Apple TV (1st Gen) and Apple TV (2nd gen) both have little 'blips' when playing music

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by GilesM, Nov 25, 2011.

  1. GilesM macrumors 6502

    Oct 17, 2008

    I have two ATV's.

    The 1st GEN is connected via wi-fi to my network (2 x iMac, 2 x PC) and has all content resident on the ATV hard drive.The network is only used for syncing.

    Also I have an ATV 2nd Generation connected via ethernet to my network.

    My iTunes library is stored on an external drive attached to my iMac.

    I am finding that when I listen to music (mostly .M4A apple lossless files) occasionally during a song there will be a brief period of silence (about .25 of a second).
    For the purposes of this thread let's call this a 'skip'.

    This happened this afternoon while listening to the ATV 1st Gen, which has all the music stored on the local drive.

    It also happens on the ATV 2nd Generation device which is connected via ethernet.

    I don't think this should be happening, and it's very annoying.

    Does anyone have any ideas how I can prevent these skips from happening.

    I am sure it's not on the files themselves, because this afternoon, as soon as the skip happened i went back and played the same song again and this time there was no skip...

    Help anyone ??? Suggestions? :confused:
  2. GilesM thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 17, 2008
  3. ScottGL1966 macrumors newbie

    Nov 29, 2011
    Me too.

    Giles, I have been experiencing the same thing. I have a 1st Gen ATV with all my music streaming wirelessly from a Windows PC running the latest version of iTunes. I get the same occasional skip with both movies and music.

    I have also rewound the track and played it again to see if the original track is corrupted and have had the same result as you. I don't know if this is just a case of a lost packet or what. While a minor annoyance, it is still without a doubt annoying.
  4. GilesM thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 17, 2008
    So, tonight i have tried moving the ATV on to a different input on the amp.
    I am wanting to eliminate each piece in the system. So;

    step 1 - exchanged Apple TV gen 2 for gen 1 - problem still happens.

    step two - removed the DAC - ran an analog feed from the ATV to the amp - problem still happens.

    step 3 - change the DAC connection in to the AMP away from AV/MD input to CD input. So far i have had 2 hours of music without the 'skips' happening.

    I wonder if this has sorted it...

    Glad to know i am not alone in having this issue.

    I will let you know if I ever narrow this thing down...
  5. GilesM thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 17, 2008

    So far so good!

    After changing the input on the amp from AV to CD I have listened to around 3 hours of music and so far this 'skipping' has not happened again.
    This seems to indicate that the amplifier was the problem.

    Obviously 3 hours of listening is not conclusive, but it's a start.

    Since the Apple TV is the only item connected to this amp, it does not matter to me which input circuit is used. This is in the front room where we have a dedicated stereo system the home cinema kit is in the back room. So we use the Apple TV for music only in here.

    I will do more listening and testing over the weekend and report back.

    I wonder if it could be the same for you?
  6. GilesM thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 17, 2008
    So, the last test did eventually fail and the issue came back again. So next on the list was to change out the Amplifier. So I replaced the Cambridge Audio amp with a Yamaha and kept everything else the same. after a couple of hours the issue was back.

    Now I am starting think it's the Apple TV losing sync with the DAC.

    Next test is to remove the DAC and pass the Apple TV's optical out direct to the optical input on the AMP and see if it still happens.

    Somehow I doubt the DAC is the problem, what I expect is that the issue will persist so I may need to engage some other streaming device or even put a pc there and let it run iTunes with it's own local copy of the library.

  7. fpnc macrumors 68000

    Oct 30, 2002
    San Diego, CA
    At least on the ATV1 (and I suspect the same could happen on the ATV2) you may experience skipping whenever there is activity on the computer that is hosting iTunes that affects the network and/or iTunes itself. For example, on the ATV1 you can force a skip in the stream when you first launch iTunes as that seems to cause an interruption of the media processing on the ATV1 (even when the media is stored locally on the ATV1 hard drive).

    Of course, this doesn't sound like the problem that is being discussed here, but it is something to keep in mind when trying to identify all sources of playback issues with the ATVs.
  8. GilesM thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 17, 2008
    thank you all for your replies. I have tried everything, I have replaced every part in the chain, the AMP, the speakers, the DAC, the ATV and it still happens.

    Today I have the first gen ATV running and using the local storage, and yes, it still happens. So, activity on the iMac is removed from the equation.

    One thing I am now wondering about is interference. My next door neighbour has her TV directly on then other side of the wall where the Apple TV is.
    There is no way a remote control could penetrate the wall and cause the 'blips'?

    When I listen to itunes at my desk from my iMac it is faultless, it's only in this room downstairs I have the problem.

    The next step is to replace the ATV with a laptop running itunes with the library stored on a local disc. Then we will see, I think this is the last step, after this I give up...
  9. emeraldthree macrumors newbie

    Jul 23, 2008
    Could it be your network? I get the same "skips" whenever I awake my laptop from sleep mode, as it connects with the wifi network. May 2 apple TVs (1st gen) both skip at that split second when my laptop connects to the network. They also skip if my laptop performs an operation that is particularly taxing on the bandwith of the network.
  10. GilesM thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 17, 2008

    that is an interesting idea. Because I have both 1st and 2nd generation ATV's I expected that the 1st generation device would be immune to such things as it is using locally stored data, but I guess even if the data is locally stored some activity on some other networked device might cause the issue. This is a nice suggestion, thank you. So, what I will do is next time I listen to music in this room I will put all other devices to sleep especially my iMac which is hosting iTunes (this is only possible with the 1st generation Apple TV of course).

    Also, my itunes library is too big to hold on the iMac, so I have it on an external Firewire 800 connected disc. I wonder if this might be causing the issue also,,,

    Keep trying different things I guess...
  11. whooleytoo macrumors 604


    Aug 2, 2002
    Cork, Ireland.
    Hmmm, strange. I had loads of problems with Wifi, but they were reliability problems (i.e. connection being lost) rather than bandwidth. I've never had any blips when playing audio or video. I've even had large downloads in progress at the same time, with no impact on music streaming. My setup is:

    iTunes server -> 802.11G > Router -> Ethernet -> ATV 2 -> HDMI switch -> Yamaha Receiver

    Do you know what the bitrate is for those lossless audio files? Is it very high? Do you have the iTunes server set to not sleep (especially, set so that the drive doesn't spin down)?

    You could check the Console on the Mac as soon as you experience a blip, to see if there's any activity there which could be causing the blips. Look out for anything which repeats each time you experience a blip.

    You could also compare with streaming from another (Internet) source, to determine if the problem is at the ATV/Receiver end, or on the iTunes server end. (Kinda speed-read this thread, so apologies if I missed something you've tried).
  12. GilesM thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 17, 2008

    the bit rate varies from 320 kbps /mp3 files to 869 kbps/m4a files.
    I suspect that the DAC is losing synchronisation with the Apple TV (either one) thus causing the skips, stutters and silences.

    The question is why? Well the next test is to have the iMac that hosts iTunes shut down while listening to the Apple tV generation 1 to see if when I start the iMac it causes an issue.
    After that I will substitute the Apple TV for a laptop running itunes with no wi-fi enabled to see if that fixes the issue, I will be very upset if the fact is that apple TV of either generation is the route of the problem.

    urgh.. well at least it gives me something to think about over Xmas. Perhaps I need an alternative streaming solution. Hope not though, I like the Apple product, just at the moment it's not doing it's job very well.
  13. GilesM thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 17, 2008
    So, finally decided to give up on apple TV. I am going to use a net book running iTunes from a local drive instead. Really pi**ed with Apple....
  14. GilesM thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 17, 2008
    update - 6 hours of playing no glitches - but no Apple TV -

    the WIN 7 netbook has been playing music for the last 6 hours and no problems at all. The files have all been apple lossless played via iTunes on a 32 bit Win 7 home starter machine.

    Looks like I will retiring the Apple TV.

    I think the high bit rate of the Apple lossless files when played on the Apple TV was the issue. I can't imagine why an audio files could cause problems for a device designed to carry hi-res video. Very strange.

    All I know at the moment is that the netbook has performed faultlessly where the Apple TV's (both of them) did not.

    More testing on the way, but at least I have a system that works for the xmas period. I have family coming and such glitches in the music would have been embarrassing.
  15. whooleytoo, Dec 21, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2011

    whooleytoo macrumors 604


    Aug 2, 2002
    Cork, Ireland.
    Indeed - I've been able to stream 1080p 3D video files to the ATV with zero blips, so unless the ATV treats audio and video files very differently, that probably shouldn't be the cause.

    I have seen some threads relating to blips when the ATV is connected to Samsung TVs, perhaps there's a similar syncing issue with your TV/Receiver?
  16. blueroom macrumors 603


    Feb 15, 2009
    Toronto, Canada
    Some older Samsung TVs have audio playback problems.

    Rant on/
    Samsung (and others) fix your firmware and while you're at it add a couple of features that any 1st year programmer could easily add.
    1. Mute picture (Sharp has this)
    2. Allow me to type in custom source labels, how hard can it be. I don't have a VCR let alone three of them.
    Rant off/

    PS all my ATV2s stream / AirPlay Apple lossless perfectly. I'm running them on 4.4.4 stock firmware but they've been just fine since the ATV2 came out. Sounds like the OP's network / computers have a problem.
  17. GilesM thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 17, 2008
    Hello all,

    judging from the last two posts, perhaps I should explain a little detail.

    I have two rooms on the ground floor. The front room is set up for stereo
    music listening. The back room is the TV room.
    It is in the front room, the music room where I am having these issues.
    The is no TV involved, just a monitor. So, there is no passing of audio to the monitor (it does not even have speakers).
    The path is as follows;

    Apple TV (1st gen) ---> (Optical cable) Cambridge Audio DAC ---> Cambridge Audio Speakers


    Imac --- streams to --- Apple TV (2nd gen) ---> (Optical cable) Cambridge Audio DAC ---> Cambridge Audio Speakers

    In both cases Apple TV 1st and 2nd GEN exhibit playback issues, which are still present even if I remove the Cambridge Audio DAC.

    However, when I remove the Apple TV like this;

    Asus Netbook (running iTunes) ---> (USB cable) Cambridge Audio DAC ---> Cambridge Audio Speakers.

    This is why I suspect the Apple TV's are at fault.

  18. GilesM, Dec 26, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2011

    GilesM thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 17, 2008

    I took the whole system apart and cleaned all the optical cables and sockets involved.
    Also took my library and migrated it from a USB 2 connected drive to a firewire 800 connected drive.

    So far I have had around 4 hours listening with no issues. Could it be the fact that iTunes was had it's library stored on a USB drive? Was this too slow perhaps? Could there have been obstructions in the optics? Who knows, so far it's working.

    Also note that when the ATV's are connected via HDMI they exhibit no problems at all. It is still a mystery but so far today, no more issues. Hope it stays that way...

    update: The problems are back! Damn... installed a Win 7 device running iTunes with the library on the local drive. No problems at all. Enabled WASAPI for bit perfect sound and installed the DAC as an external soundcard via USB. This all works perfectly.
    Perhaps the next move is to dump the Apple TV2 wireless device in favour of a MacMini running a local copy of the library with the DAC connected via USB. OSX should see it as an external sound device same as windows. Or run ethernet in to the front room (not keen on that idea). Really do not want to live with the WIN 7 solution, but it works for minimal outlay (I bought a 2nd hand WIN 7 PC just for this purpose).
    MacMini is going to be expensive... :(
  19. GilesM, Dec 31, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2012

    GilesM thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 17, 2008
    today's update (last one I hope)

    Well, I did not give up on the Apple TV solution. Also found the Windows 7 and iTunes solution was not to my liking. I prefer the 'front end' of the Apple TV.

    So, I decided to upgrade the data link from Wireless (48 mpbs) to wired (200 mbps). I did this by using some power line adapters from tplink.
    This was so easy it was frightening, plug and go really simple.

    I have had four hours listening on the Apple TV 2 and no glitches at all!! :D

    I wish I had done this ages ago. I am really pleased with the result. Fantastic, just need to redeploy the windows 7 machine elsewhere in the network now.

    I am glad to return to :apple: for my solution, hated WIN 7 really.

    Update - after several days al is working just fine, all the problems have gone. It seems Apple TV has problems using wireless for streaming, at least this was the case for me.

    This is a bit odd, after all is that not the primary function of the apple TV?

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