iTune + FrontRow + Airport Express + Harmony = Digital Music Heaven

I finally got my home digital music solution implemented. You’ll need:

Three key things make this work:

  • the iMac screen is big enough to be used across the room when running FrontRow
  • you can have FrontRow stream music to an airport express, just start iTunes first and point it to use the remote speaker at your airport express location
  • the Harmony remote knows about the Apple remote IR signals

This is what you need to do:

  • Rip all music to apple lossless encoding for high quality sound
  • program a “digital music” activity on the Logitech Harmony remote to control both the iMac and also the receiver (more later)
  • connect the airport express (I am running it wirelessly) to the receiver using digital output
  • start iTunes first, and point the speaker to the airport express remote speaker
  • Now you can use the harmony remote to control the FrontRow software from a distance, and control the sound volume on the receiver at the same time

Programming the Harmony Remote

The Logitech software knows about the iMac remote. You need to create a “digital music” activity and select the receiver for controlling the volume, and select “multimedia PC (iMac)” as the source of music.

I change the button assignments so that the “cursor pad” on the remote matches the apple remote. I remap the following buttons:

  • “up/down” buttons (not up/down arrow) to “imac:volume up” and “imac:volume down”
  • “left/right” to “imac:rewind” and “imac:fast-forward”
  • “ok” to “imac:play”