or Connect
AVS › AVS Forum › Gaming & Content Streaming › Networking, Media Servers & Content Streaming › Any DIY to mimic a Sonos system?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Any DIY to mimic a Sonos system?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
I'm moving away from Apple Airplay and while I like Sonos a lot I wonder if there is anything I can build with multiple PC's to mimic a Sonos system? Features I'm looking to mimic are controlling multiple speakers at once and controlling them from a mobile device.

Thanks
post #2 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by kneedragger View Post

I'm moving away from Apple Airplay and while I like Sonos a lot I wonder if there is anything I can build with multiple PC's to mimic a Sonos system? Features I'm looking to mimic are controlling multiple speakers at once and controlling them from a mobile device.

Thanks

Thinking about how this could be done, the conclusion that I've come to is that the time, effort, and money that you'd have to put into a PC substitute would be high enough to make it not worth the effort. The beauty of Sonos is the flexibility, range of supported apps, and ease of use. You may be able to do this with some of the htpc solutions out there that have smartphone apps, but you'll constantly be tweaking it while Sonos is just 'set it and forget it'. The joke around my house is that our Sonos setup is a key component to "happy wife happy life".
post #3 of 23
I use Plex on an Ubuntu Server to serve to just about any device on my network. I purchased a bunch of cheap Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7" tablets on closeout... which I place in my main listening areas. I haven't messed with remote controlling the devices however. The nice thing about Plex is that it is Android/Ios/Windows/Mac client friendly... and it is also great for video streaming.
post #4 of 23
You can put something together using free Logitech Media Server software, running on any computer hooked to your local network. Play devices can be i devices running ipeng (cheap app) through a digital dock for best quality. Control them through another i device. Look on the logitech squeezebox forums for details.
post #5 of 23
Why are you moving away from Airplay? I used to loathe airplay for it's dropouts and connectivity issues but I upgraded my router to an R7000 and now it works flawlessly. No dropped audio, no connection issues. You can purchase an old mac mini for around $80 and drop your music library onto it and you have a networked library that people can access and stream to all your airplay devices.
post #6 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the advice guys. I'm looking to expand my music to FLAC and see that Itunes doesn't support it. So I'm looking at possible future alternatives that I won't have to worry about this if I make the shift.

Mike
post #7 of 23
Ah but you CAN play flac files in itunes, or ios... with a couple easy tools. Definitely check out Fluke for itunes - I've used it before and it's seemless. It's as if itunes played flac files all along.

http://ipod.about.com/od/advanceditunesuse/tp/Tools-To-Play-Flac-In-Itunes.htm
post #8 of 23
you can mimic a basic sonos systems but once you get into stream to multiple locations with multiple audio streams or syncing of multiple locations with all the plugins it gets harder and there is no sonos replacement.
post #9 of 23
Yes, multiple streams to different locations correct. One stream to different locations with volume control, that's easily done on Airplay. Sonos is just way overpriced, to me anyways, for not great sounding equipment (until you really hit the expensive end of their line). I mean how many people really need different music playing in different locations in their house controlled by them from one app? If you wanted say different music in your kids playroom while you were having a party or something, wouldn't you just have the nanny or babysitter setup with an ipod in the playroom so they had control? Just seems like that's a feature that's only useful for a storefront or those with a mcmansion.
post #10 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by thymesi View Post

Yes, multiple streams to different locations correct. One stream to different locations with volume control, that's easily done on Airplay. Sonos is just way overpriced, to me anyways, for not great sounding equipment (until you really hit the expensive end of their line). I mean how many people really need different music playing in different locations in their house controlled by them from one app? If you wanted say different music in your kids playroom while you were having a party or something, wouldn't you just have the nanny or babysitter setup with an ipod in the playroom so they had control? Just seems like that's a feature that's only useful for a storefront or those with a mcmansion.

I think if you actually compared setting up an airplay system using airplay enabled speakers ot a sonos system you'd find the costs quite comparable.

Used mac mini = $80.00
Sonos Bridge = Free - You don't really need this, I just included it for comparison sake.

Airplay ready speakers at the mac store = $200.00-$800.00
Sonos Speakers = $200.00-$600.00

Yes, there are other ways to setup airplay, but they're clunky and require some sort of speaker setup. This is the only one to one comparison.

Sonos can use airplay ans supports itunes as a source.

Don't knock multizone. We hardly live in a McMansion, but being able to listen to different audio in different rooms is a huge bonus in our house. It lets my wife listen to music while I listen to Sportsradio via iheartradio. We're out in the boonies, so iheartradio is one way we get "local" broadcasts.

Sonos has much better support (IMO) for households that either don't have any ios devices, or like our house have a mix of devices.
post #11 of 23
I agree with Sonos helping with non ios device households or mixed but I disagree with the airplay speaker price comparison (airport express' allow your existing great sounding stereo equipment and many media streamers like my Boxee Box added it via a simple firmware update).
post #12 of 23
If you already have an IOS household then go airplay but if you do not I would turn to sonos before going airplay route myself. I have had my sonos system for years now and love it and its money well spent.
post #13 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by thymesi View Post

I agree with Sonos helping with non ios device households or mixed but I disagree with the airplay speaker price comparison (airport express' allow your existing great sounding stereo equipment and many media streamers like my Boxee Box added it via a simple firmware update).

Bah - last post was borked by flash crashing. Nutshell then:

The comparison is valid. Sonos is intended to be used as a wireless speaker system. I compared it to Airplay + Airplay speakers. The prices came from the Apple Store.
I'm aware there are other ways to use airplay, which I stated.
I'm also aware that you can connect Airport devices to your AVR and use your great sounding stereo. You can do this with the Sonos Connect, or you can connect speakers directly to the Sonos Connect Amp.

You're absolutely right on one point, relatively speaking Sonos is not as cheap as modding a Boxee or using an Airport Express. What you're paying for the is the software, the built in Sonos wireless network, and most importantly the ability to stream different things to different speakers. I realize you don't think this is a big deal, just trust me on this one. Multiple streams is to home audio as the Harmony remote is to Home Theater control. Once you have it, it's hard to go back. If my wife ever leaves me I'm pretty convinced she'll leave me the house and walk off with the Sonos and the Harmony. tongue.gif
post #14 of 23
I'm going to give you guys some Plex Advantages to argue :

1) Use what ever server you want... PC/Mac/Linux
2) Use whatever client you want (Android, Google TV, Windows, Mac)
3) Stream to multiple devices at once.
4) It's cheap... server is free, app prices are minimal
5) You are not tied to a hardware vendor... use bluetooth, airplay, dlna, hardwired etc. whatever you want.
6) It does video streaming as well.
7) If you want to, you can share a connection to your plex server to friends and family outside your house. This requires some network tweaking and a dns provider like no-ip.org.
9) Spend as much or as little as you want on amps/speakers.

I have 3 Galaxy Tab 2 7" tablets. They have a Wolfson dac, and great audio quality when using a dock... They can also stream music from Pandora, Google Music, Spotify etc. My kid has an iHome in his room with an old ipad. My LG google TV has Plex also... used mostly for video collection.

The main downsides :

1) For best results, your music should be well tagged and have covers. I don't use it with an iTunes library, but I assume it will pick up covers from there if you do.
2) Video's playback best when the device supports the format, if the server has to re-encode things can get choppy if it is not powerful enough to keep up.
3) You need to pay for a "Plex Pass" to get the latest and greatest feature (currently $75 lifetime). I get along fine without Plex Pass, but others may want it.
4) I didn't investigate remote software, Each "zone" needs to be controlled by the device in each room in my case. If the device has a remote (ihome in my case) it can change tracks and volume, but not browse the collection etc.


If money is no option, and you want an easy setup, Sonos is great. If you are cost conscious, and don't want to be tied to a hardware vendor... check out Plex.
post #15 of 23
^^ you lose out on the ability to sync every player to the same music for whole house playback though as i dont think plex supports that.
post #16 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by SeanU View Post

I'm going to give you guys some Plex Advantages to argue :

1) Use what ever server you want... PC/Mac/Linux
2) Use whatever client you want (Android, Google TV, Windows, Mac)
3) Stream to multiple devices at once.
4) It's cheap... server is free, app prices are minimal
5) You are not tied to a hardware vendor... use bluetooth, airplay, dlna, hardwired etc. whatever you want.
6) It does video streaming as well.
7) If you want to, you can share a connection to your plex server to friends and family outside your house. This requires some network tweaking and a dns provider like no-ip.org.
9) Spend as much or as little as you want on amps/speakers.

I have 3 Galaxy Tab 2 7" tablets. They have a Wolfson dac, and great audio quality when using a dock... They can also stream music from Pandora, Google Music, Spotify etc. My kid has an iHome in his room with an old ipad. My LG google TV has Plex also... used mostly for video collection.

The main downsides :

1) For best results, your music should be well tagged and have covers. I don't use it with an iTunes library, but I assume it will pick up covers from there if you do.
2) Video's playback best when the device supports the format, if the server has to re-encode things can get choppy if it is not powerful enough to keep up.
3) You need to pay for a "Plex Pass" to get the latest and greatest feature (currently $75 lifetime). I get along fine without Plex Pass, but others may want it.
4) I didn't investigate remote software, Each "zone" needs to be controlled by the device in each room in my case. If the device has a remote (ihome in my case) it can change tracks and volume, but not browse the collection etc.


If money is no option, and you want an easy setup, Sonos is great. If you are cost conscious, and don't want to be tied to a hardware vendor... check out Plex.

This is a great way to do it, we have a plex server as well. I love the way it works with the Samsung TV we have in our bedroom, and the remote play feature is a huge bonus when I travel. But the cost of doing a mutlroom setup with plex +tablets/docks/speakers really isn't much better even if you buy everything used.

Used GT2 7.0 - $105.00 is the cheapest price on swappa.
Dock - $20.00
Powered speakers - $35.00 - just an est. for something tolerable.

Sonos Play 1 - $199.00 - Just to compare to cheap powered speakers.

$#4 on your downsides is a big drawback once you get used to managing everything on your phone.
post #17 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SeanU View Post

I'm going to give you guys some Plex Advantages to argue :

1) Use what ever server you want... PC/Mac/Linux
2) Use whatever client you want (Android, Google TV, Windows, Mac)
3) Stream to multiple devices at once.
4) It's cheap... server is free, app prices are minimal
5) You are not tied to a hardware vendor... use bluetooth, airplay, dlna, hardwired etc. whatever you want.
6) It does video streaming as well.
7) If you want to, you can share a connection to your plex server to friends and family outside your house. This requires some network tweaking and a dns provider like no-ip.org.
9) Spend as much or as little as you want on amps/speakers.

I have 3 Galaxy Tab 2 7" tablets. They have a Wolfson dac, and great audio quality when using a dock... They can also stream music from Pandora, Google Music, Spotify etc. My kid has an iHome in his room with an old ipad. My LG google TV has Plex also... used mostly for video collection.

The main downsides :

1) For best results, your music should be well tagged and have covers. I don't use it with an iTunes library, but I assume it will pick up covers from there if you do.
2) Video's playback best when the device supports the format, if the server has to re-encode things can get choppy if it is not powerful enough to keep up.
3) You need to pay for a "Plex Pass" to get the latest and greatest feature (currently $75 lifetime). I get along fine without Plex Pass, but others may want it.
4) I didn't investigate remote software, Each "zone" needs to be controlled by the device in each room in my case. If the device has a remote (ihome in my case) it can change tracks and volume, but not browse the collection etc.


If money is no option, and you want an easy setup, Sonos is great. If you are cost conscious, and don't want to be tied to a hardware vendor... check out Plex.

Thanks for the info.
This might be a good idea for me since I use XBMC for my movies and TV shows.

I would consider Sonos and have. Its not so much the money issue but supported files. Right now Sonos supports what I own but if I want to get into 24bit music it doesn't support it. So this is why I'm looking at other options.
post #18 of 23
If you are already using XBMC, checkout the X-Squeeze plugin. The plugin and LMS software are free so you can try it out to see if it meets your needs. You aren't out anything and can move on to another system if it isn't for you. I have it on my XBMC setups and it works great. You get local and synced control. It is controlled by your mobile device, the XBMC plugin, or a web interface, so your mobile devices aren't tied up. I run android and the squeezer app is free. I not sure which is the best IOS app for control. It can support 24bit/192KHz FLAC.

I started testing earlier this week with $35 Raspberry Pis as dedicated LMS clients(without XBMC), and can say they meet everything I was looking for. All I had to do was download the software to the PI and it was plug and play from there. I started a thread about my experience so far the other day, if you want more details. If you decide to go a similar route I would add a USB DAC. Total cost with powered speakers and a nice case could easily be below $150 per zone.
post #19 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Desvio View Post

If you are already using XBMC, checkout the X-Squeeze plugin. The plugin and LMS software are free so you can try it out to see if it meets your needs. You aren't out anything and can move on to another system if it isn't for you. I have it on my XBMC setups and it works great. You get local and synced control. It is controlled by your mobile device, the XBMC plugin, or a web interface, so your mobile devices aren't tied up. I run android and the squeezer app is free. I not sure which is the best IOS app for control. It can support 24bit/192KHz FLAC.

I started testing earlier this week with $35 Raspberry Pis as dedicated LMS clients(without XBMC), and can say they meet everything I was looking for. All I had to do was download the software to the PI and it was plug and play from there. I started a thread about my experience so far the other day, if you want more details. If you decide to go a similar route I would add a USB DAC. Total cost with powered speakers and a nice case could easily be below $150 per zone.

I will check out this plugin for sure. Does it use a different protocol for streaming the music?
post #20 of 23
If you are asking if it runs over your existing network, the answer is yes. It runs over ports 3483 and 9000.
If you are asking about the actual protocol specifics, I'm not so helpful. I think this is the current outline: SlimProtoTCPProtocol.

My in-laws are in town so I haven't been able to do much more testing with my setup (My wife doesn't want my stuff all over the livingroom). So, I didn't feel like I could add a detailed update to my thread. I can say that I installed The VortexBox OS on a temp laptop, and that I recommend it for running the LMS server.
post #21 of 23
I'm going to drop in late on this conversation just because I've been playing with this lately. I have no squeezebox hardware whatsoever and would prefer not to buy anything new. I've got a couple of airplay speakers, and a couple of Airport Express routers hooked to other existing sound equipment. As-is, I can play anything from iTunes on my PC to any combination of rooms. But since I've started using Spotify more and more, I didn't have any way to distribute that or other online sources to multiple rooms. Streaming from my phone was workable, but I often experienced dropouts moving from place to place in my house.

So I thought i'd try out the Squeezebox method... I've currently got the Logitech Media Server installed on my desktop, linked to my Pandora, Spotify, and other online accounts.

I also installed SoftSqueeze on the same desktop computer to act as a player.

Then I installed Airfoil on that computer as well, to allow distribution of system audio to my various Airplay targets. It turns out, I can lock Airfoil to the output of one application, like SoftSqueeze, so only the audio from that app is sent out over airplay. Other system audio still goes out through the computer speakers or headphones, while the squeezebox output continues doing its thing.

With one of the many available android/iphone remotes, I can now use a single app to access my local and online music, and play it IN SYNC throughout my house and out on my patio. Airfoil offers a remote app for iOS also that lets me control the assignment and relative volume of airplay targets.

As for running multiple sources to different rooms, I also have at least two XBMC devices that I could put the X-Squeeze plugin on, and assign different audio sources to those. Haven't messed with it yet, my house is too small to care much about listening to different music in different rooms, but I'll probably try it out for playing different audio outside the house. Another option is to use something like iPeng on any iOS device or SqueezePlayer on Android to make additional Squeezebox targets. If you've got a dock speaker or just plug into an aux input, that would also work. I tried this last night with my iPhone as a playback device and it also worked great.

In any case, I'm REALLY pleased with the results, and it gives me about 99% of what I'd hope to get out of a Sonos system for a fraction the cost, using mostly free software and hardware that I already have. It's not AS idiot-proof as the Sonos system, but I'm going to introduce it to my wife and see how she does. Once the setup is taken care of, it really should be pretty simple. Planning to dedicate my Nexus 7 tablet as a main system remote and use iPhone/iPad apps as supplemental remotes.
post #22 of 23
Nice job! I haven't used Squeezeplay, but I'm a big ipeng fan, haven't tried the new version though. ipeng is a great interface for setting up playlists, controlling all your players, etc. I'm keeping my old idevices to use as players if my SB hardware dies at some point. I have my Touch running digitally into my main system, playing hi-res Flacs, sounds great, listening to it right now.
Just got a Harmony Smart Remote last week when my URC died and I can now turn on my system, change the input to the SB and control volume from anywhere in my wifi network using my phone. With that and ipeng I've got total control.
post #23 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by kneedragger View Post


Thanks for the info.
This might be a good idea for me since I use XBMC for my movies and TV shows.

I would consider Sonos and have. Its not so much the money issue but supported files. Right now Sonos supports what I own but if I want to get into 24bit music it doesn't support it. So this is why I'm looking at other options.


So you want 24bit streaming support, plus multiroom and synchronized play on multiple speakers, we do have such a product and the prototype is working, check out the youtube video for a demo:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGNbsT4_Jr4

 

We are currently developing a small streaming device which can be plugged into the 30pin iPod dock (later generation), and 3.5mm stereo line-out with USB power to work with any speaker/receiver. We aim to retail it under $50 for 16bit DAC analogue version, and under $80 for 24bit/192kHz Digital output version. Our technology supports FLAC/ALAC lossless format and usual MP3/AAC/Ogg/Wav etc. The product will be available in a few months.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
AVS › AVS Forum › Gaming & Content Streaming › Networking, Media Servers & Content Streaming › Any DIY to mimic a Sonos system?