Lifestyle and Emerging Technology In Plain English

How-To: Streaming stuff around your house

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In this increas­ingly wire­less world, it seems odd that it’s actu­ally kinda dif­fi­cult to get music or other media from one device to another.

In my case, I have pho­tos, movies and music all stored on a cent­ral stor­age device on my net­work — a Net­work Attached Stor­age device, or NAS.

Get­ting to that media eas­ily with other devices means I have to have a some­thing run­ning and act­ing as a server to man­age access to the media. In my case, it’s a small win­dows based com­puter that acts as the server.

Or should I say ‘serv­ers’ because to get my media streamed around the house is a feat that requires more than just one piece of software.

ituneslogo.jpgLet’s start with iTunes
I have that run­ning  and shar­ing its lib­rary (which is poin­ted at the media on the NAS). iTunes allows any other copy of iTunes run­ning on my net­work (and that I’ve enabled Home Shar­ing on) to see the shared lib­rary and use the media on it.

So now any com­puter run­ning iTunes can play music from my shared iTunes lib­rary. This means my Apple TV (2nd Gen) can see my media lib­rary too.

But mov­ing a com­puter from sound­sys­tem to sound­sys­tem is a little clunky, so read on, gentle reader, read on.

iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone
It’s fairly easy to plug your iDevices into most home sound sys­tem these days, so I won’t go into details on that, but that’s how I get the music to the room I want listen in.

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WiFi2HiFi

Now things get a bit more com­plex. Stream­ing media to these devices requires another piece of server soft­ware run­ning on that server box. And a match­ing applic­a­tion on the iOS device.

The iDevice is the receiver, and the Server is, erm, the server.

There are cur­rently three solid iOS receiver apps (and match­ing free server software):

With all three, the basic prin­cipal is the same:

1) Point the server soft­ware (on the PC) at the dir­ect­or­ies you want to share with the iOS devices
2) Let the server soft­ware build a catalogue

Now things get a bit dif­fer­ent
With Air Video and Stream To Me, you just:
3) Point the app (on your iOS device) at your server (usu­ally using an IP address).

If you’re using WiFi2HiFi, it’s easier — you just start the server soft­ware, and it auto­mat­ic­ally detects your iOS device with the app run­ning and streams all your computer’s audio to it. So whatever you’re play­ing on your com­puter will be streamed to the iOS device.
4) With Stream-To-Me and Air Video, you have more con­trol. The match­ing server soft­ware lets you view your media lib­rar­ies and select the media you’d like to stream.

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Stream-To-Me

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Air Video

As of this writ­ing, Air Video only streams video (with on the fly con­ver­sion or queued con­ver­sion), while Stream-To-Me sends most video and audio formats without conversion.

So depend­ing on your needs, you’ve got hard­ware and soft­ware options for get­ting your media to you using your exist­ing devices. Very cool, and con­veni­ent way to get your stuff to where you are.

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4 Responses to How-To: Streaming stuff around your house

  1. Heh, well, my sys­tem is set up to work with an iOS device as the stream­ing end­point — the receiv­ing device that con­nects to a sound system.

    So it’s pretty simple to swap out the iOS device and insert your favour­ite non-iOS device.

    The two key com­pon­ents you need are a Server of some sort (I use a PC) and the Receiver device.

    For example, Googling ‘Android Stream­ing Audio Server’ turns up these res­ults — and par­ing the device with the server will get you a non-Apple solution.

    Great ques­tion!