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Apple Network and Entertainment System: Need Help Please

1226 Views 9 Replies Latest reply: Nov 12, 2012 5:53 PM by iToaster RSS
rockstarg Calculating status...
Currently Being Moderated
Aug 4, 2011 7:49 AM

So to start off I am an entry level network technician/administrator with experience in OS's like Win, OS X, and Linux. 


What I'm trying to do is rebuild my relatives' home network and entertainment system to be up to par with today's awesome entertainment digital standards.


They have a crap linksys router, mac mini dual core, brother MFC 8460N printer,  dlink extender, denon AVR 3311IC, Samsung Blu Ray, XBox360, DVR, and Epson Projector.  These are all the things that I'm dealing with in the network.


There are two floors.  The first floor has the printer, modem, and router which then feeds to the second floor where their media room has the projector, blu ray, denon AVR, XBox, and DVR.


My goal is to make the perfect network.


First off they hate switching from one network to the other when changing floors.  To fix this we're going to get an Airport Extreme BS and Airport Express extender to create a WDS network for seamless transitioning while both access points are a single network.


0) For WDS to work does each access point need to be wired by Ethernet to the base station to add to the network or do they wirelessly mesh together to repeat each other? Also what is the difference between remote and repeater?


1) Is this a valid solution?  Can this be done?


Next, post airport express, will be an 8 port gigabit switch which will network the blu ray, denon, xbox, and airport express.  Now the Denon AVR 3311IC has the ability to upgrade to airplay for $49.  I also want to hook up his mac mini from the office to the entertainment system to use as a sudo Apple TV.  I'll get to why I'm moving it later.


2) If I upgrade the Denon to Airplay, can I stream VIDEO to it?


3) Is the Mac Mini HDCP compliant so I can use its HDMI through the Denon?


Onto the next phase, I'm adding a Lion Server Mac Mini to their network in the office.  This server is going to store all their music and videos allowing them to airplay the library to any Airplay compliant device in the house.  Also it will store critical files and data as well as a Time Machine backup for work.  These critical files will require access to by certain cooworkers for VPN


3) Can I select shared libraries on the server or other Macs from iOS devices to airplay remote to other airplay compliant devices such as the Denon or Mac Mini?


4) Is it possible to run a Time Machine backup on the server? If not, can I plug in any Ext Hard Drive into the Airport Extreme and use that as the TM backup?


5) Do I need any outside source (web hosting) for VPN access?


6) Do the dual 500GB hard drives in the Mac Mini Lion Server run as Raid 0, Raid 1, or as one whole TB?


Now the reason I'm moving the Mac Mini to the entertainment room is so that they can use a Mac to Web Browse, play movies and music.  I'm going to use an app called Banana TV or AirServe to turn the standard Mac Mini into an airplay capable device.  With that said it, originally once added to homesharing, it can see all iTunes libraries anyway but I want iOS devices to control what plays on the Mac Mini.


7) Do I need Banana TV? It costs $7.99 and might be redundant as I could probably use an App on an iPad to control what's playing on Mac Mini without Airplay? 


Last but not least, they want speakers in the kitchen.  Most of all I want them to have Airplay Speakers in the Kitchen.  I haven't found a good solution for this yet.  The best I could think of was adding another Airport Express into the mix through WDS and using 1/8" to speaker output.  This is a muddy way of doing things.  The iHome W1, W2, and W3 aren't out yet which makes things difficult.


8) What other solutions are there for airplay speakers besides the ony alternative which is the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air Wireless AirPlay Speaker Dock?


9) When is the iHome W1, W2, and W3 coming out?


Thank you for taking the time to read this and answer my questions, I really appreciate it.

  • John Lockwood Level 5 Level 5 (5,080 points)

    With WDS for extending your wireless network, the Main device would need an Ethernet connection to your router, but the Remote device would not need an Ethernet connection. The whole point of WDS is to wirelessly extend your network. So in your case the AirPort Extreme would have an Ethernet link to the router, and the Express would be the Remote device. Unless you have a specific need for the Express you could consider using two Extreme units. The Extreme unit supports more clients and is faster than the Express, and has a stronger signal.



    The Denon equipment at the moment I believe only supports music via AirPlay but at some future point might also do video. See


    The Mac mini (with built-in HDMI) is indeed HDCP compliant.


    A Mac mini server running iTunes can use AirPlay to stream music to the Denon (with AirPlay upgrade). However while it can in theory stream to more than one set of speakers, it can only stream the same single music to all of them at the same time. If you want to have different rooms play different tracks then either look at the Sonos ZonePlayer product range (which can be accessing music stored on the Mac mini server), or each iPod Touch, iPhone, or iPad can stream its own copies of music to AirPlay devices.


    Yes a Mac mini running Lion Server can act as a Time Machine server. However look also at the Apple Time Capsule. This is effectively an AirPort Extreme with a built-in Time Machine drive. Officially an AirPort Extreme cannot act as a Time Machine server.


    No you do not need an external hosted web provider to run VPN. You either will need a static IP address or to use something like DynDNS so that remote users can 'find' your VPN server.


    As default the two hard disks in a Mac Mini server are just two separate volumes. You can wipe and reconfigure them as RAID 0, RAID 1, or JBOD. Make a backup before wiping.


    The free Apple Remote app for iPhone etc. can control what iTunes on a Mac is playing.


    Re kitchen. I again refer you to looking at Sonos. Sonos is not the same as AirPlay, the most important difference is that each room could play different music. A single iTunes application will only play one track to all destinations.


    The B&W Zepplin is an excellent AirPlay speaker system.


    iHome what???


    PS. Have a look at and think about the Apple TV. One iTunes system can act as a server to multiple Apple TV units which could each play different tracks or videos. The Apple TV units can be controlled using the free Apple Remote iPhone app.

  • John Lockwood Level 5 Level 5 (5,080 points)

    rockstarg wrote:


    For the Apple TV I'm definitely considering it for expandability when the new network pans out.


    1) So the Time Capsule functions just like an Airport Extreme but has a hard drive in it?




    2) The sonos uses its own app.  Can I select the shared library from the server on the sonos app and play anything from it remote controlled by an iPad/iPhone?  Is there an OS X/Windows app for the remote control as well?


    the Sonos system accesses the music from a shared folder on a file server. In your case presumably the Mac mini would be your file server. You can then use either the Sonos remote control, or an iPod Touch/iPhone/iPad running the Sonos app, or a Mac or Windows computer running Mac or Windows versions of the Sonos application. A single program/app/remote can control the entire network of Sonos ZonePlayers.


    3) Do I need to have a Sonos Bridge in order to configure the Sonos Play 3/5? If I have one ZonePlayer, does it act as a bridge in itself?


    You need a single Sonos device to act as the link between the Sonos network and the computer network. It does not matter whether you use a ZoneBridge, ZonePlayer, Play:3, or Play:5 to do this. The reason the ZoneBridge exists is that sometimes the best location to do the link is not a location you want to play music (e.g. a cupboard under the stairs). If however you have an Ethernet link in the same room you want to play music then a ZonePlayer would be able to do the job of both playing music and acting as the link.


    4) So you're saying if I have two Airport Extremes or one Extreme and one Express they don't need to both linked via ethernet to broadcast as one network via WDS?  WDS in fact means that all access points configured with WDS will act as one continuous access point?




    5) In WDS what is the difference between a remote base station and a relay base station?


    The main one is the Master and would be connected to the router. A remote has to be connected to either the master, or a relay. A relay has to be connected to the master. It maybe easier to understand by looking at the following 'diagrams'.


    The following is possible


    Master ------------- Remote


    Master ------------- Relay ------------ Remote



    The following is not possible


    Master ------------- Remote --------- Remote


    Master ------------- Remote --------- Relay

  • John Lockwood Level 5 Level 5 (5,080 points)

    rockstarg wrote:


    You have been very helpful and I am very appreciative of all of your answers.


    I have a few more questions and comments thus far.


    1) Sonos: the only speakers that have built in bridge are the zoneplayer models, correct?



    Every Sonos model can act as a bridge. Just one needs to be connected via Ethernet to the computer network, all the other Sonos devices then transfer data via that Sonos device acting as the bridge. As I mentioned the only point of the bridge only Sonos Bridge model is that it is intended to be used if the location (with Ethernet) is a location that will not be used to play music e.g. a cupboard.


    2) The bridge is used to link 1 or more speakers to a single play point?  Scenario: If I have a room of four speakers, I can link them all to one bridge to play the same thing?  If I do not need the bridge can I still use the speakers wirelessly just as a single play point?


    No. A bridge is used to link the entire computer network to the entire Sonos network. It does not matter how many Sonos devices there are. You do need a bridge but remember ANY Sonos device can act as the bridge. The Sonos devices themselves do not store the music they need to access it from a computer file server so you must connect the Sonos network to the computer network (via a bridge or other Sonos box).


    If you have a room with no speakers, then maybe the Play:3 or Play:5 (which have built-in speakers) might be best.


    If you have a room with two (or more) speakers already in it, these may be already connected to a HiFi system. In which case you would use a ZonePlayer and connect it to an input on your HiFi (e.g. the Aux port) using suitable cable. The same applies if you have an AV Receiver used to drive a surround sound set of speakers.


    Note: Music on CDs is only stereo not 'quadraphonic' however your HiFi or AV Receiver will handle this.


    3) So between a master and remote must be a relay and nothing else in between?  The master and remote are the terminal ends in the WDSystem?  Scenario: In a case where my goal isn't exactly to daisy chain but to just cover an entire area does it matter which device is the relay or remote?


    Multiple Remotes and/or Relays can be directly connected to one Master.

    Multiple Remotes can be connected to a Relay

    Nothing can be connected to a Remote


    So you could do the following as an example


    Remote <---------- Master ---------> Relay -----------> Remote


    I am showing the above as a single line because that is easier to draw in text but you could have additional Remotes hanging off both the Master and Relay in the above example. While there is no point, you can have a Relay with nothing hanging off it.



    4) Or would I have to create a daisy chain?


    You don't have to create a daisy-chain. Stars/branches are ok, however loops are a bad idea.

  • KenZakreski Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    What with winter coming I will have sometime to set up the home system for tunes. I put up a post of my situation here


    I read your post. I wonder if we are going about this the wrong way by totally trying to control things digitally. Maybe an old school approach may work better. I am just spit balling here but what about serving audio to a small 1 watt stereo FM transmitter then using FM receivers at each stereo.


    Would simplify things a bit, not sure yet. What say you?





  • iToaster Level 3 Level 3 (585 points)

    Thought of using a Raspberry pi with raspbmc (xbmc) low power small size media centre, cost about $25 plus 1amp power supply

    About the size of a credit card built in hdmi network connection,USB, os runs off SD card

    Supports hdmi, hd video, music and TV with additional ext USB TV tuner, wifi with supported USB wifi

    Raspbmc (xbmc) supports airplay allowing iOS devices to stream to it

  • KenZakreski Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)



    I actually just loaded wheezy over parallels on my macbook to see how bout dat. 


    I would be concerned with power down. I like to just shut the music power off when I leave the house and I understand wheezy doesn't like to be turned off in that manner. It likes an orderly shut down. which puts me going to the device telling it to shut down, wait for the shut to complete then powering off the stereo. I could leave the rasppi running and shut off the stereo, I guess. Use a managed ups for the regular power outages out here on the farm. Find a  wheezy/raspian port for apcupsd. load that.


    The test is if my wife likes it. She has a Masters in Education, manages a classroom and is the resource person at her elementary school. Will she be able to turn the stereo on and off? change playlists? Yet she still struggles with the tv remote.


    She can manage iTunes on her iPod, but I don't know if linux is ready for her.





  • iToaster Level 3 Level 3 (585 points)

    yes wheezy shutdown maybe an issue, raspbmc has a big power off button in the gui

    raspbmc is more appliance like than wheezy

    have a look at xbmc, raspbmc is practically the same with xbmc PVR included

    raspbmc is in release candidate mode ATM but it works

    XBMC plays video,music,photos, airplay, supports DLNA

    There is web remote control built in and android and ios remotes for xbmc (raspbmc)


    you could just leave rasbpmc running and just stop whatever it is your playing

    rasp pi doesn't use much power


    There is also squeezeplug a rasp pi headless media center


    I think raspbmc would have much more WAF


    LOL this is getting way off topic!


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