The pinnacle of every home entertainment enthusiast has to be the multiroom system. Control audio and video in all of your rooms from one controller. Centralize your collection and use it anywhere. Read on to start building your affordable multiroom system.
If you’re starting out, you’ll immediately feel lost in the myriad of options out there. The easiest to start with, it getting audio throughout your house. The affordable options for video are much more limited and way more complicated. So lets start there.
The most known option for multiroom audio is also one of the most beautiful and well-executed ones: Sonos. It’s not the cheapest but you get what you pay for. It just works.
The Sonos system consists of several modules that you can mix and match to suite your needs: a standalone audio player with or without speakers, a receiver that you hook up to your own system, an audio server and a remote control.
The components connect through a proprietary peer-to-peer network that wirelessly distributes audio from anywhere to anywhere.
And all components look beautiful in their minimalist grey design.
If you want something similar, but cheaper. My next best tip would be to put Squeezeboxes throughout your house. However, recently Logitech has made a few changes to the platform (now called UE Smart Radio) that have rendered it much less interesting and have reduced the features. The move from SqueezeServer to UE Music Library has also rendered the entire ecosystem that exists around Squeezebox completely useless.
It’s a shame really.
There is a similar, yet cheaper alternative: the Grace Digital radios, including the Mondo (GDI-IRC6000).
Things to note with this system (compared to the Squeezebox Radio):
- The reviews seem to be very favorable.
- It comes with a usable remote (you can buy one for the Squeezebox Radio but it’s so small and limited, it’s practically useless)
- It supports standards like UPnP, a major omission on the Squeezebox in my opinion. UPnP allows you to connect the system to almost any media server.
- Many input options.
The free iPhone and Android apps allow you to control multiple systems, hence creating a multiroom setup.
If I want to add another Internet radio to my home, I’m probably going to pick this one. If you have experience with Grace Digital, please share your opinion in the forum.
Distributing video throughout your house is easy. Start up a media server and put Raspbmc boxes throughout your home. This will allow you to watch any media file anywhere. Or buy any of the streaming boxes we previously mentioned in our guide.
However, there are a few items missing in this setup: you can’t stream live TV throughout your house. There’s no centralized control. Also, you don’t get any fancy options, like start watching a movie in the living room and continue watching in the bedroom.
There are a fully integrated options available. However, these are usually not for the average Joe. These systems are usually prohibitively expensive. As far as I know, there’s no “in-between” solution, like what the Sonos is for audio.
But if you’re here, you’re not afraid of a little DIY and you can build your own and get close to your dream system.
One solution is setting up XBMC boxes all throughout your house and have them deeply share their library. There’s a tutorial for that.
Combine that with an app that can control multiple XBMC installations (pretty much all of them do that) and you have your first rough draft of a multiroom video setup.
It’ll take a few more tweaks, but you can get to this result: