Playing music across a network

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Deprecated: This content has been deprecated as of current versions and may no longer be valid. Please refer to Media Network for additional details.

Play music across a TCP/IP network

They built the Internet on TCP/IP. Now it's coming to your home.

MC's Library Server provides on-demand streaming of your files (music and images) from a Server to a Client. The Server is the one that makes its library available to another computer, while the Client is the computer that sees those files. It allows the user to share the library from one computer to another computer, or across the Internet.

The "Server" has media files that are made available to other PCs by running Library Server. It serves the default library on the host machine. Both the host and the client computers must have the same version (and build) of Media Center.

Set Up

Setting up the Library Server involves 2 steps:

  1. Setting up the Server
  2. Using the Client PC to connect to the Server

1. Start Library Server

In the Organization Tree, select Plug-ins> Library Server.

If your Options have already been set (see below), simply select the Start Server button that appears in the content pane (to the right). You need only start the Server once; it will automatically start whenever Media Center opens.

To stop the Library Server, simply reselect Plug-ins> Library Server. Select the Stop Server button that appears in the content pane (to the right).


To access the following options, go to Plug-ins in the tree, and select Library Server. Select the Options button in the content pane (on the right).

Port Selection

If the Server and the Client are on the same LAN, use the Auto Port Selection on the Server, and make sure Respond to Auto-Detection Requests is enabled on the Client. If this does not work, then choose the port manually on the Server and enter the port and IP address on the Client. Auto Port Selection uses the first available port between 80 and 90.

Respond to Auto-Detection Requests

This is on by default. The Client PC will auto-detect any instances of Library Server running on the LAN. Note: The "auto detect” on the Client side displays the Servers, it does not access them until you click ok, unless it detects a single Server, in which case it will connect automatically. This only works on a single local network of the net. If there is a router between the Server and the Client, the Client will not find the Server, and you must enter the IP address manually.


You can set a username and password here, so that when there is a connection to your server, the user will have to type in the username and password before getting access to your library.

2. Connect to a Server with a Client PC

The “Client” is the one grabbing the library from the server computer. From Media Center on the Client PC go to File> Library> Search for Media Servers. Media Center will automatically find any Media Servers running on your local network. If just one is found, that will be offered as the default for startup. If more than one is found, you will be asked to choose.

MC will then load your selected library and you will be able to browse and play music and photo files.

To connect to a Library Server that is not running on your local LAN (perhaps you are at work and want to play music from a host machine at home) go to File> Library> Library Manager and select “Add”. Type in a name and enter the server’s IP address in the location field.

Problems connecting remotely (when local access works) are usually caused by firewalls and Network Address Translation (NAT) in routers.

To disconnect from a Server simply go to File> Library> Default or select a different library.

Automatic File Conversion can be used when needed

This is always configured on the Client PC. Sometimes large audio files can load slowly or skip when streamed from a remote PC. You can set Library Server to automatically convert some lossless file types such as APE and WAV or high quality MP3s to lower quality MP3s or Ogg Vorbis. This conserves bandwidth and gives smoother playback.

To enable, go to Tools> Options> Library Under When playing from Library Server: select Always convert files. Then choose the encoder to convert your files, MP3 Encoder or Ogg Vorbis. There are separate advanced settings for each format you wish to stream.

More Info / Troubleshooting

  • MC uses its Library Server component to allow file sharing across a TCP/IP network to other PCs loaded with MC. Any TCP/IP connection, such as sharing between Media Center and Library Server, uses a "port" or a "socket" (same thing). You don't need to understand much about how this works, except that each connection must have its own, and there are some other basic services, such as web servers, that use "well known" or "predefined" ports — port 80 in the case of a web server, for example. This means that if you run a web server on the standard port, you can't use port 80 for anything else.
  • One factor that can hinder a connection is a firewall. This won't normally be a problem on a home network if you're just trying to connect two machines on the same network, but if you're trying to play your home PC's music on your work machine, it will often be a problem. Two important sources of information for this are the manual for your home router or cable modem (or similar device) and the IS department at work. The important thing is that the port you use must be open in both directions on both sides. In this case, port 80 may be a good choice since company firewalls often leave it open.
  • Every PC that uses TCP/IP (and most networked PCs do) will have an IP address. It's like a telephone number or a street address in that it describes a unique location. BUT most home networks are set up to use fake TCP/IP addresses that the outside world never sees. The outside world is only usually aware of the address of the device that connects the entire network — a cable modem, for example, or a DSL modem. This device (or one just in back of it) will need to route packets of data to the correct PC on the home network. You can, for example, tell the device to forward any inbound packet on port 81 to a PC at
  • If you have a TCP/IP address such as 192.168.1.x, this address is only used for internal purposes on your network. If your modem (or access point) is set up to act as a DHCP server, it will automatically issue addresses to each PC as it starts up. For example, if DHCP has been told to issue up to 20 addresses, starting at, the first PC will get that address, the next will get, the third will get, and so on.