Ask LH: How Can I Push All Audio From My Laptop To My Desktop?

Dear Lifehacker, I’m currently planning to build a desktop to use alongside my laptop. What I’d like to do is to “stream” all audio from my laptop to my desktop — not just music, but the whole system’s sounds, so everything that can be heard directly from the laptop can be heard from my desktop. How can I set that up? Most streaming applications I know only stream sounds or music opened inside of them.

Dear LH,

So you want to be able to access your laptop’s audio on your desktop? I’m guessing you want to take advantage of your PC’s beefier sound system without going through the hassle of connecting your laptop each time. One possible solution is VLC Media Player, which can be used to stream audio between different devices on your home network.

Unlike many similar software tools, VLC can do more than just stream specific files: you can use it to stream everything coming from the laptop’s sound card. It can also be controlled remotely. The popular VideoLAN forum has a great section on VLC media player that should guide you through the steps.

I also pitched your query at Gizmodo’s hardware reviewer, Campbell Simpson. Here’s what he had to say:

If you’re planning to literally use one alongside the other, what I genuinely would suggest is having an audio Y-cable — one 3.5mm stereo to two 3.5mm stereo — with it arranged like this:
Line Out (headphone) plugged in at the 1x 3.5mm cable end
Line In (microphone) plugged in at one 2x 3.5mm cable end
Line In (microphone) plugged in at one 2x 3.5mm end
That way you have one audio signal coming out of the laptop, and going back into the laptop as well as going into the desktop. Then you’d have to fiddle around with the Windows sound properties to get the desktop playing audio from the line in, and the laptop playing audio from the line in on its speakers and not through the line out (since that would make a feedback loop).


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