Airfoil 3.13 Sound Issues

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by MagnusVonMagnum, Mar 22, 2008.

  1. MagnusVonMagnum macrumors 601


    Jun 18, 2007
    I've just set up a whole house audio system that transmits to two different rooms (one with an AppleTV and the other with the new 802.11N Airport Express, both feeding DACs with optical fiber). The problem I have with the room with an Airport Express is the DAC doesn't lock instantly to the signal and I lose 2 seconds at the start of songs when I change tracks or start playing for the first time (cross-fade avoids the issue on playlists).

    Well, I know I could look for a DAC with no delay locking onto the signal, but I figure I might as well go buy another AppleTV if I'm going to spend $200+ (not a huge believer in big DAC differences in 2008 even though I have $2000 speakers upstairs; the ear is simply incapable of hearing 0.1 dB differences, especially when even good speakers are usually +/- 2 or 3dB to begin with.

    In any case, I decided to try out Airfoil and see if it made any difference. Sure enough, it seems to buffer the audio output or keep the signal alive or something as I no longer lose the start of the songs when I output via Airfoil instead of straight AirTunes. The problem I encountered, though is that when I play via Airfoil, I'll get clicks or flat out drops every so often as if the Airport Express is losing the signal due to a bad connection. The thing is when I don't use Airfoil, it plays perfectly with no clicks, pops, crackles or drops. So I'm guessing the issue is somehow with Airfoil. I know they had to reverse engineer the AirTunes protocols and what not so I'm guessing it's simply not as reliable. But I have not thus far found anyone else complaining about such issues so I'm wondering if anyone has run into something similar? If so, is there anything I can do to improve the situation. It's not worth buying a product that screws my sound up or drops the signal once in awhile. That's worth than missing the first 2 seconds of a song, IMO (and at least I can solve that another way via a new DAC if I have to).

    While I'm at it, I should mention I tested both Signal and Remote Buddy with my iPod Touch as a WiFi remote control and I thought I liked Signal better (it has noticeably faster response and can select multiple speakers to play at once), but after buying a license, I discovered it apparently can't play an album when you select one and pick a track from one. It just creates an on-the-fly playlist for the one song instead of the whole album. I'm not going to click every track onto a playlist to play an album.... I'm very disappointed. I should have tested it more thoroughly before buying. I've sent feedback to the author. Hopefully, he'll improve it and add an automatic startup option as well. Meanwhile, I bought a license for Remote Buddy. It's a little slower and can't select multiple speakers from the iTunes interface (might be possible to configure it; I haven't really looked into how to customize it) and it's a bit slower to respond, but it creates full
    album playlists on the fly and pretty much does everything else I need it to do. It's 20 Euros. I guess that means it could cost us U.S. customers a good bit more due to the weak dollar (signal is $25 US), but I'd rather pay more for a product that does what I need it to do.
  2. bountchac macrumors newbie

    Feb 2, 2010
    You are not alone


    Sorry to deter this old post but I spent hours of internet browsing to find something to help my sound problem with airfoil and Airport express.

    I recently bought a PS Audio DACiii in order to improve the music quality of my Imac stored audio files. So I send music to my AE and then to my DAC with a mini toslink optical cable.

    I was quite disapointed when I first heard the result as the sound is polluted by clicks or flat out drops. This problem appear after 2/3 minutes of playing through Airfoil.

    I first thought it was a DAC problem, then I connected my CD player with toslink to my DAC and the result was perfect.
    After a while, I realized this problem occured only when I played my Itunes library through Airfoil, whatever the format (flac, Wav, AAC, mp3).

    This problem didn't occured when I used the Airfoil with AE connected in analogic to my Amp.

    I have the latest version of Airfoil installed with OS 10.6.2., there is maybe some incompatibility with the latest updates of OS, I will contact Airfoil on that.

    By the way, Magnus, did you solve this problem on your side ?
  3. MagnusVonMagnum thread starter macrumors 601


    Jun 18, 2007
    Yeah, I solved it by buying a 2nd AppleTV to use in that room instead, if you want to call that a solution. I moved the Airport Express to another room and use the analog output instead and have almost no problems (might lose the signal once in a great while). I believe the problem is related to the Airport Express' inconsistent data signal. I have two networks in the house. One is a NetGear 802.11N and the other is an Airport Express 802.11N. To demonstrate how I identified the problem, I'll use the AppleTV I have downstairs that is hacked to use XBMC (XBox Media Center). If I feed XBMC a signal using the Airport Express, I will get skips and hiccups in a movie being watched with it. If I use my Netgear network, it generally runs fine/smooth. I believe AppleTV's software has some kind of buffer that better handles VERY BRIEF interruptions of the network signal, which is what I think is happening with the Airport Express. XBMC just craps out instead on any little hiccup. I think the same thing happens when you use an Airport Express with an external DAC. The DAC loses the signal for a tiny tiny fraction of a second (possibly within the error correcting limits), but instead of correcting the error, it doesn't see it as an error, but a loss of signal (which is actually is) and so it drops the "sync" and goes back to power-down/silent running mode and then when it gets the signal again, it has to re-sync and the result is stutter or hiccup or blank in the signal. This doesn't happen with the Airport's own DAC because it seems to be aware of minute signal drops and/or buffers right through them whereas the digital output is either there or it isn't and the external DAC has to maintain a LOCK on the signal, which is loses any time it drops.

    When I was using the DAC without Airfoil, it wouldn't even SYNC to the signal until the first second or two of music played (it just can't sync fast enough), but Airfoil sends a constant ON signal and so it plays fine. iTunes will shut the signal off when you select a new track or pause/start again (seems to play through if one song goes into the next without a delay, though) and the DAC loses the lock and has to re-sync causing that annoying delay at the start of new tracks. Again, the internal DAC has instant lock so this doesn't happen on the analog output and hence the reason I use it in my exercise room instead of the digital + DAC combo. Some external DACs can sync nearly instantly so this is why some people simply don't experience this problem. The Airport Express signal issue might also be room/setup dependent to whatever extent (i.e. my Netgear may simply do better with the room on the other side of the house than the Airport Express, although the buffer thing seems real since the Apple software plays much smoother than XBMC on that network; it's essentially unusable with movies with XBMC whereas the Netgear one works fine).
  4. kcotton222 macrumors newbie

    May 8, 2009
    Airfoil causes skips or hiccups

    I have had this issue for sometime. Finally, I replaced the hard drive and re-installed OS X 10.6. The skips or hiccups were gone! Then I installed the latest Airfoil and they came back. So I moved Airfoil to the trash and emptied it. The skips or hiccups remain. Precisely every 8 seconds.

    Now what?
  5. protowouter macrumors newbie

    Nov 20, 2011
    Possibble Solution

    I too have had really annoying hiccups when using Airfoil to stream to an xbmc media center. But I believe to have found a solution. When you install instant on, you get two new sound output devices in the sound preference pane. When I select Soundflower (2ch) as sound output the hiccups are gone!

    I'm running Airfoil 4.6.2 on Mac OS X 10.7.2(lion)

    I hope this helps for you

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