Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Solution for Networked ITunes

I have always tried to find "out of the box" solutions for this problem. I love music. I have a lot of music. I have eclectic tastes in music. I have a stereo that plays speakers inside and out. How can I have full access to my Itunes library and play it through my existing stereo system? Sound easy, right? WRONG. 4 years. I tried every trick, network device and posting I could find. Everything had limitations. I used my Ipod on a dock, but that was cumbersome and did not offer the flexibility I wanted. I was basically looking for a user interface at the tips of my fingers to play any song I wanted, when I wanted. Now maybe your one who knew the answer to this, but let me tell you, you are a small minority. So here is how I solved this problem.

Stereo is housed out of sight in a remote cabinet. It is connected to two sets of speakers. One set in my kitchen(which really plays everywhere because of our layout) and one set on my patio in the back yard. I have a very large Itunes libary so I decided to centralize it to a media desktop(older Dell retro with hard drive and A/V card). This computer is housed in my basement. The Dell runs Windows 7 Pro and is running on ethernet. It is accessible so I can sync my Ipod as well. I have an audio cable running out of the computer into the stereo. (25ft cable) So now when I turn on the stereo and select Audio 1, whatever is playing on the computer, plays on the stereo. Now for the aaahhaaaa moment for me. I took an old laptop that had XP Pro running on it and configured Remote Desktop to connect to the Dell. The trick here is to change the settings to "Leave audio at remote computer". I then open Itunes on the RDP screen and, wait for it, all of my music at my finger tips inside or out. Awesome. I can cook and listen to Sinatra, then after dinner go out back smoke a cigar and listen to Van Morrison!!  Magic.

Now to complicate things a bit more, I needed to split that audio signal at the source to also play through my Home Theater System in the basement. Enter my local Radio Shack. RCA splitters!!!!!

I have read that the Ipad has the ability to remotely connect to your Itunes, but I have not tried that yet. My wife has the Ipad and if I try to add something else to that, we may need an intervention. So I will stick with my home grown, inexpensive solution. BTW a netbook with XP or seven will work great on the client end, but the transmission computer must have XP Pro or W7 Pro to give access to RDP.

I have also used RDP on my Android phone to connect via WiFi. It does connect, but screen is too small to really control well. I also used a RDP program on the Ipad, this too works, but the touchsceen is a bit difficult to navigate.

Good luck and drop me a line if you need any help.

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