It wasn’t that long ago if you said the word iPod, you might get a strange look from those around you. Now, iPod is a normal part of our vernacular.  Apple has hit a home run with this industry changing product. With new models such as the iPod touch and the iPhone, this gadget allows you to listen to your favorite music in your car, while exercising; pretty much anywhere you want to tune out the rest of the world. Adding features such as a cell phone, photo storage, mobile internet, and gaming, it is no wonder this device is one of those items you grab with your keys and wallet every time you leave the house.

But more and more iPod enthusiasts want to know how to enjoy all of the iPod features on a larger scale, in the comfort of your own home? No problem!

iPod docking stations have revolutionized the Home Audio industry by providing a sleek, easy to use device that provides CD quality sound and can be integrated into the heart of your home audio system. There are many options available to you. The minimum requirements include a docking station, the proper cables and a source for audio and/or video. Now you can easily display your photos or podcasts on your TV or listen to your customized playlists on the speakers in your own home. But the capabilities of your iPod or iPhone go way beyond just these basics.

The first upgrade to integrating your mobile device into your home systems involves adding remote control for on screen capabilities. Onkyo, the sister company of Integra and one of our favorite sources for amplifiers, sells a simple docking solution with a dedicated remote control which enables you to display your iPod menu on your TV screen, select and play music or video and control volume from the comfort of your sofa.

For homes with distributed audio systems, the integration choices get even more convenient and exciting! Manufacturers of whole home audio products have developed docking solutions which interface seamlessly with their systems. These docks are compatible with iPod(4G or later) including iPod photo, iPod mini, iPod nano, iPod touch, iPhone, and iPhone 3G.

As systems designers, integrators and installers we rely primarily on the functionality, reliability and performance of Niles, Nuvo and Crestron for distributed whole home audio systems. Each manufacturer’s docking station offers similar features, but with varying levels of sophistication. 

All of the higher end docking solutions feature iPod charging, volume control, and iTunes syncing, including the capability organize your music and create playlists. The newest models provide not only audio output from your iPod to your home, but all of your video content can also be viewed on your plasma, theater or computer screen.

The first variable you need to consider is how many zones, or rooms, and how many sources of music fit your home and life style. Distributed audio systems generally accommodate from 6 to 24 rooms of music and have inputs for am/fm, disc changer, cable music, satellite music and of course, iPod. In each room you can select the source of your music as well as the volume level. The better systems also provide built in amplifiers for each zone. Your brother can listen to a CD in his room, your mom can listen to Satellite radio on the deck and you can enjoy your iPod in the workout room.

You next need to consider how you would like to control your music. In addition to remote control, distributed audio systems feature wall pad control systems with buttons for preset selections, music source and volume control. When installing these systems, we provide audio balancing wall plate systems to provide long-distance, interference free audio signal transmission. That means the music from the speakers connected directly to the receivers sound as good as the speakers in the bedroom two floors up.

The ultimate in music controls incorporates a touch panel. This screen replicates the iPod experience on a larger scale allowing you to control and select your music by genre, artist or album. You can even view album cover art.

The touch panel control system is the most sophisticated and is particularly applicable in homes which have other systems you operate with a touch panel such as lighting control, motorized window shades, and multiple video sources. 

iPod, the perfect, verstatile solution for the heart of your home audio system.