Home listening on an iPhone or iPod

By | November 25, 2010

[Update, 1st June 2011: there is now an official Mixcloud app for iOS devices so in most circumstances you will want to use that instead. Read about it in our post].

Phantom Circuit uses Mixcloud‘s service to stream shows to your computer – but what if you want to wander around your home while listening to the show on your iOS device (iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad)? These are not yet supported by MixCloud, but if you also have a wireless network, you can try Rogue Amoeba’s Airfoil software, which is available for Windows and Mac OS X. Airfoil can relay the sound from the MixCloud player straight to your iOS device so you can get on with home life while listening (in fact it can stream audio from just about any application).

Streaming audio from computer to iPhone

So, here’s how to listen to a Mixcloud audio stream while you are busy and on the move at home. We will have to assume that you have already connected your computer and your iPhone to your wi-fi network.

  1. Airfoil.jpg Download Airfoil and install it on the computer that you use to browse the Web.
  2. Install the free Airfoil Speakers Touch app on your iOS device and run it.
  3. Launch Airfoil on your computer. You will see a window listing the devices which can access the audio. At the top of the list you will see “Computer” (this is the computer which is running the software) and below that you should see the name of your iOS device. Click the speaker button next to its name.
  4. At the bottom of that window is a drop-down menu: use it to select your Web browser (if your browser is already running, Airfoil will offer to quit and relaunch it for you so it can hijack its audio).
  5. Use the Mixcloud player to listen to the show of your choice in the usual way.

You can then hear the show over your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad.

Things to try

In demo mode, Airfoil will add noise to the audio after the first ten minutes of use each time you launch it. This will give you time to try the software by relaunching the application as many times as you wish, and if you are happy with the results you can buy a licence for US$25.

In the case of unusually heavy demands being placed on the streaming computer or network congestion, you may hear little wobbles in the pitch of the streamed audio: this is a possible side-effect of Airfoil’s way of handling network errors in a way that is more graceful than simply letting the sound drop out. If the iPhone’s audio output is changed by unplugging or plugging in earphones, you might find that drop-outs do occur, and that you need to pause the audio on the streaming computer briefly to allow the iPhone to catch its breath.

It has to be said that Airfoil is not the weak link in the chain and in normal use you should be more than satisfied with the results.

The future

Of course, using Airfoil is only a solution for listening when your iOS device and computer are connected to the same wireless network: it can’t help you to stream Mixcloud’s audio streams directly to your iOS device. MixCloud says that an iPhone app is planned. In the meantime, by using Airfoil you can gain some extra mobility whilst listening at home.