How Do I Stream Music to an AV Receiver and Echo Speaker?

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Q I’ve ripped most of my CD collection to my computer using iTunes. At this point, I’d like to maybe get a portable media storage unit and transfer my iTunes library to it so I can play music through my AV receiver and Amazon Echo speakers. Is that a good idea? All suggestions are appreciated, but I am looking for an inexpensive solution. —John McGlynn / Boca Raton, FL

A There are a few ways to skin this cat. Here are some suggestions that won’t cost much money.

If your receiver has a USB input, one option would be to copy the individual music files in your iTunes library to a USB drive and connect that to your receiver. You can then use your receiver’s search function to select tracks from the drive for playback. The downsides to this approach are that a) transferring music files from iTunes can be time-consuming, and b) the file search and browsing capabilities of most receivers are cumbersome at best. It also won’t work for your Echo speakers, which lack a USB input to play audio files.

My next suggestion is an Apple-centric one. To get music to your receiver, you can connect it to an Apple TV ($149) and stream files directly from a computer running iTunes. Then, to play music on the Echo, you can enable a skill like My Media ($5/year) that lets you access your iTunes library via voice commands and stream tracks directly to Amazon’s speaker. Since I don’t own an Echo, I can’t vouch for My Media’s performance, but it gets generally positive user ratings from Echo owners on Amazon.

Another option would be to run a music server software application like JRiver Media Center ($49.98). If your receiver has networking capability (most newer models do), you can then access and stream your music to the receiver over a wired Ethernet or Wi-Fi connection via DLNA. There are also Alexa skills such as House Band that will let you control JRiver Media Center using voice commands. A catch here is that you’ll need to stream audio to the Echo via Bluetooth, so that limits the distance the speaker can be situated from from the computer (Bluetooth range maxes out at around 30 feet).