How to Stream Audio from PC to another PC, Phone or Tablet with VLC Media Player – A Step by Step Guide


VLC Media Player is an amazing piece of free software. I advocated it at Earthpages well before anyone else saw how good it was. People are afraid of new software, and rightly so. If you scan a lot of free software at VirusTotal.com, you will indeed find some Trojans and other unwanted stuff. But at the time of writing this VLC appears clean with 0 detections out of 69 virus scanners.

And my personal scan, right now:

Myself, I like to use Remote Desktop software but the RD software I use does not transmit sound. 🤨

Enter VLC.

You can use VLC to give ‘ears’ to your RD or simply to stream your music around the home over your LAN. In fact, VLC can stream all sounds from your PC to another device. Not just a list of songs.

So here are my basic instructions. This works for me. Hopefully, it will work for you. Everything has to be just right or it will not work.

After hours of practice, I can go thru these steps pretty fast. It would be nice if VLC remembered them but so far I do not think it does. So you do need to go through them each time you want to stream audio.

1 – Open VLC and navigate to Media > Open Capture Device…

2 – Capture mode should be set to DirectShow and set Video device name to None

3 – Audio device name should be set to Stereo Mix (or your audio device/driver’s equivalent). And make sure your PC’s audio device/driver is set to Stereo Mix (or equivalent) in Windows.

Installing Windows 10 over Windows 7 did not include this option with its default Windows Audio driver. I had to find and install the actual Realtek audio driver for Windows 10 and then enable Stereo Mix in the Windows 10 audio settings, and you may have to do the same or similar with your particular audio device and driver.

4 – Select Stream from options at bottom after clicking small down-arrow

5 – This screen opens, click Next

6 – Select HTTP from the dropdown list and then click Add

7 – Leave Port at 8080. In Path type in any name you want with the extension .flac or, alternately, .mp3. If you choose .flac, you will be streaming the high quality, lossless .flac format but may experience dropouts depending on your system. If you choose .mp3 you will probably have no dropouts but a lossy sound.

“Lossy” means the sound quality is less than equal to the original source, sort of like the old days when people taped vinyl records on cassette tapes.

8 – Make sure the checkbox is checked for Activate Transcoding. From the dropdown list select Audio – FLAC or Audio – MP3. Just make sure to choose the same audio format as chosen in Step 7.

9 – Make sure Stream all elementary streams is checked and click on Stream button.

10 – You should see this. At the bottom left you can see if you are actually streaming audio by noting how the time counter changes. I captured this image 8 seconds after my PC began to stream. If that timer value doesn’t change, you are not streaming.

The red rectangle will not appear. I just added it to highlight the area.

11 – Now for the fun part! We have to go to the second PC that will receive the audio signal. Open VLC Media Player on the second PC and click Media > Open Network Stream… 

As a precaution, for now, make sure your volume is set to zero on that second computer.

Do not do this with headphones as volume levels can be unpredictable and you cannot buy a second set of ears! 

Also, it’s a good idea to make sure your first PC’s volume is set to very low. And be sure any external, powered audio system connected to that first PC is likewise set to very low or switched off so you don’t blow any speakers on System 1 when you begin turning things up.

Believe me, it’s easy to forget and I have inadvertently blasted music upstairs trying to hear it downstairs! Not good! 😁

12 – The final step can be a pain. You have to find out your local network address. Just search Google and it shouldn’t be too difficult discovering how to do this.

Once you have your numbers, enter them as shown below. Include all dots in-between numbers (but not my dashes, of course). Follow those numbers with a colon and 8080, then a forward slash and the name and file format you chose in Step 7. Most audio players will remember this address, so you only have to enter it once. But it has to be exactly correct.

Click Play and you should be receiving the audio signal sent by your first PC. Carefully adjust volume levels on your first PC and second PC so that no speakers or ears are blasted. And then, my friend, you are off to the races! Enjoy!

Another cool thing is that VLC has excellent free apps for both Android and iOS. So you can stream audio from your PC to your phone, iPad or Android tablet. Just enter the same local network address in these mobile apps as you did in Step 12 for your PC 2. You can also use a Linux OS for PC 2. I have great success streaming with Audacious on PC 2 (running on Lubuntu). But you can also use VLC on Linux.

I have also simply opened a web browser on PC 2 with the local network address in the address bar. K-Meleon browser worked this way on a very old PC. But web browsers can take up more RAM, so a media player (it doesn’t have to be VLC) is usually preferable, especially if PC 2 is an older machine.

This setup works for me but I am just a hobbyist who spends literally hours figuring this stuff out. So hopefully it will work for you. I can’t be sure. Every computer system differs. And some of my tech details may be incorrect. But do give it a try!

Oh and, btw, if you go thru all these steps and still have no luck, make sure your firewall is not blocking VLC on either computer. 👍

13 comments

  1. Not sure if this is what you are asking because I am not really a technical person. I spend long hours getting what I need but don’t know much else.

    I did manage to stream all audio from an Ubuntu flavor or distro (host) to VLC in an Ubuntu flavor or distro (receiver). Maybe to Android VLC app too, I cannot remember the details as this was some time ago.

    I found this page helpful:

    https://superuser.com/questions/605445/how-to-stream-my-gnu-linux-audio-output-to-android-devices-over-wi-fi

    For me, the instructions that begin with this worked:

    ***

    You can use VLC to serve a MP3 stream of pulseaudio’s output via HTTP.
    The main advantage is that you don’t need to install any special software on your remote device, a web browser (or music player) is all you need to play the stream. The downside is that it’s audio only, a few seconds lag make it useless for videos

    Find pulseaudio’s output name with:

    Like

    • But as long as I have a separate remote desktop connection (e.g. RemotePC, AnyDesk, xrdp, xdmcp, SSH with X Forwarding, or VNC), that will provide the video while the separate VLC streaming provides audio.

      Like

      • Yes, that is what I did. There is lag but it is fine for music, news, etc. I would not watch a drama that way.

        There might be another way too. No Machine is both Windows and Linux. It transmits/receives sound and video. Last time I checked the sound wasn’t fantastic but not terrible either. You might want to check that out. (I was using a very old computer for the receiver, which may have affected it.)

        https://www.nomachine.com/

        Like

      • To forward audio from Linux to Windows, if a Pulse server was available for Windows, that would work. Can Pulse server be on separate operating system or computer from the Pulse client?

        Sent from my iPad

        >

        Like

      • I think it could work Linux to Windows. I never did that but I do not see why it could not. Just follow the link I supplied, and then for your Windows PC, try the instructions on my blog post. If it is an http stream, you can listen to it with Firefox or Chrome. Even K-Meleon should work. Most people probably listen with a light audio player because… well, it’s lighter.

        Like

What are you thinking?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.