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I'm succesfully streaming my audio to an Apple Airport very easily. I'm considering purchasing a device which enables me to stream my music wirelessly using the network. I would like to stream using the network and not by Bluetooth. I found some bluetooth devices, but my laptop does not have bluetooth and I'm not fond of having a bluetooth dongle permanently.

So, is there a low-cost alternative network enabled audio streaming adapter that allows airplay to stereo streaming?

Thanks!

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1 Answer 1

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There are several solutions that enable us to stream music over a local cable or wireless network to a stereo. All this solutions involve some adapter on the receiver side to transform the digital audio signal. Some stereo devices already have this feature inbuilt. In all other case we may need to purchase some adapter. In the following I will list a few solutions that start from less than $100:

  • Apple Airport Express / Air Tunes: proprietary RAOP streaming protocol supported by VLC and pulseaudio.
  • Bluetooth audio adapter (e.g. Logitech, Hama): supported by Bluez but may need an additional Bluetooth dongle
  • Internet Radio: any receiver capable to tune to Internet radio can receive audio streams generated in Ubuntu. These often are also capable to receive uPnP/DLNA streams.
  • Old PC as network client: we can also attach an old PC to our stereo to act as a receiving client for audio streams.
  • Proprietary solutions: they are usually higher prized and only few offer a Linux software (e.g. Squeezebox)

All of these solutions have their advantages, and disadvantages. So mainly we may decide on what hardware we already have (where a spare PC attached to the network may be the least costly variant with a maximum of flexibility).

Here comes my own personal experience on various solutions:

  • The Apple RAOP-protocol used by AirTunes is well established in MacOS, and in Windows, but on a Linux system we are faced with a very long delay of several seconds during streams. In addition, achieving a stable connection that survives hours of playback can be quite a challenge. Streams will have a fixed bitrate only.
  • Bluetooth signals have a limited range where a streaming connection is stable. This range is in a distance where we could also use an audio cable coming out of our soundcard. The audio quality offered by the A2DP protocol may be disappointing for a purist's ears.

Therefore my recommendation would be to attach an Internet radio receiver to our stereo. We could generate "radio" or DLNA streams with some music players, but with an Icecast Server and additional software such as Darkice we are able to stream the audio output of our local soundcard. By this we can use any music player to manage the streams. The python application stream2ip helps to establish a connection to an Icecast server, and also supports Bluetooth, and RAOP/AirTunes streams.

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Thank you for your elaborate answer. Truly some creative ideas here. I was hoping for something a bit more plug-and-play solution, but the internet radio option looks interesting. I will hack around with it when I find the time. –  Ruben May 31 '12 at 10:24
    
@Ruben: yeah I have that running for almost 2 years now. It's very stable once set up. –  Takkat May 31 '12 at 10:29

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