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I'm interested in being able to play music that's on my computer through my phone - mostly so I can plug the phone into speakers in different parts of the house. Looking for apps, I realise that there are actually some pretty different ways you can do this:

  1. Run a music server that's accessible over the internet, access through app or web browser on phone (eg AudioGalaxy, Subsonic)
  2. Run an audio streaming server that provides a single audio stream (eg SoundWire - you drive the choice of music from the PC, and the phone is just a passive receiver)
  3. Share your music folder, and use a Samba (or equivalent) file share app like ES File Explorer to access the files on your phone and play them from there.
  4. Use DLNA-supporting apps at both ends to play and share music (eg, Windows Media Player on PC, and AllShare or Skifta on phone)
  5. Sync music from PC to phone regularly, and just play it from there.

Am I missing any? What are the strengths and weaknesses of each approach? One concern for me is I'd rather not have music going via the internet, because then it would count doubly out of my internet usage cap.

Also, are there apps (with the right combination of PC software) that can combine these approaches? It would be great to be able to either drive a playlist from the PC, or select songs from the phone. Extra bonus points for solutions that work for video (ie, films) as well.

My PC is Windows XP, my phone is Samsung Galaxy Note.

EDIT Incorporating answers from below into the original list.

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Have you looked at Play music from PC on Android? –  eldarerathis May 6 '12 at 15:43
    
Yeah, I did - tried VLC Stream & Convert, but it was super flakey for me. –  Steve Bennett May 6 '12 at 23:01
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6 Answers

Generally, Galaxy devices have AllShare app which is DLNA certified software. If your device doesn't have AllShare, install Skifta.

Now, all you need is a DLNA certified media streaming server on PC. Fortunately, Windows Media Player 11 on Windows XP has this capability. So, you don't need extra software.
Media Sharing in WMP11 Media Sharing option in WMP11
Make sure your music collection is in WMP library.

You don't need any extra-terrestrial configurations as DLNA certified products feature UPnP (Universal Plug and Play). Just make sure apps (or, its services) are open & are connected to same network (LAN/WLAN).

Its the best way for streaming media because its UPnP. It was designed to get rid of complexities of traditional media streaming solutions. And, it supports pictures and videos too.

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That looks like a great solution. Strangely, the "Share my media" option doesn't seem to work for me - clicking OK just makes the dialog freeze for a minute, then do nothing. Any alternatives to WMP? –  Steve Bennett May 6 '12 at 13:33
    
@Steve When you tick Share my media option, WMP searches compatible devices in network. So, tick it after turning on DLNA service in Android device and connecting it to same network. See if it works or not.. –  Sachin Shekhar May 6 '12 at 13:50
    
OIC, actually you need the "Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service" running in control panel. See here: samsung.com/us/support/… –  Steve Bennett May 6 '12 at 14:41
    
Ok, cool, this works. Seems like there are some limitations (eg, only 500 entries in any list displayed), but it's a pretty good start. –  Steve Bennett May 6 '12 at 14:47
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More info: serviio (serviio.org/download) is better than WMP: much faster (maybe 5x) browsing of media, smarter categories etc. –  Steve Bennett May 19 '12 at 9:41
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Have a look at SoundWire.

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Ta - that's one of the category 2 solutions: sharing all audio from the PC to passive receivers. –  Steve Bennett May 7 '12 at 3:12
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If you're looking to just play music anywhere in the house, the option to just access a file share from your phone and play music from it is probably your best bet. ES File Explorer has a Samba plugin that should allow just that, and most music players should be able to do playlists.

As an aside, no matter which option you chose you don't have to worry about bandwidth so long as you are using a locally hosted option to stream your music (ie, not a cloud service like Google Music).

However, if you want a lot of control and the ability to stream to multiple devices simultaneously like an internal house radio station over your local network, I would strongly recommend Subsonic. You have an enormous amount of control over your media via the app from any machine running the Subsonic app, and they have apps for all phone and PC platforms. The only catch is that there is a $20 license to use the phone apps. However, that wouldn't stop you from just tuning into the streaming feed from your phone and using the browser based interface instead to control your music.

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Cool - well that works. The Android app looks great. The straight web interface is pretty bad on a mobile (even on the note). Its huge window requires lots of panning around. Also, it needs flash player which doesn't seem to work for me. So I'll have to think about that $20... –  Steve Bennett May 6 '12 at 14:35
    
Personally I think it's well worth it myself. It's quite spiffy. –  Logos May 6 '12 at 19:32
    
FYI, if you're worried about data and you're just using it around the house, list the Subsonic server as the local IP address and it should then only be accessible over wifi. –  Logos Sep 23 '13 at 11:38
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I use option 4 (DLNA) quite beautifully for streaming both music AND video to my phone/tablet/PS3 and tablet within wi-fi range in my house.

My setup is: PC MediaTomb running on Ubuntu-linux (If you run Windows, I'm sure there are alternatives)

Tablet / Phone: uPNPlay (free on Google Play) linked to your favorite media player

Pros:

  • All media sits on one machine
  • All my devices (phone, tablet PS3*) can stream media from that location
  • Secure over encrypted network
  • No bandwidth issues

Cons:

  • My PC has to be on 24/7.

*PS3 only recognises some divX codecs

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Thanks, didn't know about UPnP AV. Which leads me to: superuser.com/questions/226636/… –  Steve Bennett May 8 '12 at 6:22
    
Interesting, I didn't know that.But uPNPlay does supprt both. I see I made a typo in the app name which may have been confusing. Fixed that. –  CjS May 8 '12 at 7:23
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I've had a squeezebox streaming media player for years and the software which is also downloadable free is pretty good so I use that. I can stream remotely, as per original question, when I'm away from the house and I've used XiiaLive as an android player. It's not as light as player as I would prefer but it works.

The server also looks after submissions to last.fm which keeps me happy.

All free software. The Squeezebox server is also cross platform.

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Links would be helpful. –  Al E. Sep 20 '13 at 15:59
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Subsonic. It is extremely robust and easy to use.

It is open source but there is a licensing. However as it is open source you can remove easily the license. (and this is perfectly legal) See https://github.com/KHresearch/subsonic

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