This is another one of those things I really don’t need, but now I’ve found it and set it up I think it’s pretty cool and have been trying to find a more permanent use for it! Airsonic is a free, web-based media streamer, providing ubiquitous access to your music, although you’re probably best just checking out the website to find out more – https://airsonic.github.io/
My current love of all things Apple probably started with the iPod back in 2003. I’d used a Macintosh to do some college work when I was an exchange student at Millersville Univerity, PA in 1991-92, but I’d never dreamed of buying an Apple product.
I love listening to music and the idea of carrying around my digital music collection in my pocket was appealing, although by that time I’d already built up quite a collection ripping all of the CDs I’d bought during the ’80s and ’90s.
When the iPod was launched in 2001 I really wanted one, but they were expensive and the capacities were pretty small so I would only have been able to take a little of my music collection with me. The 3rd generation lost the clicky scroll wheel and increased the capacity up to 40GB and I’d also just started contracting so was feeling pretty flush, so treated myself to what at the time was a pretty expensive MP3 player, that could fit almost all of my music collection on it.
I had a few more iPods (the 4th gen with a colour screen and a 5th gen with 80GB storage) before eventually jumped on the iPhone bandwagon, which I’m still on currently using a iPhone X with a 256 GB capacity. I join the party right at the start, as the early models lacked the storage capacity of the iPod, and my preferred device at the time was a Nokia Communicator (which reminded me a lot of the Psion 5 I’d loved before that) but by the 3GS model, I’d been seduced and have upgraded every 2-3 years ever since (the only one I’ve missed is an 8)
I still think from a design perspective, the iPhone 4 was my favourite, although it’s incredible looking back at the way mobile phones have developed over the last 10+ years, and become such an integral part of our lives. I was a strong believer in individual tools for specific jobs, but the smartphone really has become a true convergence device that can pretty much replace most of my other tech.
Of course, it can’t do a better job than any of them collectively, but the fact I can carry around a small computer in my pocket, that carries most of my music collection (it’s continued to grow!), provides access to the internet and most of my files and other media (including films and books), take pretty decent pictures (in some cases better than my somewhat aging Canon 5D MkII DSLR) and can play games better than any of the games consoles I’ve ever owned (the last one I bought being a Nintendo Wii) is quite incredible.
But I’ve drifted off somewhat! Where does Airsonic fit into all of this? Well, it’s a bit like I said at the start. It doesn’t really! I still use iTunes on my iMac as my main music catalogue. Everything is beautifully organisaed and I can sync music easily to my iPhone by simply connecting it to a Lightening cable (plugged into my iMac) from time to time, although most of the time I now charge it wirelessly.
I back up my iTunes folder to my FreeNAS server and emby had a music library which points to the Music folder contained within that, so my whole collection is available through emby if needed. It’s not quite as well organised and I’ve made no attempts to fix any of the mismatches for some of the more obscure stuff in my collection. I could also make that available to friends and family who use my emby server, but by default, I don’t. Only one of two have access to the music, and I don’t think they use it any more than me.
I’ve installed Airsonic in a FreeNAS jail and that’s pointing to exactly the same backed up music folder as emby, although it seems to have done a slightly better job of cataloguing it and pulling album art from the internet. The interface feels a bit more like iTunes, although not quite as polished as you’d kind of expect if you’re used to Apple shine, but it’s super functional and very responsive and I’ve started to listen to a little music through it.
I’m still a little ‘old school’ when it comes to music and haven’t really jumped on the steaming music wave, even though I do have an Amazon Music subscription for playing things through our Echo devices. I also bought an Ikea Sonos device which I blogged about here, although it hasn’t been used enough to justify buying any more. Alexa is just a convenient way of listening to music in the house, and if I’m listening it’s usually with some headphones connected to my iPhone, and usually listening to something I’ve downloaded to the phone.
So what has this blog taught you about Airsonic? Very little I suspect, although at least you’ve not heard of it. I hadn’t a few months ago! It’s also pretty easy to get up and running in a FreeNAS jail, and I’m sure just as easy to run on Windows, macOS or Linux. Its completely cross-platform and open-source, so what’s not to love?