all multi-room audio?
Wireless Multi-room Music Systems
Wouldn't it be cool to be able to listen to all the music on your computer in any room? Networked multi-room music systems let you access music on your computer, as well as online music services, throughout your home — without running wires. They're a great choice if you're renting and unable to install wire, or if you don't want to run new wire through your walls. In this article, we'll help you determine which kind of system is right for your home by asking a few simple questions.
|Wireless multi-room systems let you access music from your computer and the Internet.|
Do you have a home network?
Wireless multi-room systems are made up of a number of players — one in every room in your house where you want music. Most of these players connect to your existing Wi-Fi® home network. However, a few systems, like Sonos, use their own proprietary wireless network. Either way, you'll be able to enjoy music from your computer and the Internet in any room with a player.
Whichever type of system you choose, we recommend using a high-speed Internet connection (rather than dial-up) for any wireless multi-room music system, because it'll give you the reliable, fast connection you need to stream music sources available online. If you're interested in setting up a network in your home, see our article on creating a home network.
Most systems give you the ability to listen to music from a computer or a storage device that's connected to your home network. There are also a lot of streaming services available on the Internet, and your ability to connect to these services may vary depending on the manufacturer of your player. Many players offer the ability to stream Internet radio stations and/or web-based music services like PANDORA® Internet radio, SIRIUS®, and Rhapsody®. (A separate subscription may be required.) This is a great option, because you won't have to turn on your computer to enjoy the variety and clarity of Internet radio.
|This Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air lets you dock your iPod and listen to your music through the speaker, or use Apple's AirPlay technology to stream music wirelessly from your computer, iPod touch®, iPhone®, or iPad® to the speaker.|
Are you already set up for AirPlay®?
If iTunes® is your main source of music, then consider a system compatible with AirPlay. You can enjoy music from any iTunes-enabled source, like an iPod® or a laptop, in one room or throughout your entire home. For example, Bowers & Wilkins created an iPod docking speaker called the Zeppelin Air that also works with AirPlay, Apple's wireless music streaming system. The speaker can connect to any device compatible with AirPlay, so you can control playback and search albums and songs on your networked computer, iPhone®, iPod, or iPad® (iTunes® 10 or higher required). You can also add other AirPlay compatible speakers in the future, and use them to listen to additional music sources in other rooms in your home.
To find out more about AirPlay, check out Ralph's blog post.
How many rooms do you want music in?
The number of players you select for your system will depend on the number of rooms where you want music. If you're just adding music to one room, like a bedroom, you might want a stand-alone player, like a Wi-Fi radio or powered speaker. If you want music throughout your home, like in your office, den, or kitchen, you'll want to look for a multi-room system. Also, keep in mind that many of these systems are expandable, so you'll have the flexibility to add more rooms in the future.
What kind of audio gear do you have in each room?
The types of players you select will depend on what kind of audio gear you have or plan to put in each room. For example, if you want to add music to your home theater system, then you'll want a player with analog or digital audio outputs. These players connect to your audio system just like a CD player.
On the other hand, if you're adding music to a room where you don't already have an audio system, you might want to choose a player with built-in speakers. Or, you could go with one that has built-in amplification, and add your own speakers.
Some systems offer multi-room remote control using a downloadble app for you existing wireless device, like this one from Sonos for the iPhone®.
How will you control the system?
Different manufacturers handle control in different ways. Any system will let you control each player individually, so you can turn the volume up or down and play, pause, or skip music. Some systems also offer remotes that you can carry from room to room, so you can control the entire system from that one device.
More and more manufacturers are releasing apps that let you control music players with a device that's always with you. The touchscreen controls of a smartphone let you easily search for songs, queue up playlists, and adjust volume.