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.
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.
It retails for $99.00 or you can get it refurbished for just $75.00.
What You Need
- A Mac – Your music collection should be in iTunes on this computer. See Do I Really Need A Mac? below.
- An Airport Express.
- A Receiver.
- Two Speakers and some Speaker Cable.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Play any song and you’ll hear it through the speakers that you just set up.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
Live in Los Angeles County and need Mac, iPad. or iPhone support, repair, training… or just want some questions answered? Call me at 310-621-5679. I come direct to you. That’s as stress-free as it gets. Not an L.A. resident? Don’t worry. No Problem Mac provides training and support statewide – No Problem Mac Phone Support
I have an RV without a internet router and want the Sonos System. I was told by a guy at the Apple store that If I was to by a Airport express that I could set up a dedicated network and attach all the speakers in the RV that way. I have a play bar now but Sonos tells me that I must have internet in order to set it up. Then I saw the Sonos Boost and after talking to the guy at Apple it seems that even without internet service that it should not stop me from setting up a network only to control or allow the Sonos speakers to work on. Does that make any sense? Dedicated Network only to allow Sonos to work on. TV, Stereo receiver and 6 speakers is the idea. Any input would be appreciated!
Thanks for your email. Lets talk offline and see if we can find an answer.
I had this setup and it worked, but since some days I am not able to watch a movie on my ipad and send the sound to my airplay speakers. Any ideas?
Hi Timo – Make sure your iPad is updated. You may need factory reset your Airport and set it up again if the problem persists. You can find info on this on the web. It’s almost impossible to analyze and fix this problem being there. – John
So here is a twisted question. I love the Amazon Echo. I have found instructions online to manually add a line level mini pin output jack. But before I disassemble my Echo and the Echo already uses Wifi, can you think of another way to stream the same music to other wifi speaker?
As Amazon are a direct competitor of Apple’s and I have no working knowledge of the Echo, I would check the forums for the answer you need. Sure you’ll find it there. Good luck. – John
I was wondering, before purchasing the Airport Extreme (http://www.macworld.com/article/2033878/review-apples-airport-extreme-is-a-safe- choice.html), if it was possible to connect my 3 Sony Airplay speakers (https://esupport.sony.com/US/p/model-home.pl?mdl=SANS310&LOC=3#/howtoTab) to the 3 LAN Ports of the Airport Extreme and airplay simultaneously as multi-room audio from my Iphone without iTunes ?
Thanks for your cooperation.
Based on what I’ve read I can’t see why it wouldn’t work. My advice is to buy the router at a place where you can return it. That way if it doesn’t work… you are not out the money.