A friend of mine at work recently asked about putting together a zoned music system for his new home, as he’s now planning the wiring specs for the house. Part of that is to rough in the multimedia (AV, Audio, Cat5, Speaker wire, ect) throughout the house prior to the walls going up. Personally, I think that the Sonos Digital Music System Introductory Bundle Wireless multi-room audio system is a slick, user-friendly and top notch system, esp if you have a significant music collection on your PC. Great as you can manage the zones from one master panel.
Also very popular, and somewhat more economical, particularly if you have a large collection already on your PC are the products from http://www.rokulabs.com/. I’d suggest looking at both solutions. I like the bredth of the Roku line:
- Roku SoundBridge M1000 Network-capable digital music player, the
- Roku SoundBridge M2000 Network-capable digital music player, and the
- Roku SoundBridge M500 network music player
The challenge comes when you think of distributing music via zones. The Roku products provide a connection between the device and a set of speakers, and that conceptually limits where the music will play. If you want multiple zones then you have to purchase multiple devices (though you could run a Roku with a distribution amp to several different rooms). That’s the nice, all-in-one approach that Sonos solutions provide, allowing you to create a single zone from all zones and have the same music playing throughout the house, or have an individual zone for each device playing music independently.
There’s a thread on the Roku site that looks at pros/cons between the systems:
This is also possible with the Roku Labs system, as you can introduce the concept of zones through a third-party app running on the master PC: one way to do this is through a slick application from http://www.cidero.com/.
And there’s also "Visual Media Remote" (or in short "VisualMR") available at http://www.tl-it.de/media/pages/visualmr.php?lang=e, which is designed to be a compact, easy to use remote control for Roku SoundBridges for Microsoft Windows PC and PocketPC. A good thread on the Roku forums on this app is avaiable at http://www.rokulabs.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=3904.
As we have Media Centre PCs at home, a full library of ripped CDs and a wireless b/g network, my personal choice for the money is the Roku.
And then, of course, make sure you have great speakers and amps in place.