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Know How... 34

Set Up Wireless Audio

March 7 2013

Tired of trying to listen to music from your phone's little speaker? Today you'll know how to set up wireless audio!

You can set up wireless audio in your home on a budget. It might not work as seamless as a Sonos, but it sure is cheaper. Every set up uses two parts -- an audio source and an audio receiver. The audio source could be your phone, your tablet, laptop or desktop.

Bluetooth

If you just want to connect your audio source to one speaker, Bluetooth is a great option. Bluetooth pairs to one device, and is low power so it doesn't put a huge hit on your phone or tablet's battery life. Audio quality does vary. A2DP Bluetooth does offer higher quality than previous versions. Bluetooth does not support multiple speakers - you can't stream from one device to many speakers at the same time.

Networked solutions

You can use your home network to send music around from device to device. Your devices must all be on the same network for this to work.

DLNA
Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) is an electronics industry-wide group that created the DLNA standard. DLNA uses a bunch of technologies that makes it easier for your DLNA-equipped devices to find and connect to each other. There's a good chance that your home theater system has a couple of DLNA-enabled devices. If it's got a network port, take a look at your manual. You may already have some DLNA components available.

To send audio from your Android or iOS device, you can use Skifta, which is a free app. The app lets you connect from your audio source to your DLNA-capable receiver. You can use XBMC as your DLNA receiver by turning on UPnP in the settings. You can find that option in XBMC under System > Settings > UPnP.

You can build a low-cost DLNA receiver by using a Raspberry Pi computer. We showed you how to make an XBMC machine with the Raspberry Pi in "Know How... 31 Make a Raspberry Pi Media Center with XBMC."

DLNA also cannot stream to more than one receiver at the same time.

Airplay
Apple has a variant using DLNA that it calls Airplay. You can stream from iOS devices to Airplay-enabled speakers. However, you don't have to use Apple products to use Airplay.

The latest version of XBMC allows it to receive Airplay audio and video. You can use a Raspberry Pi or other machine running XBMC at each speaker. Additionally, you can try iPlay Audio, which turns your Android device into an Airplay receiver. In our tests, it was a bit buggy. Try out the free version. If it works for you, there's a pay version of iPlay Audio that costs $2.

If you want multiroom audio, the best way to do it is using an application called AirFoil from Rogue Amoeba. You can try it for free and if you like it, it costs $25 to purchase. Airfoil lets you send any audio from any application on your Windows or Mac computer to any AirPlay-enabled speaker.

From there, you can use companion app called "Airfoil Speakers" on your iOS or Android to make those devices receivers of Airfoil audio. Rogue Amoeba makes applications that allow computers running Windows, OS X or Linux to serve as speakers.

A downside of Airfoil is that the audio is not in sync on all the receivers. Sonos has that all figured out and is hard to beat for synced audio on all receivers.

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People: Leo Laporte