Are you really running 10.4.3? You should at least have 10.4.11.
If I want to listen to music through my home stereo system while actually WORKING on my computer, the set up is a nuisance; I can only work in close proximity to the stereo, and I've got wires and cords going all over the place.
I want a more elegant solution.
-> Apple Airport Express - $99. Much cheaper than another computer (and you can control the music from your laptop).
Plug it into an outlet next to the stereo & plug the audio output into your stereo.
Turn on your wifi on yourPowerBook and connect and your good to go.
"Stream music with AirPlay.
AirPlay takes the music from the iTunes library on your computer or iOS device and sends it wirelessly to any connected stereo or speakers in your home (audio cable sold separately). Play music on one set of speakers - or if you have more than one AirPort Express connected to speakers, play your music from iTunes on all of them at the same time"
There are a number of solutions to this problem. The most straightforward would be to have a computer near your stereo. If there's also a TV there, you could do what I do and get a Mac Mini to use for both music and video (both home and streaming). I'm quite happy with that setup.
If you don't have a TV and want a dirt cheap computer *just* to play iTunes, then your best option is probably a cheap PC of some kind.
There are also options involving bluetooth stereo receivers and wireless disks, but I'm not the one to talk about those.
Thanks for your suggestion, Chris. No, I'm actually up to date with OS 10.8.2. Guess I need to update that in my profile here!
Anyway, I've thought about the Airport Express option, but I have two concerns. First, I'd like to liberate my laptop itself from the chains of my hard drive as well as the audio cable connecting it to the stereo. Not too big a deal, but I'm after flexibility here. Second, what is the sound quality from Airport Express? The reason I'm putting everything on an external hard drive is that I want aiff music files rather than mp3 or some other such option. Basically, I'm looking to back up my entire CD collection. Is there any degradation of the sound quality on a good hi-fi system when streaming large audio files through Airport Express?
Thanks for your response, ejpre. Alas, no, I don't have a TV near the stereo, so a Mac Mini ain't gonna help. I've considered getting a cheap PC laptop exclusively for the stereo. Just seems like overkill to me. That, and I worry about cross-platform glitches for when I want to hook my MacBook Pro up, though maybe that's not a problem. I really wish Mac made an inexpensive, low-tech device that could be hooked up to an external hard drive just for the purposes of stereo playback. I'll see what I can learn about the bluetooth receivers and wireless disks you mentioned. Didn't know such existed.
Itunes shares pretty well between PCs and Macs. You here a few issues, but there are single platform issues, too.
The cheapest Apple option I can think of would be an AppleTV ($80), connected to a small, low end TV (but one that still had an HDMI input!) as a screen. In this scenario, you would stil have to share your library from your laptop, so the disk would be a separate problem.
The AirPort Express will play 16/44 (CD quality) & has optical out.
You can connect to your own DAC if you wish or connect directly to an amp input (optical or RCA).
You can also plug a printer into it with no need to connect one to your MacBook.
You could get a Time Capsule for a wireless hard drive or AirPort Extreme and plug in your USB drive.
Still need an Express for audio as neither of these have audio outputs.