As I sit here in Jury Duty, I’m trying to figure out how to simplify organizing & playing my digital media content.
For music, I stream audio files stored on my Synology 210j (NAS/server) to my Squeezebox Classic via the SqueezeCenter plug-in, all controlled with the iPeng remote control app. For video, I watch Netflix streaming via my WD HD TV Live Plus. This setup has worked beautifully so far. I’d ripped all my CDs to FLAC lossless codec, since the extra bits are worth it for my main stereo.
Now, my household has filled up with Apple devices: besides my desktop PC and Synology NAS, we have an iPod touch, two iPhones, two iPads, and two Macbooks. All my non-FLAC digital music on my PC, and my fiancee’s on her Macbook, is mp3s, organized in iTunes. And my content is not just music – it’s mobile apps too. So it seems to make sense to continue to use iTunes to manage my devices and my media content. With Home Sharing and Airplay and the Remote iOS app, Apple is making strides in accessing and playing heterogenous libraries of media content over multiple devices. But, Apple doesn’t support FLAC. SHAME ON YOU, APPLE. Nevertheless, I’ve decided to convert everything to ALAC Apple Lossless (thanks dbPowerAmp!) to be Apple-friendly, so I can manage it in iTunes.
The SqueezeCenter plug-in, however, streams ALAC by transcoding - the Squeezebox Classic receiver does not handle ALAC natively. The Synology CPU/RAM capability becomes a worry here. On two separate ALAC streaming tests I did, one worked just fine; on the other, the stream halted and buffered every 5-10 seconds. But this was before I updated the Synology OS to 3.1.
One thought is to replace both my Squeezebox and WD HD TV Live Plus with Apple TV. (Sorry WD: there just isn’t a slick iOS remote control for your device. ) With Airplay, I should be able stream from the Synology Audio Station plug-in – which recently acquired the ability to do so, via this beta release - by selecting the Audio Station Media Renderer to be Apple TV. From the Synology blog:
- AirPlay Support: AirPlay support in Audio Station’s Media Renderer mode allows you to stream music from your DiskStation to any AirPlay device which could be either a TV or stereo set in your living room
- iOS Apps(Coming soon on Apple® App Store): DS audio is now enhanced with media renderer support helps you remotely control the music playback from DiskStation to Airplay speakers or any compatible media renderer.
And instead of iPeng, I’d use the Synology iOS app (DS Audio) as a remote control.
But another thing that bothers me about Apple TV (besides no FLAC support and other media formats that I don’t care about right now) is that it doesn’t support Pandora radio. I just love Pandora. But, it seems the Pandora app supports Airplay? So that would solve that problem.
Come to think of it, it would be killer if HBO GO and the other iPad apps also support Airplay. I just read that they don’t. SHAME ON YOU, CONTENT PROVIDERS.
I am just going to stream transcoded ALAC via SqueezeCenter for now. But Apple TV does seem like it’s getting more attractive.
I thought that perhaps configuring my WD TV Live Plus as a Digital Media Render (DMR) via its uPNP/DLNA compatibility, and then using Audio Station (and the DS Audio app) will give me all the functionality I need – but alas, the WD TV Live Plus does not play Apple Lossless ALAC either – Audio Station would still have to transcode. Shame on you once more, Apple, for your ALAC-induced headache, and for forcing my hand into buying your Apple TV. You are a wily one!