Use AirPlay to stream to UPnP/Sonos & Chromecast devices
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README.md

AirConnect: Send audio to UPnP/Sonos/Chromecast players using AirPlay

Use these applications to add AirPlay capabilities to Chromecast and UPnP (like Sonos) players (make them look like an AirPlay device)

AirConnect can run on any machine that has access to your local network (Windows, MacOS, Linux -x86, x64 and ARM, Solaris and FreeBSD). It does not need to be on your main computer. (For example, a Raspberry Pi works well). It will detect UPnP/Sonos/Chromecast players, create as many virtual AirPlay devices as needed, and act as a bridge/proxy between AirPlay clients (iPhone, iPad, iTunes, MacOS, AirFoil ...) and the real UPnP/Sonos/Chromecast players.

The audio, after being decoded from alac, can be sent in plain, or re-encoded using mp3 or flac. Most player will not display metadata (artist, title, album ...) except when mp3 re-encoding is used and for UPnP/DLNA devices that support icy protocol. Chromecast do not support this (yet).

Installing

  1. Pre-built binaries are in bin/ directory of this repository. You can download the whole repository as a zip file, clone it using git, or go to the bin/ folder in the web interface and download the version that matches your OS. It's also possible to download files manually in a terminal by typing (e.g. for aircast arm version)
    wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/philippe44/AirConnect/master/bin/aircast-arm
  • For Chromecast, the file is aircast-[platform] (so aircast-osx-multi for Chromecast on OS X.)
  • For UPnP/Sonos, the file is airupnp-[platform] (so airupnp-osx-multi for UPnP/Sonos on OS X.)
  1. For Windows, download all the .dll as well.

  2. Store the [executable] (e.g. airupnp-osx-multi) in any directory.

  3. On non-Windows machines, open a terminal and change directories to where the executable is stored and run chmod +x [executable]. (Example: chmod +x airupnp-osx-multi). Note that if you choose to download the whole repository (instead of individual files) from you web browser and then unzip it, then in the bin/ sub-directory, file permissions should be already set.

Some Debian Stretch distributions (e.g. Raspian) only provide openssl1.0.2, but 1.0.0 is needed. Download the version for Jessie here or using wget http://security.debian.org/debian-security/pool/updates/main/o/openssl/libssl1.0.0_1.0.1t-1+deb8u9_armhf.deb then install it with sudo dpkg -i libssl1.0.0_1.0.1t-1+deb8u9_armhf.deb.

Running

Double click the [executable] or launch it by typing ./[executable] in the same command line window.

For Sonos & Heos players, set latency by adding -l 1000:2000 on the command line. (Example: ./airupnp-osx-multi -l 1000:2000)

You should start to see lots of log messages on screen. Using your iOS/Mac/iTunes/Airfoil/other client, you should now see new AirPlay devices and can try to play audio to them.

If it works, type exit, which terminates the executable, and then, on non-Windows/MacOS machines, relaunch it with -z so that it can run in the background and you can close the command line window. You can also start it automatically using any startup script or a a Linux service as explained below. Nothing else should be required, no library or anything to install.

Common information:

Use -h for command line details

  • When started in interactive mode (w/o -Z or -z option) a few commands can be typed at the prompt
    • exit
    • save [name] : save the current configuration in file named [name]
  • Volume changes made in native control applications are synchronized with AirPlay client
  • Pause, Stop, Next, Prev using native control application are sent to AirPlay client - once paused, "native" play will not work
  • Re-scan for new / lost players happens every 30s
  • A config file (default config.xml) can be created for advanced tweaking (a reference version can be generated using the -i [config file name] command line)
  • Chromecast groups are supported
  • Do not daemonize (using & or any other method) the executable w/o disabling interactive mode (-Z), otherwise it will consume all CPU. On Linux, FreeBSD and Solaris, best is to use -z. Note that -z option is not available on MacOS or Windows
  • A 'click' noise can be heard when timings are adjusted by adding or skipping one 8ms frame. Use -r to disable such adjustements, but that might cause overrun or underrun on long playbacks
  • This is an audio-only application. Do not expect to play a video on your device and have the audio from UPnP/Sonos or ChromeCast synchronized. It does not, cannot and will not work, regardless of any latency parameter. Please do not open tickets requesting this (see details below to understand why)

Config file parameters

The default configuration file is config.xml, stored in the same directory as the [executable]. Each of parameters below can be set in the <common> section to apply to all devices. It can also be set in any <device> section to apply only to a specific device and overload the value set in <common>

  • latency <[rtp][:http]> : (default: (0:0))buffering tweaking, needed when audio is shuttering or for bad networks (delay playback start)
    • [rtp] : ms of buffering of RTP (AirPlay) audio. Below 500ms is not recommended. 0 = use value from AirPlay
    • [http] : ms of buffering silence for HTTP audio (not needed normaly, except for Sonos)
  • enabled <0|1> : in common section, enables new discovered players by default. In a dedicated section, enables the player
  • name : The name that will appear for the device in AirPlay. You can change the default name. [1]
  • log_limit <-1 | n> : (default -1) when using log file, limits its size (-1 = no limit)
  • codec <mp3[:<bitrate>] | flc[:0..9] | wav | pcm> : format used to send HTTP audio. FLAC is recommended but uses more CPU (pcm only available for UPnP)
  • metadata <0|1> : send metadata to player (only for mp3 codec and if player supports ICY protocol)
  • media_volume <0..1> : (default 0.5) Applies a scaling factor to device's hardware volume (chromecast only)
  • artwork : an URL to an artwork to be displayed on player

[1] Hint: To identify your Sonos players, pick an identified IP address, and visit the Sonos status page in your browser, like http://192.168.1.126:1400/status/topology. Click Zone Players and you will see the identifiers for your players in the UUID column.

Start automatically in Linux

  1. Create a file in /etc/systemd/system, e.g. airupnp.service with the following content (assuming the airupnp binary is in /var/lib/airconnect)
[Unit]  
Description=AirUPnP bridge  
After=network-online.target  
Wants=network-online.target  

[Service]  
ExecStart=/var/lib/airconnect/airupnp-arm -l 1000:2000 -Z -x /var/lib/airconnect/airupnp.xml   
Restart=on-failure  
RestartSec=30  

[Install]  
WantedBy=multi-user.target   
  1. Enable the service sudo systemctl enable airupnp.service

  2. Start the service sudo service airupnp start

To start or stop manually the service, type sudo service airupnp start|stop in a command line window

To disable the service, type sudo systemctl disable airupnp.service

To view the log, journalctl -u airupnp.service

Thanks @cactus for systemd cleaning

Start automatically in MacOS (credits @aiwipro)

Create the file com.aircast.bridge.plist in ~/Library/LaunchAgents/

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd">
<plist version="1.0">
<dict>
    <key>Label</key>
    <string>com.aircast.bridge</string>
    <key>ProgramArguments</key>
    <array>
        <string>/[path]/aircast-osx-multi</string>
	<string>-Z</string>
        <string>-x</string>
        <string>/[path]/aircast.xml</string>
        <string>-f</string>
        <string>/[path]/aircast.log</string>
    </array>
    <key>RunAtLoad</key>
    <true/>
    <key>LaunchOnlyOnce</key>
    <true/>
    <key>KeepAlive</key>
    <true/>
</dict>
</plist>

Where [path] is the path where you've stored the aircast executable (without the []). It can be for example Users/xxx/airconnect where xxx is your user name

Start automatically under Windows

There are many tools that allow an application to be run as a service. You can try this one

Synology installation

@bandesz has made a nice package for automatic installation & launch of airupnp on Syno's

https://github.com/bandesz/AirConnect-Synology

Sonos hints

The upnp version is often used with Sonos players. When a Sonos group is created, only the master of that group will appear as an AirPlay player and others will be removed if they were already detected. If the group is later split, then individual players will re-appear.

Volume is set for the whole group, but the same level applies to all members. If you need to change individual volumes, you need to use a Sonos native controller. Note that these will be overridden if the group volume is changed later from an iXXX device.

Other players

  • @chpusch has found that Bose SoundTouch work well including synchonisation (as for Sonos, you need to use Bose's native application for grouping / ungrouping). I don't have a SoundTouch system so I cannot do the level of slave/master detection I did for Sonos

Misc tips

  • When players disappear regularly, it might be that your router is filtering out multicast packets. For example, for a Asus AC-RT68U, you have to login by ssh and run echo 0 > /sys/class/net/br0/bridge/multicast_snooping but it does not stay after a reboot.

Latency parameters explained:

These bridges receive realtime "synchronous" audio from the AirPlay controller in the format of RTP frames and forward it to the Chromecast/UPnP/Sonos player in an HTTP "asynchronous" continuous audio binary format (notion of frames does not exist on that side). In other words, the AirPlay clients "push" the audio using RTP and the Chromecast/UPnP/Sonos players "pull" the audio using an HTTP GET request.

A player using HTTP to get its audio expects to receive an initial large portion of audio as the response to its GET and this creates a large enough buffer to handle most further network congestion/delays. The rest of the audio transmission is regulated by the player using TCP flow control. But when the source is an AirPlay RTP device, there is no such large portion of audio available in advance to be sent to the Player, as the audio comes to the bridge in real time. Every 8ms, a RTP frame is received and is immediately forwarded as the continuation of the HTTP body. If the CC/UPnP/Sonos players starts to play immediately the 1st received audio sample, expecting an initial burst to follow, then any network congestion delaying RTP audio will starve the player and create shuttering.

The [http] parameter allow a certain amount of silence frames to be sent to the Chromecast/UPnP/Sonos player, in a burst at the beginning. Then, while this "artificial" silence is being played, it's possible for the bridge to build a buffer of RTP frames that will then hide network delays that might happen in further RTP frames transmission. This delays the start of the playback by [http] ms.

But RTP frames are transmitted using UDP, which means there is no guarantee of delivery, so frames might be lost from time to time (happens often on WiFi networks). To allow detection of lost frames, they are numbered sequentially (1,2 ... n) so every time two received frames are not consecutives, the missing ones can be requested again by the AirPlay receiver.

Normally, the bridge forwards immediately every RTP frame using HTTP and again, in HTTP, the notion of frame numbers does not exit, it's just the continuous binary audio. So it's not possible to send audio non-sequentially when using HTTP

For example, if received RTP frames are numbered 1,2,3,6, this bridge will forward (once decoded and transformed into raw audio) 1,2,3 immediately using HTTP but when it receives 6, it will re-request 4 and 5 to be resent and hold 6 while waiting (if 6 were to be transmitted immediately, the Chromecast/UPnP/Sonos will play 1,2,3,6 ... not nice). The [rtp] parameter sets for how long frame 6 shall be held before adding two silence frames for 4 and 5 and send sending 4,5,6. Obviously, if this delay is larger than the buffer in the Chromecast/UPnP/Sonos player, playback will stop by lack of audio. Note that [rtp] does not delay playback start.

Many have asked for a way to do video/audio synchronisation so that UPnP (Sonos) players can be used as speakers when playing video on a computer or tablet (YouTube for example). Due to this RTP-to-HTTP bridging, this cannot be done as the exact time when an audio frame is played cannot be controlled on the HTTP client. AirPlay speakers can achieve that because the iPhone/iPad/MAC player will "delay" the video by a known amount, send the audio in advance (usually 2 sec) and then control the exact time when this audio is output by the speaker. But although AirConnect has the exact request timing and maintains synchronization with the player, it cannot "relay" that synchronization to the speakers. UPnP protocol does not allow this and Sonos has not made their protocol public. Sometimes you might get lucky because the video-to-audio delay will almost match the HTTP player delay, but it is not reproductible and will not be stable over time.

NB: [rtp] and [http] could have been merged into a single [latency] parameter which would have set the max RTP frames holding time as well as the duration of the initial additional silence (delay), but because some UPnP players and all Chromecast devices do properly their own buffering of HTTP audio (i.e. they wait until they have received a certain amount of audio before starting to play), then adding silence would have introduced an extra un-necessary delay in playback.

Compiling from source

If you want to recompile, you'll need:

https://github.com/nanopb/nanopb

https://github.com/akheron/jansson

https://github.com/philippe44/mDNS-SD (use fork v2)

https://github.com/philippe44/TinySVCmDNS

https://github.com/macosforge/alac

https://github.com/mrjimenez/pupnp (I'm using 1.6.19)

https://xiph.org/flac/

http://www.sourceware.org/pthreads-win32/

http://https://github.com/toots/shine

https://github.com/mattstevens/dmap-parser