AirPlay

  • 1 September 2010
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209 replies

Userlevel 2
Second.

Third.
Well, this is not completely correct since iTunes have always had the ability to stream to multiple "zones", although only a single stream. It is also supposed to be synchronized (not 100% accurate though, but good enough). Why they left that out in iOS is to me a mystery.

They left it out because an iDevice wasn't designed to stream multiple streams, and it certainly does not have the horsepower. As I said, Apple is trying to morph a personal player into multiple zones, and their base design is flawed from the start. And although the iTunes implementation looks to be a single stream, in reality it is multiple instances of the same stream, hence the same difficulty synchronizing that Squeezebox has (and it took Squeeze 10 years just to get the delay down to 10-15 times that of Sonos).

The simple fact is, both Airplay and Squeeze devices are essentially dumb boxes, and will never be able to handle multi-zone processing like the smart Sonos units. They are cheaper, but low cost has its tradeoffs.
Userlevel 4
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I highly doubt a fix is coming. Unlike Sonos, Airplay uses a Squeezebox-like "multiple zones requires multiple source streams" architecture, and no iDevice can produce more than one audio stream at a time. Even the Sonos dock is limited to one stream (but unlike Airplay, it can stream to multiple zones via Sonosnet). Unfortunately, just like Squeezebox, Apple is trying to morph a single user/zone player into a multi-zone system, which is flawed from the start.

Well, this is not completely correct since iTunes have always had the ability to stream to multiple "zones", although only a single stream. It is also supposed to be synchronized (not 100% accurate though, but good enough). Why they left that out in iOS is to me a mystery.
The view I have is that Airplay devices (whether an Airport Express or an airplay enabled speaker system) are really just computer/iPod peripherals. The only real difference between Airplay and a typical iPod docking system is that Airplay is wireless.

If your whole universe centres around what you do with your iPod or iTunes, then it's a good solution, but it's not the same as Sonos as none of the Airplay devices actually do anything useful on their own. Airplay devices really are dumb streaming endpoints which cannot do anything until a computer or iPod pushes audio at them.

Sonos is different because Sonos is not a computer or iPod peripheral. Sonos is a standalone digital music system. Each individual Sonos unit has the power to operate autonomously This gives it a degree of control, flexibility, and capability that something which is just a dumb streaming endpoint like Airplay will never have.

Airplay is a wireless audio sender, really not much different than streaming to bluetooth wireless headphones. The functional difference between Airplay and an audio cable is pretty minimal.

Sonos is a complete multi-room audio system for your home. It doesn't even need a computer or an iPod to be fully functional.

Cheers,

Keith
Well it might be silly, but it is how it it is.
iOS does not support streaming to multiple AirPlay devices at the same time.
I am currently using iOS 5 Beta 5, and this is still not supported.
Hopefully there will be a fix soon, but I guess Mr Jobs don't see the point :roll eyes:


I highly doubt a fix is coming. Unlike Sonos, Airplay uses a Squeezebox-like "multiple zones requires multiple source streams" architecture, and no iDevice can produce more than one audio stream at a time. Even the Sonos dock is limited to one stream (but unlike Airplay, it can stream to multiple zones via Sonosnet). Unfortunately, just like Squeezebox, Apple is trying to morph a single user/zone player into a multi-zone system, which is flawed from the start.
Userlevel 2
@Knievel: iTunes have always supported to stream to multiple airplay devices at the same time, you just select multiple devices in iTunes. It would be kind of silly if the iOS devices didn't have the same functionality?


Well it might be silly, but it is how it it is.
iOS does not support streaming to multiple AirPlay devices at the same time.
I am currently using iOS 5 Beta 5, and this is still not supported.
Hopefully there will be a fix soon, but I guess Mr Jobs don't see the point :roll eyes:
Userlevel 4
Badge +14
Uhh, I don't see where I commented on sound superiority in this thread, nor have I mentioned Apple TV. I think you have the wrong guy.

Ah, sorry, I meant @RB_Seattle. My apologies!

Cheers, Jimmy
@jgatie: Why would an Apple TV have superior sound as opposed to a Airport Express? The Express has a combined 3,5 mm toslink/analog output, so you can still use it as a digital source.

Uhh, I don't see where I commented on sound superiority in this thread, nor have I mentioned Apple TV. I think you have the wrong guy.
Userlevel 4
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@Knievel: iTunes have always supported to stream to multiple airplay devices at the same time, you just select multiple devices in iTunes. It would be kind of silly if the iOS devices didn't have the same functionality?

@jgatie: Why would an Apple TV have superior sound as opposed to a Airport Express? The Express has a combined 3,5 mm toslink/analog output, so you can still use it as a digital source.
Userlevel 2
If Apple won't produce it, then someone else will. There seems to be a demand for something like this, at least if you look around the web.

Regarding multiple users streaming concurrently, this is no problem as long as they stream to to different airplay receivers. I have done this several times.

The problem mentioned in the interview is actually the opposite: streaming from one iDevice to multiple AirPlay speakers at the same time.
Userlevel 2
I don't think Apple would create such a device. Also, for Sonos to natively support Airplay will cost them $50-$100 for chip and licensing. The current AE is OK, but with the new Play:3's lack of a line-in jack, that strategy is limited. Personally, I'd rather see Sonos come out with a small device with optical line-in to support Airplay via AppleTV, which is going to have superior sound to AE.

As for your interest in having multiple users streaming different content to Airplay concurrently, I don't think that is possible according to what the CEO of Sonos is saying:

Interview...
Userlevel 2
They have. It's called an Airport Express. There's no dock, but Airplay doesn't need a dock because any WiFi enabled iDevice can stream directly to Airplay.

You have a point, but I would still want a smaller, less bulky solution with the ability to charge my iDevices when needed.

I use AE today, but i would like to add more AirPlay access points to my Sonos to make it more flexible for multiple users at the same time. I really hope I can do this with a smarter setup than AE sometime soon.

Also I have experienced stability issues with AE, which makes me want to try something different.
The way I see it Apple should release an AirPlay enabled iDevice dock with 3,5mm audio out socket. This would bring AirPlay to Sonos (and any other home audio devices).

With the ability to sync iDevices wirelessly in iOS 5, this kind of dock would make perfect sence.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for this, or some other kind of AirPlay dongle to be released alongside iOS 5 this fall.


They have. It's called an Airport Express. There's no dock, but Airplay doesn't need a dock because any WiFi enabled iDevice can stream directly to Airplay.
Userlevel 2
The way I see it Apple should release an AirPlay enabled iDevice dock with 3,5mm audio out socket. This would bring AirPlay to Sonos (and any other home audio devices).

With the ability to sync iDevices wirelessly in iOS 5, this kind of dock would make perfect sence.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for this, or some other kind of AirPlay dongle to be released alongside iOS 5 this fall.

AirPlay has also been reverse engineered and open-source software provided to implement it (unofficially of course).


The big difference is that Apple Lossless isn't an encrypted format and doesn't seem to include any IPR. In fact it bears many technical similarities to FLAC so Apple would struggle to enforce any licensing or IPR claim on it.

Airplay is encrypted and includes considerable IPR as Apple have designed it with licensing in mind so as to be able to create a licensing windfall. Either of these alone cause problems. just breaking encryption is against the DMCA and can result in significant penalties. An individual may get away with it as part of a hack, but if Sonos adopted it it's asking for trouble.

In any case, Apple are likely to be able to tweak the encryption in future upgrades to make it more secure. This has happened with iPods, and third party music managers have suddenly been left unable to sync with iPods.

It would be a crazy, stupid thing for Sonos to do this.

I'll point out your "idea" isn't a new one. If you read the whole thread you'll see it has already been discussed and dismissed as unworkable at least once before.

Cheers,

Keith
I don't know if any patents are involved in AirPlay, but there would certainly be a squabble about misuse of a trademark if someone advertised "AirPlay" without first obtaining a license.
It is true that the only official way to add AirPlay support is to pay a license and use a chip that implements it. This would as you also point out require redesigning all the Sonos players.

However considering that Sonos support Apple's proprietary Apple Lossless audio format for which there is no official licensing scheme I have heard of but there is a reverse engineered open-source software for, perhaps Sonos could use the same approach to implement AirPlay. AirPlay has also been reverse engineered and open-source software provided to implement it (unofficially of course).


So Sonos, a legtimate company owned and operated in the US, should violate the DMCA (not to mention the WIPO Copyright and Performances and Phonograms Treaties Implementation Act and the EU Copyright Directive) by circumventing Apple's proprietary encryption scheme using "unofficial" code?

Uhhh, can you say "LAWSUIT" (not to mention "PRISON TERM")?
Userlevel 2
Airplay requires additional licensing and hardware for integrated support. This would make all existing Sonos hardware incompatible, and increase the price of new hardware due to licensing, development, manufacturing changes and the cost of the Airplay chip.

There is a large thread on this already, including a feature request. Search thread titles for 'Airplay.'


It is true that the only official way to add AirPlay support is to pay a license and use a chip that implements it. This would as you also point out require redesigning all the Sonos players.

However considering that Sonos support Apple's proprietary Apple Lossless audio format for which there is no official licensing scheme I have heard of but there is a reverse engineered open-source software for, perhaps Sonos could use the same approach to implement AirPlay. AirPlay has also been reverse engineered and open-source software provided to implement it (unofficially of course).
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Quite possibly.

With an AirPort Express properly attached into any ZonePlayer, Sonos can rebroadcast that stream to any other ZonePlayer(s) in the system. Connected as the FAQ directs, the AirPlay stream has little to no dropouts (unlike previously)

For those with many Zones, they can direct the AirPlay music to any room (or rooms) desired - all in perfect sync.

I use the AE and AirPlay in this manner. Albeit, I rarely need to use it, as any of the household music is already on our NAS. It is, however, a cool 'toy' for guests with iDevices who want to "inflict" their music on us. Even better as a 'sales tool' for the Sonos system. :D

Best of Luck


Many thanks, if I can ever afford a second system, I'll look forward to that!
I'm left wondering what it is that has actually been added in the new software?
They added a feature that stops the incessant forum posts from iFans complaining about the lack of AirPlay support.

I find it quite useful, tbh.

Or am I missing something given I have a single speaker system?


Quite possibly.

With an AirPort Express properly attached into any ZonePlayer, Sonos can rebroadcast that stream to any other ZonePlayer(s) in the system. Connected as the FAQ directs, the AirPlay stream has little to no dropouts (unlike previously)

For those with many Zones, they can direct the AirPlay music to any room (or rooms) desired - all in perfect sync.

I use the AE and AirPlay in this manner. Albeit, I rarely need to use it, as any of the household music is already on our NAS. It is, however, a cool 'toy' for guests with iDevices who want to "inflict" their music on us. Even better as a 'sales tool' for the Sonos system. :D

Best of Luck
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I got my first Sonos kit yesterday - an S5 and a BR100. I am very pleased with the whole thing.

I saw that the Sonos now supports AirPlay when attached to an Airport Express, one of which I also have. Since the Airport Express already supported AirPlay, and you still have to connect the Airport Express to the S5 using a 3.5mm audio jack, I'm left wondering what it is that has actually been added in the new software? I mean, I could already stream music from my iDevice to the Airport Extreme via AirPlay anyway.

Or am I missing something given I have a single speaker system?

Cheers

PeteyD
I see all these hardware, speakers aso. that support Airplay directly by showing up on your network as a airplay speaker.
I would really like to see integrated airplay in the sonos system, without the airport express!?
Can't see why that shouldnt be possible.


btw, Sonos should signup with uservoice for feature requests and support!


Airplay requires additional licensing and hardware for integrated support. This would make all existing Sonos hardware incompatible, and increase the price of new hardware due to licensing, development, manufacturing changes and the cost of the Airplay chip.

There is a large thread on this already, including a feature request. Search thread titles for 'Airplay.'
Userlevel 2
I see all these hardware, speakers aso. that support Airplay directly by showing up on your network as a airplay speaker.
I would really like to see integrated airplay in the sonos system, without the airport express!?
Can't see why that shouldnt be possible.


btw, Sonos should signup with uservoice for feature requests and support!

Sonos supports Apple lossless if I understood it correct. Will it support it even on a stream? (radio, http streaming)


Actually I don't know 100%. There's a limited set of protocols that Sonos supports for things like radio streams, but in my experience if you embed a streaming URL in a M3U or PLS playlist, Sonos will play it if it's one of the standard supported formats. I've not tried ALAC, although I would be sort of surprised if it didn't support it.

Is it possible to "push" a stream to a sonos zone, meaning start playing a zone using uPnP actions with autostart, and when the stream ends (socket closed) it will continue on it's regular playlist?


The former, yes. The latter, probably although it would take a little work. I don't see why it couldn't be done.

That way it would be possible to have a proxy software that would broadcast all the zones as airplay devices, and upon receiving audio, switch the selected zone into airplay mode, much like Majik suggested. No need for user interaction would be utterly awesome.


Indeed, although I don't necessarily see that switching back to the original queue is a necessity. "All" it needs is for someone to develop it.

Cheers,

Keith