iTunes & Sonos Reunited
I was asked by a long-standing podServe client to source and install a new computer system for his London home. One of the key features was that it had to store his music in a form that was available to a new Sonos system. Without the computer having to be switched on all the time.
The configuration we agreed on was largely Apple components. We're both Apple fans so we opted for a new iMac (with the 20 inch screen), connected to Apple's AirPort Extreme (the new version with N grade comms) and a Netgear modem. Data storage ended up being a LaCie ethernet connected hard drive. Installation was a two phase approach, I went in one afternoon to connect up my hardware, the audio visual suppliers went in the next day to do their stuff, mainly setting up the Sonos system.
Actually there was a wait of several weeks while BT supplied first a broadband connection to the clients door, then a week or two before the phone wiring was able to get the signal up to the top of the house where we needed it. Anyway, I did my bit and when I left the music was on the hard drive, the system was connected to the internet, iTunes played music and there was a wireless signal so my client and his wife could use their laptops. The following day the AV team went in.
I got a message to say that although the Apple / iTunes / Sonos mix worked fine when the AV guys were there, our client found the next day that Sonos had 'lost' its music. No sound, no customer satisfaction. I was aked if I'd go onsite with the AV company's technical man to see if we could resolve this. Three hours later we had everything working, but it was a fraught installation.
The first problem we had to overcome was the http address of the ethernet drive - how do you find it? Actually this was simple, using the software LaCie supplies called IPConfigurator. This is a free download from the support area of lacie.com (its also bundled on their discs I believe). This is a simple utility that when run scours your network and comes back with a list of addresses for any connected drives. perhaps I should say LaCie conncted drives, I haven't checked to see if IPConfigurator will find drives made by other companies.
Mr podServe is a happy man thinking we're almost there. Over to the AV expert to use the Sonos configration software to set up the sound system. At this point we have a problem getting the Sonos software on the Mac to accept the http address of the drive. Eventually we got it to accept our entry - if you're doing this remember you need to input not only the address but also the username and password. Even so it wasn't easy to get the Sonos unit to go to the drive and catalogue the music.
We battled with the Sonos wireless connection, no luck. We connected the nearest Sonos to the router via ethernet cable, still it wouldn't access the drive. We swapped Sonos units thinking that might be the issue, nothing worked. So my AV guru had the brainwave to connect the LaCie hard drive to the ethernet port on the Sonos unit, which was in turn connected to the router.
Bingo! It worked, Sonos found the drive and catalogued the music library. Then that information was propagated through the Sonos network. It seems they create their own little peer-to-peer network for this purpose, very clever. To round off the configuration I opened iTunes on the iMac and set about getting the music library to point to the relocated LaCie drive. I had thought this would be a tricky task but no, very straightforward. When done (the main problem was waiting the 10 minutes it took to complete the re-listing in iTunes) we had:-
- a functioning Sonos network
- Sonos Zone players happily accessing different music from different parts of the house
- iTunes playing music from its library.
All at the same time, all with a very quick pick up time from the hard drive. We switched the iMac on and off, same for the Sonos, just to check amnesia hadn't crept back in and we found it worked and continued to work. Job done, Mr podServe is a happy man, as is the hi-fi guru.
The configuration we finished with is a Netgear modem/router to which we connected the iMac, the AirPort Extreme and one Sonos controller. The LaCie ethernet drive is conncted to the Sonos controller, from which the iMac happily accesses it. There's sound and wireless thoughout a four storey brick and concrete house on the edge of the City.