For a variety of reasons, I prefer not to run iTunes on the old Windows XP computer that I have connected to the TV and amplifier at home.
Kids these days might call it a HTPC (home theatre PC), but in my case, it really is just a generic used computer – in fact, it doubles as the box I infrequently use for tasks like testing a hard drive, trying to image or salvage data from a disk, or testing other desktop computer components.
By number of hours of use, the machines #1 job is to be a physically enormously MP3 player. For the last couple years, I have used the trusty old WinAmp and either the wired keyboard, or the wireless keyboard, or remotely connected via VNC to add and remove tracks. It wasn’t ideal, but it generally worked fine. I really wanted a way to add items from the library to the playlist from my phone, though. Either an App or a functional mobile web page would be great.
It had been a couple years since I had thought about this, so I did some research and tried a few things. I tested both MusicBee (totally free), and the free edition of MediaMonkey. Both are highly rated, and quite good, media players. However, neither had built-in web sites for web controls or iPhone controls. There were plugins or extensions that offered these features, but, either they didn’t have an interface that worked for my needs, or they just didn’t work on my setup. This box runs XP, and the media playing runs under a Limited User account in Windows, these were at least part of the the problems. Admittedly, I didn’t want to spend too much time on this project, so I didn’t spend too much time trying to get these working.
Thanks to browsing the plugin library of MediaMonkey, I did learn the term DACP, this is the proprietary standard that Apple created to control iTunes (and other media devices) from iOS, i.e. the free Apple Remote app.
With the term DACP in hand, I was able to find out that there was a plugin for Foobar2000 that provided DACP support. I am somewhat familiar with Foobar2000, so, giving this DACP plugin, foo_touchremote, from http://wintense.com/plugins/foo_touchremote – was a no-brainer.
It worked. Surprisingly easily (given my troubles with the other packages that I had tried yesterday).
And, even better, the Apple Remote user interface on my iPhone is fantastically better than anything I could hope for from a web based interface. There are, apparently, Android DACP apps too.
So, the moral of this blog post? I would think that remote control of music (even just volume controls and pause/play) would be a high priority feature of media players by now – I don’t really understand why these highly rated media players don’t have built-in, well-tested, support for either a mobile web controls or a app controls.
Anyway, I’m happy for now with Foobar2000 + foo_touchremote plugin.