Hopefully this summer you are enjoying some pool parties. You might even have the perfect playlist on your computer, or maybe that’s where you downloaded the Spotify app. But it isn’t exactly convenient or even feasible to drag your PC outside by the pool, and you don’t have a wireless speaker. Or do you?
If you have an Android phone or tablet you could. With the help of a few settings and an app, you can transform your device into a speaker without constraints. Just don’t push anyone holding the speaker into the pool. Instead, get all your friends with Androids to help boost the sound. Or, if you weren’t invited to that party, listen to your headphones playing music from your PC or laptop vicariously—through your Android.
Method 1: Soundwire
Soundwire provides a way to play your music and audio from movies anywhere within range of the network. The main difference between the paid version (currently $3.99) and the free version is advertising. This app is definitely a top choice for apps that perform this service.
Step 1: Install App on PC
- Pay a visit to a website called GeorgieLabs to find the server version of the app. Links are provided for Windows 7,8, and 10, Linux, and Raspberry Pi.
- Click on the download tab when it is finished. Double-click the setup file.
- Click Next to proceed through the setup wizard. You will need to agree to mandatory terms and conditions.
- Finally, click Install.
Step 2: Download App on Android
Step 3: Open App on PC
This server application serves as your source of YouTube music, iTunes, or other audio.
Step 4: Select Source
- If necessary, click on the Input Section dropdown menu.
- Choose Default Multimedia Device.
Step 5: Establish Connection
Connect to the Internet on both devices. If you are using Wi-Fi both your Android and PC or laptop need to be on the same network.
Step 6: Run Android App
Open the Soundwire app on your Android.
Step 7: Tap Wire Icon
Press the button that looks like a coiled wire (where it says connect).
Step 8: Fix Connection Failure (If Necessary)
The devices should automatically connect, but if they don’t, try entering your server address manually into the textbox of the Android app and attempt to connect again. (You can find the address in the Soundwire Server screen on your computer.)
Step 9: Play Music
Or you can play other audio, or use the microphone option as a baby monitor if you need to.
Method 2: WiFi Speaker
WiFi Speaker also uses 3G, 4G, or the local network to bring you music, audio from movies, a baby monitor, or a PA system where you need it. Like the previous app, you are going to encounter ads and voice interruptions. Wifi Speaker Pro will allow you to bypass those annoyances (to some) for $3.99, and also gain audio compression.
Step 1: Install App on Android
You can get it for free, or the paid version also permits you to control the equalizer.
WiFi Speaker (Free)
WiFi Speaker (Paid)
Step 2: Launch App on PC
Get ready to save money on speakers.
Step 3: Update Server (If Necessary)
If you receive a pop-up window offering an update, go ahead and download the newest version.
Step 4: Click Settings
It’s the button with tools.
Step 5: Click Sound
Step 6: Specify Recording Device
For streaming music, you’ll probably want to select Default Device, but there are other options such as What U Hear, and Microphone.
Step 7: Set Buffer Time (Optional)
This is measured in milliseconds.
Step 8: Connect to Internet
Both your PC and Android must have Internet access.
Step 9: Open Android App
Step 10: Power On
If the power symbol on the server app isn’t green, press the button so that it turns on.
Step 11: Enter Server
Type the server number listed on your PC app into the server textbox on your Android app.
Step 12: Connect Devices
Press the Connect button in the upper right corner of your Android app.
Step 13: Play Audio
Use any music player, such as VLC, Grooveshark, and Windows Media Player.
Method 3: Airfoil Speakers for Android
Here is another app that can turn your Android into a pocket-sized speaker, and this one can receive audio from both Macs and PCs. Airfoil also displays metadata, such as tracks and album art, within the Android app. Transmit the audio from apps like Rdio or Pandora. You can use the trial version for free, but there is also a full version, which is quite expensive compared to the apps we have been discussing so far. The trade-off is—it should work well.
Step 1: Install Airfoil on Computer
- While this type of file has potential to harm your computer, this one shouldn’t, so tell your computer to keep the file and allow it to make changes.
- You will have options about whether you want to have a desktop shortcut for Airfoil Select what you are interested in and click on Next.
- Click Finish when you are through.
Step 2: Download App to Android
Airfoil Speakers for Android
Step 3: Open Airfoil on Computer
This server can broadcast to multiple Android speakers.
Step 4: Run Airfoil on Android
Ensure that both apps are running on the same network. Your Android should appear on the computer app as available output.
Step 5: Select Source
Since I am playing YouTube videos on Google Chrome, I selected that as my source.
Step 6: Go to Airfoil Menu
This option is located in the upper left-hand corner of the server app.
Step 7: Choose Output
Click on Transmit to and your device.
Step 8: Play that Music
Unfortunately, without the full version costing $29 per device, quality can degrade after about 10 minutes. Mine did.
Method 4: Chorus
If you had a Samsung Galaxy S4, you might have become attached to the Group Play app, only to see it disappear on newer Samsung devices. Although you can’t play music from your PC with this app alone, you can sync music across other Android devices, like an improvised Android stereo system.
Step 1: Install App
Chorus really is totally free.
Step 2: Open App
One device plays the role of host. In your group of devices, the one with the best playlist would best fit the part.
Step 3: Create Username
Tap Save when you are through.
Step 4: Play Your Own Music (Optional)
Select the plus icon in blue to the bottom right of your screen to add music that you want to play on your device.
Step 5: Join a Host (Optional)
- If you want to connect and listen to the host’s music, go to Menu (three dots) and select Join.
- Enter the host’s Chorus ID.
Step 6: Be the Host (Optional)
If you want to allow others to hear your playlist, you will need to give them your Chorus ID. Once you have started playing music as a host, the Chorus ID should be listed as a single number (1-255) in your notifications.
Step 7: Sync Devices
- This should happen automatically by joining to the host, but if not, try pressing the Sync button on the toolbar.
- You can also go back to the menu and select Sync Options. Sync Options can also be used to increase or decrease any offset, to better synchronize.
As usual, some apps work better than others. Soundwire was the most reliable for me, and it was easy to set up. If you are willing to shell out some money, you will find that these apps work even better. You can also pair your phone to your PC via Bluetooth by going to Settings and designating your Android as an audio sink, but keep in mind that Wi-Fi has a lot better range. Still, this works well if your computer has a broken speaker.
There are also several apps designed to let you stream Apple’s Airplay to your Android. If you are worried that your music might wake or otherwise disturb others, you can mute your PC speakers and listen to headphones on your Android. No need to run any cables across the house.
Which app works the best for you? Are there other apps you have found that work just as well or better? Send us your thoughts on all of these topics.