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Sound Advice: The Media Room Arrives

Aug 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Dan Daley

A new use for the old rec room presents audio challenges.

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This Calls for a Server

The multiple-output nature of the media room strongly calls for a central server — particularly if the home also has whole-house audio. There are several solutions for that, although the Xbox has given Microsoft's Windows Home Server (WHS) a bit of edge in media rooms that integrate gaming.

As a central digital hub, WHS connects up to 10 home computers with the ability to stream music around the house; share high-resolution audio, video, and image files securely over the Web; and get content stored on the home server when away from home. With an Xbox 360 or another supported digital media receiver as an extender, Windows Home Server customers can listen to a shared music collection or replay recorded TV shows.

The WHS has also prompted a decent array of third-party software and hardware that dovetail well with the multifarious uses of a media room. These include the HP MediaSmart Server, which connects your home PCs for streaming around the house; Sonos' digital music system v.2, which enables devices to work with WHS for storing, organizing, and streaming music around the home; and the Roku SoundBridge, which plays digital music files stored on WHS anywhere in the house, connecting the stereo or powered loudspeakers to the home PC's digital music library.

For more on the Windows Home Server, go to

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