DLNA server on Android device streaming to chromecast/wireless speakers via an ipad

Dec 26th, 2015 | By | Category: Random Musings

So here’s what I need to do:

  1. Turn a library of 300+ CD’s into a digital only collection
  2. Stream that collection to a central amplifier that lacks wifi capabilities
  3. Add wifi speakers around the house to stream the music to various rooms if needed
  4. All be controlled from an ipad
  5. Must be easily and flawlessly useable by people who are novices with tech in general(ie: parents)

 

1.)

At first I was contemplating getting a 128GB ipod touch and using Airplay, but because of the abomination known as iTunes I would have had to manually rip all of these CD’s to maintain the DRM which would have taken weeks of my life away so to hell with that.  Instead I torrented the entire collection guilt-free as I’ve purchased the CD’s legally over the years.  So this ruled out iTunes and any non-jailbroken apply products.  The ipod was also $400+ and would need to be jailbroken to achieve any decent functionality so instead we can grab an older Android device, like a Galaxy S2, drop a 128GB microSD in it, root it and install AirWire and viola I have myself a streaming DLNA server up and running.  I tried a few other DLNA server apps for android but AirWire just worked straight out of the box without much hassle.

2.)

Next is how do I handle the streaming to the 1990’s amplifier with only an aux cable input and no wifi?  At first I explored the possibility of running a VNC server on the android device and just screensharing to the ipad with the output from the android going directly to the amp, but after purchasing a few premium VNC apps on the tablet and the android it became clear that this was an incredibly clunky and frustrating experience.  Tech novices in their 60’s would look at this, use it once or twice and go back to their CD’s instead.  We needed a slick, native interface not some 16bit color, high latency, half working mirrored screen.  We are Chromecast users here and I know you can easily stream audio embedded in video with chrome cast and output it to the hdmi so I looked around for a way to extract the audio from that and found an a article that described an adapter that would convert hdmi to vga and split out the audio(https://gigaom.com/2014/02/08/how-i-turned-my-chromecast-into-a-45-networked-audio-adapter/) but luckily for me Google read that article too and came out with a Chromecast Audio device in the past year, which saves me the $9 of having to buy that adapter in addition to a chrome cast.

Good job Google! https://www.google.ca/chromecast/speakers/

So with the Chromecast Audio version I can now setup a wireless audio receiver that plus directly into the Aux port of the receiver, brilliant

3.)

Currently I have 2 LG Hifi Music Flow H3 speakers in our apartment and for the most part they are working great.  They are slightly annoying in the sense that they have no battery, must always be plugged into a wall, and no aux-in port, but the sound they produce is fantastic and they even take Cat5 input to make sure audio is never interrupted.  So for our house we have these in 2 rooms and can stream audio to either of them or both at the same time.  They seem to be working well, we got a great deal on them at $79 each so I would recommend them for that reason alone, especially you want to grab 3-4 of them, but if money is no object then everything I’ve heard is that Sonos is the king of wifi speakers.  Another option would be to find a cheaper battery powered unit that you can easily take around the house with you to augment your wired(power) wireless speakers that stay put.  Anyways, bottom line is that so far things are working well with the wireless speakers, they can be paired or run separate streams, one is hard wired into our repeater in the house so the connectivity is rock solid even on opposite ends

4 & 5.)

Now the kicker, my folks are apple and ipad lovers which makes sense as apple makes tech that ‘just works’ and that’s what they want.  So regardless of what is going on behind the scenes to make all of this work the only option on the front end is a slick, user friendly interface that also just works and runs natively in their ipad.  The goal is to be able to access their entire library(and more) at their fingertips, from their couch on their ipad.  I went through every app available that streams music over DLNA protocols and Creation 5 was so insanely the best app by such a wide margin that it’s not even worth mentioning any of the other ones.  The UX is a big outdated, and I had some kinks to work out with the LG speakers(mainly, select the factory default name not the custom name you made for each speaker in the music flow app) but as of right now I’ve streamed 2 Bladerunner CD’s from my android device to our speakers and controlled it all from the ipad.  On top of that I can choose from a ton of radio stations from around the world, make play lists, make favorite lists, and seamlessly stream to any of the wireless speakers or chromecast devices.  What works flawlessly in C5 represents 10 times more functionality and polish than the rest of the competition combined.    Plus the UI is slick albeit heavy even if the underlying UX is pretty dated so it’s fairly simple to get the hang of.

 

So bottom line I ended up avoiding giving any more money to Apple, created a more reliable, more affordable and more extensible system to accommodate their current setup as well as well as future wifi speakers as they get added around the house.  HUZZZAH!!

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