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Streaming Audio in Your Home

Here are new devices that work with iPods, iPhones and Androids

En español | Streaming Audio: What Is It?

Streaming audio on the Web is the new FM radio. In the past decade, many commercial radio stations and private individuals have taken to the Web as their primary platform for distributing music, news, comedy, talk radio and almost any genre of audio imaginable. As long as you have an Internet connection and a computer or Web-enabled device, you'll most likely be able to tune into literally hundreds of thousands of Internet radio stations, regardless of where you are in the world. A few examples of websites that help you find music and other audio you may like are SHOUTcast.com and Pandora.com.

Digital Music

— Magictorch

The phrase "streaming audio" also refers to music that is on a hard drive and then broadcast via a network to a compatible device. For example, you may have a collection of music on your home computer that you've downloaded from iTunes. With streaming audio, you can listen to your library of music in another room, through a different device and even more than one channel at a time in different rooms.

Internet Radio: How to Tune In
There are plenty of devices that have come out over the years that connect to the Web to play your favorite tunes. Several of these devices, however, were hard to connect and even harder to control. Both the Apple iPhone and iPod touch have led the pack in ease of connectivity and control of audio libraries. For that reason, both devices in this article are compatible with these products, and in one case, Android-powered smartphones.

Sonos ZonePlayer S5
This premium speaker system ($399 per room) wirelessly streams music over your network, granting you access to everything stored on your personal computer (or external hard drive). Any song on your computer can be accessed, on demand, from individual speakers spread throughout the home. You can also stream from many online radio stations; according to Sonos, more than 100,000 stations, podcasts and other streaming services are supported by the ZonePlayer S5.

How do you navigate through all of that available music? A free downloadable app for iPhone, iPod touch or iPad lets you use your fingertip to select songs from your entire collection. Music can be chosen by artist, song, album, genre and so forth — and you can even queue songs to play in the order of your choosing. The app also allows you to simply tap your device to access the online music stations, searchable by genre or country, and then bookmark your favorites so you'll easily find them in the future.

What's more, you can place one of these black or white ZonePlayer speakers in any room in your home (or on a backyard deck) and hear something different in each location, or synchronize them all to play the same tune at the same time. Mom might want classical in one room, while dad listens to jazz in another and the kids tune in to hip-hop or rock in their respective rooms.

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