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Digital Audio Receiver for 802.11 Networks

Push laptop audio to your home stereo via WiFi Network
  [vote for,

Several vendors are now offering digital audio receivers of various sorts. All of the ones I've seen to date work by allowing you to remotely *PULL* the media files (MP3, WMA, etc) from your home computer so they can be played through your home stereo system.

My idea is a product that allows you to *PUSH* whatever you hear through the laptop's speakers to a small walkman-sized 802.11 receiver that would, in turn, be connected to your home stereo system.

To accomplish this, you would need two pieces: 1)The laptop software; and 2)The receiver hardware itself. The software could be made to work in a similar fashion to that from www.totalrecorder.com - - meaning that it captures whatever the audio stream is on the laptop and then broadcasts it via the 802.11 WiFi network. The receiver(s) could be addressable via the software on the laptop - - thus ensuring the security/privacy of the audio transmission.

The main difference between my idea and current products is that you're pushing rather than pulling the audio to the home stereo system. This should allow a much simpler product at a much lower price point than what is currently available - - perhaps as low as $40-$50 retail.

John in DC, Feb 23 2004

Apple's Airport Express http://www.apple.com/airportexpress/
[lucas_shawn] is right, Apple pretty much baked what you asked for. Here's his link as an actual link. [krelnik, Oct 17 2004]

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       Wi-Fi seems an unnecessary complication here: why not just bung a low-power FM transmitter on the laptop's line-out?
JKew, Feb 23 2004

       There are several reasons not to hang an FM transmitter off of the laptop. First, it would be too bulky. Second, it wouldn't have the range of the WiFi unit. Third, you wouldn't have the ability to securely limit who can "tune in" to your broadcast.   

       Bottom line is that an FM transmitter just isn't as sexy or as cool as a WiFi solution. And since almost all laptops include WiFi these days, why not use that functionality to play audio through your home audio equipment.
John in DC, Feb 23 2004

       The push/pull aspect of the user experience should be quite clear, Jutta. Even so, I will point out that the pull model does not allow you to listen to many of the various music service feeds (ie Rhapsody) without connecting the audio output of the laptop to your stereo. The pull model also doesn't allow game or other (non-MP3/WMA) audio to play either. My concept views the laptop as a portable remote control and music player that transmits any audio playable on the laptop to the rest of the house via the WiFi network.   

       But I think that your question was aimed more at the technological differences rather than the user-experience differences. So....   

       To begin, the pull model requires a way to peruse the directory structure of the host machine/server in order to find the appropriate file. This requires a graphical display of some sort - - either via LCD or TV - - which will greatly add to the cost of production. A push model won't require such navigation as the laptop itself serves that purpose.   

       Once the file is located on the host server, it must be pulled, reassembled, and decompressed. This requires that the receiver contain decompression algorithms that cost money - ie MP3 & WMA that the push model won't require.   

       That's the clever thing about my idea - - that the receiver doesn't have to decode any proprietary audio formats because the laptop has already decoded them for you. What we're aiming at here is intercepting the digital audio stream within the laptop itself (much as it is done with TotalRecorder) and then transmitting it to the receiver. A compression / decompression step is still required - - - But that can be done with a proprietary algorithm that won't require license fees to the likes of Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft (MP3) or Microsoft (WMA).   

       So you are right in that they both need a wireless receiver, storage, and a few signal generators. The difference is that the pull model needs alot more and, thus, will cost *alot* more to produce than the push model I have proposed above.
John in DC, Feb 23 2004

       Perhaps I'm wrong to position this as an alternative to the "pull" model digital audio receivers that are already on the market. It just really isn't comparable to those. It is, however, comparable (as JKew suggested) comparable to a Low Power FM transmitter hung off of the laptop's line out.   

       Given that most LPFM transmitters cost $35+, it would seem a logical upsell to offer this 802.11b alternative. It could, afterall, offer greater distance and security to boot for a price point hovering around $50 or so.
John in DC, Feb 24 2004

       I'm also looking for a push type receiver. The Netgear mp101 might work and the new rokulabs unit might also. They both appear to either push or pull. The FM solutions don't have the range or quality.
oyr, Mar 14 2004

       Check out Apple's Airport Express. It pushes audio content to any of the small boxes on the WAN, and in turn pushes audio to a connected receiver. Pretty cool technology, but there are a couple of problems: Air Tunes appears to only be written for Mac to-date. Also, I believe this only works with iTunes content. http://www.apple.com/airportexpress/
lucas_shawn, Jun 19 2004

       If you don't mind using a computer as the receiver box, then you can do this with winamp+shoutcast (and I imagine other similar solutions designed for internet 'radio' streaming (wma/rm?) too).
benjamin, Jun 20 2004

       Airport express IS cross platform, using itunes (mac or pc) as the programming source. It also works as a wireless router.
macrumpton, Jun 20 2004

       I got an Airport Express today and it does what it says well. Anything I can play in iTunes on a PC or Mac, I stream to this device which turns the wireless signal into line-out audio. It's very simple and works well.
yppiz, Aug 03 2004

       I just found the following in the release notes for ms speech sdk 5.1   

       "Windows XP has an upgraded Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) that supports the redirection of audio output to the client machine. The operating system will automatically change the audio output device to "RDP Connection" instead of the standard sound card when a Terminal Services client connects to it."   

       Having no idea what I'm talking about, I'd say this means there is a way to do what [John in DC] originally asked for. Maybe if there was a way to make the appliance connect as a 'terminal services client.'   

       And now I find "Audio. The audio streams, such as .wav and .mp3 files, play through the client computer's sound system." at microsoft.com. This serves as confirmation for me, discounting my very likely misunderstanding of the situation.   

       Think of the receiver as the client computer. If there can be an RDP connection without locking out the user at the 'server' end of the connection, then this may work.   

       It all makes sense to me, though it is 3 in the morning.
swamilad, Nov 02 2004

       Just stick an AP on the net port of an Audiotron and you're done (and this has been done for at least the last three years).
bristolz, Nov 02 2004

       This is an old thread, but several of these now exist. Creative Labs X-Fi notebook has its own Expresscard Wifi output to a receiver, Sondigo makes one called Sirocco which is exactly what you asked for, and of course Airport Express with software called "Airfoil" by Rogue Amoeba to turn it into a true soundcard. My favorite is the Sondigo - I'm going to try it out!   

       For anyone reading this, wifi digital transmission should offer much much better sound quality that FM transmission. The S/N ration of most FM receivers is under 70db versus >90 for everything else.
ianmack1, Mar 17 2009


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