Microsoft "Play to" streaming playback


You can use the Play To feature to stream video, music, or picture files stored on your computer to a separate playback device on your home network. That device could be another computer, TV, or stereo connected to your network. You can use the Play To feature in Windows Media Player or anywhere you store media files on your computer.


I’ve killed almost all of the programs, services and apps on my PC so I can’t try this. How does it sound with the PWD compared to EMM or JRiver?


It depends. I downloaded a symphony from the Boston SO’s website in WMA 24/88. Out of curiosity I right-clicked “Play to” the PWD before doing anything else with the file, which was on my low-end laptop. I don’t know exactly what software played the file; a small window opened that didn’t identify itself but said “Play to” and showed the blue PWD icon. I suspect it was Windows Media Player. The result was an innocuous but miniaturized version of Symphony Hall – a small cube of sound suspended between the speakers without much detail. Yuck. The nicest thing about this was the pretty blue PS icon.

I then converted the WMA files to FLAC, edited the tags, and moved to my NAS running MinimServer (which transcodes FLAC to WAV before sending it off the PWD). This was more like it – lots of air, big soundstage, plenty of details, performance that drew me in.

For comparison, I then converted one of the WMA files to WAV but left it stored on my laptop and right-clicked “Play to.” This was in between; if the WMA was 30% of what I expected, and the FLAC via MinimServer was 95%, the WAV on the laptop was 65%; it kind of filled the space between the speakers and offered more detail than the WMA, but nothing like the FLAC/WAV version. If I had a better laptop, tweaked for audio, it probably would have sounded better. The files from the laptop also have to travel through quite a lot of CAT6 cable, whereas the NAS sits right next to the PWD. I do think that the player software (Windows Media Player, it seems) has the biggest influence. I don’t know if the “Play To” feature can be configured to work with JRiver or whatever, since I don’t have anything else on this laptop. But the difference between WMA and WAV was obvious.