I love music. I'm a firm believer that the right kind of music can inspire you to do great things. As a result, I like to have music playing throughout my home and office. Because our home isn't pre-wired for an expensive audio system, having a good audio experience is a little more difficult... or is it?
We live in a day when nearly everything is wireless (even some refrigerators can email you when you're out of milk and eggs), so the notion of needing to have your home or office pre-wired can be a thing of the past. In fact, I would even say that most of us already have a great wireless audio system in our home or office, and we may not even know it.
Most of us know that you can stream audio and video content from an iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch to an Apple TV, but did you also know that you can stream this same content from a Mac? In fact, with an Apple AirPort Express, you can also stream audio from any Apple device to speakers connected to that AirPort Express. Most people overlook this capability. This is great for entertaining large groups of people in your home or office, or just filling your home with great audio. To use this feature, all you need to do is click on the AirPlay icon in iTunes (shown in blue below):
When you do this, you will see a list of all devices (AirPort Expresses and AppleTVs) on your network that are capable of receiving the audio stream. This list will change automatically, depending on the network you are connected to. For example, the list you see at home will differ from the list you see at the office. If I select to stream audio to my "Office" AppleTV, it will look like this:
This is great if you want to play audio on one audio output device (TV, speakers, etc) at a time, but what if you want to fill your entire home (multiple audio output devices) with the same audio? Fortunately, Apple's iTunes makes this easy as well. When you click on the AirPlay icon to select your output preference, you will also see the option to send the audio to multiple output devices simultaneously. In my home, I have four Apple TVs and one AirPort Express (connected to speakers in my home office). By clicking the "Multiple" option on the AirPlay menu, it will give us the same list of compatible streaming devices, but with the option to select multiple devices at one time.
Not only can you choose multiple devices at one time, but you can also set a different volume level for each output devices, customizing your audio experience to exactly how you need it.
The possibilities and uses for this setup are only limited by your imagination. For example, this would be a great way to catch up on an audiobook... it plays throughout your home or office as you walk from room to room.
Looking for something a little more extensible? Check out the Sonos audio experience.