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iTunes Library Sharing with AirTunes Rocks! January 15, 2006

Posted by TimTheFoolMan in Computers, Music, Science & Technology, Technology.

OK… I generally hold back, but this is just way too outrageous. Sometime back, I bought a Airport Express. I already determined that it was cool, even though I wasn’t able to use the built-in LAN/WAN port to turn it into a wireless access point as I’d hoped. However, playing with it tonight has me feeling that the guys at Apple are absolute geniuses.

iTunes and Airport Express
As I pointed out before, hooking up iTunes to play music in an adjacent room via the Airport Express was an absolute breeze. It sounded great, and there were no noticeable artifacts on Pop/Rock (not that you’d expect any with most pop or rock music). The setup is clean, and the Airport Express box is amazingly versatile.

For grins, I hooked it up to my “listening system” downstairs. In spite of blowing my sons out of the room the first time I selected “Roaming Network” and hit play (I had the volume turned up loud enough to hear it upstairs and confirm that it was playing), we all agreed that it was a cool solution, although a bit inconvenient to change tracks for the current playlist.

Whatever the case, it was much like a custom radio station, where we could keep a playlist looping, and know that at any moment, you can switch to a “station” that plays only the music you like. Running through the Nakamichi receiver (they don’t make it anymore) and Polk 5jr speakers (they don’t make those anymore either), it sounded very clean.

Onkyo Rose from the ThankYou Network
Over the past several years, I’ve been working my MasterCard pretty well, and the resulting “thank you” points have been adding up. Rather than buy stuff from the ThankYou Network store, I’ve converted the points into gift cards. In my case, they’ve been for Circuit City or Best Buy.

About a month ago, I realized that I had enough points to buy $500 worth of Circuit City gift cards, so I began researching how I might want to spend it. I came close to tossing the cash into a 20.1 monitor from Samsung, but opted instead for an Onkyo HT-S780.

Clearly this is not as good as the Nakamichi and the Polks, but given the source material I’d be using (broadcast TV and DVD audio), it would almost certainly be good enough. Then I remembered that the Airport Express was still hooked up to the system downstairs.

Hmmm… I wonder how iTunes would sound piped through this system? It might actually be good enough to listen to, at least for casual listening. In addition, the room with the Onkyo is much closer to the Mac Mini, which is where I’m typically running iTunes. A couple of cables later, things are going well, and the custom radio station is now playing upstairs.

It Needs Remote iTunes Control!
Things were just great, except I was now stuck with the same lack of control that I had before. Ughhh… it was almost preferable to running iTunes from my PC laptop and listening through the speakers there, because I could control iTunes.

For the uninitiated, one of the groovy things about running iTunes on multiple systems within the same network is that they are “network aware,” and will allow you to play songs in the library of the other systems. College dorms have made this feature really popular, as you can allow a bunch of your buddies to listen to anything from your library, without you having to provide any centralized control. The networked iTunes systems simply look like another iTunes library in the list.

Even better, this feature works cross platform, so if you’re running on a Mac and your buddies are running PCs, you can still share tunes across the network. Remove the cold pizza, empty beer cans, and college coeds sneaking into the rooms, and you have the same (technologically speaking) situation as a college dorm here. I’ve got a Mac Mini running iTunes that contains my primary library, and remote PCs (like the laptop I’m typing this from) running iTunes on the same network. When I’ve been working, I can then sit down and load up the appropriate list, and work away at the laptop to the right list for the moment.

Bringing it All Together
If only the remote iTunes system could load up a list from the main library, and then connect to the Roaming Network!

Wait. Have I tried that? Hmmm… let’s just see. Launch iTunes on the laptop, check the bottom of the screen. This is a good sign. The remote machine shows the popup button for selecting a network! Now if it will let me play a remote list and do so through the Airport Express.

It works.

This, is extremely cool. As I sit here at the PC laptop, iTunes has loaded up the library from the Mac Mini in the home-office, and instead of playing it on the built-in speakers of the laptop, it’s playing through the Onkyo system. Advance a song? Check. Switch playlists? Check. Adjust volume with the slider in iTunes. Check.

More purchases from a company that makes a cool technology solution like this, and makes it accessible to the masses?

Check… credit… or cash.


1. A Fool and his Words are Soon Parted » Search Potpouri - February 1, 2006

[…] Two for the Show If Mr. Hochuli and my mother-in-law garnered the Win and Place trophies, the Show award is a photo finish. Sharing music via iTunes is clearly a common query, but the new Intel-based iMacs are almost tied. Very close behind those are searches related to coaching, sports, and dealing with parents in sports. […]

2. links for 2006-08-15 (Leapfroglog) - August 15, 2006

[…] A Fool and his Words are Soon Parted » iTunes Library Sharing with AirTunes Rocks! On how to set up your iTunes library so multiple machines can tune in to the same music and stream them to multiple sound systems. (tags: iTunes streaming remote AirTunes Apple Mac OSX howto) […]

3. Mechelle - June 15, 2008

It sounds like you have something figured out that I want to do:

ibook G3 10.4.6 and iMac 10.5.2 share itunes libraries. I want the ibook to play the imac’s shared library through my stereo speakers through airtunes. It’s not happening. (imac plays fine through airtunes).

any thoughts?


4. abc - November 21, 2008

You can use an iPhone or iPod Touch as the perfect remote for that setup. There’s an application for the iPod Touch/iPhone, Remote, which allows to remote control iTunes with full info in the device display, it’s great.

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