Recently I purchased a home that was originally owned by an audio guru, which I am not. This has its pluses and minuses. The pluses were the house came with great speakers installed in the ceilings of several of the rooms, including the garage and outside. The minuses were I had no clue how hook it all up. After speaking with the previous owner I decided that buying a Sonos Amp Connect for every room provide the functionality I was looking, being able to play different music in each room or having it all synchronized. Given the fact that I have 4 zones (Kitchen/Dining, Studio, Garage, and Outside) this would cost around $2000 just for the Sonos devices. There had to be a better way. So I started to do my research. Could I accomplish the same functionality with Airplay? But how can you hook up wired speakers and make them Airplay? Through my research I found the answer. Mini Amps and Apple’s Airport Express. The mini amp I use is the LP-2020A+ Lepai Tripath Class-T Hi-Fi Audio Mini Amplifier with Power Supply. You can find this amp for $20 on Amazon. Next you need purchase an Airport Extreme as the central wireless networking device (I already owned one). Lastly you need to buy and Airport Express for each room. My suggestion is to start with one room and get it working before you move onto the other rooms. Here are the steps I followed to get it up and running.
1) Make sure the entire speaker wires come to a single point in the house, like an audio closet. Also make sure they are labeled to what room they go to (This will help later).
2) Unbox and plug in the mini amp
3) Connect the speakers to the back of the mini amp (red to red, black to black).
4) Connection your audio cable (RCA to 3.5 mm) to the mini amp. (Red to Red, White to White)
5) Unbox and connect your Airport Express to your Airport Extreme (RJ 45 cable).
6) Power on your Airport Express and plug in the 3.5mm plug into the back of the Airport Express
7) Using your Mac, iPhone, iPad, PC follow the instructions for configuring your Airport Express.
8) When asked if you are extending you existing home network, answer yes.
9) Follow the instructions to configuring Airplay for the Airport Express. Name the Airport Express the room in which you are connecting. This is the room that will show up on your iOS devices to select.
10) Restart the Airport Express
11) Once the Airport Express is back up go into your iOS device and press the Airplay icon and you should see the room you just added. If not double check you connections and configuration.
12) Play some music through your iOS device and through the room you selected.
13) Use the volume on the mini amp, bass, and treble to set the right tone. If the speakers sound off or are breaking up, make sure the mini amp is set to direct not tone. I found that the best volume setting was 25% power.
14) You now have one room done. Repeat for each room you set up.
If you have any issues you can refer to the diagram below.
Airplay on Airport Express - http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4587
Airport Express Bridge Mode - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_0vidDHJcI
Airport Express Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/Apple-AirPort-Express-Station-MC414LL/dp/B008ALA2RC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1357227830&sr=8-1&keywords=aiport+express
LP-2020A+ Lepai Tripath Class-T Hi-Fi Audio Mini Amplifier with Power Supply Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0049P6OTI/ref=oh_details_o01_s00_i00
RCA to 3.5mm Cable Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000I3XIFI/ref=oh_details_o05_s00_i00
Created by Kenneth Peters Photography