; I was wrong. Never saw before that the Apple TV could be controlled from the Remote app. Excellent news!

Craig
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post #25 of 28 Old 04-25-2012, 08:48 AM
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I like what you have done. I am looking to replace an older distribution amp system but I want to use a multi-channel amp which I can control by WiFi. Anyone know of such a unit?

Ian
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post #26 of 28 Old 05-03-2012, 04:38 AM
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If you get bored with your iTunes library streaming services such as Pandora could be accessed using something like this:
http://www.rogueamoeba.com/airfoil/
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post #27 of 28 Old 01-07-2013, 11:31 AM
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Looking at going this route also. Hows everything working so far?
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post #28 of 28 Old 07-14-2014, 01:30 PM
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I use Apple TV and airport express. Everyone in the family has an iPhone. Seems to be working fine for last year or two.
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