These days it seems nearly everybody has an Apple product, be it an iPhone, iPod, iPad, or a Mac/Macbook. And for good reason, they’re easy to use and provide you with a lot of features that either improve your life or increase your productivity. One of the more common things that people use their Apple products for is listening to music – through iTunes, Pandora Radio, or any other number of music applications (“apps”) available on the iTunes store. When we work with our clients, one of the main questions we get is: “How can I listen to music from my [insert Apple product here] throughout my house audio system?” And it’s a good question! I want to cover a few ways we help our clients integrate their Apple products into the A/V systems we install.

1. The Docking Station – Table top version

The docking station is a great way to integrate your iPhone/iPod into your house music system. It’s one of the more common methods we use and it has some really solid advantages, but a few disadvantages that are worth considering:

Advantages:

  • Powers/charges your iPhone/iPod
  • Provides a central location for connectivity
  • Can provide on-screen (television/keypad) navigation of music library / song selection
  • Easily automated for operation through keypads or hand-held controllers
  • Guest friendly

Disadvantges:

  • If/when Apple changes the connectors on their devices, it needs to be updated as well
  • Medium costs involved vs. other options
  • More difficult (or simply cannot) access music from applications (Pandora Radio, etc.)
  • Only supports iPod / iPhone

 

2. The Docking Station – In-wall version

An alternative to the table  top version of a docking station is the in-wall version. If you don’t have a great location for the table top, an in-wall docking station can be located virtually anywhere in your home. The advantages are very similar to the table top version.

Advantages:

  • Powers/charges your iPhone/iPod
  • Provides a central location for connectivity
  • Can provide on-screen (television/keypad) navigation of music library / song selection
  • Easily automated for operation through keypads or hand-held controllers
  • Guest friendly

Disadvantges:

  • If/when Apple changes the connectors on their devices, it needs to be updated as well
  • Higher costs involved vs. other options
  • More difficult (or simply cannot) access music from applications (Pandora Radio, etc.)
  • Only supports iPod / iPhone

 

3. AppleTV

Apple makes a product that many people are not aware of, it is called “AppleTV”. It is a device that you can connect your audio system (and/or individual televisions or video distribution system, if you have one) and display all kinds of “content”. This “content” is typically items stored on your Apple product, such as photos, video, or music (iTunes or applications – Pandora, etc.). If you have it connected to your television, you can view Netflix, rent movies from the iTunes store and more. Most importantly we can use it to bring your music into your house audio system and while it’s far more flexible than the docking station options, there are some drawbacks:

Advantages:

  • Future proof – no need to replace the AppleTV if Apple changes the connectors on their devices
  • Connect to it from anywhere in your house (Note: With proper wireless network – more below)
  • Can provide on-screen (television/keypad) navigation of music library / song selection
  • Full access to music applications (Pandora, etc)
  • Full Apple product support – iPhone, iPad, iPod, Mac/Macbook, etc.

Disadvantges:

  • Does not power/charge your Apple product.
  • Song / Music selection not as easily automated as some docking stations
  • Least expensive option (Note: If a wireless network already exists – more below)
  • Least guest friendly

The AppleTV requires a wireless network to be present in your home in order to connect your Apple product to it, so while the individual costs for the AppleTV itself are by far the least overall, if you also need a wireless network installed, it can become equal (or more, depending on the size of your home and the equipment required to provide a solid wireless signal throughout it) to the cost of a docking station option. Additionally, as opposed to the docking station where anywhere can drop their iPod/iPhone in and immediately listen to music, a guest will first need to log in to your wireless network and be shown how to send their music to the AppleTV.

 

Conclusion:

In closing, each of these three options provide a simple way to listen to your music throughout your audio system, whether that’s a single room Home Theater or a multi-zone audio system throughout your house. If you’re unsure which option is best for you, your family or your guests, feel free to contact us and we would be happy to help in determining which option will best suit your needs.