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Ask Slashdot: Can You Convert Old iPods Into A Home Music-Streaming Solution? 118

Slashdot reader zhennian wants to stream music throughout his entire house, "and was hoping that with three old iPods I might be able to put together a centrally managed house-wide audio system." Ideally it would be possible to control what's playing from a central web interface using an app on an IOS or Android device. With the iPods already plugged into docking stations and on the home wifi network, I assume it should be possible.

A search of the Apple app store didn't bring up much and forking out $AUS400 for a Sonos One or equivalent seems wasted when I've already purchased iPod docks. Can anyone recommend an App that will still be compatible with old (ie. 2007) iPods and might do this?

Or is there a better cheap alternative? Leave your best answers in the comments. Can you convert old iPods into a home music-streaming solution?

Ask Slashdot: Can You Convert Old iPods Into A Home Music-Streaming Solution?

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  • by nospam007 ( 722110 ) * on Sunday November 12, 2017 @06:46AM (#55534647)

    Get refurbished Echo dots for under 35 bucks.

    Additionally to playing music in all the rooms, voice-operated, it will open the door, make calls, control the lighting and read books to you or good night stories to the kids and help them with their maths.

    • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Sunday November 12, 2017 @07:07AM (#55534689)

      Now to open doors, make calls and adjust lighting. How much extra stuff on top of that $35 do you need?

      For the most part Echo alone is as useful as you voice assist on your smartphone. And for smartphones you can get stuff to open doors, control lighting. However I never checks the specs to see if a smartphone can make calls. They never advertise that feature.

    • How's the audio quality? Can you line-out to bigger / better speakers?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 12, 2017 @08:33AM (#55534899)

      I love these sorts of questions. Dear Slashdot, I have 8 Linksys routers from 2006 in my closet, I would like to know how to wire them together to create a smart garage door opener. I know cheap turnkey solutions exist, but that would involve googling them. I'll be patiently awaiting your answer. Love, A Faithful Reader

    • by methano ( 519830 )
      The original question is just flat out stupid. These days, devices to generate the sound waves needed are ubiquitous. So those old iPods are useless and have no vauue. Why use an iPod when you have a million better sources for sound. And you're not saving any money. The speakers are where all the costs live.

      "I've got a couple of old lug nuts lying around the house. Anybody know how I can use them to make a Formula I race car?"
      • Man, if you've never cobbled together a solution from disparate devices that were in no way the best option for something, you really get out too much.

  • Squeezebox solution (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 12, 2017 @06:54AM (#55534663)

    Assuming the ipods are iOS based then you could use an app like iPENG classic to make the ipod into a squeezebox player
    Then you just need a computer or raspberry pi equivalent to run the server software on and you should be set to go

    • Third This !! :)
    • by Etcetera ( 14711 )

      Assuming the ipods are iOS based then you could use an app like iPENG classic to make the ipod into a squeezebox player
      Then you just need a computer or raspberry pi equivalent to run the server software on and you should be set to go

      This is probably the best way to go.

      A big question is whether you have multiple speakers you want to broadcast to at once. Also, I'm assuming you mean "iPod Touch" here and not the classic iPods. Classics cannot broadcast on their own except to whatever they're physically docked into (although that itself can do what it wants with it). However, neither has the ability to AirPlay to multiple devices simultaneously (which is what you want for a whole-house solution). Personally, I have a Windows box running i

      • IIRC the iPod Touch didn't come out until after 2007. Sounds like he is trying to do this with the "classic"-style iPods that were even more walled off than the ones running iOS. Probably would be *easier* to junk everything and buy into whatever system Apple is offering this year. It would be *cheaper* to ditch Apple entirely and build a system based on Raspberry Pis or something else without a logo tax and planned obsolescence.
      • by vlad30 ( 44644 )

        It can be hard to find AirPlay speakers out there nowadays.

        This is the problem with almost all tech, a few years and your rebuilding the whole system as it no longer works because one part has lost support even though it is still totally functional on its own and the work/time involved to keep it going exceeds its value. I've noticed the time to to make something redundant is far less than it used to be.

        The real question is how long will this solution last when implemented

      • It can be hard to find AirPlay speakers out there nowadays.

        There are plenty of dirt cheap AirPort Expresses out there on eBay with AirPlay support built in. Just plug in your favorite speakers!

    • See this for a squeezeboxserver that runs on a Raspberry Pi http://picoreplayer.sourceforg... [sourceforge.net]
    • Thanks for this helpful suggestion, I should have specified that the iPod Touches in question are Gen2 MC and MB models and Apple ceased ISO support at 4.2.1, so I was frustratingly close to an iPeng / Squeezebox solution.
    • ...or use your Pi to be the server, and use the ipod as external storage with your MP3s on it. Use whatever you like as the client side.

      I've got an ipod shuffle (old style, the one with the 'stand' for charging it) - the battery's shot, so I don't suppose it'll do much useful any more, but I did wonder if I could use the clicky buttons for something. I'm not even sure how to open the case though...

  • I did mine with some T-class amps, (about 25 each), Chromecast audio (15 each), some leftover speakers I had lying about, Google Home, and Plex. That way I had decent audio quality (insofar as the speakers were hifi quality). You can tack on extra bluetooth speakers (if they allow 3.5mm inputs) if you don't have speaker pairs, and add more rooms that way. Echo dots are not that great for music.
    • I have musicpd on my NAS and I also export my music directory as read-only NFS share. I can then plug in any cheap machine with acceptable sound (or a RPi for rooms where sound quality isn't that big a deal) also running musicpd. There are multiple apps (desktop, web, and mobile) for controlling musicpd and I can configure each one to output as a stream as well as to the local speakers, so that the others can either listen to their own queue or be slaved to another. Musicpd is packaged for just about an
  • I'm sure you can (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Sunday November 12, 2017 @07:20AM (#55534733)

    Just like you can convert and old car into a bicycle I'm sure you can turn iPods into a Frankenstein's monster example of what technology was not supposed to do. The result will nearly always be inelegant, frustrating and I'll bet you a Mars bar you'll throw it away soon after you finish and buy an of the shelf solution anyway.

    Speaking of buying these DIY solutions often end up costing fat more than you estimate as you find repeated shortcomings in what you create.

    Take it from me, don't proceed unless you're a hobby tinkerer or a bored engineer who enjoys the busy work.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Back in 2002, we ate these projects for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

      Doing crazy things "because we can" was considered a pillar of geek and hacking culture.

      And this here was far from the the craziest stuff.
      I mean an iPod is a computer with audio playback and wireless networking.
      Putting Linux on it and making it into pretty much anything we want, and then some(!), including people posting kernel patches to do it, was and should be considered normal for us owners of a geek card.

      But hey, we also still knew the

      • Sure, you could rig up a Raspberry Pi to network each iPod, then make one of them the "master" with a database and web interface, control it with the well documented serial protocol, run line out to an amplifier and external speakers...

        But why the fuck would you?!

        We have half a dozen or so iPods lying around the house... they used to get heavy use. And one is actually used in a useful way for home audio: it is hooked up to a Sonos dock, and along with 5 speakers of various models, we have whole-house audio

      • The economy recovered, that's what. In 2002, the economy... especially tech... wasn't just receding or declining, it was collapsing. When companies were closing down left and right, half the world was laid off, and even if you were employed you were never confident that your company wouldn't go under next week then sure; half-assed solutions hacked together with whatever scrap you could find lying around made a certain amount of sense. Back then, I had a closet of castoff junk that resembled the droid ba

      • It depends what you want to achieve.

        If you want to tinker, then sure - tinker away.

        If you want a centrally managed housewide audio system, get one.

        If you want to combine the two, get a devkit and write your own apps.

        But OP seems to want an off the shelf tinkering solution.
  • This is very easy to do if you have some savvy. The software has been around for a very long time. The hardware is cheap.

    Hardware:
    TPLink OpenWRT compatible wifi router with USB port.
    USB Hub
    USB hard disk
    USB sound hardware.
    [already existing home stereo(s)]
    Stereo patch cables

    Software:
    OpenWRT with suitable sound modules, the MPD (Media Player Daemon), netjukebox, and apache web server (with php) packages.

    Really, ANY minimalist linux box with USB ports and a network stack would work, but these wifi routers are c

  • Airfoil is close. (Score:5, Informative)

    by darkith ( 183433 ) on Sunday November 12, 2017 @09:01AM (#55534973)

    Airfoil will stream content from an iOS device to a computer, and then to multiple target devices (many brands), including iOS 7+ devices running their satellite app. Has balancing and zones, etc.

    My brother has it setup this way, using a mishmash of old iPods, Airport expresses, AirPlay compatible speakers and and Apple TV.

  • look it up. my brother was ooing and aaahing about these wi-fi speakers
  • by Qbertino ( 265505 ) <moiraNO@SPAMmodparlor.com> on Sunday November 12, 2017 @09:42AM (#55535095)

    Then go ahead and try to fiddle something with those old iPods.

    As far as I can tell, a Rasberry Pi and MPD (music player daemon) does the trick faster, easyer and cheaper.

    My 2 cents.

    • Using an existing iPod touch, you already have a decent DAC. You would need to go the USB DAC route with the pi if you care even a little about audio quality.

  • when I built my house in 2002, I put in the speaker wire runs for wall speakers before the drywall went up. Once we closed on the house I used a fox and hound to find the ends inside the wall by connecting the tone generator to the junction box where all the wires converged. I then installed in-wall speakers that I got for a deal on ebay in white so I could dry brush the wall color paint on them to remove that plastic look. I have a simple zone selector switch that bridges the audio to all the channels and

  • What do you mean? African click wheel iPod or European iOS iPod touch?

  • Here's some 10-year old software for your 10-year old hardware:

    http://www.nongnu.org/streamtu... [nongnu.org]
    http://streamripper.sourceforg... [sourceforge.net]

    So on my main server I would set up a streaming proxy, that would also save whatever content from internet radio streams I was listening to, and I'd point all of the other clients in the house to it so they'd all be playing the same thing as I walked from room to room. Usually there wasn't any noticeable lag between them, but different internet radio clients do buffer more than o

  • I use Rasberry Pis running Logitech Media Server (free as in gratis, don't know if libre), and squeezelite (libre) player software. The d/a and amps for the Pis come from IQaudio. There is at least one other supplier of comparable-spec Pi audio hardware, but I haven't tried them. Use the d/a for line out to existing audio systems; use the d/a-amp combo to drive fairly substantial speakers. I use the various computers and smartphones around the house to control it. They can also run the squeezelite player so
  • Squeezebox (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fluffernutter ( 1411889 ) on Sunday November 12, 2017 @10:53AM (#55535401)
    Logitech Squeezebox is still around. Install squeeze server on any PC in your home, and squeeze player on the iPods, attach to radios whether it be through the aux in or an old one with a dock, done. Remote control with Orange Squeeze on your phone, or though the Squeezebox console.
    • Thank you for this suggestion, also made by a few others, including use of iPeng Classic. Unfortunately the MC/MB G2 iPod Touches that I have won't even run the oldest available Squeezebox client or iPeng. Even after trying a whited00r flash. I guess Apple do a very good job of making their old (but still functional) hardware obsolete as soon as possible.
      • That sucks.. If you can get linux on them, then you might be able to compile squeezelite which is a headless squeezebox slave; admittedly it is a longshot though.
  • HTTP streaming is a solved problem and iOS was made to run native-like apps. Run mpd remotely on your server and create a basic web interface that streams the audio.

    The problem with old iPods is that older versions of software are made unavailable when a newer version comes out. Even if that newer version is incompatible with old hardware. If you didn't download Plex in time for example, it's probably no longer an option.

  • Pick up some used Squeezebox [wikipedia.org] devices on eBay. Their music server [mysqueezebox.com] is open source, runs on Mac OS, and is compatible with iTunes. The devices sync beautifully. More info [slimdevices.com].

  • You can pick up an 1watt fm transmitter for $30-40(US) and hook it up to the sound card of your music server.

    Put cheap fm radios in every room of the house. You can control the music from your phone and the whole setup can be done for about $100, less if you have old fm radios lying around.

    I did this for years because we moved around quite a bit and it works fine.

    Naturally, the better the radio, the better the sound, but if you want whole house audio, it's the cheapest option.

    1watt is the largest transmit
  • You can pound screws with a hammer.
    But most people use a screwdriver.

  • The easiest thing to do would be to get a bunch of UE Booms, put them in party up mode, then use the 3.5 jack (or a 3.5 to BT adapter) to play music from the iPod. You'd have to set the Booms up with another device, but I think that should work.

    What I generally do with iPods is put them in cars, because most cars today have the iPod USB protocol implemented. They're great in-car, but finding stuff can be tedious because car UIs don't like scrolling through 128GB of stuff.

  • Every room has a tv, every tv has an apple TV, and itunes can send audio out all of them at once. An ATV2 would do the job, and they go for $45. Got a room with no TV? grab an old airport express. Its audio output can be used as an airplay target. Many home theater receivers have airplay support so they can participate in the accidentally apple centric whole house audio architecture.

  • I've been trying to do something similar for a long time at home. The closest I came was using gramofon devices with AllPlay. They were driven by a rooted cell phone with an Android app call AirAudio. It works some of the time. It's disappointing that we don't have a better option. I usually try for a while and then give up and just use bluetooth to one output.
  • If you're specifically looking for something that can tap into the Apple ecosystem, I'd personally recommend scavenging over on eBay for a 2nd-gen or 3rd-gen AppleTV.* At a glance, it looks like you could probably get one for under $50. Configure it for your network by attaching it to a screen temporarily, disconnect from that screen (if you prefer a headless implementation) and move it to the location where you want to hear music, and pair it up with any audio output device which has either an optical au

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