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When I use my airport express to play music, the media is still 3 or 4 seconds late but if I change the volume the result is instantly applied.

My Airport is connected throw WiFi to my router and so is my MBP.

Am I the only one facing this? Or is this a common issue? If so, how to explain that the volume settings are instantly applied whereas the music is always late?

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    I’m guessing that AirPlay buffers data to prevent the music from interrupting with every network hiccup. Commands (such as “change volume”) don’t require such precautions. – Édouard Apr 23 '14 at 15:07
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This is a "feature" of AirPlay. There is a 2-3 second buffer that makes sure the audio playback is smooth. This only applies to starting/pausing playback, because the volume adjustment is done on the source device, before the audio is even sent to the AirPlay speaker. You will experience this on all devices that support AirPlay.

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The volume is controlled by your device, and that's why it is instant.

The media you are playing is being transported over WiFi, and is therefore subject to a number of speed-influencing issues including:

Internal/External Causes (Streaming from a home device such as a computer on the same network, some issues also cause problems to external sites and services like Netflix)

  • Distance from Airport
  • Different vertical levels from Airport (eg. First to Third Floor). Wifi prefers to travel horizontally.
  • Interference on the channels caused by several devices using the same WiFi "channel"
  • Speed capability of Airport and Media Server
  • Hardware (sending and receiving devices experiencing hardware issues)
  • Software (sending and/or receiving devices experiencing software issues)

External Causes (Internet)

  • Internet outage or issues that are out of your control, and usually last 15 mins to several hours, but not a permanent problem.
  • Router is having connection issues with ISP (hardware failure, communication errors, etc.). This would be a more regular problem and requires a tech support call to your ISP.
  • Streaming service (eg. Netflix) is having issues (Generally, there will be some kind of website update if this is a widespread issue affecting all customers)

You should monitor whether you have this problem all of the time, or some of the time, and try to isolate the situations where it seems to be at it's worst. Keep in mind that streaming from the Internet is completely different than streaming from your internal Network.

  • Keep in mind that streaming from the Internet is completely different than streaming from your internal Network. could you please explain more ? My airplay and router are 20 cm spaced, I can browse the Internet around 3Mo/s and the latency is not coming from my laptop, because I'm experiencing the same with friend's ones. You think my Airplay is dead soon ? – Thomas Ayoub Apr 23 '14 at 18:32
  • Streaming from your internal network is when you are sharing media between devices within your own local area network (LAN). An example would be when you have music or video stored on your computer that you are accessing or playing on another device on the same network (to an Apple TV or an iPad) – Portaabella Apr 23 '14 at 19:24
  • Steaming from the Internet is affected by your Internet Connection Speed. (Tools such as www.speedtest.net will show you how fast you are downloading). – Portaabella Apr 23 '14 at 19:25
  • Generally speaking, internal speeds are faster than internet speeds. – Portaabella Apr 23 '14 at 19:25
  • When you say your "airplay" and "router", I assume you mean the device and your router. Keep in mind that 3mb/s is actually a very slow speed. I assume you are streaming from the Internet? I cannot imagine these speeds would be internal... – Portaabella Apr 23 '14 at 19:27
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I live at an apartment complex with lots of other wifi networks. I used mac's 'airport' tool to find which wifi channels everybody was on (1 & 11), logged into my router, and switched the channel default from 11 to 4. Worked like a charm.

That was the last thing I did that really budged the needle. Before I did that I followed most of the standard suggestions, namely enabling home sharing on both my apple tv and my computer (via iTunes) so there was no possibility the video stream could be coming in over the internet rather than the WLAN which apparently is possible now with Yosemite, some people even say its default. The new upgrade to Yosemite screwed some things up in general though. We might have to blame Popcorn Time for that, I don't know.

Yosemite currently breaks some Development Tools stuff too, if you don't have Yosemite yet, future reader, don't upgrade at all unless you absolutely have to.

  • I'll check that next week! – Thomas Ayoub Aug 19 '15 at 11:36

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