How to remotely access your entire music collection without going through a third-party server.

This blog post is about how to use Z-Subsonic iOS app to access music stored remotely through Subsonic server. I developed Z-Subsonic over a year ago and created a dedicated forum thinking that will make it super easy for users. What I have found out is that a lot of people purchasing Z-Subsonic did not even know about subsonic and have no idea what to do with the app after they bought it!

Subsonic server is a multi-platform server software that, once installed and set up properly, will let the user remotely e.g. from work, access their entire music collection through a web browser. The web browser approach is nice but not always convenient, while driving for example.

This is where Z-Subsonic comes in. Z-Subsonic is a client application for Subsonic server. Z-Subsonic gives you access to your subsonic server anywhere, anytime. Even while driving (over a 3G or 4G connection). Z-Subsonic has some added convenience; like saving the songs you listened to (caching) on the iPhone so you can listen to that song again without connecting to Subsonic server.

To set up Subsonic server, browse to http://www.subsonic.org/pages/download.jsp and download the set up file for your platform (Windows, Mac etc). Once installed, open your web browser and point it to http://localhost:4040 or http://localhost depending on what port number Subsonic server is using.

[note]There is a write-up about how to install Subsonic at http://www.subsonic.org/pages/installation.jsp[/note]

In the example above, “localhost” represents to address of the computer running Subsonic server. But “localhost” is a special word in networking. It’s like someone talking and referring to himself, like saying “me”. To find out the real IP address of the computer, do the following:

On Windows

  • Go to Start –> Accessories –> Command Prompt
  • Type ipconfig then press Enter

In this Windows example, the IP address is 192.168.2.35.

On a Mac

  • Go to Utilities –> System Profiler

In this Mac example, the IP address is 192.168.2.129.

Now, try accessing Subsonic using this IP address, formatting the address like this: http://192.168.2.35:4040

[tip]The number after colon (:) is the “port number”. So the address of Subsonic server in this case is 192.168.2.35 on port 4040. On most servers (including Subsonic) you can change the port number. When accessing a server through a web browser, the default port number is 80. So, if you type http://192.168.2.35 into your web browser, you essentially typed http://192.168.2.35:80[/tip]

Now that you are able to access Subsonic server it’s a good idea to change your admin password. On the web interface,

  • Navigate to Settings –> Users
  • Select admin from the dropdown menu
  • Type in a new password and confirmation
  • Save.

[important] It is possible to continue using Subsonic server using the web interface indefinitely without making a donation but in order for third-party applications like Z-Subsonic to continue accessing Subsonic server after 30 days, it must be licensed through a donation to Subsonic. Click About –> Donation on the web interface to make a donation. For more information on this, visit http://subsonic.org[/important]

You need to let Subsonic server know where to find your music collection. On the web interface, navigate to Settings –> Music Folder.

Here you can define as many music locations as you have. Specify a label/name and type the full path to the music folder. The path in the example above is c:music. Once Subsonic server detects your music, an index will show up on the left column of the web interface.

It’s now time to fire up Z-Subsonic.

Click the Settings button (upper right corner).

Z-Subsonic will let you set up links to up to 5 Subsonic servers. You can then conveniently switch between them to listen to the music collection on each server. I have yet to hear of someone with more than one server. I run a test server at http://test.z-subsonic.com; username: test; password: abc. Anyone is free to connect to that server to test their Z-Subsonic app.

Click on Server 2 to configure that item.

Description is optional. It is to help you keep track of the servers. Type the URL to Subsonic server, http://192.168.2.35:4040 in our previous example.

[tip]IP addresses 192.168.x.x, 172.16.x.x and 10.x.x.x are private addresses. These IP addresses are only accessible from within your own private network, like within your home. Only devices connected to your home router either wirelessly (like an iPod) or by wire (e.g. a desktop computer) can talk to each other using these IP addresses. If you go outside your home network and your iPhone switches from using Wi-fi to 3G/4G connection, you will not be able to access your subsonic server using the 192.168.x.x address. To access your private server while outside your home network, you will either need to get a global IP address from your ISP or (more practically) register for a dynamic DNS address. There are several free dynamic DNS services including http://dyndns.org and http://no-ip.com.[/tip]

Enter the username (admin) and password. Remember to use the new password if you changed the admin password as recommended.

Go back one step to the Settings screen.

Here you can adjust the maximum playlist length. This is the limit to how many songs should be placed on the temporary (or main) playlist when you select to queue songs.

Take a look at the screen above. I have over 1,000 songs under the artist index “A”. If I instruct Z-Subsonic to queue all songs under “A,” the playlist limit setting is the only thing that would prevent Z-Subsonic from attempting to put 1,000 songs on my playlist, which will negatively impact the performance of the application.

Maximum cache size is the limit on how much memory Z-Subsonic will use for saving songs for offline playback.

Enabling Wi-fi quick cache will make Z-Subsonic download and save songs as quickly as your network connection will allow once it detects you are on a wi-fiĀ  (as opposed to a 3G) network. Apple (and presumably AT&T) places a limit on how fast Z-Subsonic (and other similar apps) can download data over the 3G network. Failure to adhere to this limit will typically result in the app being rejected from the Apple app store.

Finally, ensure that the server you just configured is the one selected for use

Now that you have successfully set up Z-Subsonic, go back to the start screen, click the Artists button and start browsing your music collection.

Have fun!

  1. Mir & Windsor Desgin » Sonic Air - pingback on October 24, 2011 at 7:42 pm
  2. “To access your private server while outside your home network, you will either need to get a global IP address from your ISP or (more practically) register for a dynamic DNS address.”
    Don’t forget as a licensed Subsonic user you will also get a yourname.subsonic.org address which will link to your SS server.

  3. Mir & Windsor Desgin: Calgary low cost web and database design. - pingback on November 26, 2011 at 2:03 pm

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