Your PC’s speakers aren’t always the best for listening to your music collection. You can, of course, plug in a pair of new ones, but that costs money and – besides – what if you want to listen to your music in a different room?
These days, you’ll find lots of options for streaming your music collection from one device to another. TuneBlade is another option for Windows users who wish to tap into Apple’s AirPlay streaming function, letting you stream to both hardware like the Apple TV or an AirPlay-enabled speaker as well as software, namely XBMC and ShairPort.
Once installed, the utility sits in your system tray. It’ll detect any equipment capable of receiving AirPlay on your network and give you the opportunity to pipe your audio to any or all of those devices simultaneously – simply tap the play button to mute your speaker and do so.
This barely scratches the surface of what TuneBlade can do: you can watch video through VLC Media Player while synchronising the audio with your AirPlay device, use a three-bar graphics equalizer to tweak the sound quality, and even adjust the streaming mode to reduce latency or improve performance over slow connections.
By default, TuneBlade uses direct playback, which simply mutes your main speaker before outputting to your AirPlay devices. If you don’t like this – or suffer playback quality issues – you can switch to Virtual Device Loopback instead with the help of a third-party app (two are suggested, one of which is free) to improve things further.
It’s all very polished and works well – so long as your device is visible to Apple’s Bonjour service (installed alongside the program if needed, so you won’t need to install iTunes), it should show up automatically here too.
Note the free version will only play for up to 10 minutes at a time to AirPlay hardware devices, at which point playback is interrupted (there are no limits on how many times you subsequently reconnect). No such restrictions apply when streaming to software. Licenses cost $9.99 per user, which allows you to install and run TuneBlade on up to five PCs you own.