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post #1 of 20 Old 06-12-2019, 11:07 AM - Thread Starter
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Please help: streaming music through the house

I’m trying to do something that I think is fairly easy, but I can’t find good solutions, and I feel like I’m taking crazy pills at times. Sorry in advance for the length.

I have all my music stored on my PC. I normally use iTunes to organize/listen, but I’m open to using another program if it would help. I have two Apple Airport Expresses in two different rooms. One is connected to my entertainment center soundbar (via RCA I think), the other is connected to a mini amp which is then connected to two floor speaker. I use AirPlay to stream music from iTunes to one or both of these (or neither if I’m just using my PC speakers or headphones). This seems like a good setup except the AirPorts will often just go missing and the process to get them completely re-setup is painful. It’s also a product Apple isn’t really developing, and the Airport Utility app for Windows is painful (not surprising). I’m not looking to stream any internet music, don’t need/want any voice controlled devices, and I already use Plex to get my movies and shows from my PC to my TV. I would love to be able to use an app on my iPhone to control things (which I can usually do with iTunes).

So, now I need a new method to get music from my PC to these two rooms. Here’s what I have so far for options:
1: run wires from my PC to these two rooms. I’ve read that I can’t just run super long aux cables from PC output as it will introduce a lot of noise. What are some other cable options and what would I need to convert everything properly? I really want some kind of switch at my computer so that I can pick A and/or B and/or C (PC, soundbar, floor speakers) depending on which places I want the music to play.
2: some kind of wireless device. I’m thinking 2 ChromeCasts based on price, and then trying to figure out which app/program I would need to use to send music two them. Can’t afford Sonos speakers around the house (and I don’t think they have anything that can “add” Sonos to my speakers). Any other devices?
3: running Ethernet to the two rooms is an option (soundbar is right next to my cable modem and network switch, and I can find a way to run it the other room with my mini amp/floor speakers). Don’t know if there’s even any device that would work with Ethernet, but it’s an option nonetheless.

I keep ending up with schematics of an HDMI cable, running to a splitter, running to 2 HDMI switches, running to an HDMI to RCA adapter, etc. etc. etc. which seem way too complicated.


I hope I’m overlooking an easy and elegant solution. Thanks so much!
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post #2 of 20 Old 06-12-2019, 02:02 PM
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They make a Sonos Connect. Not sure if it has the output you need and it is not that cheap. It work well. Just not cheap.

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post #3 of 20 Old 06-12-2019, 05:58 PM
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I can think of a few options. First and easiest is the Chromecast Audio - if you can find one. These are great little devices that Google unfortunately discontinued. You could install Plex server on your PC with the music and then just cast the music to the Chromecasts via your phone running the Plex app. The Audios have a 3.5mm out that you would attach to your sound bar and mini amp via a 3.5mm to rca adaptor. You will just have to look on the secondary market for them since they are discontinued. The second would be using the regular Chromecast HDMI dongle and some HDMI audio extractors like this one https://www.amazon.com/Musou-Extract...-1-spons&psc=1 You would need one for each device but they should work to feed the audio into your amps. The only issue that I have had with Plex is that when I last looked into it they did not support gap less playback of your music. It’s fine for most album listening but is really annoying listening to live albums. There maybe another program other than Plex that can serve up your local music gaplessly to the Chromecast that I am not aware of so something to consider.

Finally, I am a big fan of the discontinued Squeezebox system. You can create an excellent multi room sound system with some Raspberry Pi computers and cheap USB DACs. If you can download a disc image and write it to a micro SD card then you can set up a server and music player system that can handle all of your local music and internet radio and music services easily. You could then control it all easily from your phone. Take a look here for more info https://www.picoreplayer.org/


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post #4 of 20 Old 06-13-2019, 06:39 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by function12 View Post
They make a Sonos Connect. Not sure if it has the oput you need and it is not that cheap. It work well. Just not cheap.
Yikes, you weren't kidding. That was what I was looking for, but out of my price range currently. Thought it might be a simple dongle or something. Thanks!
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post #5 of 20 Old 06-13-2019, 06:48 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by usc1995 View Post
I can think of a few options. First and easiest is the Chromecast Audio - if you can find one. These are great little devices that Google unfortunately discontinued. You could install Plex server on your PC with the music and then just cast the music to the Chromecasts via your phone running the Plex app. The Audios have a 3.5mm out that you would attach to your sound bar and mini amp via a 3.5mm to rca adaptor. You will just have to look on the secondary market for them since they are discontinued. The second would be using the regular Chromecast HDMI dongle and some HDMI audio extractors like this one https://www.amazon.com/Musou-Extract...-1-spons&psc=1 You would need one for each device but they should work to feed the audio into your amps. The only issue that I have had with Plex is that when I last looked into it they did not support gap less playback of your music. It’s fine for most album listening but is really annoying listening to live albums. There maybe another program other than Plex that can serve up your local music gaplessly to the Chromecast that I am not aware of so something to consider.

Finally, I am a big fan of the discontinued Squeezebox system. You can create an excellent multi room sound system with some Raspberry Pi computers and cheap USB DACs. If you can download a disc image and write it to a micro SD card then you can set up a server and music player system that can handle all of your local music and internet radio and music services easily. You could then control it all easily from your phone. Take a look here for more info https://www.picoreplayer.org/


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Thanks for the help! I am starting to lean toward ChromeCast, just for ease of use. I'm a little hesitant to get the audio version, just because it's not supported anymore and I'm worried it will slowly lose support and functionality. But for the price, it might be worth it, but the regulars are not very expensive. 2 Chromecasts and 2 HDMI converters (or 1 if I want to use my TV to pass through to the soundbar) is probably cheapest and quickest. I may start with Plex, or get Amoeba Airfoil, which looks to be able to choose the input (iTunes or another program) and the output (either or both Chromes).

Any idea if Plex can be controlled from the PC where I store all my media? The kids like to turn music on and they don't have phones. If I open Plex on my PC can I then tell it to play on speakers A and/or B? If only ever "pulled" a movie to my TV from the TV Plex app. Guess I could also use the Plex app on the TV for music, but then I'm thinking I wouldn't also tell it to play in my other room? (I don't think the is really the intent behind Plex, but I haven't gotten that deep into it).

Either this, or running HDMI from my extra GPU output to two HDMI extractors, but then I have to have a way to switch them off, so they are not always playing what's going on in my PC. So that's more steps...

Anyway, thanks again for the help! You can probably tell from my ramblings that this is consuming way too much of my time!
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post #6 of 20 Old 06-13-2019, 08:44 AM
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I assume you can use the Plex program on your PC with the music to initiate playback on your Plex renderers but I have not really tried that yet. You could test this yourself with the program on your PC and your TV’s built in Plex app. I am also not sure about synchronized playback in more than one location but you could take your Chromecast questions to this thread and I am sure they could help https://www.avsforum.com/forum/36-ho...n-project.html


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post #7 of 20 Old 06-13-2019, 10:49 AM
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The ordinary CCAs are cheap and high performing and will not get left behind as they contain the same technology as many licensed speakers, etc...
(I read somewhere that the DAC is not as good on the HDMI version, but I really do not know for sure).
You can of course have one of each too.

Would like to point you to a nice piece of free SW if Plex does not manage to cast natively: https://github.com/SamDel/ChromeCast...Audio-Streamer
Your two zones can be selected separately or synchronized.
There is an inevitable buffering time, but if you select WAV format, it is very short.

I have fiddled a bit with it to extend my wired system with a wireless zone. A cheaper alternative to this kind of equipment: https://audioengineusa.com/component...ess-adapaters/

Last edited by Bobone; 06-13-2019 at 03:06 PM.
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post #8 of 20 Old 06-13-2019, 11:09 AM
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I'm a Sonos guy and haven't been happier. That being said, I have spent thousands of dollars for background music . . .

Have you looked into Amazon Echo's? I know they have a poor man's multiroom audio. Not as robust as Sonos, but I know a lot of people who enjoy them. I think the Echo even has audio output that you could feed into a soundbar or anything with a 3.5mm jack.

A friend of mine does this with a few Echo's and some old speakers. Another coworker of mine just has a couple Alexas's he cranks up for that purpose.

Google's version might do the same thing; i've never used them though.
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post #9 of 20 Old 06-13-2019, 11:18 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by usc1995 View Post
I assume you can use the Plex program on your PC with the music to initiate playback on your Plex renderers but I have not really tried that yet. You could test this yourself with the program on your PC and your TV’s built in Plex app. I am also not sure about synchronized playback in more than one location but you could take your Chromecast questions to this thread and I am sure they could help https://www.avsforum.com/forum/36-ho...n-project.html


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Thanks I'll play around with Plex, maybe with just a sampling of my music. Reading that other thread, sounds like 2 CCs is no problem! I would get the audios, but I'm finding they are more expensive than the newer CCs, so might just go with those. Thanks!
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post #10 of 20 Old 06-14-2019, 10:25 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Bobone View Post
The ordinary CCAs are cheap and high performing and will not get left behind as they contain the same technology as many licensed speakers, etc...
(I read somewhere that the DAC is not as good on the HDMI version, but I really do not know for sure).
You can of course have one of each too.

Would like to point you to a nice piece of free SW if Plex does not manage to cast natively: https://github.com/SamDel/ChromeCast...Audio-Streamer
Your two zones can be selected separately or synchronized.
There is an inevitable buffering time, but if you select WAV format, it is very short.

I have fiddled a bit with it to extend my wired system with a wireless zone. A cheaper alternative to this kind of equipment: https://audioengineusa.com/component...ess-adapaters/
I've read the same thing about the DAC on the CCA vs HDMI. Not sure if it's enough for me to tell a difference or not. Mainly will come down to price. The prices on the CCAs on eBay are all over the place, so I'll have to watch some auctions to see.
And I'll definitely check out that program, thanks!
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post #11 of 20 Old 06-14-2019, 10:26 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by NickTheGreat View Post
I'm a Sonos guy and haven't been happier. That being said, I have spent thousands of dollars for background music . . .

Have you looked into Amazon Echo's? I know they have a poor man's multiroom audio. Not as robust as Sonos, but I know a lot of people who enjoy them. I think the Echo even has audio output that you could feed into a soundbar or anything with a 3.5mm jack.

A friend of mine does this with a few Echo's and some old speakers. Another coworker of mine just has a couple Alexas's he cranks up for that purpose.

Google's version might do the same thing; i've never used them though.
Yes, if I had the money, I would just get some Sonoses (Soni?) and be done with it. But then I might not be allowed in the house to actually listen to the music. I'll also check out Echos, didn't know they had audio output, I just assumed they were all stand alone.

Thanks!
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post #12 of 20 Old 06-14-2019, 11:17 AM
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The echo dots have the line out and they are cheap. The only issue I have with them is I am not sure how to stream local music with them only internet streaming services. I have an echo dot plugged into a powered speaker in my master bath that I use for the news and shower tunes in the morning getting ready. It’s great and really easy to use. Most of what I listen to is on Spotify so I can ask Alexa to play most of what I want to hear. However, I have a large collection of live bootlegs on my server I haven’t figured out how to play via Alexa yet...


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post #13 of 20 Old 06-14-2019, 12:35 PM
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I have lots of Sonos (amps, play1s, and connect). Definately not the cheapest but my wife can operate it very easily. That was worth the price.
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post #14 of 20 Old 06-14-2019, 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by blip View Post
Yes, if I had the money, I would just get some Sonoses (Soni?) and be done with it. But then I might not be allowed in the house to actually listen to the music. I'll also check out Echos, didn't know they had audio output, I just assumed they were all stand alone.

Thanks!
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Originally Posted by usc1995 View Post
The echo dots have the line out and they are cheap. The only issue I have with them is I am not sure how to stream local music with them only internet streaming services. I have an echo dot plugged into a powered speaker in my master bath that I use for the news and shower tunes in the morning getting ready. It’s great and really easy to use. Most of what I listen to is on Spotify so I can ask Alexa to play most of what I want to hear. However, I have a large collection of live bootlegs on my server I haven’t figured out how to play via Alexa yet...


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The other thing I don't know about the Echo dot approach is the true multi-room ability of it. On Sonos, I can have something different playing on each speaker in the house. I think the Echo will, but not 100% sure.

Also not sure how easy it is to get an Aux input to the system. Or TV sound. I really like having the TV sound playing around the house.

But the Echo dot may do 75% of what you want for 25% of the price.
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post #15 of 20 Old 06-14-2019, 01:49 PM
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1: run wires from my PC to these two rooms. I’ve read that I can’t just run super long aux cables from PC output as it will introduce a lot of noise. What are some other cable options and what would I need to convert everything properly? I really want some kind of switch at my computer so that I can pick A and/or B and/or C (PC, soundbar, floor speakers) depending on which places I want the music to play.
Do you know how bad is that? I have long RCA cables.

If you could run wires, you could consider HTD (https://www.htd.com/Products/Whole-H...le-house-audio). If I understand correctly, you need MC-66 Multi-Zone Controller and GW-SL1 Smart Gateway (or WGW-SL1 Smart Gateway, wireless version). With these two you can use your phone to control which zones to turn on/off (soundbar, floor speaker), volume, etc. I have a similar setup and it works great.

But I agree with usc1995 that chromecast is probably the best solution for your situation. I also agree with you getting chromecast with HDMI extractor is probably better than the audio version. I heard Google added the group functionality to chromecast. A perk with non audio version is that you can listen to any youtube videos.
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post #16 of 20 Old 06-14-2019, 02:13 PM
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The other thing I don't know about the Echo dot approach is the true multi-room ability of it. On Sonos, I can have something different playing on each speaker in the house. I think the Echo will, but not 100% sure.



Also not sure how easy it is to get an Aux input to the system. Or TV sound. I really like having the TV sound playing around the house.



But the Echo dot may do 75% of what you want for 25% of the price.


You can easily have Alexa play different things around the house as each echo dot is basically standalone unless you synchronize them to play the same thing all over. That is easy too as outlined here https://www.theverge.com/2017/8/29/1...layback-how-to

Aux in is still missing so this is not the solution if you are looking to play TV or your vinyl records throughout the house but for all other digital content you should be able to work it with the echos. Oh and this is 75% of Sonos functionality for 10% of the cost as an echo dot can be had for $35 vs $350 for the Sonos Connect


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post #17 of 20 Old 06-15-2019, 12:51 AM
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'I hope I’m overlooking an easy and elegant solution' - not overlooking just ignoring

Notice the folk with SONOS simply talk about it doing a great job, being reliable and being simple to use - no talk that it may do this, it may do that, you may be able to use this that and the other app.

If you want hassle free go SONOS - you can always get a couple of CONNECT or CONNECT AMP on 100-Day trial and return them if you don't like them.

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post #18 of 20 Old 06-15-2019, 02:32 AM
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We may indeed be overlooking the easiest solution: a very long drill bit!

I dare to say that within most houses, very few “long” distances are a real sound quality problem.
Especially if you can reduce length through walls, ceilings or both at the same time. It’s even a good way to hide cables.

I have sharpened a metal rod to a 2m long drill bit to get the job done. Has saved me a few times!

Why don’t you lay out some simple cable on the floor and test if you can hear any distortion? I bet that you cannot.

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post #19 of 20 Old 06-15-2019, 11:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blip View Post
I've read the same thing about the DAC on the CCA vs HDMI. Not sure if it's enough for me to tell a difference or not. Mainly will come down to price. The prices on the CCAs on eBay are all over the place, so I'll have to watch some auctions to see.

And I'll definitely check out that program, thanks!


There is a nice discount on a pair of Chromecasts at the “best” big box electronics retailer right now. Now is a good time to buy them if you haven’t already.


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post #20 of 20 Old 06-17-2019, 06:23 AM - Thread Starter
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There is a nice discount on a pair of Chromecasts at the “best” big box electronics retailer right now. Now is a good time to buy them if you haven’t already.


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Thanks! Just ordered! Hope this will be a good solution. I will report back. And thanks to everyone else for all the suggestions!
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