7.1-channel network audio

Frequently Asked Questions

What does sharing an audio device provide?

Shairwaves lets you share your Mac's audio devices (built-in, USB, Firewire, HDMI etc.) onto your network, in the same way as sharing a network drive or printer. Just as with other shared devices, this means they can be used from other Macs on your network. In practice this means that shared audio devices appear as audio devices on the other computers and can be played to from them. The device name includes the location of the device, for example "Built-in Output @ My MacBook Pro". With Shairwaves you get true network audio, all totally under your control, and without the limitations of AirPlay devices.

Shairwaves devices can be played to like any other, so this means that if you select one as your output device and play to it, say from iTunes or DVD Player, the audio will cross the network and be played out of the remote device, automatically.

There are no limits to how many audio devices that can be shared from a computer, nor to how many devices you can have on your network. If there are many devices on your network, Shairwaves lets you manage which devices to use locally to avoid having too many audio devices in the list. A first for any Mac audio software is that each user can have their own personal choice of which devices to use, as well other
personalised options such as the device name, latency setting, volume and sample rate. Switch users and all the settings are restored for the new user.

Each remote representation of a device provides all of the formats and features of the device being shared, it is as if the device is directly connected to your Mac. So if it supports eight-channel (7.1ch) output at 192kHz with 24-bit samples, then with Shairwaves you can play 7.1 surround sound over your network with this format. No other network audio software lets you do this with your Mac.

Even 5.1 surround encoded audio formats (Dolby Digital and DTS) are supported, letting you watch a DVD or iTunes movie with surround audio and have the surround audio come out of your home theatre amplifier over your network.

With a reliable network connection exceptionally low network latencies of down to 50ms (1/20th of a second) are available, letting you watch web browser videos and keep audio synchronisation with your remote speakers and have super-quick response when clicking through tracks. Low latency is essential for gaming and with many games providing 7.1ch surround audio you need look no further for getting immersed with wireless sound.

You can even run Shairwaves on PCs running Linux, providing access to audio devices on computers other than Macs. Shairwaves also runs on the Raspberry Pi computer, providing a low cost and low energy way to get going with network audio.

Using a Raspberry Pi you can upgrade your HDMI home theatre amplifier to provide network audio with features such as support for 8-channel PCM and sample rates of 192kHz (depending on the equipment), powered from the amp's USB socket and powering up with the amp providing playback within 30 seconds.

How does Shairwaves work?

Shairwaves shares your audio devices with other computers under the control of a pane in System Preferences. Each shared device appears as an ordinary audio device on the other computers using the same device name as that shown on the sharing computer, with the host name of the sharing computer added to help locate it, for example "Built-in output @ My MacBook Pro". These names can be changed to suit your preferences, e.g. "Kitchen Speakers". Each device can be used by audio applications in the same way as any other device.

Each computer running Shairwaves is able to detect all the others on your network in the same way as other services such as file sharing and iTunes library sharing. As each device is connected or disconnected, or has sharing enabled or disabled, so the devices are added to or removed from the other computers on the network. Similarly devices are removed or added when the sharing computer is put to sleep or shut down, or woken or rebooted.

It is not necessary to be logged into the sharing computer to be able to play to its devices, so sharing computers can run "headless" if wanted.

To the Mac OS Core Audio system, the network audio devices created by Shairwaves appear no different to a physical device and the behaviour is the same. Shairwaves even supports playing 5.1 encoded audio, applications such as iTunes, DVD Player and VideoLAN can use "digital output" devices created by Shairwaves just as they would if they were connected locally.

Detailed configuration of devices is possible using the Audio MIDI Setup tool, as with any other audio device. Network device settings are stored on a per-user basis along with Shairwaves-specific settings such as the latency and device name - log in as a different user and their original settings are restored automatically.

When you start playing to a Shairwaves shared device, by default you take it on a first-come-first-served basis and you have exclusive control of it. It is shown on other computers as being in use and they will not be able to use it. Once you stop playing to it it will become available again to the other computers after a few seconds. In this way, the audio devices on the network operate as a "pool" of devices.

Alternatively, a device can be shared using a fixed format, so that any computer can play to it at any time but only a single sample rate, number of channels and sample size is available.

If you run Shairwaves on a Linux computer, by default all of its audio devices are shared on the network and can be used in the same way as devices shared from Macs. It can be configured by logging into the Linux computer and using a command line tool, as there is no preference pane available for the Linux Shairwaves software.

The Linux-based Raspberry Pi computer is a great way to jumpstart Shairwaves into your home network, as its HDMI connection adaptively supports the sample rates and other audio features of HDMI audio equipment while being small and a very low user of energy.

So to play audio using Shairwaves, I'm not tied to using a specific application?

No. The audio devices Shairwaves creates on your computer are just the same as any other, so you can use all your audio applications with them. iTunes, VLC, DVD Player, webpage videos in Safari, they all work just fine right back to OS 10.5.

Do Shairwaves and AirPlay devices coexist together?

If you have AirPlay devices then they continue to work as normal, as does any other audio device. Shairwaves devices coexist with all of them and provide their extended features independently.

Does Shairwaves simply downsample higher sample rates to 44.1kHz and then use AirPlay?

No. AirPlay devices are limited to 44.1kHz 16-bit stereo transmission but Shairwaves extends AirPlay's capabilities to break out of those limits and transmit up to 192kHz/8ch/32-bit audio natively and losslessly to the remote device with no resampling at any point. It is also not constrained by the one-device-per-network-node limit of AirPlay, so you can share multiple audio devices from one computer if you want, any number of which can be in use at one time.

I already have stereo Bluetooth speakers, what more can I have with Shairwaves?

With Shairwaves you get bit-perfect transmission, meaning that the audio played over the network is the same as that which is played when connecting your Mac directly to your audio hardware with the same device. Bluetooth audio devices do not support lossless audio and quality is sometimes noticeably compromised.

Benefits such as higher sample rates and multichannel output are also not available with Bluetooth devices.

How is Shairwaves installed?

Please read the user manual for detailed installation instructions.

On Macs Shairwaves is installed using a standard Mac installation package. This puts everything in place so that after rebooting, Shairwaves will be running on your computer.

On the Raspberry Pi and x86-based PCs, Linux images with Shairwaves post-installed are available for download and provide a plug-and-play bootable SD card or memory stick so you don't have to worry about the details of installing Linux or Shairwaves. Just download and install the included Linux Loader app on your Mac and follow the instructions to create your memory stick/card. This app helps you to avoid the difficulties and risks associated with manually installing a Linux image on a memory stick/card.

Is it necessary to install Shairwaves on all the computers on my network?

No, it is only necessary to install it on computers from which you want to share audio devices, and on computers from which you want to play to them

Where does Shairwaves come from?

Shairwaves has been created from the ground up to provide great network audio with a long list of features way beyond those available with familiar network audio products. Because it has been created from a cold start it contains no reverse-engineered technology and uses no non-standard operating system facilities to bring about its features. This means it functions reliably across
multiple generations of Mac OS X and on other OS platforms without difficulty. It also means you can click and enjoy your media comfortable in the knowledge that you have quality network audio that will be there for you into the future, full of neat touches you won't find anywhere else.

Is Shairwaves secure?

Shairwaves on Macs requires that administrator authorisation is provided to be able to share local devices and to change their Shairwaves settings. By default devices are not shared, though on Linux all devices are shared until you configure the server otherwise.

Authorisation is not required for controlling which network devices are to be used on your computer or for changing their settings, as each user has their own private settings for them. Each users' settings are stored in a manner such that they are not visible by other users.

How is Shairwaves different to AirPlay or AirTunes?

Apple-licensed AirPlay or AirTunes products are limited by the need to purchase specific hardware to play to over the network. There is no support for 5.1 encoded audio in the device formats, and prior to Mac OS 10.8 AirPlay devices can only be played to from specific applications (such as iTunes) - they do not appear as an audio device on the system.

With Shairwaves all devices are available as system-wide audio devices across all supported generations of OS X, including OS 10.11. Each can be played to from any audio application on any Mac, and a Mac can share each physically-connected audio device, representing all the characteristics that are available locally up to 8 channels, 32-bit samples and a sample rate of 192kHz plus 5.1 encoded audio. If a digital output device doesn't provide 5.1 encoded audio support natively, Shairwaves lets you add it manually to the remote representations of the device.

This table summarises the differences:

AirPlay / AirTunes
Shairwaves Omni
Play to any audio device on a Mac or Linux computer
NO, specific Apple-licensed hardware required
One host can share multiple audio devices
NO, one AirPlay product provides one audio device only
Remote device accessible as a general audio device
YES (Intel only, OS 10.8 on, iTunes only before OS 10.8)1 YES
YES (except Apple TV2)
Compatible devices
AirPlay-compatible only
Plays Hi-res audio
Available sample rates
All provided by shared device, up to 192kHz
Available channels
All provided by shared device, up to 8 channels
Available sample widths
16 bits
All provided by shared device, up to 32 bits4
Supports 5.1 encoded audio
NO5 YES, with digital output devices
Low latency
NO YES, minimum 50ms (1/20th second) network delay
Latency user-adjustable to network environment
Synchronisation possible between local video and remote audio
Control which network devices are to be listed
Personalised network device settings
Headphone priority
Exclusive use of shared device
Remote control from remote speakers


1 Prior to OS 10.8, AirPlay and AirTunes devices are only accessible from iTunes, from 10.8 on AirPlay devices are available as full audio devices for any audio application to use. From OS 10.11 only recent and licensed AirPlay devices are accessible as a system-wide device, products derived from reverse-engineering of the AirPlay protocol and encryption are not supported.

2 Apple TV optical S/PDIF output operates at 48kHz, AirPlay operates at 44.1kHz. Apple TV performs sample rate conversion which is not lossless

3 Built-in Mac devices are shareable, as are USB, Firewire, PCI, HDMI, DisplayPort and Thunderbolt devices. Mac Bluetooth, AirPlay, aggregate, and multi-output devices are not shareable. All Linux ALSA devices are shareable

4 32-bit samples transmitted as 24-bits by default, 32-bit transmission available if required

5 Encoded audio formats are available when playing a movie to a remote screen by AirPlay via Apple TV, e.g. with AirPlay selected in iTunes, but not when using the AirPlay audio device directly, e.g. from DVD Player.app or VideoLAN/VLC, or when using audio-only AirPlay devices such as Airport Express

6 Some applications delay video to synchronise with delayed audio. Otherwise requires low latency setting, may not reliable in some Wifi environments

7 All computers on the local network can play to an AirPlay device at the same time. Unless fixed format sharing is enabled, Shairwaves devices form a “pool” of network devices, each being taken on a first-come-first-served basis when a computer starts playing to it, providing exclusive control of the device's output and settings with all formats available. Shairwaves also provides fixed format sharing where only one of the device's formats can be shared, but all computers can use the device at the same time

8 An iOS device is required to remote control AirPlay

Shairwaves works with the same functionality across all versions of Mac OS from 10.5 (Leopard) to 10.11 (El Capitan), even running on PowerPC computers. You can retrieve an old Mac from its resting place and press it back into service providing the best network audio available.

How is Shairwaves different to Chromecast Audio?

It is not possible to use Chromecast Audio from a Mac, except from within the Chrome web browser, and then only for streaming web audio services. Other audio features such a multichannel and 5.1 encoded audio are not supported.

Shairwaves lets you play any audio from any application, including streaming web audio from any browser, with full multichannel support, check out the full feature list.

What other editions of Shairwaves exist?

The edition described in this FAQ is the core "Omni" edition of Shairwaves. Two other editions have been derived for users with fewer requirements, the Uni and Multi editions.

The Uni edition provides for the built-in device of one Mac or Raspberry Pi to be shared, and one Mac to play to it. The Multi edition is the same except it allows multiple Macs to play to the device (one at a time).

Both editions share all the device formats just as with the Omni edition, so HD audio features such as higher sample rates, multi-channel output and encoded audio formats are all there, but neither
provides the preference pane provided with the Omni edition so the features and level of control it provides are not available.

The latency setting is fixed at one second for non-encoded audio formats and 60ms (0.06 of a second) for encoded audio, so synchronisation with video is available when watching a DVD with 5.1 encoded audio connected by S/PDIF from the sharing computer. Applications which automatically delay the video to match the audio latency (such as iTunes) play in sync even with non-encoded audio.

Per-user device settings are stored and recalled as with the Omni edition, so switching between users restores the device settings (sample rate etc.) for the new user.

The Uni and Multi versions are available as downloads for the Raspberry Pi computer as well meaning it is possible to play to a Raspberry Pi's built-in audio device, so home theatre amplifier HDMI facilities such as 7.1-channel output and sample rates of 192kHz are available if the equipment provides it, however playback to PCs running Linux remains available only with the Omni edition. Both the HDMI and 3.5mm jack outputs of the Raspberry Pi are supported.

So if you have just one Mac and want to play over your network, you can get Shairwaves Uni edition and a Raspberry Pi running the bootable plug-and-play download (or another Mac) and get going with great HD network audio. If you want to play to the same device from more than one computer, use the Multi edition. If you want total flexibility and the ability to share and play to any device, go for the Omni edition.


Sample rates up to 192kHz
Up to 8 channels
Up to 32-bit samples
5.1 encoded audio supported
All formats shared
Fixed format sharing NO NO YES YES (only)
All data sources shared
Share any connected device
Built-in only
Built-in only YES NO
Any number of servers
One only
One only YES YES
Any number of clients One only YES YES YES
Play to Mac
YES (built-in only) YES (built-in only) YES NO
Play to Raspberry Pi
YES (built-in only) YES (built-in only) YES NO
Play to Linux PC
Exclusive device use
Adjustable latency
NO (1s or 60ms)1 NO (1s or 60ms)1 YES NO
Change device and data source names
Custom device configuration for each user
Headphone priority
YES (fixed)
YES (fixed)
Remote control from device

1 Latency is normally fixed at one second but switches automatically to 60ms when playing encoded audio, e.g. when watching a DVD

Can Shairwaves be used over Wifi?


Wireless networking can suffer interference but Shairwaves can retransmit and catch up when intermittent transmission losses occur.

If too much time passes without any audio being able to get over the network then audio gaps may be heard. If a longer delay between clicking through a track and hearing the change is acceptable then gaps can be made less likely by increasing the latency in the Shairwaves preference pane.

Choosing the right latency setting is a compromise dependent on the network environment and personal preference. To have quick response between clicking through a track and hearing the new audio, or to be able to play a video with audio synchronisation while using Wifi, it may be necessary to accept the possibility of more gaps in the audio output.

Please make sure you use the try-before-you-buy facility to check that Shairwaves operates as you want it to in all the configurations and locations where you need it to, trying all the settings you intend to use, before purchasing the software.

While having long latency settings delays the playback response, changes to the volume and mute settings are not affected and are heard immediately. Similarly if playback to the device stops, it is not necessary to wait for it to play out the latency delay (note: some applications continue to play a period of silence after being stopped).

Shairwaves also uses Wifi Multimedia (WMM) features which help to prioritise the audio data over other Wifi network services, meaning that you can transfer or download large files without playback being affected. Not all Wifi base stations implement WMM as effectively as others, and on some the feature must be enabled manually.

What are the try-before-you-buy limitations?

You can see if Shairwaves does what you want before purchase, just install it and try it out. It will run for about 10 minutes on each computer before stopping playback, but the countdown only begins from when any playback starts. Beforehand you can take as long as you like to browse the preference pane facilities and to test features such as how the computers on your network respond to devices being connected or disconnected, shared or not, device names being changed etc.. If the 10 minute period runs out before you feel you've had the chance to try everything, just reboot the computers involved and the 10 minute period will start again from when you next play audio.

Hint: as you tour Shairwaves, to see a more subtle but powerful way in which it is unique try switching between logged-in users with different Shairwaves remote device configurations and see the audio device list update automatically as the active user changes. This feature is one of many unique to Shairwaves and allows each user to have their own remote device configuration and settings independently of others.

Other features need no purchase, such as the headphone priority feature. Just keep Shairwaves installed and this will always be available. It won't interfere with other operations of your computer and you can even continue to use the Share local devices tab of the preference pane to choose your output device and data source (if available), if you prefer its layout and features.

Audio devices usually have a number of settings such as sample rate and number of output channels, how is it possible to share an audio device across multiple computers when users may use conflicting settings?

Shairwaves resolves this in two alternative ways:

1. sharing a device with all settings available on all computers, but with only one computer being able to use a device at a time (by playing to it), and with the device being removed from the others until it is free again. Each computer can have its own separate settings for the device, which are applied when it starts playing to it. Shairwaves manages all this for you, with the preference pane showing which computer is using a device.

2. sharing a device with only one setting (one sample rate, one "number of channels" value etc.), meaning that there can be no conflict. With this option any computer can play to the device at the same time. It is not possible to support encoded audio formats with this option but if your device supports (e.g.) 7.1-channel output then you can share using this setting.

Pop up a menu on the device to be shared to set which option you require.

Someone else is using a network device from time to time. Will they be affected if I change the device's sample rate, volume or other settings on my computer?

No, your settings are local to you as a user and are only applied when you use the device yourself. If you are not using it then the device's actual settings will remain unchanged. When no one is using it remotely, the device's settings automatically revert to the ones set by the local user on the sharing computer (who also is still able to use the device if it is not in use by another computer). If you start playing to the device then any changes you make to the settings are reflected immediately onto the device. If you log in as a different user, then that user's settings are used instead, including the names for the devices and other settings if different ones have been applied.

Can I use multiple network devices on my computer at the same time?

Yes. Many applications play only to the selected default output device, but some allow you to choose other devices and each of these can play to a different network device at the same time.

If a computer is sharing multiple devices, can each be active and in use by a different computer at the same time?

Yes, there is nothing to stop them all being active, being played to from the same computer or different ones, so long as network and processor capabilities allow. This lets you have one computer as an audio device hub for all the others on the network, if that is your preference.

At the same time the sharing computer can independently play to devices locally or on other computers while this is happening. If you want, each computer can play to devices on any of the others on your network, all at the same time. With Shairwaves you have total flexibility.

If you want to keep a device solely for local use, just turn off sharing for it.

If I am using a computer which is sharing a local audio device to the network, can I continue to use the device in the same way as normal locally?

Yes, if no other computer is using it already. The first-come-first-served principle applies to the default and system output selection for devices on the local computer just as for other computers - if someone else on the network is using a device then it can't be selected for output locally. If you start using it it is removed from use on the other computers. This applies to all editions of Shairwaves, so even the Uni and Multi editions allow the built-in shared device to still be used locally if unused elsewhere.

If the device is shared with a fixed format then it can always be played to by any computer including the one it is connected to, though only using the format it has been set to be shared with.

I am using a computer which has a device which is being played to from another computer, can I control playback on the remote computer from it?

Shairwaves allows the audio being played to a sharing computer to be controlled from it. So even if you have set a computer playing to speakers all over your house (see below), you can control playback from each location. The volume/mute setting can be controlled separately for each of them as well as iTunes operations (play/pause, next/previous track, scan forwards/backwards etc.).

Even the Raspberry Pi computer can remote-control the audio being played to its built-in device, using an add-on switch board (self-construction, or separate purchase from other suppliers with self-assembly may be required).

It is necessary for the playback computer to enable the RC feature for the device in the Shairwaves preference pane for this to function. Devices shared using the fixed format option cannot be remote controlled.

If another computer starts using the device in place of the original computer then the remote control will control that computer instead, if permitted.

When I play to my Mac's digital output using DVD Player or iTunes I can select the digital output to get 5.1 surround sound from a movie's audio track. Can I do this with a Shairwaves device?

Yes. If Shairwaves on your computer has a network device available which supports 5.1 formats, e.g. another Mac's built-in audio device with an optical cable inserted or a Raspberry Pi connected to a home theatre amp by HDMI, then you can choose that device in the DVD Player preferences via the "Digital Out" submenu (see the Shairwaves user manual for how to have iTunes play 5.1 audio to a Shairwaves device). Shairwaves reflects a device's encoded audio capabilities onto the other computers' representation of it, just as with other characteristics.

Playback of 5.1 encoded audio is reliant on the device being connected to audio equipment which can decode it.

When encoded audio playback is detected by Shairwaves, the device latency is automatically reduced to provide synchronisation between the video and the remote audio output. When playback stops it returns to its previous setting.

What does the S/PDIF checkbox do in the preference pane?

Some external digital output devices don't provide encoded audio formats natively and so cannot normally have 5.1 formats played to them, but Shairwaves lets you add these formats so they appear on the list for the device when shown on network clients. This means that a digital output device can support 5.1 encoded audio being played over the network from DVD Player and other applications. Shairwaves does the necessary work under the hood to allow this to happen.

The device formats on the computer sharing the device are not affected by this feature and so it will remain that it is not possible to play 5.1 audio to the device when connected locally.

It is important not to enable this feature for devices which do not support digital output, or for devices which connect to audio hardware which doesn't recognise encoded audio formats, as a loud sound may be emitted. Always check with the volume low first to make sure the feature functions correctly with your hardware. Please check the audio product's user manual for further information on its capabilities.

What is "headphone priority"?

If you are playing to your Mac's speakers and then connect the headphones, the audio switches to the headphones. Shairwaves's headphone priority feature does the same except for all devices, so no matter which device you have set as the output in System Preferences, if you connect the headphones to your Mac the audio will switch to them, and switch back again when the headphones are disconnected.

This feature is provided for free and works with any device.

Do Shairwaves's devices work with OS X's aggregate and multi-output devices?

Yes, see below.

I want to output multiple channels of the same audio to different devices, for example the front channels through a network device shared from a Mac and the rear channels through a device connected to a Raspberry Pi. Is this possible?

Yes, the OS X Aggregate Device feature in Audio MIDI Setup lets you create a multichannel device with its channels routed configurably to a collection of devices' output channels. This is a great way to use network audio as it saves having trailing cables running from the computer to each device. It is also very easy to change which devices you want to use, with no need to move any cables.

With 5.1 surround sound you can have the front channels come out of one computer's stereo output, the rear ones out of another another's, and the centre channel out of the Mac you are watching the movie on.

From OS 10.9 all the devices play closely-synchronised even if each has a different latency setting - even local non-network devices play synchronised with Shairwaves ones.

The audio can be remotely controlled using the Shairwaves remote control menu on the menu bar on all the Macs involved, including the individual volume settings for each device.

Note: it is not possible to play 5.1 encoded audio to an aggregate audio device.

I want to output the same audio to multiple audio devices at the same time, is this possible?

Yes, from OS 10.7 the OS X Multi-Output Device feature in Audio MIDI Setup provides this. As with aggregate devices (above), using this feature with network devices saves having cables trailing from the computer to each device. From OS 10.9 all the devices play with close synchronisation even if each has a different latency setting - even local non-network devices play synchronised with Shairwaves ones. If your network runs around your house, you can have synchronised audio all over it.

The audio can be remotely controlled using the Shairwaves remote control menu on the menu bar on all the Macs involved, including individual volume settings for each device and iTunes playback controls.

How accurate is synchronisation between Shairwaves devices when used with aggregate and multiple output devices?

Synchronisation is generally accurate to within 50ms (a 1/20th of a second) but is not guaranteed. Usually greater accuracy is achieved, but events such as dropouts caused by Wifi interference can cause it to be lost. If reliable synchronisation is needed it is best to use wired networking.

Use the try-before-you-buy facility to see what works for you in practice.

What about Shairwaves and Linux?

When running under Linux Shairwaves provides server-only functionality, which means that it shares the computer's audio devices for Macs to use but Linux audio applications can't play to another computer using Shairwaves. It can be controlled by logging in and using a command line configuration tool which provides similar levels of control to the Shairwaves preference pane on Macs.

The easiest way to run Shairwaves on Linux is to use a Raspberry Pi computer with the downloadable boot image - no knowledge of Linux is necessary. Playback via the HDMI interface to the audio hardware reflects the full capability set of that hardware onto your Macs, including 5.1 encoded audio and 192kHz sample rates if provided.

A Mac-based Shairwaves Linux Loader application is provided to copy the software to an SD card for installation in a Raspberry Pi, so no Linux experience is needed to get Shairwaves running - just connect your 'Pi to the network and switch on. A minimum card capacity of 1GB is needed.

Note that due to limitations with the Raspberry Pi's firmware capabilities, 8-channel output has a maximum sample rate of 48kHz
, even if the audio hardware supports 8-channel output at higher rates. Playback at 192kHz is supported at lower channel settings. This limitation does not apply to other types of computer.

A pre-configured downloadable image is also available for x86-based PCs. As with the Raspberry Pi image, all you need to do is install it on a USB stick or memory card using the provided installation tool and your computer should be able to boot from it and share its audio devices with your Macs. A minimum capacity of 1GB is needed. Note: Mac computers are unable to boot Linux from these images as installed on a USB stick or SD card and should run OS X to use Shairwaves.

Is the Raspberry Pi 2, 3 or Raspberry Pi Zero supported?

Yes, all models of Raspberry Pi computers are supported. Additionally, the Raspberry Pi 3's built-in Wifi interface is also supported.

Do I need Linux experience to get Shairwaves running on the Raspberry Pi or a PC?

No, the download for the SD card or USB stick provides everything you need, just use your Mac to install it on the SD card / stick using the provided installer application, insert the media in to the slot on the 'Pi or your PC, and switch on. With the Raspberry Pi you will see the built-in audio device appear on your Macs in the Choose remote devices tab of the Shairwaves preference pane within 30 seconds. On PCs the devices should appear within about 60 seconds. It may be necessary to adjust the PC BIOS settings to have it boot from the USB stick / SD card. PC boot times do not include the BIOS initialisation period, which can vary.

The configuration assumes a wired connection and that your network provides IP addresses using DHCP, as is the case for most home networks with an internet connection. With this the Linux downloads will auto-configure and Shairwaves devices will appear on your Macs automatically, plug-and-play.

It is also possible to install Shairwaves on pre-existing Linux installations, but this may need additional packages to be installed and may still be unable to function correctly on some distributions.

I have a PC with 8-channel output at 192kHz with 24-bit samples built into the motherboard. Will Shairwaves support this booting the plug-and-play Linux download?

Yes - if the device is supported by Linux itself through the ALSA audio system. If so then your Mac will be able to play full HD audio through 8 channels to this device. Use the try-before-you-buy facility to see what works.

What hardware do I need to get Shairwaves running on a Raspberry Pi using the plug-and-play download?

You need:

  • A Raspberry Pi, Raspberry Pi Zero, Raspberry Pi 2 or Raspberry Pi 3 computer
  • A power supply providing 5V through a micro-USB connector, or a micro-USB cable connected to an available USB port
  • An SD card of at least 1GB capacity (the Raspberry Pi Zero, A+, B+ and Raspberry Pi 2 & 3 models use a micro-SD card)
  • A wired ethernet connection to your network (the model Zero, A and A+ Raspberry Pi have no onboard network interface so need a USB network adaptor to be connected)
  • A DHCP server running on your home network (most broadband / DSL routers provide this by default).
  • Optionally a button-and-LED board can be added to provide remote control for volume/mute settings and playback.
Just install the plug-and-play download on the SD card and you're ready to go!

So to play to a Raspberry Pi's built-in HDMI output from a Mac, all I need to do is to download the bootable image to an SD card and plug it in?


Can the downloaded Linux images use Wifi?

Wifi can be enabled on the Raspberry Pi and Linux supports many adaptors. The plug-and-play download images contain the Shairwaves command line tool which provides a facility to configure a Wifi adaptor on a Raspberry Pi computer, see the user manual for further details.

Please ensure that Wifi works with your adaptor using the try-before-you-buy facilty before purchasing Shairwaves.

Does the Raspberry Pi HDMI interface adapt to the capabilities of the connected audio equipment?

Yes. The Shairwaves server detects when the equipment is connected and disconnected, and reflects the hardware's capabilities to the Macs on your network (up to the limits described elsewhere) as well as its product ID.

Can the Raspberry Pi share USB devices?

Yes, they can each be played to at the same time as the built-in device, letting you use your 'Pi as an audio hub for other computers on your network.
As with PCs running Linux, any device which is listed by the ALSA audio system is shared.

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