My Kitchen Audio Setup

With the release of the iPhone 5 and the new Lightning Port many dock-enabled speaker systems are now gathering dust awaiting the shipment of Apple's adapters. While I have an iHome dock enabled alarm clock by my bed that I use primarily for charging, I otherwise stopped using portable speaker docks around my house years ago.  I realized, that with most of my media digitized and in iTunes, playing it throughout the house was a fairly straightforward matter with Airplay and existing technology.

When I lived in various apartments I had an inexpensive set of iPod/iPhone equipped speakers that I would sit on the counter so I could listen to podcasts and music while making dinner. When I built my own house, I wanted a more elegant and permanent solution and I wanted to get rid of the speaker clutter. I considered putting in a whole house speaker system during construction but the expense didn't seem worth it. 

The kitchen of my new home is an area that made sense to have a good set of speakers because it is centrally located and opens up to my dining and living room. I put a pair of AudioEngine A2 desktop speakers above my cabinets since they put out great sound for compact speakers. Because of their size, they're almost completely hidden by the molding on the cabinets.

I had to connect the speakers to power and an audio source, so I drilled a small hole in the very top of my cabinets just large enough to drop a power and audio cable to a concealed power outlet and Airport Express. The hole isn't noticeable unless you go looking for it, but you do want to be careful when drilling to make sure you don't split the wood. (I made the guys who installed my cabinets do it, took them all of 15 seconds.) The Express sits just atop my mounted microwave concealed inside a cabinet so I already had access to power and just needed to add a small wall-mount surge protector to give me a few extra outlets and some additional power protection.

Here's what the setup looks like, you can see the Airport on the bottom and the power and audio cable running up to the top of the cabinet:

Cabinet Close Up

With this setup, I can broadcast music from any iOS device on my wireless network or iTunes to my speakers. Using Rogue Amoeba's Airfoil I can additionally stream pretty much any audio source on my Mac. Although not quite as elegant, I do have a similar setup in my study with a pair of old logitech speakers I've hidden in a closet. I did notice some occasional interference and dropouts which I suspect was interference from neighboring wireless access points or other devices in the 2.4 GHz range. I'm pleased to report that's all disappeared now that the iPhone 5 is able to connect to 5 GHz networks which the last few generation Airport Express devices support. 

So far, no one has noticed the speakers above the cabinets unless I point them out, but I've had several people comment on how cool it is to "magically" have music broadcast from my iPhone into the kitchen. Since I already had the speakers, the setup was fairly inexpensive and Airport Expresses have multiple uses which is also a bonus. I'm very happy with the end result: