I’ve been on a quest for some time to find a solution to the whole home audio question. Whole home audio refers to the ability to have my digital music accessible and playing throughout the house. In my case, I’d like to be able to stream music from my ipod or computer to my home stereos – not one, but many sets of auxiliary speakers.
There are numerous whole home audio systems on the market, but they are expensive. I figured there must be a hack or workaround out there somewhere. I couldn’t be the first one wanting such a solution.
I tried a product last year at our Channukah party. It was made by Creative…I think it was called the XFi or Xmod (an older version of this wireless receiver). It was a wireless device that broadcast from your computer to a receiver attached to your stereo. Each had remote controls that could advance the playlist and adjust the volume. This was cool, but the thing crapped out during the party. So I took advantage of the 30 day return policy and dumped it back at Best Buy.
This year, I discovered that BB had started manufacturing its own wireless device under the Rocketfish brand. The Rocketfish Wireless Media Player seemed to be everything I wanted. At $70 a pop, I figured three of them would distribute music through the house. These little babies act as broadcaster or receiver with the flick of a switch on the back. So one sits at your computer and broadcasts to others at your stereo(s) and you have wirelessly distributed music through the house.
Unfortunately, I was forced to abandon this plan after a painful attempt to order online from BB. In the end, it was easier to find another solution than to buy the darn things from BB.
The alternative presented to me was Apple’s Airport Express. Similar to the Rocketfish product, the Airport Express distributes the music wirelessly, but since it is an Apple product (and Apple appears to be vying to be the new Microsoft) it only works with iTunes. Within these constrictions, the Airports work like a charm – so far. They install fairly easily and they work nicely, piggybacking on your existing wireless network or creating a new one for you. I hate to say it, but Apple has a nice product here.
For now, we have three set up – one in the piano room, one in the TV room and one in the dining room (with new powered standalone speakers) – just in time for the big party Saturday night. The units can easily relocate anywhere in the house, including in the backyard in the summer.
Drop me a note if you want more details on how to set one of these networks up in your place.