Media streaming without Air Play

Just before the New Year, we saw a lot of links in the tech press to a very neat hack using a Raspberry Pi as an Apple AirPlay receiver. The project had so many news stories written about it before I’d spotted it that I didn’t put it on this blog at the time because I thought most of you would have seen it – but do go and have a look if you’re a iTunes person (and have managed to get your head around the new layout of the library in iTunes 11 – my own failure to have got accustomed to it so far makes me worry about brain softening).

If you’re not an iTunes person, and you’re looking for an open alternative, you could do a lot worse than use Stephen Phillips’ UPnP/DLNA streaming method, which uses Android phones as remote controls. Your music lives on a server, and streams to your home speakers via the Pi. You can also play your music by streaming it to any of those phones, whether you’re at home or out gallivanting.

If you already have at least one Android device and some speakers, Stephen reckons that your outlay, including the Pi, should be about £45 – contrast this with the cost of a similar (closed) setup using Sonos hardware (today’s price on Amazon, with a sale on, was £230). Audio quality should be as good as – or even better than, depending on what your home hi-fi setup is like – an off-the-shelf solution using AirPlay, Sonos or Squeezebox, despite coming in at a fifth the price.

This is something I’ve been meaning to set a Pi up at home to do for ages (a little thing called work has got in the way). If you want to make your own streaming setup, Stephen has easy-to-follow instructions on his blog.