You may use AirPlay to steam to an amplifier, or receiver, or to a standalone speaker. But did you know you can also stream to your Mac?
My situation is a bit unusual. Because of problems with Apple’s iCloud Music Library, I won’t turn on that feature on my iMac, where I have a large music library, carefully curated and tagged. It was a disaster when Apple Music and iCloud Music Library were first launched, and it still often messes up tags.
But I sometimes want to listen to music with Apple Music, and I do so either from my MacBook, which doesn’t have my full library, or my iPod touch, which syncs with the MacBook via iCloud Music Library. And if I’m working in front of my iMac, it’s a lot easier to stream to the iMac and then play through my office stereo than it is to have to connect the MacBook to my DAC.
So I use Rogue Amoeba’s Airfoil Satellite, which sets up an AirPlay service on the iMac, which any AirPlay device can stream to. You select the device just as you would any other AirPlay target from the AirPlay menu in the iTunes toolbar. (Dark Star is my iMac.)
Airfoil Satellite then passes the incoming audio to your system output, and you can play it as if it were being played by an app on the Mac. Airfoil Satellite can also display a useful controller window:
You can pause or play music, go to the next or previous track, and control the volume from this window. The only thing missing from the control window is a progress bar, showing how much time is left in a track. But it’s possible that a device cannot get this information when music streams via AirPlay.
If you’ve ever wanted to stream audio to a Mac using AirPlay, check out Airfoil Satellite.