Streaming MP3s to your phone using MinimServer

Late nineties and early two thousands were the golden age of MP3. Everyone was ripping their CDs and portable MP3 players hit the stores. Even though you can buy subscription to streaming service such as Spotify or Google Music wouldn’t it be nice to be able to stream your MP3s to your phone for free.

In this article I’ll show you how you can enjoy your music collection on your mobile device. In the next article I’ll take it further by showing how you can enjoy your music wherever you are.

MP3 Metadata and Cover Art

There is no requirement to have tags (metadata e.g. track number, artist, album and year) in your MP3 files. If you have organized your files into folders then you can keep using those. However if your files contain tags you are able to search and browse your collection using artist, album name and date. I highly recommend this as it will make the user experience more pleasant on your mobile device.

MusicBrainz Picard is a free, open source cross-platform music tagger written in Python.

MusicBrainz Picard

MusicBrainz Picard will scan your collection, fix the tags and insert cover art. It is fast and easy to use.

Converting FLAC to MP3

I decided to convert FLAC into MP3 because it is universally supported by all devices (e.g. my Smart TV didn’t play FLAC files). I also had strange issues where Media Server failed to parse tags from some FLAC files and thus clients didn’t even see them. If you want to use FLAC files just make sure your Media Server knows how to handle them. Most will transcode them on the fly.

The software I used is called MediaHuman Audio Converter.

MediaHuman Audio Converter

MediaHuman Audio Converter is a freeware application for Mac OS X and Windows. It supports batch conversion, lossless formats, it retains your folder structure and keeps the tags and cover art intact. Note that it takes advantage of all the CPU cores you have. I decided to limit the number of used processors so that I can do other things while conversion is running.

Media Server

There are many media servers you can use. My current choice is MinimServer. It is free, simple and supports browsing (by artist, album and date) and search. There isn’t much to configure. Just install it and point it to the location of your music collection. Note that MinimServer is UPnP server and not a DLNA server. What is the difference between DLNA and UPNP?:

DLNA is derived from UPnP, as an attempt to normalize media interoperability. It does this partly by being more restrictive than UPnP (e.g. by restricting the number of media formats) and partly by adding features (like DRM, i.e. copy protection).

If your client supports DLNA it should work just fine with UPnP server. E.g. my Sony Xperia Z3 Compact’s Music app has no problem connecting to MinimServer.

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact Music App

If you have clients that support only DLNA you might have to use different media server. There is comparison table of UPnP AV media servers and List of UPnP AV media servers and clients. Personally I tried Universal Media Server first but I switched to MinimServer because it supports searching.

Mobile Client

As I said the Android Music app in my Phone works just fine but I’m using BubbleUPnP UPnP/DLNA client on my phone. Search the Google Store or look at the list of Android clients to find alternatives.

The best part is that there is nothing to configure. Just open the app and it should see your Media Server. Just make sure your computer firewall doesn’t block the communication between your phone and Media Server.

Conclusion

This configuration allows you to listen to your music on your mobile device at home. The speakers on your mobile device are not that great so I recommend investing into bluetooth speaker like JBL Charge 2.

In the next article I’ll show you how to enjoy your music while on the go.