Whole house sound is awesome. It allows you to put music in your living room, in your family room and in your backyard. Great for parties. But systems to do whole house sound are pretty expensive, and their interfaces tend to be clunky.
But wait, there is a better way. Using an iPhone or iPod touch, a computer and a Apple Airport Express, you can setup a super cool whole house sound system all controlled by your iPhone or iPod Touch. Most people don’t seem to know how it all fits together. Here is the recipe.
First, put your music in iTunes. This is pretty easy for most people. For people my age (40s) you probably have a bunch of CDs and you probably already imported them into iTunes. If not, do that now.
Buy an Apple Airport Express for $99. This little gadget, about the size and shape of small pack of Kraft American Cheese will allow you to connect your stereo to iTunes. The Airport Express has an audio out port that runs both analog and digital PCM. You just need the right cable.
The Airport Express is a versatile little box. It can be a client to your Ethernet network, a client to your Wi-Fi network, or create a Wi-Fi cloud. It can also be a print server, but we won’t talk about that today.
Most people don’t have ethernet near their living room stereo, but do have a WiFi network in their home. Configure the Airport Express to be a client to your WiFi network using Airport Utility.
Once on the network, you can enable music sharing using Airport Utility. And once you do that, the AirPort express will show up within iTunes on your desktop.
You will need to connect the audio out port on the Airport Express to your stereo. Turn on the stereo and choose the input you selected (say Aux 1). No go back to iTunes and in the bottom right, you can choose the Airport Express as a target.
Next step, download the free Apple Remote app from the Apple App store. Using that app, you can control iTunes on your desktop. Hence, from your iPod Touch or iPhone, you can choose what music to play on your stereo. Brilliant.
You can target multiple Airport Express devices from iTunes. For each zone, for example the backyard, you just need an amplifier and two speakers. You can tell iTunes to play to all zones simultaneously.
Provided you already own a computer and stereo amplifier, you can setup this system for under $400. I put links above to cheap cables. Don’t be fooled into buy the Monster versions, especially if you buy a digital cable. if you hear sound, it works.