Provides: Home network audio streaming
Developer: Rogue Amoeba
Minimum System Requirements: Mac OS X v10.6, wireless network, supported speakers
Price: $25 for single user license
Version Reviewed: 4.0
Playing music on your computer is great, but wouldn’t it be cool if you could have that music playing in every room in your house, in sync? Airfoil makes that a possibility. Airfoil 4.0 is an amazing product for anyone who has more than one computer or speaker system connected to an iOS device. The application makes playing music on any speaker in the house dead simple. That alone would be enough to make this application amazing, but it does so much more. Let me explain.
You can send audio from one computer to anything that can run the AirFoil speaker app. That means pretty much any computer on your home network, as well as any iOS device, AppleTV, Airport Express with speakers and, someday, Airplay supporting Speakers.
With version 3, you can even initiate the connection from the speaker side of things (previously, you had to select your destinations on the source computer). And you don’t have to pick just one; no, pick them all if you like. Audio can be streamed to all of your devices, and, best yet, it’s completely in sync across them all. That means you can walk from one room to another without the music stopping or being in different places.
Another cool feature is that you can isolate where your audio is coming from on the source computer. For example, you could be playing music with iTunes and watching videos on YouTube at the same time, but only want to stream iTunes to other speakers in the house. Just select iTunes as your source in Airfoil and that’s all that goes. Oh, and if you want, you can have Airfoil keep volume levels in sync too. That means you turn it up or down on the source computer and all of the other speakers do the same. Awesome.
It’s hard to describe how cool it is to walk from one room to another and have your music continue completely in sync. Without Airfoil, this would cost you thousands of dollars on its own. Yes, even with Airfoil it’s probably costing thousands of dollars too, but it’s stuff that you already have. Stuff like iOS devices, computers, speakers systems, etc. And since there’s an iOS app, you can make use of even more speakers that otherwise would be out of the fun (as long as you have an iOS device).
The only part of this whole setup that needs work is the app itself. In testing, it frequently lost the audio connection or became choppy. The desktop applications did not do the same thing, though I have had the Airfoil app (not the speakers app) close on me for no reason other than being open for a long period of time. Neither of these things is enough to keep me from recommending this application, but I would really like to see some updates to the iOS app to improve performance.
In short, Airfoil is nothing short of magical. The process is dead simple and is sure to impress anyone who doesn’t know how it works, and probably those who do, as well. There’s just nothing like being able to walk anywhere in your house and hear exactly what you want to be playing. Throw Remote.app on an iPhone into the mix and you’ll feel like the god of your pad; completely in control.