- Different Types of Listening for Different Types of Rooms
- Controlling the System
- Choosing Auxiliary Speakers
- Option 1: Secondary Speaker Outputs
- Option 2: Speaker Selector
- Option 3: Multi-Zone A/V Receiver
- Option 4: Multi-Source Preamplifier and Distribution Amplifier
- Option 5: Digital Media Server
- Option 6: Network Media Hub
- Tip Sheet
Option 5: Digital Media Server
Several major players in the consumer electronics space have come up with a new piece of equipment that can serve music to multiple locations. The digital media server uses a hard disk to store your music library in digital fashion. Multiple read/write heads on the hard disk can play multiple music streams simultaneously; the media server can then send these feeds over your home network to subsidiary devices in other rooms.
For example, Denon's NS-S100 multimedia server has a 120GB hard drive and functions as a high-end A/V receiver, personal video recorder, and digital audio playback device. Connect one or more companion NS-C200 multimedia client units via Ethernet, and you can listen to multiple music streams in multiple rooms. It's a pricey solution, though; you'll pay $4,000 for the main unit and $1,000 or so for each auxiliary unit.
Another option is Yamaha's MusicCAST system. The main MCX-1000 System Server has an 80GB hard drive; connect one or more MCX-A10 Wireless Digital Audio Terminals (via WiFi) and you have an instant whole-house audio system. The MusicCAST system is a little more affordable than the Denon system, with the base unit going for $2,200 and the client terminals going for $600 each.
These are the advantages of using a digital media server:
Easy setup. You can use either wired Ethernet or wireless WiFi connections.
Lots of options. Send multiple music streams to multiple rooms, as desired.
Excellent control of playlists. When you're playing a lot of music, it helps to organize your favorites around artist, album, genre, or other criteriawhich digital media servers let you do quite easily.
Disadvantages include the following:
Limited source. You can play only the music stored on the system's hard diskthe digital media player doesn't stream music from CD players or other devices.
Prep time. You have to rip all your music to hard disk before you can use the system.
Limited quality. Limited to MP3-quality sound.
Possible speaker limitations. Depending on the device, you may not be able to connect auxiliary speakersyou may be limited to the client device's built-in speakers.
This type of system is still in its infancy. Keep an eye out for future developmentsor read more in this related article.