An Inexpensive Way to Offer Music in Any Room with AppleTV Control

Low-Cost Multi-Zone Media Streaming with iPhone/iPad control using AppleTV and a DAC… It’s the holy grail, but rarely comes together. It’s low cost, easy to use, easy to install, and features iOS control.
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Low-Cost Multi-Zone Media Streaming with iPhone/iPad control using AppleTV and a DAC… It’s the holy grail, but rarely comes together. It’s low cost, easy to use, easy to install, and features iOS control.

My company has been doing it for a while for many of our customers, and it’s been a huge success. It was just a matter for finding the right DAC. We all know that AppleTV is a great little box for $99 and that most people love iOS control, but how do you make that a reality for whole-home systems? There are now a slew of affordable, capable DACs on the market. While I historically have been a bit of a DAC snob, using brands priced $400 and up, for the AppleTV I’ve been using a great little DAC from Zuum Media that hasn’t let me down and produces great sound for the price. It’s the DACD-Stereo for $169 MSRP.

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To install it, just run an optical cable from the AppleTV to the DAC and analog left-right cables from the DAC to the receiver or multi-zone system. Now you have an analog signal that can be distributed to any zone. Use the Remote app on your iPhone or iPad and control the music from anywhere in the home. It’s a solution for under $300 that clients love.

One thing to be aware of: be sure you get a DAC that can down-sample 5.1 sound to 2.0, which the DACD can do, but the Zuum Media DAC–Stereo cannot. If your DAC can’t do that, then anything in 5.1 will not play through the DAC and you will likely get some service calls from clients trying to listen to movie audio in another room.

Not only have we used this on new installs but it gives us a reason to re-approach customers with a new solution and gets us back in the door for other upgrades and other selling opportunities. What customer doesn’t want to hear “all your music in any room with iPhone control for under $600, installed” (as long as they already have a whole-home system).

With so many DIY products out there, we need to keep learning and keep revising our tool-kit so that we are prepared to meet our customer’s needs while still growing and turning a profit for our business. This is just one of the small ways we’ve found to do just that.

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+Todd Anthony Pumais president of The Source Home Theater Installation in New York City. 

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