Originally Posted by jaray
I've put various in-wall and in ceiling speakers throughout my house and outside. They all wire up to an impedance matching speaker selector. The selector is fed from a plain stereo receiver and audio is provided all by a PC. I simply remote desktop into the audio PC from laptops/ipads etc from anywhere on the property and that PC plays my audio collection as well as streams Pandora etc. Its worked really well but I'm always looking for ways I might be able to improve upon it. I found it odd that all the different ways to do this, I've never seen anyone really write about doing it this way. It seems quite simple too.
Simple, yes. "Easy to use", not so much... Which is where the "server" comes in. The hardware part is nothing special, it's the software to make it easy to browse content and run the system that's what you pay for.
One of the benefits I thought to this setup was no need to have to run a server and some sort of software to handle my music. My feelings were I always know my own audio collection and where things are so why would I need a server to pretty it up and cause more confusion. By using a PC I have lots of flexibility to play whatever I want and not be limited to whatever the server is capable of.
True, but you're also bound by the limitations of running a remote desktop to drive the thing.
But, I would be interested in peoples thoughts about this and maybe some ideas on how I can improve. Its running on a plain dual core PC with Windows XP and uses remote desktop set to leave audio at the PC, no monitor, keyboard or mouse.
I use a PC as my server (Mirage / NuVo software running that feeds the Whole House Audio system) for the bulk of the system, but for my family room "primary listening" area, I wanted better audio quality, so I'm also running iTunes on the server PC, and have an Apple Airport Express connected via digital out to my pre-amp. With that setup, I just use the free Apple Remote app on any iOS device, which controls iTunes and sends the lossless stream to the AE via AirPlay. Total cost $99 for the Airport Express.
If you haven't seen the Apple Remote app for iTunes, the new version released earlier this year is very nice, and compares well with any of the apps from the specialty media server vendors. The only lacking part of that solution is the streaming services (Pandora, Spotify), but there's plenty of ways to make that work (AirFoil on the PC, or just use the iOS device to AirPlay directly). I assume the iRadio service will integrate with iTunes / Remote so depending on how well that performs it could be a more integrated option in the future. Although I'm a big Pandora fan...