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I have been using AirPlay to an Airport Express connected to my HiFi very successfully for years. My router and main wifi access point were Apple AirPort Extreme - so it was all Apple to Apple and it worked.

Now I have just installed a new Virgin Broadband Super Hub 2ac (it's a customised Netgear cable modem router with built-in wifi) and for reasons of local layout I have set it up as router and as a wifi access point. It works very well. I have put the old AirPort Extreme into bridge mode so it just serves as a switch, and have reset the Airport Express to join the new wireless network.

Everything works well except AirPlay. Even AirPlay sometimes works - but mostly it fails. The Airport Express AirPlay service is always visible from my iPhone, but trying to play music through it just usually fails. The Virgin media forums have several stories of "AirPlay doesn't work with my Virgin Super hub" - and the consensus response seems to be "don't use the Super hub as a router". This seems to me to be defeatist.

There must be some requirement of AirPlay that the router or wifi service isn't satisfying. What is it? What does AirPlay need? Some particular protocol? Some special wifi setting?

  • Not that it's an answer to your question, but I just finished typing this up for another, slightly different issue, over on SuperUser… superuser.com/a/909159/347380 – Tetsujin May 3 '15 at 9:49
  • Thanks Tetsujin - I had read that discussion over on SuperUser and would really prefer to try to understand what AirPlay needs and why the Virgin so-called super-hub will not support it properly. The Virgin SH is configurable with advanced settings and does seem to work well for everything else. – Robert Shields May 3 '15 at 18:01
  • More info: AirPlay DOES work for playing ITunes on my iMac, which is connected by ethernet to the Virgin router, with the Airport Express picking up the wifi signal and feeding the music to my HiFi. So when I say "AirPlay doesn't work" I mean that iPhone or iPad will not transmit AirPlay over wifi. – Robert Shields May 3 '15 at 18:20
  • Are the ethernet ports and Wi-Fi connections on the same subnet? That is a requirement of AirPlay, and would explain why Ethernet works but Wi-Fi does not. – tubedogg May 3 '15 at 19:52
  • Thanks but yes of course these connections are on the same subnet. – Robert Shields May 4 '15 at 17:34
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AirPlay uses the following ports:

  • TCP 80 - http
  • TCP 443 - https
  • TCP/UDP 554 - rstp
  • TCP 3689 - daap
  • UDB 5353 - mDNS

Data from https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202944 - TCP and UDP ports used by Apple software products and TCP and UDP ports and protocols used by Apple TV

Here's how to test ports and also an AirPort centric setup guide

  • Thank you very much, bmike, for this very helpful information. However the port-testing with Apple's network utility does not seem to work with the Airport Express as a target. Also it's not easy to test ports from iOS devices. I did find an app. It gave me a negative result but I wasn't sure whether to believe it. I have since got AirPlay to work intermittently from the iPhone - by disabling the firewall on the superhub! I know that the firewall shouldn't be relevant to purely local lan connectivity issues - but suspect that the firmware on this kit may be a bit buggy? – Robert Shields May 4 '15 at 18:00

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