: AppleTV (vs Sonos vs Squeezebox) for audio streaming *only*.


tendim
Oct 10th, 2010, 03:02 PM
G'day group.

I'm looking to add some type of streaming capability to my home stereo. Currently the entire setup is in one room, and my G5 (Leopard) is in another. I have a large (and growing) library of music, most of it as Apple Lossless, and I purchase a lot of items from the iTunes store. So I have to have the ability to play at least Apple Lossless files.

Looking at reviews I've found that the three big options are the Sonos, SqueezeBox and AppleTV. As I'm hooking this up to an existing stereo I won't need a powered unit (I.e., the only Sonos option I would consider right now is the ZP80 or ZP90). My stereo is also hooked up to a CRT television: no HDMI here! For a controller I plan on using my iPod touch (all three options have an app for controlling their respective systems from an iPod/iPhone).

The AppleTV looks like it will fit the bill, but it requires HDMI. How important is this if I am NOT going too hook it up to a TV? I only want the unit for streaming music, that's it. I may purchase an HDTV when I move into my condo (9 months from now), but for now it's not on the priority list. In short: can you use the AppleTV in "headless" (no TV) mode?

Thanks for any input!
-10d

Puccasaurus
Oct 10th, 2010, 04:44 PM
This sounds like exactly the sort of thing an Airport Express is designed for.

tendim
Oct 10th, 2010, 05:42 PM
This sounds like exactly the sort of thing an Airport Express is designed for.

I considered that, but this is what I found out. Please correct me if I'm wrong:


The Airport Express is actually a wireless hub, so it has to be connected to my network via a hard line. This isn't possible since my router is in another room (a third room distinct from where the G5 is, and my stereo is)
If I did purchase an Airport Express and simply plugged it into a regular wall outlet, I still wouldn't be able to configure it via wireless (since it would have no default settings to begin with)

Am I correct in the above?

update

Ok, so I performed an even deeper dive and I was wrong on some accounts, however I do have another question. The manual states that a Mac computer with Airport or Airport Extreme is required. My G5 is on my network via Ethernet (it doesn't have an Airport card). I do have 802.11g in my house (my current wireless network). So would the G5 still be able to stream to the AirPort Express even though the G5 has no wireless? Essentially I would have:

G5 <-ethernet-> Wireless Router <-wireless-> AirPort Express <-DigitalOutput-> Stereo.

Thanks.

Macified
Oct 10th, 2010, 05:51 PM
I considered that, but this is what I found out. Please correct me if I'm wrong:


The Airport Express is actually a wireless hub, so it has to be connected to my network via a hard line. This isn't possible since my router is in another room (a third room distinct from where the G5 is, and my stereo is)
If I did purchase an Airport Express and simply plugged it into a regular wall outlet, I still wouldn't be able to configure it via wireless (since it would have no default settings to begin with)

Am I correct in the above?

This is only possibly correct. Does your G5 have wireless networking built in? Are you using it?

Basically, you can plug in the Airport Express and set it up wirelessly using the G5. You can go through the setup "wizard" or do it manually. If you are not currently using a wireless network, you tell it to create a wireless network (include passwords for security) and tell it you want to use it for music streaming. Plug in a cable from the Airport to the stereo (either mini-optical or 1/8th to RCA). Run iTunes on the G5 and tell it to use the streaming output. Play away and control from your iPod Touch using remote app.

tendim
Oct 10th, 2010, 05:54 PM
This is only possibly correct. Does your G5 have wireless networking built in? Are you using it?

Ha! You sent that while I was editing my last post. Nope, no Airport in the G5. I do have a Powerbook G4 with Airport, but the actual music is on my G5.

Macified
Oct 10th, 2010, 05:59 PM
Does the PowerBook get used as a portable? Can it be dedicated to playing music? Do you link it to your network via ethernet?

Tons of options but none are optimal. You could get an airport card for the G5 and have fewer issues. Whichever device you choose on the stereo end, without a way to connect it to the G5, you won't be getting anywhere.

tendim
Oct 10th, 2010, 06:01 PM
Does the PowerBook get used as a portable? Can it be dedicated to playing music? Do you link it to your network via ethernet?

Tons of options but none are optimal. You could get an airport card for the G5 and have fewer issues. Whichever device you choose on the stereo end, without a way to connect it to the G5, you won't be getting anywhere.

G4 is dying a slow death, with the fan kicking into jet-engine mode more frequently than not. I use it for light surfing, and that's it. On top of that, my entire library is larger than the PowerBook's internal HD, so that isn't an option.

I've been poking around, searching online, and some folks make reference to an "Enable AirTunes over Ethernet" option in the admin utility. Would this give me what I need? Apparently it is an undocumented option. I'd like to avoid plopping down $100 for a unit if it won't do what I need. I'd rather put the money towards a used Sonos unit instead. :(

i-rui
Oct 10th, 2010, 06:05 PM
So would the G5 still be able to stream to the AirPort Express even though the G5 has no wireless? Essentially I would have:

G5 <-ethernet-> Wireless Router <-wireless-> AirPort Express <-DigitalOutput-> Stereo.

Thanks.

yes.

when you set up the airport express you don't set it up as a router, you have to tell it to join your current wireless network.

Macified
Oct 10th, 2010, 06:06 PM
Since you have a wireless network you can connect the airport express to it and have music streaming active. Streaming should be available to all devices on the network including your wired G5. You can use the PowerBook to set it up and then let it run or you can set it up via ethernet and then move it to the stereo area. I'd just use the PowerBook to set up.

Should work just fine.

Commodus
Oct 10th, 2010, 06:20 PM
Since I happen to have a Sonos S5 in for testing, I could say it makes a pretty convincing case.

Airport Express will do the job for iTunes, but where the Sonos setup does well is radio and scheduling. You can queue up a wide range of stations, and it's even possible to set your wake up alarm to a station. The main catches are that you probably need at least a ZoneBridge (to get on the local network but go wireless) and either a ZonePlayer adapter for your existing system or else a fully contained speaker and Sonos receiver system like the S5. Adds up a bit.

I will say that the S5 audio quality is outstanding for a one-piece unit, and if you can use Ethernet, it's the only device you need.

kloan
Oct 10th, 2010, 06:33 PM
I'd say get the Apple TV over Airport Express. Personally, I'm not a fan of Airport Express. Every one I've set up has given me problems.. it's very finicky for some reason and always seemed to need to be reset a half dozen times before it would work properly. Very annoying.

For another $20, it makes sense to future-proof yourself with the Apple TV. I'm sure you'll probably join the rest of the modern world with an HD TV set at some point in the near future, and then you'll be able to take advantage of the other features of the device.

In the meantime, you can get one of these to get it to work with your dinosaur, assuming it at least has component inputs (;)):
HDMI to Component RCA Video Converter Cable HD LCD Cord - eBay (item 150504093946 end time Nov-07-10 03:22:06 PST) (http://cgi.ebay.com/HDMI-Component-RCA-Video-Converter-Cable-HD-LCD-Cord-/150504093946?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item230abe38fa)

The only thing with using that is that you won't be able to play anything that requires HDCP.

i-rui
Oct 10th, 2010, 06:40 PM
i've had 4 airport express running at once on my network with no problems. never had a problem setting it up.

having said that, i do agree that the new apple tv is probably the better value at around the same price. you can use the optical out for sound, however you'd still need a set with hdmi to initially set it up.

KrazyRuskie
Oct 11th, 2010, 12:17 PM
For another $20, it makes sense to future-proof yourself with the Apple TV. I'm sure you'll probably join the rest of the modern world with an HD TV set at some point in the near future, and then you'll be able to take advantage of the other features of the device.

In the meantime, you can get one of these to get it to work with your dinosaur, assuming it at least has component inputs (;)):
HDMI to Component RCA Video Converter Cable HD LCD Cord - eBay (item 150504093946 end time Nov-07-10 03:22:06 PST) (http://cgi.ebay.com/HDMI-Component-RCA-Video-Converter-Cable-HD-LCD-Cord-/150504093946?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item230abe38fa)

The only thing with using that is that you won't be able to play anything that requires HDCP.

Ruski say dinosaur best mate with dinosaur - get the previous model AppleTV (the silver one with the hard drive) - it has the component output your TV is likely to have. If not, a simple hack patchstick.ca etc - there are paid and free ones will make your AppleTV output COMPOSITE video instead (the "yellow" RCA video input) that I am sure any post-50s TV has. The new black $99 (US price) AppleTV only has

Plus, by syncing stuff to its internal drive, you'll have limited yet functional second source, solving, albeit unelegantly, the one source plays in all zones limitation the Apple solution has as compared with Sonos setup. the Apple Remote App will let you select the library (the source - your G5 or your "new" old AppleTV) which you'll be able to play in any of the playback zones (AppleTV, Airport Express etc) you setup. And by storing locally on the AppleTV hard drive you'll be able to play back without your G5 server running.

The only drawback is that the new cheap AppleTV + HDMI-to-component thingie as proposed by kloan may still be cheaper than an old AppleTV on ebay or elsewhere.

Hope this helps.

Z06jerry
Oct 11th, 2010, 05:26 PM
something to keep in mind ... if you plan to use conventional analog audio inputs (RCA jacks) the Airport Express and old style ATV will work. The new ATV only outputs digital so you'll have to have an optical or HDMI input on your stereo.

FWIW I've used Airport Express's for years without any hassles. IMHO its easiest router on the planet to setup thanks to Apple's Airport utility. :cool:

Also the old style ATV with built in hard drive will allow you to access your music without your computer being turned on and doesn't necessarily depend on streaming so there is no dropouts or interruptions during high network traffic. You can store up to 160 gb right on the (old) ATV's hard drive.

Since the new ATV was announced , the original ATV has been on clearance for $169 and $139 for refurb (although they are not listed atm).

Refurbished Mac - Apple Store (Canada) (http://store.apple.com/ca/browse/home/specialdeals/mac?mco=MTM3NTA4NDU)