Speakerfy: A Free App for Whole-Home Audio, or Silent Discos

Playing music in multiple rooms around the house can be an expensive endeavor. If you've already got a handful of phones, tablets and laptops, why not sync them together so they're all playing the same songs at the same time?

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Jared Newman / TIME.com

Playing music in multiple rooms around the house can be an expensive endeavor, with products like Sonos costing upwards of $300 per speaker. If you’ve already got a handful of phones, tablets and laptops connected to existing speakers around the house, why not sync them together so they’re all playing the same songs at the same time?

Speakerfy, an app that officially launches on iPhone and iPad this week, and on Windows and Android next week, is a quick and dirty way to make it happen. It allows you to synchronize audio playback on multiple phones, tablets and laptops, so you can listen to the same music while wandering from room to room.

(Whole-home audio isn’t Speakerfy’s primary intended function. It’s actually billed as a “social sound” app, allowing people to listen to music together across devices. Yes, it’s an app for silent discos. No, I’m not hip enough to partake in said discos. Whole-home audio it is.)

Speakerfy streams audio over your local Wi-Fi network, or over a shared mobile hotspot, to any device that’s also running the app. Just send an invite to the devices you want to connect, then choose a song, album or playlist from your music collection. The other devices will start playing music in time with the host device.

Right now, Speakerfy isn’t perfect. Every time you play a new song, there’s a delay of a few seconds as the devices get in sync, and once playback begins, the receiving devices stutter for a moment while the audio falls in line. John Wright, Speakerfy’s president, told me that the company’s working on the issue.

The app itself is also aesthetically rough around the edges, and it’s prone to strange behavior. When I first tried the app, my iPhone and iPad failed to get in sync, and a message told me to force-close and restart the app. I had to do that again later on, when I’d left both devices idle for a while.

speakerfy

Jared Newman / TIME.com

Finally, there’s one major limitation to Speakerfy: It can only play music that’s stored locally on the host device. That’s not a problem if you’ve got a huge iTunes library on your iPhone or iPad, but Speakerfy is useless if you rely on streaming services like Spotify, Rdio or Pandora. Speakerfy wants to add streaming music sources eventually, but copyright and technical issues are making it tricky, Wright said.

If you want something more reliable and capable, I’d recommend Rogue Amoeba’s Airfoil software for Windows or Mac. Airfoil costs $25–though you can try it for free–and streams any audio source, including online services. It’s also a lot smoother than Speakerfy in my experience. On the downside, Airfoil requires a Windows PC or Mac as the audio source, so you can’t stream directly from a phone or tablet. There’s no Android version of Airfoil, either.

Speakerfy has other plans in the works. An app update is coming in a few weeks, with a new user interface and more features, including the ability to stream phone call audio to a PC. The company is also looking to partner with speaker and headphone makers to integrate streaming audio, and is also open to partnerships with phone and tablet vendors, allowing them to build song sharing into their products.

For now, the plan is to build out Speakerfy’s standalone apps with more features. If Speakerfy can work out some of the technical kinks, it’ll be a winner for music lovers.

8 comments
Lysn_in
Lysn_in

We'd love for you to check out our silent disco app, Lysn in. It is currently free and includes additional features and functionality over other apps on the market. We will have two versions available, one which synchs over Wi-Fi and another that synchs over 3G/4G/LTE. The Wi-Fi version allows for a DJ to add music from SoundCloud, Spotify, Music Library or even connect an external audio source like DJ equipment. Android version is coming soon as well. The website is http://www.lysn.in -- Thanks! 


@Lysn_in Team

joey_p12
joey_p12

Speakerfy didn't work for me


But, Benjammin's tune mob and http://SpeakerBlast.com worked great for me.  


The speakerblast one worked on my iPhone, Nexus 7 and even on my PC in Chrome.

SeanTHEman
SeanTHEman

Check out vortexbox.org   Its free and probably the most powerful music server you can get. Highly configurable and can stream to iXXX, Android, PC, DNLA, Sonus, PLEX...... and act as a Squeezebox server.

twixter
twixter

Would be cool if this got integrated with some of the hot wireless speakers, like the Moos Mini Aero. This could be a viable - and much better sounding - alternative to Sonos!

brady
brady

@twixter Great feedback.  We are working with various wireless speaker companies right now.  We can't really say who, but have fun stuff coming soon.

As for the other guys question.  We've done a lot of testing with wireless speakers.  My unbiased/truthful opinion is that the Monster Clarity Micro does the best job

twixter
twixter

@brady @twixter Brady - and I don't mean to come across negative here; just trying to be helpful. 

You saying that the Monster Clarity Micro does the best job - by which I presume you mean it sounds best - shows that you have a rather limited perspective on audio equipment, and indeed, even on wireless speakers. I don't believe there are many people out there who would put this (or any other) Monster product anywhere near the top of the pile - in fact very far from it.  Monster is known for ridiculously overpriced (and unnecessary) cables, not for their electronics which to date has been quite appalling in terms of audio quality - and yes, this includes the Monster Beats (they are bought by impressionable teens, not by people who value audio quality or want to build a multi-room system). That aside, I do like the idea of your app - let's just hope that you are more of a software engineer and that the app is great :)

At the risk of treading deep into subjective waters, here is my perspective on top wireless speakers in terms of audio quality. Drumroll... and the top 5 wireless speakers for sound quality are:

1. Moos Mini Aero - this is my personal bet as I have pre-ordered their product (disclaimer). Wireless stereo monitor speakers with phenomenal design and components - clearly designed with one thing in mind: absolutely awesome audio. I will curb my fanboyism at that - seriously good IMO

2. Dynaudio Xeo - very nice wireless stereo monitors designed for the living room; Dynaudio has a great reputation. King of the jungle until the Moos Mini Aero appeared on the horizon. 

3. Libratone lounge - single speaker; by its nature cannot match the Dynaudio or the Moos, but for what it is it's rather good.

4. Bowers&Wilkins Zeppelin Air - B&W is a class act, with some of the most incredible high-end speakers ever designed. The Zeppelin Air is awesome. I put it below the Libratone because the Libratone is larger, considerably more powerful and can deliver much more bass (yet still retain refinement). However, the B&W is no lightweight - sound quality is excellent for a single speaker design and styling is great - it is arguably one of the few speakers that has become a design classic.

5. Bang & Olufsen A8 - cool design, great sound, everything you would expect from the Scandinavian legend. Difficult to place vs the Zeppelin Air

So that's the top 5. Below this you would have Monitor Audio, Pioneer, Bose, Sonos, Audyssey and others - not Monster. If you are betting the farm on Monster I would think twice - just my 5c!


brady
brady

@twixter @bradywow.  Thank you very much for your $.05.  That's really good info.  I should have preceded my comment with the fact that I'm the sales guy, not the technical one :) haha


I'll look into your feedback though and educate myself in the market.  I'm sure our team knows more.  Thanks again.