(310) 621-5679 john@noproblemmac.com

How would you like to have direct access to all your music from any room in the house?

If you’re willing to do a little legwork, it’s pretty inexpensive, and if you can read… it’s not that complex.

How This All Began

I worked with a number of clients recently who had Sonos. Sonos lets you play music in different areas of your home using wireless speakers.

Everything can be controlled using an iPhone or iPad.

Sonos Wireless Sound System

The sound quality is great and the basic package is reasonably priced, but:

  • As you add more speakers it gets expensive. The basic price for two wireless speakers is $398.00 before tax.
  • Sonos use their own software, so you won’t hear sound from your wireless speakers when you play Netflix, Apple Trailers, or Apple Movies.

After playing with the Sonos, I went home and brooded… then I remembered something.

The Airport Express

Apples Airport Express has an analog/optical audio output that can stream music from any Mac, iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch that’s on the same wireless network.

Airport Express Analog/Optical Audio Jack

It retails for $99.00 or you can get it refurbished for just $75.00.

What You Need

  1. A Mac – Your music collection should be in iTunes on this computer. See Do I Really Need A Mac? below.
  2. An Airport Express.
  3. A Receiver.
  4. Two Speakers and some Speaker Cable.
  5. 3.5mm stereo male to stereo RCA Male Audio Cable – Length depends on how far you place the Airport Express from the Reciever.

Do I Really Need A Mac?

I chose a Mac for the sake of simplicity. This setup also works if your music collection is on an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch.

With Airplay you can even stream the sound from movies on Netflix, Apple Movies or Apple trailers… allowing you to say… lie on your bed watching a movie on your iPad with the sound pounding out of your speakers.

Apple Airplay

Before you decide this endeavor is too expensive, take a look at What It Costs below.

How It Works

In simple steps:

  • Check that your Mac is connected to your wireless home network with either an Airport Extreme or Airport Express.
  • In the room where you’d like to hear music, set the new Airport Express to Extend Your Wireless Network and choose the network your Mac is on.
  • As you setup the Airport Express, go to the Music tab and check Enable AirPlay.

Apple Airport Express - Airport Utility - Turn Airplay On

  • Plug in the receiver and connect the two speakers.
  • Setup the receiver and select an input source that you’d like to use for streaming music, e.g: AUX, CD, etc.

Pioneer Elite Reciever

  • Plug the RCA stereo male into the input source you’ve chosen, on the back of the Receiver.
  • Plug the 3.5mm stereo male into the analog/optical audio output on the back of the Airport Express.

3.5mm stereo male to stereo RCA Male Audio Cable

  • Make sure the reciever is on the correct source and set to the right speakers (usually A)
  • On an iPhone or iPad, go to the App store and download Apple’s free Remote app.
  • Make sure the iPhone or iPad is connected to the same network as your Mac.
  • Link the Remote app to the iTunes library on your Mac.
  • On the Remote app, click the Airplay icon and you’ll see the Airport Express. Tap to choose it.

Apple Remote App

  • Play any song and you’ll hear it through the speakers that you just set up.

Apple iTunes Remote Airplay On The iPhone

If any of these steps seem daunting, don’t be afraid to call Apple for help… or if you live in Los Angeles, please feel free to hire me 🙂

What It Costs

If we take for granted that you already own a Mac and an iPhone or iPad the cost is minimal:

  • Airport Express – Refurbished from Apple for $75.00.

Apple Airport Express

  • Receiver – A good analog receiver, like a Pioneer Elite, can be snapped up on eBay for $100 or less. I had an old Pioneer Elite – VSX49.

Pioneer Elite Reciever

  • Speakers – A set of speakers can be found on eBay for $200 or less. I bought a pair of B&W HCM1s on eBay for $183.00.

B&W Solid HCM1 Speakers

  • 3.5mm stereo male to stereo RCA Male Audio Cable and Speaker cable – Can be bought from Monoprice for less than $20.00.

That’s a total of $395.00 or less to have access to all your music in two rooms.

If you live in a small apartment, or a house that’s got speaker cable runs to several rooms, this is a terrific solution.

If you already have some of the equipment lying around, it’s a no-brainer.

My total cost ended up at $167.95.

Sonos is definitely worth looking at, but the problem with streaming movie sound killed it for me.

The Airport Express Analog/Digital Output

In the example above, I used an analog 3.5mm stereo male to stereo RCA Male Audio Cable to connect the Airport Express to the Receiver.

If your Receiver accepts optical inputs, you could use an optical digital cable as described in this post – How To… Get Digital Audio From Your Mac To Your Receiver.

Optical Digital Toslink To Toslink Mini Cable

I’d recommend the all-in-one Toslink to Mini-Cable from Monoprice.

Have a good week. I hope you get to try this out. It’s a lot of fun.

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