Lifestyle and Emerging Technology In Plain English

Music in the Air, music everywhere

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A friend recently turned me on to one cool applic­a­tion that let’s me listen to syn­chron­ized music from all my net­worked devices at the same time.

This is likely one of the coolest soft­ware enhance­ments I’ve made to my home listen­ing exper­i­ence in a long time.

Air­foil is the app, and it’s really a bundle of two applications:

  • Air­foil applic­a­tion — man­ages the play­back and net­work­ing (Win­dows / OSX)
  • Air­foil speak­ers — the cli­ent ‘listen­ing’ app. (Win­dows / OSX / Linux / iOS / AirPlay)

How it works
Basic­ally you launch the Air­foil applic­a­tion on the com­puter that’s going to be play­ing back the audio you want to listen to.

The applic­a­tion runs, and mon­it­ors your com­puters audio out­put — beam­ing it to any other con­nec­ted Air­foil Speaker device.

Then, you have the abil­ity to pipe that sound to one of the con­nec­ted ‘Air­foil Speaker’ devices that the Air­foil applic­a­tion can see. Yes, you can route that audio to more than one device simultaneously.

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The app is neat because it’s com­pat­ible with almost any media player (iTunes, Win­dows Media Player, VLC, etc), and yes, will even allow you to play video on your com­puter and route the audio to other speakers.

As well, if you are in a place with mul­tiple com­puters,  like a work­place, each can be run­ning their own copy of Air­foil, and you can simply run the Air­foil Speak­ers and tune in each com­puter as if they’re run­ning their own radio station.

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Incom­ing Music pack­age
In my case, I launched the Air­foil app on my desktop com­puter, and shipped the audio to my iPad, two iPod Touch’s con­nec­ted to audio dock­ing sta­tions, and to a Mac Mini.

Music play­back was syn­chron­ized and mostly flaw­less. I did notice a bit of stut­ter­ing or lag as the iPod touches (using Wi-Fi) occa­sion­ally had net­work issues. As well, music play­back on the host machine (my desktop) occa­sion­ally cut out briefly when I was doing heavy net­work file work (photo edit­ing on a remote net­work share).

Very cool
So, yeah, I like Air­foil. It’s very easy to use, integ­rates seam­lessly into my mixed Win­dows / OSX home net­work, uses cur­rent and leg­acy hard­ware (iPod Touch, iPhone, iPads) and it just works.

It’s one thing to have music run­ning in one room, and another to have it play­ing through­out the household.

There’s a free (demo) ver­sion here — don’t for­get to down­load the Air­foil Speaker app too… now sit back, and enjoy!

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