Imagine having music in every room of your house that you can control from anywhere in the house. You can toggle the music on and off in each room, control the volume, and even change the music. You can do all of that by using an expensive product such as Sonos Digital Music System or another high-end package or you can build your own using components that might already be using such as your iPhone or Apple iPod touch.
I recommend starting with a room or two and expanding as needed once you get up and running. Here's a list of equipment you need:
- A PC or a Mac with all your music. The PC does not have to be top of the line by any means and frankly, it's much cheaper to use a PC for this job as you will not be directly interacting with this machine very much. I have mine in the basement and I hardly see it. If you are buying a new one, I recommend getting a PC with lost of storage (i.e. a large disk).
- An iPod touch or an iPhone. No need to purchase a new one if you have either.
- An Airport Express and a good pair of computer speakers for each room. For the speakers I recommend either the Bose Companion 2 Series II or the JBL Duet, but any nice computer speakers will do.
This project is fairly simple and straightforward once you understand how all the components fit together. To give you a big picture view of what the end system is going to look like, take a look at the diagram below.
Now that you understand what we're trying to accomplish, let's get started by configuring the components one at a time and we'll circle back and wrap together at the end.
The first step is to make sure that your PC or Mac has all your music on it and that it has the latest version of iTunes installed (note: as of this writing, iTunes 9 is the latest and greatest and it supports everything discussed in this article).
- Open iTunes in the PC/Mac
- Select Edit --> Preferences...
- Go to the Devices tab
- Ensure that the "Look for remote speakers connected with AirTunes" checkbox is checked
- Ensure that the "Look for iPhone and iPod touch remotes" checkbox is checked
- Click OK
Start the AirPort Utility (the software the comes with the AirPort Express when you buy it. You can also download the software directly from Apple (Mac or Windows).
Give the device each device a meaningful name (e.g. Dining Room or Bedroom)
Finally, specify your wireless network's setting (SSID, security, etc...)
Install the Remote app from the iTunes App Store on your iPod touch/iPhone. Note: This is a free app from Apple.
The first time you start the Remote app, you will be prompted to add a library (or click Add Library, if not automatically prompted to add one). A random four-digit Passcode will be displayed.
Enter the passcode from the iPhone/iPod touch into iTunes.
Now that you've configured iTunes, AirPort Express, and your iPhone/iPod touch, you're ready to broadcast your music to multiple rooms and control the music using your iPhone/iPod touch, including having the ability to select music by artist, genre, playlist as well as control the volume and select which speakers can be turned on and off.
Now you can add other AirPort Express/speakers to as many rooms as you like. Additionally, you can broadcast music through an Apple TV to your living room, which will basically act like an AirPort Express in this case.