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Open standards for network audio streaming to local devices, Many closed-box solutions but any open-source? / uPNP recommendations?
post Apr 15 2012, 16:56
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Some years ago, I had a room mate who had an Airport Express, which we hooked up to the stereo in the living room so any of us could stream music from our own iTunes-compatible PC's. Needless to say, I absolutely fell in love with the functionality even though it meant I couldn't use fb2k for it. But since we don't live together anymore, i've been missing this kind of functionality at home. Also there were some things that were missing out on the Airport which I think could be done better.

I don't wanna mess around with buying cheap 10-meter cables every time the last one breaks, and having it lie across the living room whenever I want to listen to music from my laptop in my couch, or changing it over to my PC if I want to watch a movie or play a game from there, etc. Hope you get the picture. Having cables lying around the house is something i want less of.

There are, as mentioned before, commercial closed-box devices which have been engineered well and probably work really good. But they cost money and are all dependent on the manufacturer to think up and implement new features and improvements. They cost money for each receiver and, correct me if I'm wrong, do not have good cross-platform support. I have a Windows 7 PC for gaming, Ubuntu laptop for work, small Linux server for local media hosting, and my girlfriend has a Windows laptop. In the future, who knows, one of us might even get a smartphone or some other fancy network-capable device that would need hooking up to the sound system. Suffice to say, in such conditions a closed-source implementation is lacking in flexibility.

What about reciever devices? Currently they cost money for each receiver, based on a model of embedded devices which need their own power source, not possible to just install the capability on any network-enabled device with quality sound output capabilities. An open-source solution could open up the possibility to use virtually ANY device as a sound reciever.

Also I'd like to install my old amp/speakers in the kitchen and have the ability to change sound destination seamlessly to either location or both synchronously.
Because of the wish for playing video games and watching movies, the solution would have to be absolutely low-latency. Thanks to extreme bandwith and processing power available to us today cheap, I think it could be possible.

And maybe my always-on linux media hosting device could double as a networked media jukebox, in which guests of a party could connect to a web interface with their phones and enqueue a local mp3, stream music from their own device, or even enqueue a youtube music video? I'm talking quite some years down the road for this idea, of course.

Does anyone know if there are any projects to make this (or something similar) happen?
I once looked through the documentation of PulseAudio and think I understood that they support the capability for networked sound outputs but had such a hard time understanding the documentation that I never got as far as trying to hack something together. Maybe there are other audio server software implementations that could be willed into a similar configuration?
Are there perhaps cheap and partly open commercial solutions available that I haven't come accross? I have to admit, I haven't even spent that much time researching the subject, but a quick google search yields me nothing worth examining further, other than the commercial solutions and the pitfalls they have.

Maybe there's something I just haven't thought through here? Please, any ideas, criticisms, contributions, suggestions. I'm just posting this idea here to see if it makes any sense and to find out if anyone has had similar thoughts.

Thank you for reading smile.gif

edit: This is so embarrasing. I've completely glossed over implementing the features via UPnP.

This post has been edited by alive: Apr 15 2012, 17:05

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