How Playing an iPad on a Home Theater Stereo

Your iPad is a handheld, high resolution storage source and conduit for your favorite music. The device’s Remote app and third-party apps like Spotify stream content from iTunes or a proprietary music server, keeping your content fresh at all times. iPad musical content can stream through AirPlay devices including the Apple TV, AirPort Express and various home theater receivers. Whichever method you select, the iPad places millions of songs in your lap at any time.

Stored or Streaming

Each iPad has varying amounts of internal storage. You can select how much of this storage is assigned to music. Carrying musical content in the iPad rather than relying on streaming from iTunes or a third-party source means you are not dependent on your Wi-Fi network to play your songs. Just like an iPod, you may sync your selections with your computer to keep your music fresh and new. Streaming from iTunes requires your Wi-Fi connection, even if you have a unit featuring cellular data services. For example, the Remote app lets you control iTunes software on the computer housing your music collection as through you were sitting in front of it. Regardless of where the content comes from, you still maintain the ability to play your music through a dock cable or AirPlay-enabled device directly to your home theater receiver.

The AirPlay Protocol

AirPlay is the protocol that spans numerous devices, many of which are not made by Apple. This technology streams content from your iPad over your wireless network, playing through your home theater receiver in addition to smaller stereos and boomboxes. If your iPad is synced to these devices, you may select which one plays the content at any given time, serving up to three devices. AirPlay encompasses AirPort Express and Apple TV devices, in addition to numerous third-party units. AirPort Express is dedicated to music playback, while Apple TV streams music and other content from your local storage and via services like Pandora. Apple AirPlay devices are separate units, requiring a wired or wireless connection to your network and plugging into your receiver via RCA, optical or HDMI cables. Third-party devices have AirPlay built in, requiring only a connection to the network.

AirPlay Home Theater Receivers

The simplest way to play iPad music content through a home theater receiver is to select one featuring AirPlay hardware built in. This method precludes the need for an external AirPlay device, at least for music content. These receivers integrate into your network, receiving streams from the iPad directly. Artist and track information is displayed on these receivers in addition to the album art and data contained on the iPad itself. Like when using other AirPlay devices, you select your receiver from the list after pressing the AirPlay icon, in addition to any other Apple TVs or AirPort Express devices you may have.


Spotify is an app for discovering new musical content either in a purely random fashion or based on predefined genres you assign. Spotify offers a dedicated app for iPad that facilitates advanced searching for the type of music you want, able to build virtual “radio” stations based on artists or genre. You can use Spotify to find other users and contacts, sharing their playlists and offering up your own findings. Spotify features its own AirPlay button, instantly moving sound output from the internal speakers or headphone jack through your AirPlay-enabled hardware. Spotify’s large display featuring half album art and half control panel make the app convenient and attractive for home theater use.

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