Lately we've seen a swarm of new cloud-based music services, including Google Music, Spotify, and Apple's iCloud platform. People around the globe are clearly warming to the idea of accessing music from a central location and listening to it wherever they are.
Apple's iCloud, for example, will allow users to employ the cloud to listen to all their iTunes tracks on their iOS-based devices, as well as on Windows PCs and Macs. For users, the main benefit is the ability to enjoy tunes without the hassle of transferring files manually to different devices.
But what if you want to transfer music around your home to listen to tracks in different rooms? Let's take a look at some products that will help you do just that.
Sonos Multi-Room System
The Sonos Multi-Room System is an expensive proposition for people who want to listen to their music libraries around their house--but with the right setup, it works quite well.
Sonos's system offers several options. One product, the ZonePlayer 90, can connect to your amplifier and speaker system. Another model, the ZonePlayer 120, has an amplifier built in, which means you merely need to hook up speakers to it in order to listen to music. Finally, the company sells the Sonos S5, which is basically a wireless speaker.
All of those devices can wirelessly communicate with the ZoneBridge or another ZonePlayer, which is connected to your home router.
The nice thing about the Sonos system is that you can separately control all of the assorted players you might have around the house. For instance, if you want to listen to jazz in one room and hear pop music in another, you can use the Controller to play those different selections in each room. In addition, you can make the music you're listening to follow you around the house, by choosing the room you're entering from your Controller.
Previously, Sonos offered only a single Controller. These days, owners of the company's systems can also use the firm's free apps for the iPhone, the iPad, and Android-based devices to control its music players.
As for content, Sonos supports quite a bit of audio. You can stream songs from your iTunes library, as well as MP3 tracks, through Sonos systems around the house. What's more, the service supports streaming services, such as MOG, Napster, and Pandora. And if you're a satellite-radio fan, you can also stream SiriusXM content.
But before you run out to pick up a Sonos Multi-Room System, be aware that the products will set you back a sizable sum. The Sonos ZonePlayer 90 costs $349, while the Sonos ZonePlayer 120 costs $499. The S5 wireless speaker goes for $399. And if you don't want to use the company's mobile Controller application, you'll need to pay $349 for its Sonos Controller 200.
Depending on how many rooms you'd like to hear music in, you could end up spending thousands of dollars on the Sonos Multi-Room System before you even factor in speakers.
If you're not eager to spend thousands of dollars on a Sonos Multi-Room System, you might want to consider the Logitech Squeezebox line.
Logitech offers a range of Squeezebox devices that allow you to listen to music around your home, including the Squeezebox Radio, the Squeezebox Touch, and the Transporter SE Network Music Player.
The Squeezebox Radio comes with a built-in speaker and is designed to sit on a coffee table or nightstand. The Squeezebox Touch, on the other hand, features a 4.3-inch touchscreen and a stand that will help you prop it up on a table anywhere in the house. However, unlike the Squeezebox Radio, the Touch does not integrate speakers, which means you'll need to hook up external speakers in order to pump sound into the room.
It's a similar story for the Logtech Transporter SE: That device is designed to attach to your home stereo system and deliver all the music you want directly to your home-entertainment rig.
Like Sonos's system, Logitech's network music players allow you to stream your personal music library, as well as streaming services such as Last.fm, Pandora, and Internet radio stations. All of that content streams over your home wireless network, since the devices Logitech sells are Wi-Fi-compatible. You can control the company's various devices with the help of its Squeezebox remote app, which is available for free in Apple's App Store and the Android Market.
Logitech's Squeezebox devices are notably cheaper than Sonos's alternatives. The Squeezebox Radio, for example, retails for $180, while the Squeezebox Touch will set you back $300. The Transporter SE, however, costs a hefty $1300.
Apple AirPort Express
Although Apple's AirPort Express is primarily designed to help users extend their home networks to more rooms in the house, you can use the product to pipe music to multiple rooms too.
The AirPort Express supports Apple's AirPlay service, which allows you to stream iTunes content wirelessly around your home. To set it up, you'll need to connect the AirPort Express to an electrical outlet and then run an audio cable from the device to speakers or your home-theater amplifier.
Once that step is complete, you need to go back to iTunes and find the AirPort Express you just hooked up. You then assign the AirPort Express to a room, and choose which tracks to play through the device.
Since you're after a multiroom music system, though, keep in mind that you'll need to buy an AirPort Express for every room. And although you can play music in every room at the same time, it's worth noting that if you're playing music in multiple rooms, you can stream only one song at a time.
Admittedly, the AirPort Express lacks many of the features of the Sonos and Logitech products, but Apple's offering will help you save some cash: The AirPort Express retails for $99. If you don't have standard audio cables hanging around, you'll need to buy those separately.
You may be wondering if any of these systems would be worth the investment. It might sound expensive--and it is--but by having one (or a few) of these technologies running in your home, you'll be able to enjoy a range of audio, including radio programming and your personal music, no matter where you are. And the best part is, you can quickly get your music up and running, since all of the above products are quite easy to set up.
This story, "Make Your House Rock From Any Room" was originally published by PCWorld.