Sunday, April 19, 2009

Airfoil by Rogue Amoeba

Trust me folks, this Airfoil thing is a real gottahavit! Check out the info at its creator's Rogue Amoeba's site. BTW, these are the folks who gave us Audio Hijack long ago! Rings a bell? Lemme tell you how Airfoil works, though...

You install Airfoil on your Mac or PC. As you launch it, it gives you a panel that 'sees' all the potential outputs your Mac (or PC) apps can send their sound to...

WTF am I talking about, you may wonder... And you are absolutely right! OK, Ctrl-Alt-Del... we go... Suppose you have* an Apple TV in your living room, an iPod Touch (or your iPhone) attached to a set of made-for self powered speakers in the kitchen or dining room, and an Airport express in your bathroom connected to a mini set of self powered speakers too. Suppose you wanna send some sound to all of them simultaneously and have them play the same songs all over the place, all at the same time! Wow! That's what I am talking about.

Take a look (right) to see what this panel I mentioned earlier looks like. There's the list I'm getting on the MBPro for my home topology: it consists of the MBPro (yep, it appears in the list too, as 'Computer'), the AppleTV (ATV) connected to my Audio Speaker system (TV Sound system), my iPhone (connected to its dedicated JBL speaker in the dining room), and my Airport Express (VJKAX) on the bedroom level (first floor) somewhere... This last piece of hardware serves me only as wireless LAN extender, but it could easily serve its own set of powered speakers too... All devices shown with a light blue speaker icon in front means they got activated. And each one has got its own volume slider control on the right for some 'real time' mixing experience among all your output speakers. Orgasmic fun! At the bottom you find a drop-down list (the selected and active iTunes is shown here) of all the apps on your Mac/PC that can be selected to send their sound to those active outputs.

Now, you may still righteously wonder: Which are these fortunate apps, then? For which ones did the bells toll? Well... here's the magic of modern software. Made of reusable component marvels built by today's smart OOAD software developers. In other words, the simple answer is: any application that is naughty enough to generate sound! Go figure! From iTunes, to all sorts of music players and from web browsers to software radios, to audio wave editors, midi sequencers, techno-hip-hop music pattern generators, to video media players... your pick.

There is still a problem with video media players though. If you're watching a movie with your usual player app, you may be getting a lip-sync problem. At least with iTunes, VLC and Quicktime that I tested, it was unbearable! No worries though! Those dudes from Rogue Amoeba are really cool! They have included a player of their own, the Airfoil Video Player. When you use this instead, sound synchronization is perfect...

I'm hearing a kid from the back of the classroom shouting... "How about using another PC or Mac as an output to your source? "... I'm glad you asked, kiddo! Excellent question! I even got an answer to this. Or better said, the whiz-kids at RA got us covered! They're offering some free soft solution called Airfoil Speakers. Download them and install on any computer you wanna output to, and Bob's your uncle. And, BTW, that's similar to what you need to do for iPhones and iPods Touch too. Go to the App Store and search for Airfoil Speakers Touch! Once you launch that app on your iPhone (iPod) your Mac/PC airfoil panel 'sees that' in a heartbeat. All free for you to use!

Finally, the price they are asking for the basic Airfoil application on either Mac or PC, running on a single station, is 25 bucks, or somethin'! Not bad at all, right? Further on, d'you know what's really fun too? On AppleTV and on the iPhone and iPod Touch, when active, you get an icon which is a replica of your source workstation with its ACTUAL wallpaper with open windows at the time of activation and all bells and whistles! Ünglaublich! Check it out (left) almost showing a 'photograph' of my MacBook with the iTunes app icon on the bottom right to show which app is currently sending out! How cool is that!

Trust me... this thing is really big! Test it first for free and if you get convinced you need to go buy a license, or the system will start generating bad noise after some time, if you didn't make sure you paid your dues... You gotta stop being such a cheap sod after all. Those folks at RA need to earn some dough too, to be able to buy some shoes and walk to work to write this wonderful SW for you, you cheap b@st@rd!

*If you happen to have none of these things... what can I say, get a life dude!

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