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BillB
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Apple based music server - keep it simple for me

This Computer Audio forum is excellent stuff written by technically knowledgeable people. So - now for something completely different!
I have a recent model iMac and to start me on the road to a "music server" system, I want to do something simple. I have:
1. Just the one computer in the house, on the upper/bedroom level (running iTunes);
2. A modest stereo in family room;
3. The main stereo in basement "music room".

To start me out for a wireless server thing, should I just get what I think is called Apple Airport Express, and plug those into the 2 stereos? Will the iMac transmit to those - or do I need to add on something now to the iMac?

Such a setup should work, but I could only control the music selections if I go to the upstairs computer. Short of getting another iMac or apple laptop, is there a way to get a "controller" into the system so I could control music selections from the rooms with the stereos?

Want to avoid a separate DAC for now if I can. Will appreciate advice.

CharlyD
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Re: Apple based music server - keep it simple for me

I'd suggest two pairs of the Squeezebox Receiver/Controller combo. The SqueezeCenter server software will run on your iMac and can deliver content to both receivers independently. You'll also need a wireless base station (e.g. AirPort Extreme) to establish a wireless network. The controller gives a very nice user interface and you can play different tunes at each location.

As you suspected, the AirPort Express has no user interface and must be controlled from the server (your upstairs iMac).

BillB
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Re: Apple based music server - keep it simple for me

ok, thanks. I've heard good things about Squeezebox, but what makes you suggest that over Sonos or something else?

CharlyD
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Re: Apple based music server - keep it simple for me

The Sonos is also a great solution, but the cost to cover your two rooms would be substantially higher. Based on the specs, the performance of both systems would be very similar. The Sonos does offer a bit easier setup as no additional server software is required, and the Sonos boxes communicate over a closed, proprietary network.

BillB
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Squeezebox and Sonos won't play iTunes purchases?

I was looking into Squeezebox but learned that it won't play songs I've purchased thru iTunes (AAC files with DRM). Those songs make up, admittedly, a small percentage of my music libary, but I'd still like to hear them, and playlists that contain them, outside of my computer room. Will Sonos play DRM AAC? If not, are there other semi-simple alternatives? Thanks for your advice.

CharlyD
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Re: Squeezebox and Sonos won't play iTunes purchases?

You've discovered the nastiest can of worms (not the first metaphor that came to mind, but certainly the most polite) about networked music. In their infinite wisdom, Apple has chosen not to license their Fairplay DRM (I wince at that product name) to other vendors. If you wish to distribute tunes purchased through iTunes over a network, you're stuck with Apple products (Airport Express). Microsoft does license their DRM technologies to external vendors, and there are several download sites and component manufacturers implementing those technologies (e.g. MusicGiants and Denon). With this DRM scheme, the clients will call home over the internet to validate their license. You'll have to trust the vendor to maintain the service or your tunes will become permanently bound to your current hardware (PC or NAS).

[edit] I should mention that you can burn your protected AAC files to CD then re-rip them to mp3/wma/flac that can be played by SB or Sonos. There will likely be some sonic degradation in that process.

Ajani
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Re: Apple based music server - keep it simple for me

The best option is to get 2 airport express... and in order to control the music without having to go to the laptop, you can get an ipod touch (the new software for the ipod touch/iphone allow them to be used as remotes for your apple system)...

Info is available on apple's website

www.apple.com

OR

If your audio systems are part of a home-theatre... then you could just use apple tv...

BillB
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Re: Apple based music server - keep it simple for me

CharlyD and Ajani, excellent, thank you. The CD-R workaround is a good idea, and I could do that for as few or as many iTunes purchases as I choose.
The iPod touch as a remote, w/ airport express - brilliant - right now that sounds like the solution. For (for instance) the Sonos system, I saw each Controller was about $400 - and apparently would need to tote it around, or buy extras for each room with a networked stereo. the $300 iPod touch would be more portable if I had just one, and if inclined to get 2 then I would have one per stereo at a better price than Sonos system. (plus I would have more iPods!)

CharlyD
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Re: Apple based music server - keep it simple for me

I didn't know the iTunes-Remote application existed, and I agree - the solution is brilliant! Apple wins the innovation game again! Somebody has got to make such functionality available on open systems e.g. DLNA!!!!

Ajani
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Re: Apple based music server - keep it simple for me

Yeah, I only found out about the remote feature this week.. it's pretty new... and a brilliant move by apple... since the Sonos remote and even the new Remote for the Squezebox Duet are essentially just designed so you can access music like on an ipod, it just made so much sense for Apple to take it a step further...

CharlyD
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Re: Apple based music server - keep it simple for me

Just wanted to be sure that you understand that all Airport Express clients on your network will receive the same content. If somebody selects a new tune for boogying in the family room, the listener in the music room gets the same tune.

BillB
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Re: Apple based music server - keep it simple for me

Good point, thanks. That is different from what the other systems can do, but I think that will be fine for my purposes.

mrlowry
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Re: Squeezebox and Sonos won't play iTunes purchases?


Quote:
I was looking into Squeezebox but learned that it won't play songs I've purchased thru iTunes (AAC files with DRM). Those songs make up, admittedly, a small percentage of my music libary, but I'd still like to hear them, and playlists that contain them, outside of my computer room. Will Sonos play DRM AAC? If not, are there other semi-simple alternatives? Thanks for your advice.

If it's a really small portion what one could do IN THEORY is burn them to a CD as a Song (not data) then import that CD into iTunes. Cumbersome, a waste of space, and a waste of time to be sure but it would work.

BillB
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1 more question Re: Apple based music server - keep it simple fo

Before I proceed - would an iPod Touch work control the Airport Express if I don't otherwise have a wireless network in the house?

CharlyD
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Re: 1 more question Re: Apple based music server - keep it simpl

According to the Apple site, the iMac has 802.11n built in. You should be good to go with an Airport Express at each location where you want to stream music with control provided by iTouch players running Remote. I'd check with Apple before pulling the trigger though. Let us know how it all comes together.

BillB
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Re: 1 more question Re: Apple based music server - keep it simpl

Thanks. I think maybe tomorrow i'll be near an apple store, will question them with white hot intensity.

jazzfan
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Re: 1 more question Re: Apple based music server - keep it simpl


Quote:
Thanks. I think maybe tomorrow i'll be near an apple store, will question them with white hot intensity.

Good luck, I just hope that Apple staffs their stores with salespeople who are somewhat more knowledgeable then the sales "experts" working at many of the big box chain stores.

BillB
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Re: 1 more question Re: Apple based music server - keep it simpl

My experience so far at Apple retail stores is that their young staff is MILES ahead of the usual retail staff. They're knowledgeable and efficient and friendly. And they hand you off personally to someone who knows more on a topic if you need it.

I didn't get to their store today, as it turns out. Out doing healthier things. Maybe next wknd.

BillB
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Am rockin w/ AirTunes

Picked up an Airport Express and set it up today. I like it! Am playing a playlist into the living/family room wirelessly via wireless like magic without wires. Nice. Am edging into this - next step is to get the iPod Touch and add the Remote function to it. But in the meantime it's great to put my playlist on shuffle and entertain the living area through a decent stereo.
This meets my criteria for keeping it simple, too.

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