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  1. #16
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    Darcy

    The tip I can offer you is build a component around the speakers you want in your little house. Speakers are always the key component, and then go from there. I would start by 1st visiting a high end stereo store in the Seattle area, NOT Best Buy or Fry's Electronics, every major city has these very specialized stores, at least one or two.
    Tom Welch > Mesa, Arizona, USA
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  2. #17
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    hi darcy,

    there is a theory that the best way to provide an amplified signal to a speaker is to design an amplifier for that particular speaker. that is what you get when you purchase an amplified speaker.

    more than anything, i would say it is important to listen to different speakers to get a sense for what you like.

    you can then send a "line level" (not amplified) signal to the speakers.

    one thing to keep in mind is that the speakers will require power, which means installing an outlet where you locate the speaker so as to avoid wires running down the wall.

    you mentioned the airport express, which is essentially an "airplay" receiver, much like the apple tv.

    airplay is still a new technology, and more solutions from different companies will be coming into the market. what is interesting about airplay is that you can easily send audio and video from your mac to your airplay receivers. what's more interesting is that you can have different airplay receivers play different selections from the same itunes library on your mac. so, for example, one apple tv can have fellowship of the ring streaming to it from your itunes library. another apple tv can have grey's anatomy streaming to it. another airplay device can be listening to lovely tune from mozart. and so forth... there is a limit, i'm sure. more so, the limit will be bandwidth, specially if these devices are connected to a wireless network rather than a wired network.

    i did a test with my apple tv, and it appears that the stream for a movie is about 1.1MB per second. i haven't done a test to see how many airplay devices will saturate the network, but someone at the apple store told me that they did an internal demo where they were able to stream to 8 airplay devices from one mac.

    reading and writing to the disk (disk i/o) also is a consideration when you have many different streams going at once. but you mentioned a smallish house, so i don't think this or the network bandwidth will be a limiting factor.

    but if the computer that is hosting the itunes library is doing other things, then disk i/o can become a factor.

    in the ideal situation, i would say dedicate a mac mini to being the center of your audio/video solution for your home. this mac mini, along with your wireless access point for your home, can sit in a closet that is at about the center of your home (if possible). placing the wireless access point in the center of your home should allow a good signal to be had throughout the home. placing these devices in a closet allows them to be out of sight so as to not take up precious living space. the mac mini can be controlled from your laptop or other computer. you don't need to have a monitor attached to the mac mini once it's all set up and ready to go.

    this is the approach we're taking in our new home. we're putting a mac mini and an airport extreme at the top shelf of the coat closet, which is on the main level, pretty close to the middle of the house. so there will be a network drop and an outlet located at shelf level in that closet. that way, the mac mini and airport express sit up on the shelf and aren't in the way of coats, shoes, and so forth.

    the wiring closet is located in the basement. from there, ethernet connections (cat 5e) and cable tv connections (rg6 or coax) run to various points in the house.

    there is a network+cable tv drop in the family room where a tv could be located, in the upstairs lounge where a tv will likely be located, and in the office/bedroom on the main level where no tv will be located. we had to pick 3 locations for these "multimedia drops."

    the plan for audio to everywhere else in the house is to use the wireless network. so an airplay device equipped with wireless network can be placed anywhere in the house for the purpose of receiving audio (and even video).

    there will be an apple tv located where the tv is located. it's small and unobtrusive, so i don't mind having a mini mantle next to the tv where the apple tv can sit.

    we have run a conduit from the wiring closet to the attic and from the wiring closet to where the tv is located. from the attic, i can drop any wires i need to into the upstairs bedrooms (and bathrooms, for that matter). the basement is unfinished, so i have access from the basement to the walls of the main floor. but we've also run a conduit from the wiring closet to the point behind the tv in the family room. the reason for this is that the tv would go above the fireplace, so it isn't easy to run a wire from the basement up to above the fireplace.

    we place pull strings in the conduit, allowing us to pull wires easily later.

    when you're working with a finish space, a little more work is required. but if you're not afraid to cut into drywall, you can do everything i'm describing. afterwards, you'll need a little mud, sandpaper, and paint to make it all look like you'd never cut into the drywall.

    we are limited in what we can have the builder do (and remain within a budget). but when you're doing a project yourself or working with a contractor, you have more options. if you run any network or tv wires, i would strongly suggest to run them through a conduit. this is a way of future-proofing your runs. so down the road, when another standard replaces the wires you've run, you don't have to open up your walls again. just don't run electrical wires through the conduit.

    if you have set top boxes (cable tv, verizon fios, satellite tv), these can also be an eyesore. rather than have them take up precious living space, you can also relocate these to a closet. you can use a radio frequency (rf) remote and a converter that will take that rf signal and convert it to an infrared (ir) signal. some set top boxes may even have an rf receiver built in.

    a blu-ray / dvd player or video receiver can also relocated to the closet and controlled with an rf remote.

    i hope this helps. sorry this is such a long post!

  3. #18
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    I highly recommend Sonos (http://www.sonos.com/Default.aspx?rd...&LangType=1033).

    Very easy to set up and you can then stream your music library to any speakers in the house, even different "zones" can play different music at the same time. In addition to your music files, Sonos can play the big music services (Pandora, lastFM, Napster, etc) and can play any internet radio stations.

    I love it!
    --------------------------------

  4. #19
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    Smile Hi all, just saw this thread..

    Might I suggest Orb speakers from http://www.orbaudio.com/? That's the way I was going to go with a small space in Hong Kong. Supposedly the sound is lot more superior to the Bose. I had a stand mounted Bose 5.1 system for Home Theater, it sounded okay I guess, and the speakers were small and discrete enough.

    I was going to get a new system with Usher speakers, which are from Taiwan, here http://www.usheraudiousa.com/, along with a LG tv and SVS subwoofer http://www.svsound.com/ before I moved to Asia, but then my priorities changed (along with finances).

    Dave in the Philippines
    Last edited by dbradford; 12-10-2010 at 12:41 AM.

  5. #20
    Registered User Fat Crip's Avatar
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    I feel as though I'm in a time warp here. Back before 1972, the theory was that speakers were all important and everything worked back from there. However, at that date a man called Ivor Tieffenbrun postulated, what seemed at the time radical, but became accepted fact, that what you lose at the source cannot later be recovered however good your speakers. Looking back on that initial statement, it is simple, clear and indisputable. with that in mind, he created the Linn LP12 turntable. Its still in production today, I have one, and it will out-perform any other source available today when using an analogue source. As we've moved to digital sources a digital streaming source can better it if its a good enough machine.

    So the question you might start with is 'what source are you going to use? As I've said before, I think that the CD is just a passing faze. Storing music on a computer, or better a NAS (network attached storage device) with a built in music server, makes most sense. You can have both your low quality iPod music files and lossless copies of your CDs; but also you can use everything from free downloads to studio master files at the best quality possible. You can also (must also!) keep back-ups.

    If you wanted a top quality, no holds barred hi-fi, you could go back to Mr T and 'invest' $100,000 in his Klimax music system which has to be heard to be believed (worth the trip to his new set up in Scotland) but for those of us of more modest means he offers a system for under 2,000. Or, there are others. I use a Sonos system. If you listen very critically, it isn't as good as my LP12 or my Genki CD player, but it is still very good, extremely flexible and great value for money. It will also play internet music sources. The best thing is that, if you use it wirelessly, it creates its own network, separate from your how computer system. This is much, much more reliable than, say Apple's airport family (which I use for music in my kitchen).

    Once you've decided what source to use, an amp and speakers just are a mater of budget. I play my Sonos through a Linn pre-amp, 2 active Linn power amps and some Linn Ninka floor-standing speakers, but you could use anything, including Sonos own all in one, their built in amp with separate speakers or anything by anyone else. But, don't put the cart before the horse - choose your source first, not your speakers.

  6. #21
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    Orb speakers sound interesting.
    Tom Welch > Mesa, Arizona, USA
    Author of 101 Financial Ratios 5.0
    Travel Lite & Smart

  7. #22
    Registered User Fat Crip's Avatar
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    Mav,

    I use an Airport Express in my kitchen, as I've no wired net-work there, and am to tight to buy another Sonos box, but it is very, very easily overwhelmed. If I'm doing nothing else, this just means the odd drop-out, but the minute I get on the internet, all hell breaks loose!

    Also, rather than using a mini-mac, I use a NAS with two 1GB hard drives in a mirror format (I think its called RAID 1, but I'm not sure). This cost only about 300, rather less than a Mini-Mac, and gives a huge capacity with back-up. I don't know if its 'better' but it works very well with its own built in media server.

    Eric

  8. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fat Crip View Post
    Mav,

    I use an Airport Express in my kitchen, as I've no wired net-work there, and am to tight to buy another Sonos box, but it is very, very easily overwhelmed. If I'm doing nothing else, this just means the odd drop-out, but the minute I get on the internet, all hell breaks loose!

    Also, rather than using a mini-mac, I use a NAS with two 1GB hard drives in a mirror format (I think its called RAID 1, but I'm not sure). This cost only about 300, rather less than a Mini-Mac, and gives a huge capacity with back-up. I don't know if its 'better' but it works very well with its own built in media server.

    Eric
    thanks eric! that's very helpful information.

    there are a number of factors that can affect wireless performance. because it uses a shared bandwidth, other access points using the same frequency can interfere with the performance of your device. also, having your device set up in mixed mode (to support 802.11n/a or 802.11b/g/n) yields less performance than if you are able to do just 802.11n. this will have to be set to accommodate the different devices you have, however.

  9. #24
    Registered User Fat Crip's Avatar
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    I hadn't thought about the a/b/g/n thing, but as you say I use pc's with g and apple's with n, so I suppose there's little I can do ... que sera!

    Oh, and by the way I meant two 1TB discs obviously!

  10. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fat Crip View Post
    I hadn't thought about the a/b/g/n thing, but as you say I use pc's with g and apple's with n, so I suppose there's little I can do ... que sera!

    Oh, and by the way I meant two 1TB discs obviously!
    actually, the 802.11(x) standards are independent of apple, microsoft or any other company. 802.11n is the latest (and fastest) wireless standard. it can operate at 2.4ghz or 5ghz frequencies. the latter is generally less saturated, as tehre are more devices out there operating at 2.4ghz. so you're more likely to get better performance with 802.11n at 5ghz than at 2.4ghz. that's not always possible, as all of your wireless devices need to support 802.11n at 5ghz. apple's iphone 4, for example, supports 802.11n, but only at 2.4ghz.

  11. #26
    Registered User Fat Crip's Avatar
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    That's really what I meant. My two Dell PCs only do 'g', but my MacBook Pro, iPad and iPhone will do 'n'. Its just down to the vintage of the machines rather than anything else. I'd hope in the next year or two to be all Mac, with replacements for the older PCs, but, firstly, I can't do it all at once (a new macbook, ipad ad phone in the last six months is a little 'draining'), but, no doubt, just as I get round to updating they'll be a new x, y or z format to present a new issue. I can see my system being set to accommodate all comers for ever!

  12. #27
    TOM BIHN Crew (we work here) Darcy's Avatar
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    This is amazing advice you guys -- thank you!
    Current Carry: Skookum Dog Citizen Canine prototype, Founder's Briefcase (every day carry), Small Cafe Bag (every day carry), Shop Bags (groceries, extra random stuff), Aeronaut 45 (travel), Synapse 19 (day hikes), Smart Alec (longer day hikes), Skookum Dog Road Duffel (Medium) (travel), Clear Organizer Wallet, Travel Stuff Sacks, Organizer Cubes

  13. #28
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    i've had the orb mod 2 system for the last 4 years. i use them for home theater and for music. they are physically limited due to their size but the quality and output are great otherwise. aesthetically, they are also quite attractive. i don't have room for floor standing or even bookshelf speakers so the satellite system was a compromise. if you're looking for something decent and unobtrusive, they are definitely worth looking into. just remember to set the crossover to a higher level than normal.

  14. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by maverick View Post
    separate the speakers from the mechanism that delivers the sound
    Amen to that. CD's are approaching obsolescence as anything but a "purchase and archive" medium, and the built in iPod dock so common these days is useless to those of us who don't own iPods.

    RCA ports or the good old 1/4" jack should be good for many years to come.

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