Tag Archives: airplay

AirPlay with AirHome


Do you have a big audio budget? Do you have multiple iOS devices? Do you want a multi-room system based on AirPlay? Do you want to draw speaker cables across the house from a centralized point? Then look no further, AirHome is the answer to your needs.

AirHome has a central that is loaded with up to five amplifiers. Each amplifier is connected to speakers in a room through wired speaker cables. So basically you get up to five AirPlay zones that you AirPlay to from apps or iTunes on a PC. You can play the same song on all zones in party mode or one zone at a time from an iOS device. If you have more than one iOS device, they can AirPlay to one zone each. AirPlay does not support playing different music on different zones from one iOS device (no matter what fuzzy marketing texts say).

AirHome5 is the central unit where the amplifiers are inserted. It costs 699$ without any amplifiers. So you cant play anything with it alone.

Amp40 is for playing stereo music. Plug it into one of the five empty slots in the AirHome5. Then install speaker wires from it into the room where you want to play music. No speakers included. It costs 340$.

Amp5.1 is for playing up to 5.1 music or movie sound. Installed in the same way as the Amp40. It costs 440$.

Marantz Melody Streamers

Marantz has two streamers (M-CR510 and M-CR610) in the melody series that can do all the basic stuff and then some. Both can stream music from Pandora, Spotify and SiriusXM Internet Radio. AirPlay is supported and both can also stream music from the local network.


The M-CR610 has a cd player and AM/FM radio.

Both can be controlled by the Marantz smartphone app.

They have a digital amplifier that delivers superb audio clarity and can easily drive lower impedance speakers. Or connect them to a receiver with the optical audio output.

So impressive specs from an audio brand that is known for its audio quality. Worth checking out if you are considering a music streaming solution.

AirPlay with Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi can be used as a powerful zone player for AirPlay. It has a low pricetag of 49.95$ (or £39.35), both digital and analog audio output and the power consumption is only 3.5 Watts.

Even though it is a computer, it only requires a screen during installation. Then simply place it where you want an audio zone, connect the audio out to a receiver or directly to compatible speakers.

So lets go through some basic info about the Raspberry Pi and then the Raspbmc image.

Raspberry Pi, the basics

The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized computer running an ARM11 700mhz processor and a powerfull GPU capable of BluRay quality playback and digital audio through HDMI (or analog audio through 3.5mm). It has a ethernet port and USB 2.0. It can use various Linux distros for OS including the Raspbmc distro with AirPlay.
RaspberryPi chip


Raspbmc is a minimal Linux distribution based on Debian that basically turns Raspberry Pi into a XBMC frontend. No knowledge of Linux is needed and the XBMC GUI is lauched at system startup. It is installed with a few clicks from a Mac or a PC.

Raspbmc auto updates so you will constantly get new features, performance and driver updates (can be turned off). Access audio or video sources over NFS, SMB, FTP and HTTP. And most importantly, AirPlay and AirTunes support that allows you to send music and video from an iPhone/iPad to the system. XBMC itself has many additional plug-ins, for instance the virtual Squeezebox player XSqueeze. XBMC can be remoted from various apps, like XBMC Constellation and XBMC Commander.

Raspbmc also lets you overclock the processor up to 1.5Ghz.

Check out the installation instructions.


You can get seven Raspberry Pi for the price of one Sonos Connect. You would then also have the ability to play 1080p movies and the XBMC extendability. The price/performance ratio is great. Raspberry Pi is definitely worth considering when planing a multi-room solution.

New Multi-room contenders

The interest in smart music solutions is huge, wetter it be as part of a home automation system, a stand-alone wireless multi-room system or simply be able to stream from your phone to a set of speakers.

The mainstream market leaders, Sonos, Logitech Squeezebox and Apple AirPlay seems relatively unthreatened at the moment. But new solutions are constantly being planed and developed. So lets have a look at some of the new contenders.

Xbox Music and SmartGlass

When Windows 8 launches this autumn, Microsoft is also launching their renamed Music service (Previously Zune) and their new media sharing solution, SmartGlass. If you have an Xbox Music subscription (and Live gold for Xbox) you will be able to play that music across the Microsoft board (Windows 8, Xbox and Windows Phone 8). You probably cant play it on Android and iOS devices even though they can be used as remotes for playing the music on a Xbox. Xbox ability as a dedicated music zone player could be disputed on grouds like high noice (non slim versions) and high energy consumption. But IF the remoting and zone handling would be implemented nicely, they could have a chance.

Samsung Music Hub

Samsung launched Music Hub at the same time as their new flag ship phone, Galaxy S III. It has a big online catalog of music that can be streamed and a matching service for music already owned. So both a Spotify and iTunes match contender. But only supported by Samsung Galaxy S III for now. Samsung plans to incorporate Music Hub in their TVs, fridges, phones and so on. From a multi-room perspective, they need to implement a proper zone player that can be connected to existing setups or stand-alone. Playing music through fridges and TVs just don’t cut it in the long run, though fun complements.

Google Music

There has been reports that Google is working on devices for streaming media, including audio. They would presumably, connect to their already existing music streaming service, Google Music and have an open platform for others to contribute to.

Sony Music Unlimited and HomeShare

Music Unlimited is a subscription service (as Xbox Music, Spotify, Music Hub) that lets users stream music and also upload/match owned music a.la iTunes match. It is supported by a broad range of Sony products like phones, playstation and blu-ray players. They also have a new iPhone app. The downside of Sonys broad offering is that it lacks clarity, from a multi-room perspective.

Boxee spotify update

If we are talking Boxee and multi-room music, airplay is the best bridge for a multi-room Boxee solution, as previously concluded due to the lack of powerful multi zone Boxee remote apps.

But if airplay is not an option or you just want to use that big screen tv for finding music, Boxees own Spotify app just got a whole lot better with support for searching for songs outside of you playlists. Access to the inbox and ability to play in shuffle mode.

Is Boxee with Spotify ready for multi-room?

The latest firmware brought Spotify support to Boxee which makes
“the box” interesting from a multi-room audio perspective. The D-Link Boxee Box
DSM-380 has a very competitive price, currently around 180$ and is also great
for playing movies in various formats. But we will focus on the audio
functionality. It plays virtually any audio format and has both digital and
analog outputs.

Boxee plays audio from network shares or from an attached hard drive through USB. It
also has many apps for playing Internet radio and services like Pandora and
Last.fm. That combined with the fresh Spotify support makes it a great device
for playing audio, in one location. But what about multi-room? Well the Boxee is
not designed for controlling multiple zones from one remote without an
additional display, like the Squeezebox and Sonos are. Instead Boxee requires an
attached display for showing menus which in turn requires you to be in that
actual room to make choices for it. Once started, next and paus type of
manouvers can be performed but you cant switch from Internet radio to Spotify
without using the display.

But, the Boxee also has AirPlay support which makes it an ideal part of an AirPlay multi-room solution. So even though Boxee is not really for true multi-room music solutions on its own, it fits great in an AirPlay setup and is also great at playing music
and movies remoted in the same room.

AirPlay with Sonos in Party Mode

If you’ve got a Sonos music system and an Apple AirPort
Express, you have an AirPlay compatible multi-room Sonos system, sort of. You
can play your music in one or many zones synced. But not target different
specific zones, if they do not have separate AirPort Expresses.

Plug in your Apple AirPort Express into your ZonePlayer’s line-in (3.5mm and ethernet)
and the music can be played across multiple systems across the house — so-called
Party Mode.

“Sonos improves the AirPlay experience with party mode so a
music lover can send a song from his iPhone or iPad to all the rooms in a home
with perfect synchronization,” said John MacFarlane, founder and CEO of Sonos.
Sonos System Software 3.4 or later is required.

You can have your Autoplay Zone mapped to one or many
Read more at Sonos