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iPod Approach to Whole House Audio

upstatemike

Senior Member
I get the feeling from some other threads that tablet PC or PDA based controls for whole house audio are pretty popular. In thinking about it, it seems to me if you are going to carry something like that around with you, you might as well take it to the next level and do a whole house audio setup based on iPods.

I'm thinking of getting an iPod for each family member and a couple of spares for when I want to show off the system to guests. I figure this type of system would have the following benefits:

*Hand held LCD display of track and artist info just like on a PDA or touch screen system.

*Much less expensive than multi-zone amps and in-wall speakers.

*Each iPod or "zone" can play a different music program.

*Your music selection will automatically follow you from room to room without elaborate programming of a Home Automation system.

*You can access your music library remotely when you are at work or traveling without any firewall issues.

*The system is easily extended to backyard and patio locations.

*Does not require extensive surge protection or extrenal UPS equipment.

*You can easily add additional zones at any time with no maximum limit.

Fact is, this approach has just about every feature you would want in a whole house audio system with no real down side that I can see.
 

markthomas

Active Member
:)

On the off chance that you're serious, here are some downsides:

* No muting for things like doorbell, phone ringing
* No intercom integration ("Dinnertime!")
* No synchronization capability
* Always walking around with stuff in your ears.
 

upstatemike

Senior Member
On the off chance that you're serious, here are some downsides:

I am always serious. I had my sense of humor surgically removed years ago.

* No muting for things like doorbell, phone ringing
I'm pretty sure Apple makes a combo iPod/phone so the phone ringing is feature is already built in. You can also have your HA system call your iPod phone when the doorbell rings.
* No intercom integration ("Dinnertime!")
If everybody has an iPod/phone you can use that to call everybody when it is time for dinner.
* No synchronization capability
Synchronization is only needed when the sound from one zone bleeds over to compete with the sound in another zone. There is no acoustic overlap in this system to no synchronization is required.
* Always walking around with stuff in your ears.
Based on the Apple commercials this is what people want so I'm not sure you can claim it as a downside. In any case there are docking stations available if you really want to unplug and set the thing down for awhile.
 

DavidL

Senior Member
Our Cinemar dealers have asked that we incorporate a Sonance iPort docking station that provides 2 way integration with an iPod and has a public RS232 SDK. This when combined with multizone MusicLobby2 and MusicLobbyPPC and Russound Cav6.6 is the complete solution.
 

pete

Active Member
On the off chance that you're serious, here are some downsides:

I am always serious. I had my sense of humor surgically removed years ago.
I'd ask the Doc for my money back, 'cause that's funny . . . :angry:

anywho . . . on to the topic at hand . . .

can iPods do FM ? ? ? I have over 2000 mp3s on my computer, but still listen to the radio alot . . .

Do you have to buy a copy of each mp3 for each iPod? (if your concerned with the legallity of it)

Somehow I can't see me and the wife, and possibly some guests all sitting around on the patio by the firepit with our iPods and earbuds . . . but like you mention I could get a docking station/external speakers . . . however, this is more like the boombox I'm already using . . . plus I like to walk into the kitchen or bathroom from the patio and have the same music playing throughout . . . so sync is important to me . . .


Pete C

I love my country, but fear my government.
 

bfisher

Active Member
Here's a few potential negatives:
maintaining music libraries... might not be an issue for you, but my wife wouldn't know how to manage her music. I end up managing it all for the whole family (very easy with JRiver).

backups and archive (since we've switched and buy most new music online instead of CD). Again, very easy with a centralized system.

Sound quality? Not sure, I guess you could load in higher quality files into an ipod, but mine is used for portability, not high quality music.

Integration. DavidL's post suggests it can be automated so maybe not an issue, but I like being able to turn on/off music based on conditions (music automatically shuts down if we leave and forget to turn it off, etc).

Joint music lists. My wife and I have a few music lists that we share. If we only listened to our ipods, both of them would need each others stuff on it. Just not as easy as using JRiver (or other centralized media system).

Multi-zone Sync. Many times we'll have music on in 1 zone (ie kitchen) and decide to eat outside. 1 button push and now we have the same music in both places. Very easy and nice.

I guess it depends on what your house is used to. Mine is used to centralized system and switching seems like a step down, not up...
 

upstatemike

Senior Member
pete said:
can iPods do FM ? ? ? I have over 2000 mp3s on my computer, but still listen to the radio alot . . .
I don't know. I've never actually used or even looked at an iPod so I only know what I see in the ads.

Do you have to buy a copy of each mp3 for each iPod? (if your concerned with the legallity of it)

No. It is no different than having one copy on your music server and having it play on several different music players around the house. Some music industry advocates might disagree but they would be wrong.

Somehow I can't see me and the wife, and possibly some guests all sitting around on the patio by the firepit with our iPods and earbuds . . .

It is no more ridiculous than having that same group passing around a wireless PDA or Tablet PC to see the artist and track information for music playing over a whole house music system. I am just extending the concept to give each person not only their own display device but their own amplifier and speakers (ear buds) as well.
 

upstatemike

Senior Member
bfisher said:
Here's a few potential negatives:
maintaining music libraries... might not be an issue for you, but my wife wouldn't know how to manage her music. I end up managing it all for the whole family (very easy with JRiver).
I don't know how iPod music is managed. My impression from the ads is that you keep all your music on a hard drive on your PC and download or "synch" it to your iPod through a usb or firewire connection. My impression from the ad is that it is a simple process that takes only seconds.

backups and archive (since we've switched and buy most new music online instead of CD). Again, very easy with a centralized system.

As noted above, I belive iPods still require you to keep the central archive which in turn loads the individual players.

Sound quality? Not sure, I guess you could load in higher quality files into an ipod, but mine is used for portability, not high quality music.

I don't know how to address this since I don't believe in trading quality for space... storage is just too cheap for that to make any sense. I always use the highest quality setting on my DVR and rip CDs to the highest possible bitrate for MP3s (or use uncompressed wav files or lossless compression such as FLAC).

The other big factor would be the DAC used in an iPod. I don't know what they use but it is bound to be much better than what you would find in even a high end PC sound card. I'm guessing it whould be on par with a mid-range component stereo CD player.

Integration. DavidL's post suggests it can be automated so maybe not an issue, but I like being able to turn on/off music based on conditions (music automatically shuts down if we leave and forget to turn it off, etc).

You are not likely to forget to turn off something that is attached to you... but if you do the controls are always in easy reach even after you leave the house.

Joint music lists. My wife and I have a few music lists that we share. If we only listened to our ipods, both of them would need each others stuff on it. Just not as easy as using JRiver (or other centralized media system).

I envision all units having all music and playlists so it is just a matter of cloning them from the master archive.

Multi-zone Sync. Many times we'll have music on in 1 zone (ie kitchen) and decide to eat outside. 1 button push and now we have the same music in both places. Very easy and nice

With this system you don't even need to push a button (what a quaint 20th century concept!) You walk from the Kitchen to the outside eating area the music follows you seamlessly with no interruption, no volume change, no transition of any kind!
 

ver0776

Active Member
First of all, I hate the entire concept of the iPOD. It is commercial brainwashing at its finest. iPOD is an MP3 player, like my iPAQ is a PDA. I love products like headphones for iPOD; how are they different than other head phones? Are they not 4ohm? It is branding bullsh*t.

Now when it comes to docking stations, etc, I understand that they are not all the same. I just get confused when someone says iPOD, do they mean a MP3 player or an actual iPOD.

I will get on topic in a minute heheh. If a PDA had a 20g hard drive, is it still a PDA? It is as much a MP3 player as an iPOD & it run programs and has internet... Even without a harddrive, a PDA can stream music over the Wi-Fi, so it about as good as any MP3 player anyways.


So here is the On Topic comment =)
I think finding uses for MP3 players for whole house audio is a good idea as a suplimental music system. I think in an estate the size of yours you should look at a combonation of systems. Like something simple like a AB8SS for primary security and zone announcements from hidden security speakers. PC's & Laptops hooked to decent speakers for network access of music and HA for room audio in several spots. FM broadcasting for areas like patios where a local boombox or the such could play the music you are piping to the FM transmitter.

I just see the iPODs as too expensive and too limited on functionality. PDAs would give you voice interfacing to the HA and so much more. They play movies and music too... Everyone can play games and surf with the unit they are carrying around. People who do not care about music will not want to carry a music player just to get a couple of announcements... You have to send security and HA announcements to speakers that are sure to play the warning where someone can hear.

It is a good idea, but I would try dreaming about the future more and thinking past music to things like Video & VR... I would also wait and see what new hardware comes out based around Windows Mobile 2005. I think the devices coming out now/in design phase will offer so much more than current PDAs in the form of hard drives, VGA screens, VGA outputs to run TVs, USB for (oh my...)...

Their prices are not much more than an iPOD. (if I am unaware of iPOD features that add value to an HA system, I wouldn't mind some links to keep my mind open =)

Vaughn
 

Ripper99

Active Member
DavidL said:
Our Cinemar dealers have asked that we incorporate a Sonance iPort docking station that provides 2 way integration with an iPod and has a public RS232 SDK. This when combined with multizone MusicLobby2 and MusicLobbyPPC and Russound Cav6.6 is the complete solution.
So you will have to pay for MusicLobby2, MusicLobby PPC, Russound CAV6.6 plugin and a new Ipod Plugin?

Sounds pretty pricey to control a Ipod if every plugin costs money..would probably cost as much as a new ipod just for the plugins and not to mention the cost of an Iport which will set you back $400-$700.
 

Ripper99

Active Member
For people that can code 2-way rs232 you have cheaper options, Mitch from http://www.rush2112.net/ sells cheap rs232 cables for communication with the ipod that are built with a ipod dock connector...cost for cable and debug software is $30

Even cheaper you can buy an adapter from Sparkfun Electronics called PodConsole for $19.99...I intially purchased one of these and with that adapter and a null modem cable I created a one way driver for CQC..you can read the details about it here and see a template I created for use with CQC on my touchscreen.

http://www.charmedquark.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=7135

**It is possible using these adapters to write a 2-way driver but unfortunately I haven't learned enough to do it yet..with Mitchs cable and software you have access to all commands needed to allow you to access the ipods database and see the playlist, tracks etc..you can send commands and see the replys in hex.

Even with the commands I have it is pretty easy to control the ipod and flip between playlists and tracks without a problem, while I can't see the 2 way info because the driver is one way it works fine..its also possible to make command buttons in CQC to go directly to a playlist using commands that would take you to the menu..press enter..scroll down 5 times and then hit enter.

Of course an Iport would be cool but for $400-$700 and then the cost of multiple plugins I think I'll stick with the one way control that cost less than $30, perhaps later someone will expand on my plugin and make it 2 way..if anybody can code CQC 2-way language contact me for a free cable that just needs a rs232 soldered on the one end if you'd like to attempt it...or if you can't solder and have a Ipod with the remote thing on the top of your Ipod I can donate a SparkFun PodConsole if you think you could code the plugin for 2-way.
 

BraveSirRobbin

Moderator
Sonos seems like a great system. The main problem I see is you can't interface any HA system to it (HomeSeer/Elk/CQC/Main Lobby/HAI/etc...). Has somone made an interface for it recently?
 

TCassio

Active Member
There is a plugin for Homeseer. The features are limited at the moment but the guy working on it says there will be improvments. The current plugin allows basic zone control, linking of zones, volume and Homeseer announcements. All communication is only 1 way at the moment.
 
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