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AVForums Multi Room discussion thread

Discussion in 'Streamers & Network Music Players' started by amcluesent, Nov 1, 2009.

  1. amcluesent

    amcluesent Moderator

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    As more people want this, am creating a single thread for discussion about configuring network music players for multi-room or multi-zone systems.
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2009
  2. dirtybarrys

    dirtybarrys Member

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    I've hunted around the forum but couldn't find the answer for my own situation.

    I have speakers in various rooms wired back to a central room which can be selected by pressing a button on a control unit.



    I have an old type Sony Midi system with an Ipod connected currently and it works fine. I would ideally like to have some way of remotely selecting music tracks in any of the rooms. I have wired blanking plates in each of the rooms where there are speakers but I didn't want to go to the expense of having controllers in every room.

    Is there a controller that could connect with the wireless connection in a lap top for example?

    I appreciate this is probably very basic but then so is my knowledge in this area. Thanks in advance for anyones help!
  3. daniel86

    daniel86 Member

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    Hi Guys,

    I need a little advice with a project in mind and don't have loads of cash to spend on expensive pre-built multi zone audio systems.

    Project details:

    Build a multi zone(room) audio system with speakers in each room. People must be able to change tracks/input source for each zone via a pc/webadmin. Ideally a pc running windows/linux needs to be used for this with multiple sound cards if required. Unfortunently I can''t get everything I want ideally but thats life.

    Any advice? I have looked at various software but its either really expensive or does half the job. I see there are a few forum posts about this. I wonder if anyone has built a system similiar to what I have explained above.

    Daniel
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2009
  4. coolio107

    coolio107 Member

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    Go Squeezebox or Sonos. Anything else will finally disappoint you.
    If Budget is a priority, Squeezebox is the better (cheaper) solution, a receiver may not be that much more expensive than a sound card.
  5. daniel86

    daniel86 Member

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    Thanks for your reply. I'll take a look into these.

    Daniel
  6. Joe Fernand

    Joe Fernand Active Member Assured Advertiser

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    Don't do it :)

    Unless your running a one man charitable organisation your going to waste a gazillion hours trying the achieve what can easily be achieved with a relatively sensible budget using Sonos or Squeezebox.

    By 'Project' I assumes its a commercial endeavour???

    Joe
  7. daniel86

    daniel86 Member

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    Joe,

    Its not a commercial project. I have looked into systems such as squeezebox/sonos and its alot of money for what it is.
  8. Joe Fernand

    Joe Fernand Active Member Assured Advertiser

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    Its hard to get across to folk that the functionality you get with Sonos, Squeezebox etc is down to millions of $$$ of development and support time and you cant achieve that for 2.50 GBP - if you could the Tech Savvy guys who frequent these Forums would all be doing it!!!

    Buy a single Sonos or Squeezebox 'line out' Zone Player plus a Controller and wire that into your Midi system - once you get that up and running you can think about the need (or not) for additional Zone Players to enable different audio streams in different Zones/rooms.

    Joe
  9. wysinawyg

    wysinawyg Member

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    Do you actually want different things playing in the different rooms (proper multi-zone) or just the same thing in lots of rooms?

    The former you won't get any cheaper than a Squeezbox setup (unless you already have more than one PC you can dedicate to the task).

    The latter you can get with a few Airport Expresses and iTunes.
  10. Joe Fernand

    Joe Fernand Active Member Assured Advertiser

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    Compared with what???

    I don't get it when folk say its a lot of money - they work, they do what they say on the tin, folk enjoy using them and are they relatively pain free.

    If you want to spend many hours designing, installing and tech supporting a proprietary system fire on - I just don't get the expensive argument.

    Maybe AVForums should start a sort of 'robot wars' area for folk who want to spend there whole life trying to build something lower cost than Sonos or Squeezebox :)

    Joe
  11. coolio107

    coolio107 Member

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    C'mon. This is an internet forum. People who spend time on a forum searching for something and asking questions don't want it to "only just work". People who want that come to you and let you do it.

    Airport Express works, yet I don't think the lower cost makes up for the drawbacks (mainly single stream).

    PC-based solutions: I doubt it will work well and be cheaper and it results in much lower quality results so I don't think it's worthwhile.
  12. Joe Fernand

    Joe Fernand Active Member Assured Advertiser

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    I Know, I Know - why have a working system when you can spend half a lifetime with a nearly working system :)

    We definitely need a DIY multi room audio server/player section otherwise we get the same question over and over and over.. and no real answers.

    Joe
  13. wysinawyg

    wysinawyg Member

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    Airport Express isn't single stream (even though Apple and everyone else seem to say it is).

    Still need further work before my "Airtunes mythbusting" thread (which probably isn't going to be until after Christmas realistically) but I've done enough to confirm Airtunes isn't single stream (although an iTunes client is).

    wysi
  14. coolio107

    coolio107 Member

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    So you've never spend a whole day to build something that will save you a minute on some repeated task in the future - a task you are probably going to do 1.000 times in your life making this a really bad deal on economic terms? Shame on you :lesson:

    But in the end, this can lead to improvement. There is no _perfect_ system. Squeezebox is not perfect neither is Sonos, they are better than what you can do otherwise right now but there _is_ room for improvement.

    Squeezebox needs a server, a point that is a strength and a weakness at the same time, it gives you added features compared to Sonos, adds flexibility and reduces cost on a multiroom setup. OTOH it makes the setup more difficult, introduces potential for errors and performance lags.
    Now Logitech is bringing the SB Touch which comes with a server doing away with some of the disadvantages and at the same time doing away with some of the advantages (although you don't have to use the embedded server if you don't like)

    Sonos also is not perfect. It's expensive and in MY setup there are some hassles: I do already have WiFi, which it can't use, I don't have an AP close to any of my speakers/amps/sources so I'd need a Zone Bridge (I only use it for test purposes so wired it to my router, but it's of no real use there). Also, when I use it with my iPod touch and iPhone (which is what I do and want to do since I have a few of them), I need to use two networks. I don't know how the WiFi performance would be in my enviunment, but I do now that I can see between 15 and 25 _other_ WiFi networks in my home so spectrum _is_ an issue.
    I need to install Software to control it from a PC/Mac and I can't control it with a browser unless one PC or Mac is running as well. It's also more difficult to integrate it with other stuff.

    Nothing is perfect in this world, and if it was, it would be boring making it imperfect again :hiya:
  15. coolio107

    coolio107 Member

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    Can you do several streams with Airfoil?
    How is the UI for that on an iPhone? What do I need to try this?
  16. wysinawyg

    wysinawyg Member

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    Not sure on Airfoil, haven't downloaded it yet and that is a large part of the playing I would like to do.

    All I've done so far is a PC, a MacBook, three AEx's and a iPod Touch with Apple's Remote app.

    Boot up iTunes on both computers and make sure the iPod Touch is enabled for both of them. You then have a settings screen which lets you decide which instance of iTunes to control. Click to it then switch each of the sets of speakers (that computer and any of the three Airtunes) on or off, pick tracks etc. exactly as if there was only one instance running. Only played very briefly the other evening but seems pretty responsive.

    One caveat, you can't "steal" a set of speakers that are in use without going into the other library to switch them off, but otherwise seems to work fairly seamlessly.

    What I would love to do if I get hold of a pair of AppleTVs (as they can now act as clients themselves) is to see if you can operate them all independently. Not sure how well that will go down with SWMBO though. Will be getting at least one though so I can check you can run a MacBook and AppleTV independently.

    Also want to test running multiple instances of iTunes on the same computer. I think I can have multiple instances running as separate accounts and achieve the same thing as multiple computers.
  17. coolio107

    coolio107 Member

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    Ok, but frankly, this is not a _practical_ solution.
  18. wysinawyg

    wysinawyg Member

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    In what way?

    Particularly if it works off AppleTvs then it just means you can do multi-zone video and audio at a price which is less than a Sonos setup and probably not much more than Squeezebox.

    All with no need for NAS / server to be switched on (depending on library size).
  19. coolio107

    coolio107 Member

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    But to control it you have to switch between libraries (iTunes instances, at least) and probably you even have to have several AppleTVs. Or did I misunderstand that?
  20. wysinawyg

    wysinawyg Member

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    You have to switch between libraries but thats like two or three taps on the iPod. Sonos and Squeezebox don't manage speakers in much less than that do they? (well they could do it in one, but I'm not sure saying you need to click three times to switch round speakers is much of a chore)

    And yes going down an AppleTv route you would have one AppleTV for each zone you want, but given they are £60 cheaper than a ZP90 and do the music serving as well as video I'm not sure why that makes it impractical as compared to a Sonos system.

    Definitely that is more than the £99 a zone you need for a Squeezebox setup, but then you would have video too and no need for anything on other than the AppleTvs which are in use (so query whether it isn't fairer comparing it to the Squeezebox Touch).

    Don't get me wrong I'm sure Squeezebox and Sonos are better as a multi-zone system, but for those who are only rarely going to be using multi-zone functionality and want the iTunes integration (i.e. keeping track of podcasts and things with my iPhone) I think an Airtunes setup has more going for it than most give it credit for.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2009
  21. coolio107

    coolio107 Member

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    Yes they do. Especially since Apple Remote will load your library every time you switch it.
    On Sonos and Squeezebox (at least using an iPod touch, which compares nicely to AE) you can control all of that simultaneously, including volume.
    Well, you'd also have to sync those libraries. Believe me, working with more than one iTunes instance can drive you completely mad (as I just experienced a minute ago when iTunes uninstalled a few of my newly downloaded Apps from my iPhone when I tried to sync the calendar. One of them is 2.6 GB of data so now I'm in for an evening of reinstalling stuff. On another one I will have to re-enter all of my account data; no warnings given).

    And generally iTunes just sucks... :thumbsdow It's the single most annoying application I use, mainly for exactly this issue (and all that is involved in it) plus it's resource usage and lag of library management capabilities.

    Sorry, I'm just again very pi... off by that program right at this very moment.

    I don't need more than one instance for video, BTW, I still believe it's a big, big mistake to try to combine video and audio distribution under one hood because the use cases are so different. But I've written enough rants about this before...
  22. daniel86

    daniel86 Member

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    Hi Guys,

    I have tried casatunes which is brilliant however you need more hardware for different zones. Unfortunently you can't just have a 7.1 card with a 4 zone output setup which I have tried and it doesn't work due to the above.

    I am looking for some software which will allow 4 zone output via a 7.1 sound card that you can control via the web. However everytime I search for that type of software/keywords casatunes always appears. Of course buying an off the shelf bit of kit is the solution however its near christmas so funds aren't availible and things can be done other ways.

    I have a few ideas on how todo this and it may not be using software like casatunes for example. I'm sure I'll figure it out.

    Cheers

    Daniel
  23. Autopilot

    Autopilot Active Member

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    For the record, the makers of Air Foil (Rogue Amoeba) recently announced they are going to stop iPhone development due to getting ****** of with Apples app approval process. Which is a shame for iPhone users of this great little app. Not that i am a huge fan of the Apple airport, but it does improve on it.
  24. mannys_av

    mannys_av Member

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    Hi

    I'm hoping someone can help - i need to send audio to multiple rooms from one amplifier. To do this - is it best to hard wire the speaker cables from the amp to the individual rooms? Or is it better to use wireless speakers?

    I dont need anything fancy like a sonos system - it needs to be as cheap as possible. It will always be the same rooms that the audio needs to go to and these wont ever change. However, getting the wiring to the rooms is quite complicated hence the advise reqd on the wireless option as well.

    The distance from the amp to the furthest room is approx 60m and there are a number of walls before you get to the last room as well

    ANy advice will be great

    THanks
  25. adamdavi3s

    adamdavi3s Member

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    Hi Guys,

    Basically at the moment I have no system in place at all.

    My current hardware is-

    AV amp / tv / speakers in lounge

    AV amp / tv / speakers in bedroom

    Wireless network

    Ipod Touch



    I would like-

    Audio and Video in the Lounge and Bedroom

    Audio in the kitchen

    I know of the sonos / squeezebox debate and if I just wanted audo I could just get a NAS (but which) and either 2 sonos zp90 and a zp120 (for the kitchen) or 2 squeezebox duets and a boom for the kitchen or do I get a touch and no NAS and 1 duet and 1 boom?

    either way I am aware I can use the touch as a remote.

    However video somewhat complicates things?!

    I was thinking of maybe just getting three ipod AV docks and a 80gb classic to hold all my music and video, then just taking the ipod around with me, but this will be a problem if I want music on in more than one room.


    any ideas or suggestions?!?!?!?!
  26. coolio107

    coolio107 Member

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    Yep. Forget about integrating with video. Use cases are different.
    Take Sonos or Squeezebox for audio. Both are good and perfectly controllable with your iTouch.
    Use the NAS for storage, including video.
    Control video from where you watch it.
  27. adamdavi3s

    adamdavi3s Member

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    Hmmm ok

    But then how do I get video from the NAS to my various TV's ? I have no knowledge in this area!!
  28. coolio107

    coolio107 Member

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    Ah, my bad, was assuming "AV amp" meant "AV receiver".
    You'd need an AV receiver.
    ...
    I have no knowledge in THAT area, too :)
  29. nacmacfeegle

    nacmacfeegle Active Member

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    Adam, for video, you will have to ask the nice folks here about video streaming..
    Streamers & Network Media Players - AVForums.com

    Look for Popcorn Hour, Xtreamer, WDTV, and many others, all are wee boxes that plug into your network and TV and deliver video. Most are actually capable of streaming music as well, but they don't do it particularly well, and as Coolio says the usage models are different.

    Sonos and Squeezies can both be controlled via the ipod touch, I'm not sure about any of the video boxes, but I dare say it must be possible as they are networked.
  30. neilball

    neilball Active Member

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    Video streamers by definition usually have an on-screen gui which is displayed on the TV and allows control of the content to be streamed over the network.

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