Q: Thanks for iLounge – tremendously informative. My classical/jazz/opera collection runs 10,000+ songs. I use an external 250 GB hard drive and several backups and run iTunes to manage it. My question concerns using an iPod touch. In my home I have 4 stereos that I listen to. I connect the iPod touch using the headphone jack. I would like to buy 4 docks, one for each stereo, and one power charger where the iPod touch would spend the night recharging. I would like a single remote that would be used on all 4 docks. Does Apple sell multiple docks that work with a single remote? Does anyone else?
A: The Apple Universal Dock is probably your simplest and most inexpensive option. Although each Dock includes its own remote control, by default each of these remotes can be used interchangeably with other Apple devices. This includes not only other Apple Universal Docks, but also Mac computers and the Apple TV. Apple does provide a “pairing” process for its devices in the event that you want a Dock or other device to only respond to a specific remote, but by default one Apple remote will control all Apple IR-enabled devices within range. In addition, Apple now offers an even nicer aluminum option in the 2009 Apple Remote that was released late last year.
Note, however, that the Apple Remote and Universal Dock provides only playback controls—play, pause, rewind, fast forward, previous/next track and volume control—it will not allow you to actually navigate the menus on your iPod touch from the remote. You’ll pay a bit more if you’re looking for a Dock and remote solution that provides the ability to navigate through the menus on your iPod touch, but the Dexim AV Dock Station with Remote Control and Logic3 Pro-Dock are both options worth considering in this case.
If you’re willing to spend a bit more, however, another solution that is definitely worth considering is purchasing an Airport Express unit for each of your stereos and streaming your music wirelessly directly from your iTunes library on your computer. In this case, you could use the iPod touch as a Wi-Fi remote control by using the free Apple Remote app. While this is a slightly more expensive option, it would provide access to your entire music library from any of your stereos and could even provide simultaneous multi-room audio. In addition, the Airport Express units provide optical output capabilities and could possibly be used to extend the range of your existing wireless network.