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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