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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