Lifestyle and Emerging Technology In Plain English

Colour me impressed — using iTunes to stream music to multiple devices simultaneously

Back in 2006 as part of a post on a new iPod Nano, I ven­ted on how broken iTunes was for my work­flow. Well, time has passed and iTunes has improved, but it’s still not as intu­it­ive or simple for me and my cent­ral­ized music setup:

  • File server stor­ing my music
  • Remote play­back sys­tems in vari­ous rooms (Mac mini, Apple TVs, Air­port Express, etc)
  • Remote con­trol of said music stream

My big beef then was organ­iz­a­tion. iTunes was a pain and wanted to sync/manage my music on my behalf in a way that didn’t make sense to me. Well, that’s since been fixed.

My next beef was with the lack of sound syn­chron­iz­a­tion across mul­tiple devices as you play back. For example, if I wanted to play a song back on my Mac Mini, and have it stream *as well* to my kit­chen Apple TV, and my desktop com­puter simultaneously.

Pre­vi­ously, to achieve this I had to run a 3rd party applic­a­tion set on all my devices — a cool little app called Air­foil. Basic­ally you had the Air­foil ‘broad­cast’ app run­ning on whatever com­puter was actu­ally doing the play­ing. Air­foil grabbed the audio stream and sent it out to all the devices that it recog­nized either via the Air­foil Speak­ers app, or an Air­play device, or an iPhone / iPad. A minor pain, but it worked.

Back to iTunes

So, this morn­ing I dis­covered some­thing new in iTunes, you can now stream music to mul­tiple devices sim­ul­tan­eously. Yes, this may have appeared in a pre­vi­ous iTunes update but I hadn’t noticed it — so it’s new to me ;)

One of the neat things is that the Apple Remote app — a free iOS app to con­trol Apple TV or iTunes over a net­work — also passes through the mul­tiple device play­back fea­ture. This means you can sit on your couch and con­trol the sound on any of your play­back devices through out your home.

Second neat thing

iTunes Air­play con­nects to the Air­foil Speak­ers app run­ning on my Win­dows PC, let­ting me add my home office desktop into the sound mix.

Yes, it’s pretty cool to have music stream­ing through the entire house, in sync, as you walk from room to room.

 

 

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