I am currently planning a budget whole home audio system, Initially I plan on having 4 zones, Lounge, Master-bedroom / Bathroom, Kitchen. This will consist of using Logitech Squeezebox Server software installed on my WHS box and software Squeezeboxes (SqueezeSlave) installed on my HTPC in the lounge and on the WHS box itself which will serve the kitchen. I will be using iPeng’s new iOS device playback which I recently wrote about, for the master-bedroom / bathroom as I will use my Apple iTouch in a dock connected to a local amp.
The problem I wanted to solve was how would I automatically turn on and off the amp serving the kitchen? This amp will be hidden away in the cupboard under the stairs and connected to the WHS boxes audio out, which will be in the same location. Possible options were an audio signal sensing amp that can automatically turn itself on when an audio signal is detected. However these types of amps are more difficult to source and can be more expensive, plus I’ve heard that on some of them if you are listening to music too quietly they can turn off when you don’t want them to.
Another option could have been to use an amp that had IR control, however IR isn’t much good when the amp is in a cupboard, although I do have a Logitech Harmony RF remote control so I could have used this I guess. The other idea I had was to use active powered speakers in the kitchen and not use an amp for this room at all, but even then I’d need to be able to turn on/off the powered speakers, or just leave them turned on all the time? If you are looking for a small pair of active powered speakers by the way, after reading many reviews on the Internet, the Audio Engine A2 and A5 speakers sound great!
I also looked on the Squeezebox forums there are some plug-ins for turning amps on and also some diagrams of circuits you can make to achieve this, but they all sounded like to much effort. I then saw something called the Intelliplug and then searching on eBay I saw the E-On Power Down plug which is based on the Intelliplug. There are 3 types of E-On PowerDown plugs so make sure you purchase the correct one, which in my case was the Desktop Computer PowerDown plug, there is also a TV and Laptop PowerDown plug.
E-ON Desktop Computer PowerDown Plug:
What these plugs do is allow you to turn on and off automatically connected devices and peripherals, such as monitors, printers, scanners, broadband modems, speakers, sub woofers. So if your PC is turned on any connected peripherals are then automatically turned on. If you turn off your PC (S5) the peripherals are automatically turned off.
This is a scan of the instructions on the box:
My WHS sleeps, it is not running 24/7 I use the excellent WHS add-in called Lightouts which allows my WHS to sleep when there are no active clients on the LAN. If a client turns on, for example my HTPC the WHS will then also automatically wake from S3 Sleep.
The E-On PowerDown plug works with S3 Sleep! So when my WHS sleeps it would turn off my amp, if the WHS wakes it would turn on the amp. I bought two of these plugs on eBay for less than five pounds delivered which was a great deal!