Computer Related > Audio Streaming Miscellaneous
Thread Author: Felix Replies: 31

 Audio Streaming - Felix
I'm an avid spotify and we7 user and would like to find the easiest, reasonably cost-effective way of streaming either to my Hi-fi to get decent quality sound in my front room rather than rather average quality in the study where the desktop PC sits. Searched around t'internet but have to admit I've got confused. I see there are these media streamers like the squeezebox but (a) they're fairly pricey and (b) as far as I can tell they only play files stored on your PC which isn't what I'm after. Also read something about the Airport Express suggesting this might be an option. Have any of you any bright ideas?
 Audio Streaming - Iffy
I've wondered about this myself.

If the computer has a headphone jack - they nearly all do for Skype - that output could be connected to the hi-fi using a jack to phono lead.

Or is that too simple?
Last edited by: ifithelps on Sun 25 Apr 10 at 15:08
 Audio Streaming - Bellboy
thats how i do it
i actually found one of those really long leads that you find in chavved up cars so you can have a boom box in the boot,its good quality screened cable,was free (me like) and i just bought a connector to convert it to 3.5 for the computer end
total cost £3 ish
 Audio Streaming - Felix
Well it would be do-able I suppose but a very long run and to make it tidy I'd have to take up the carpets. SWMBO wouldn't like even more cables trailing around, so not keen on that option really
 Audio Streaming - Bellboy link to ebay considerably shortened
Last edited by: VxFan on Sun 25 Apr 10 at 23:58
 Audio Streaming - rtj70
You are correct in stating that a media streamer like SqueezeBox does only play files stored somewhere such as a computer, NAS, etc. Some stream Internet radio stations too.

Spotify has clients for PC, Mac, iPhone/iPod Touch (both subscription only) and other smart phones (again susbcription only)... so if you use the free service you may be out of luck at the moment with streaming via a device. If you use the subscription service then the iPod Touch might be an option?

I believe the Airport Express has an audio output for the audio playing on the computer (streaming from the computer) but I have a feeling this is/was tied in with iTunes. But the people behind Audio Hijack (paid for application) have released Airfoil which hijacks the output of any audio application and sends it via Airport Express. Downside is the PC/Mac will have to be on to run Spotify for you.

The iPod Touch might be the neater solution allowing control of what is playing in the room where the stereo is. But it's Spotify Premium only. And you cannot use other applications on the iPod at the same time because you cannot multi-task none Apple application. Also, if you took this route, then take an audio feed from an iPod Dock and not the headphone socket.

EDIT: Link to people behind Airfoil (Rogue Amoeba)

EDIT2: There's Airfoil Speakers (free) so you could have Spotify + Airfoil on the PC/Mac and Airfoil speakers on an iPod Touch near the hi-fi.
Last edited by: rtj70 on Sun 25 Apr 10 at 15:17
 Audio Streaming - rtj70
If you have an iPod touch (or access to someone with one) you can try all this for free... first ten minutes of Airfoil use is noise free then static is added. So a free proof of concept is possible.
 Audio Streaming - sherlock47
To get higher quality you will need to become a paying customer - free svce is I think limited to 160k.

To quote from Spotify Help

We use the Ogg Vorbis q5 codec which streams at approximately 160kb/s. Premium subscribers can enable higher bit rate streaming at 320 kb/s from the preferences menu.

Can you cosite another PC eg an old laptop (on a wireles network or ethernet connected to your router) next to your HiFi and use the audio output to feed directly into the HiFI?
 Audio Streaming - Zero
>> Can you cosite another PC eg an old laptop (on a wireles network or ethernet
>> connected to your router) next to your HiFi and use the audio output to feed
>> directly into the HiFI?

I use my old IPAQ 4700 PDA for this.
 Audio Streaming - rtj70
Would an old iPAQ 2200 work too - I might have one going spare/cheap.

But on a paid subscription an iPod touch will work fine. Not too expensive and useful for other things like web browsing etc. I will be using mine for email etc in Greece with my personal wifi router (topped up already).
 Audio Streaming - Felix
Thanks for all the suggestions.... the best 2 to my mind seem to be the Airport + Airfoil (having to have the PC on isn't such a disadvantage), or one of the 2.4 GHz devices BB pointed to, I'd not heard of them. Given there doesn't seem to be very much in it price-wise, which do you think would be the better option all-round?
 Audio Streaming - rtj70
An Airport Express is about £80 at Apple. An iPod touch with only 8Gb might be double. But is more useful. Also I am sure you know someone with an iPhone or iPod touch to try out:

- PC running Spotify plus Airfoil
- iPod running Airfoil speaker

Or just an iPod running Spotify.
 Audio Streaming - R.P.
Or just an iPod running Spotify.

Of course that will run wirelessly plugged into the HiFi then. I have a Belkin adaptor that plugs into the back of the HiFi somewhere via phono plugs.
 Audio Streaming - car4play
I have 2 Airport Express devices. One into a B &W Zepplin (absolutely fantastic sound) wired to CAT5. The other is wireless and hooked into our Yamaha electric piano in the lounge. Any of our laptops or Macs can stream from iTunes straight into either or both of these devices at the same time. If you stand in the doorway between the rooms there doesn't seem to be any audible lag between them. One might have thought the extra hop through wireless might be noticeable but it isn't. The wireless airport is sometimes temperamental though and can stutter sometimes where it plays a bit and then stops repeatedly. (google this and you will see that others have sometimes experienced this.) Rebooting the Airport and/or basestation seems to fix it. The wired one has always been very reliable.
Of course this only streams from iTunes. (There is a multiple speaker option on the bottom right of iTunes.) Also there is a free remote iPhone application from Apple that allows you to control the pc or mac that is streaming. Ie you can select what you want to play from the iPhone as if you have your entire music collection on it. It is very slick indeed and even the volume selection on the iPhone has almost instantaneous response.
This of course allows you to play whatever comes out of iTunes in these remote speakers, but what about music or other streaming stuff that iTunes just doesn't do?
It is possible to get iTunes to stream Internet radio such as radio 2. I added Flip4mac to get it to play the wmf stream for that after some jiggery poke with the streaming file link. The only thing is that the radio would only play on the local mac and not through the remote speakers. It seems that the decoding is done a bit later than the remote streaming part.

So the other solution we use is Airfoil (which as Rob says you have to pay a bit for to stop the noise they add in on the demo). This allows any application or the system audio to be sent to either the remote Airport Express speakers or to a remote mac or pc running Airfoil Speakers (a separate application). With this the Internet radio stations requiring Flip4mac will play to the remote speakers fine and other streaming services like Spotify also play fine through the remote speakers. Just for fun we have streamed from
Spotify to 4 different Macs at once to give that sense of sound coming from everywhere! There is a very noticeable lag with Airfoil though between why you hear and where the track really is. Move the volume or pause the track and you can expect
to wait a couple of seconds before the change is apparent. It also means that you can't watch a movie with Airfoil running as the movie is out of sync with the sound. There is another piece of software I believe from Rogue Amoeba (creators of Airfoil) that solves this problem. The other thing is that you can independently adjust the volume across output devices with Airfoil.
However there is no remote control app on the Iphone for it. The best one can do is to VNC into the streaming server and control it using screen sharing - a rather tricky job on a phone at the best of times.
 Audio Streaming - Zero
>> Would an old iPAQ 2200 work too - I might have one going spare/cheap.

If it has wireless and an audio out jack, probably
 Audio Streaming - rtj70
I have a wifi card for it. But better to use something like an iPod touch. Which of course needs plugging into the hifi with a cable. And as I say above, best via a dock connector instead of the more restricted headphone socket.
 Audio Streaming - L'escargot
What is "streaming"? Seriously.
 Audio Streaming - Iffy
...What is "streaming"? Seriously...

Just another word for sending or transmitting.

So the audio flows - like a stream - from one device to another.

Often down a wire, but sometimes over the airwaves.

 Audio Streaming - car4play
Yes, but it also has the concept of being processed at the receiving end while it is being sent as opposed to waiting for all of the information to be sent. Of course it has to process something and that data is within the much smaller "buffer" which is kept topped up by the streaming process.
 Audio Streaming - car4play
Well in this thread it seems to refer to 2 things.

1) playing music directly from the internet using Spotify, or in the post I wrote listening to radio live from the internet. It means that you aren't downloading a file and then playing it later, but playing it while it is downloading.

2) sending the audio from one computer to another (or a device like the Airport Express) where the audio is played while it is being sent.

In both, the audio is played while it is being sent.

As an aside, on the site we implemented a streaming video server for HJ's videos. There are 3 levels of video serving :
1) no streaming server - when you watch the movie it has to download in entirety before it plays.
2) no streaming server - but the player watches how fast the download is progressing and starts playing before it has finished downloading by working out that it will finish playing just after it has finished downloading (progressive download)
3) streaming server - the movie starts playing when the first chunk of data has been sent and plays as it receives. It also means, with suitable markers, that you can fast-forward (or backwards) to any place in the movie and continue from there.
Last edited by: car4play on Mon 26 Apr 10 at 09:25
 Audio Streaming - Zero
>> What is "streaming"? Seriously.

Its a term used to differentiate from "dowloading"

Downloading is saving the file to you local machine, where you can then play it over and over again.

Streaming means you play it as you get it, and once played its lost.

you can save it as you play it, but thats called "capture"
 Audio Streaming - Iffy
Use a mini FM transmitter to plug into the headphone socket of the computer.

They are aimed at iPods in cars, but would here work assuming the hi-fi has an FM tuner.

 Audio Streaming - Felix
That's a thought. I never acquired a tuner for my hifi, although I have a nice FM/DAB radio in the kitchen for which this might be an option. However I thought they only worked over VERY short range, i.e. the next room would be too far away. And I've heard you get pretty poor sound quality from them, lots of hiss... or are there some good ones?
 Audio Streaming - Iffy
...or are there some good ones?...

Range might be an issue, although I think you would be happy with the quality through your decent set in the kitchen.

After all, the quality of the audio from the computer will not be the highest.

I had a cheapo FM transmitter from Tesco which worked OK, but seemed to eat batteries.

 Audio Streaming - Felix
I tried an FM transmitter, I remembered I had an old cheapo one. Range wasn't a problem, but I think impedance at the headphone socket might be. Tried the one on my sound card and on my PC speakers and even at full volume the volume into the kitchen DAB radio was a bit weedy, whereas plugging my ipod into it, it boomed out (rather hissily). Range wasn't the issue - I tried tuning into it using a portable right next to it and it was no louder. Never mind, I think I might try an Airport and Airfoil sometime. Tempted by one of the 2.4 GHz sender devices but slightly scared off by what I've read about them interfering with wireless networks.
 Audio Streaming - rtj70
You can get a video sender for about £20... one of the things it sends is sound via a phono socket. It will interfere with wireless on 2.4GHz if you let it - but channels can be changed. We had one and had it working well enough - but it was taken out whenever the microwave oven was on.
 Audio Streaming - Iffy
Slight tangent - my wireless via landline internet interferes with my DAB radio if I put the laptop within a couple of feet of the DAB set.
 Audio Streaming - rtj70
>> my wireless via landline internet interferes with my DAB radio

Do you mean your ADSL Internet via WiFi interferes with DAB? I suspect it has nothing to do with the ADSL element.
 Audio Streaming - Zero
what form does the interference take?
 Audio Streaming - Iffy
...Do you mean your ADSL Internet via WiFi interferes with DAB?...

Er, not sure, but I think so.

My laptop is connected to the internet wirelessly via a cheap little router box which is connected to my landline.

If I put the laptop near the DAB portable, the DAB radio signal breaks/gives up altogether.

Same thing happens at the caravan in leafy North Yorkshire when I'm using the site's wireless broadband.

 Audio Streaming - Zero
you either have a poorly behaving wireless laptop (putting out RF harmonics), A badly designed DAB radio (poor receiver), or a poor signal, or a combination of all of them.
Last edited by: Zero on Wed 28 Apr 10 at 09:23
 Audio Streaming - Iffy either have a poorly behaving wireless laptop (putting out RF harmonics)...

Since DAB sets in the caravan and at home suffer interference, it is most likely to be the laptop.

I don't usually have the two appliances that close together, so it's not something I need worry about.

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