iTunes Home Theater – How to integrate with iPad, iPhone, other iOS devices, AV Receiver and TV

I’ve been asked a few times to explain how iTunes runs everything in the house. So here it is.

We have an always-on computer (a mac, but could be an old PC) – which is always running iTunes and this is where we keep all of our homemade and purchased media – Movies, TV Shows, Music.

The iTunes folder is stored on an external disk that has an internal RAID-1 mirror (One drive can die and you are ok) — like this one

LaCie External Raid

Each iPod, iPad, iPhone in the house that wants media, syncs to this machine – with the relevant tabs in iTunes adjusted per device.


We have two Apple TV’s – one for each TV. We have an old model and a new model. New model is here:

Apple TV 2

The new Apple TV is connected via HDMI to the AV Receiver (Yamaha RX-V667) and the receiver is then connected to the main TV set. Apple TV is also connected to the house network.

Using the Apple TV software everything on the aforementioned iTunes computer can be watched on the main TV on demand. Apple TV can also buy individual TV Shows or Movies from the iTunes store and you watch them on your TV. The new Apple TV also allows you to stream shows from Netflix. You also have access to YouTube, Vimeo, Flickr and MLB tv and NBA tv streaming.

As a bonus, if the iTunes computer is a mac and you have iPhoto – you can setup Apple TV to use your digital photo library as a slideshow on the TV – which is nice to have just running in the background.

And another bonus, Apple TV becomes a ‘speaker’ destination for iTunes. From the iTunes computer you can play any of your music and then choose to stream to Apple TV and the sound will come out of your TV or home stereo (however your TV sound is setup). This is called Airplay – formerly called AirTunes. Another feature of Airplay is the ability to send video from the iTunes computer or your iPad straight to the TV for watching – pretty much any video you can watch on your iPad — YouTube/Vimeo/iTunes/etc.

I recently added outdoor speakers to the back deck and that was a little tricky as they would be run through the Yamaha receiver but I also wanted a separate volume control so they would not just be the same volume as what was playing in the Living Room. To solve this, I had to use another Airport Express (AX). So the Airport Express sits in the AV Cabinet and the Airplay name is ‘Back Deck Speakers’. The AX is then connected to the AV Receiver via a 3.5mm to RCA cable. On the iTunes computer, I then select the ‘Back Deck Speakers’ and turn on Zone 2 on the Yamaha and I have amplified sound that is separate from what is playing on the Yamaha.

Finally, Apple has a free Remote app for iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch that can control all of the above and also makes any typing you need to do on the Apple TV much easier.

21 thoughts on “iTunes Home Theater – How to integrate with iPad, iPhone, other iOS devices, AV Receiver and TV

  1. Would like to connect iPad through HDMI directly to the receiver Yamaha RXA 3000

  2. Here’s my question: I have an onkyo 818 receiver and have aiport express running into a PC input. When I play zone 2 and 3 using this PC input, I only get sound in one out of two speakers per zone.

    When I play the Tuner or my Cable box, sound comes out of both speakers, but the airport express only gives me sound on one speaker.

    What am I doing wrong?

  3. Great post, though just wanted to give you all a hint to save a little money. You don’t need to purchase a separate airport express to run you zone 2. I also have the Yamaha 667 and I have an airport express (AX) to supply music to both zone 1 and zone 2. Here is how it works: the 3.5mm connection on the aiprot express can function as a standard 3.5mm connection (analogue) or as an optical output (digital). I have an optical cable with a 3.5mm end plugged in to the (AX). I then run the optical cable to an optical splitter (~$5 at monoprice). From the splitter, I then run one optical cable to the receiver to supply digital music to zone 1. From the other side of the splitter, I run an optical cable to a cheap digital / analogue converter (DAC; ~$20 at monoprice) and then run an RCA cable to the reciver to supply analogue music to zone 2. The main advantage to this are 1) much cheaper than buy an additional airport express (~$40 for all the parts) and while the DAC is not the best quality, it definitely good enough for zone 2 listening and 2) it is a much more streamlines set up in that you only have to output to one set of airplay speakers form your ituens or your iOS device – this is not a big deal when streaming from your computer or using the remote app to stream from your computer as I believe you have the ability to output to multiple airplay speaker, but if you are streaming directly from you iphone of ipad, for some reason you can only out put to one set of airplay speakers – iOS does not support multiple airplay speakers yet which seems crazy to me. Therefore, this set up gives you the ability to listen to music directly from you iphone or ipad to both zones. I guess the disadvantage is not having the separate volume control – I get around that by using powered speakers for my zone 2 which have there own volume control. (If you are interested in how I set this up, let me know.)

    I’m likely getting an Apple TV (ATV) soon so that I can add video streaming from my iphone or wife’s ipad to the mix – I will likely no longer use the AX for this purpose (will still use it as a wifi router). The setup will be very similar as stated above but with a few difference: I will run an HDMI cable from the ATV to the receiver for zone 1. I will then run an optical cable from the ATV to my DAC, and then an RCA cable from the DAC to the receiver to run zone 2. Both the hdmi and optical ports on the ATV can output simultaneously according to what I have read.

    By the way, when we turn our receiver of, zone 2 stays on so with this set-up, I can basically fire up my iphone ans start streaming music which is really convenient.

    Sorry for the over-sharing…

  4. Hi,

    How do i connect apple tv 3 sound directly to my yamaha av receiver rx-v550 with digital cable?

  5. I want listen to AppleTV audio in both Zone1 and Zone2 simultaneously. I accomplished this by with a DAC (Digital to Analog Audio Converter) and an Optical Digital Audio Cable.

    AppleTV -> DAC (Optical Digital Audio Cable)
    DAC -> RX V667 (RCA Cable to AV5 or AV6)
    AV6 -> Zone 2


  6. Hi:

    I’m trying to recover a ‘Sparse Disk Image Bundle’ named “Susan Swartz’s MacBook Pro”.

    This is embarrassing, but so what. I need some real basic Terminal assistance. (I’ve tried various combos unsuccessfully, getting messages such as “command not found” and “No such file or directory”.)

    Question 1. I get stuck after typing ‘sudo su -‘ and then getting ‘new-host:~ root#’. What do I do next? (If I insert my password, I get ‘command not found’.)

    I’m sure I’ll be back…

    Thank you!

    — Susan Swartz

  7. Garth,

    I just hooked up a older model airport Express and have it going to zone 2 on my Yamaha 667 brought 3.5mm stereo to RCA cables. I have to turn zone 2 up pretty loud for music to come through outdoor speakers and there’s a lot of static. I have the airport plugged into a power stip does it have to go straight ino wall outlet.

    Also the airport is step as extended wireless network o my base sation upstairs.

    Thanks or you help,


  8. Hey Garth a couple of questions as due some due diligence prior to purchasing a similar yamaha reciever …. firstly great article
    Regarding the setup of apple tv to the reciever by hdmi and reciever to tv or a projector also by hdmi – when playing movies from the apple tv (including using xbmc on the apple tv) what is the setup to get the picture to the HDTV/projector and sounds thru the reciever speakers thanks Adam

  9. I am using appletv (latest one) with HDMI output to my TV. then optical audio cable to my receiver (Onkyo). i have another amp powering zone 2.

    I want to play iTunes music from my mac mini server in multiple zones. I am using appletv to stream it from the mac mini (since the user interface is what i see on the TV) to the receiver. THat is digital. How do i get a connection going to my zone 2 receiver since the input signal is digital and zone 2 can only throughput analogue?

  10. which hdmi port do i hook up Apple TV to on my Yamaha HTR-6260 receiver?

  11. Hello Gart:
    I also own a yamaha RX V667, and your post had just provided me with the information I was missing to confirm the decision to buy an Ipad + Apple TV. Although, I want to make sure that I will be able to control my receiver thru my Ipad.
    Where I can download the remote app for ipad?

  12. I totally muffed that last question. I meant to ask:

    If you’re on the deck but your iTunes is not set to stream to “Back Deck Speakers” do you have to go inside and make that adjustment on your mac or can you do it from your iPhone?

    Second question: I suppose you also have to physically turn on zone 2 on your yamaha receiver for it to work; if you’re on the deck and zone 1 is active you’ll have to go inside and make this adjustment, correct?

    1. first question – yes i can do this from the remote app on the iphone/ipod/ipad …
      second question – yes, you do need to physically turn on zone 2, or get one of the kids to do it …

  13. Great post – thanks for sharing! Like everyone else who’s posted, I have the same receiver and I also have an always-on Mac with our iTunes library. Our of curiosity, if you’re not the deck and want to listen to music, do you have to go inside and switch your iTunes on your computer to the “Back Deck Speakers” or can this be accomplished through your iphone/ipad?

  14. Can you explain how to hook-up zone 2 for outdoor. Do I need to run speaker wire or is this all wireless with the airport express?

    Thanks for your help.

    1. Chris – yes, I ran speaker wire from the Yamaha receiver to the outdoor speakers. The airport express is connected to the Yamaha with a mini-plug to RCA cable.

  15. Hi Garth, I am new to all this and I have the samer receiver you have and just bought the Apple TV2. I also have an HDMI cable to hook up the apple TV to my receiver. Which HDMI should I use, does is not matter? I currently have it plug in my HDM1, what do I need to do next to set it up. nothing appears on my universal remote or sreen. I should also mention that I have a bunch of speakers throughout the house under Zone 2 and I also have cable running from my receiver… I am lost … Please help and do not hesitate if you have to be as basic as needed. Thank in advance!!!!

    1. This is why you also need an Airport Express for zone 2 – Zone 2 cannot use a digital input (HDMI) – it needs an analog input (a mini plug to RCA cable) from the airport express.

  16. Garth, if you don’t mind, I have the same V667 receiver, and maybe I’m just daft, but into what port on the V667 did you plug your Airport Exress (AX) adapted to RCA cable so that it can feed Zone 2? Your back deck speakers are connected to Zone 2, but how are they being fed by the AX? A reply would be most appreciated, but not expected.

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