Test Report: CasaTunes XLI Multiroom Music Server with Airplay

Casa means “home” or “house” in Spanish and Italian. So a casa full of tunes — or housewide audio — is a pretty sweet thing. Of course, housewide audio is nothing new, but accomplishing it in the past has meant a rack full of sources, amplifiers, and control gear, with wiring spider-webbed out to various rooms, control pads, and speakers.

But then Apple came along and flipped this mind-think upside down with its AirPlay wireless streaming capability. Now a house full of music can be achieved by spreading AirPlay-enabled devices and speakers around and streaming tunes to them.

What if you wanted to combine the traditional world of wired audio distribution and wireless AirPlay streaming? Take the music you own or choose to?pull out of the cloud via services like iCloud, Spotify, and last.fm, and control it all via a convenient iOS, Android or PC interface? What you’d come up with would probably be a lot like CasaTunes Air.

CasaTunes sent me its XLi music server with CasaTunes Air, a flexible, hybrid design that supports both wired and wireless AirPlay music zones while offering some very cool multiroom features to boot. The server includes a 1-terabyte hard drive, handles numerous online streaming music services, and can supply five streams simultaneously to 6 hard-wired and 10 AirPlay wireless zones. My question: Is CasaTunes’ XLi ready for prime time, or is it full of hot air?