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Can Airport Express play with Mesh WiFi

skipcooney

macrumors member
Original poster
Feb 7, 2010
31
1
Connecticut
I am updating my home WiFi from an old Airport Extreme to a Netgear Orbi Mesh WIFi system. In my old setup I have been using the Airport Extreme with an Airport Express in client mode connected to an old stereo receiver, allowing me to Airplay music to the receiver. Now I am wondering is there is any way to continue to use the Airport Express with the new Mesh WiFi router. I imagine connecting them by ethernet is an option, but it would be difficult to run the wire. Is there any inexpernsive way to save the problem of how to wirelessly play music on the old receiver? I also have an unused Apple TV to throw in the mix, but my receiver does not have any optical audio inputs.
 

techwarrior

macrumors 65816
Jul 30, 2009
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AP Express in client mode is similar to connecting to any WiFi with any device. It will work on any WiFi network as long as the network supports Bonjour\UPNP (Airplay). Client mode does not make APExpress another WiFi access point.

The optical out on ATV 3 and earlier can be connected to an Aux or RCA port on your receiver with a DAC such as this. However, you will lose audio quality without a receiver with an optical input.
 

skipcooney

macrumors member
Original poster
Feb 7, 2010
31
1
Connecticut
AP Express in client mode is similar to connecting to any WiFi with any device. It will work on any WiFi network as long as the network supports Bonjour\UPNP (Airplay). Client mode does not make APExpress another WiFi access point.

The optical out on ATV 3 and earlier can be connected to an Aux or RCA port on your receiver with a DAC such as this. However, you will lose audio quality without a receiver with an optical input.

So how do I connect the AP Express to the Mesh WiFi router without running ethernet?
I will use the ATV 3 with a DAC if I cannot get the AP Express to work.
 

waw74

macrumors 68040
May 27, 2008
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airport is just apple's name for wifi hardware, it's the same standard that everyone uses.
mesh network is the same as regular wifi, but it uses an extra radio to handle the connection back to the main base.

set the airport up to join a network, it will join just like your phone or laptop does
when doing this, i recommend connecting to your computer via ethernet. as that's the most reliable way to ensure you laptop and the airport can talk while you're configuring.
you also want to get the Orbi up and fully functional before you try to do this.

**you can move the airport to get it setup (for ease of running an ethernet cable), once it's working you can unplug and move to it's "home"

**if you don't have an ethernet port (or dongle) for you mac, you can plug the airport into your main router (or possible into one of the Orbi if they have ethernet jacks) . And your laptop will use your established wi-fi to connect to that ethernet port.


------
also i think the Orbi have ethernet ports, you can just run a cable to the airport and turn off wifi on the airport. if orbi placement allows for that
 
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techwarrior

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Jul 30, 2009
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Colorado
So how do I connect the AP Express to the Mesh WiFi router without running ethernet?
I will use the ATV 3 with a DAC if I cannot get the AP Express to work.

If the AP Express is currently setup in Client Mode (Join a wireless network), and you setup your new WiFi network with the same Network Name (SSID) and password, then you won't need to do a thing to use the AP Express in the new WiFi.

If you use a different SSID and password, you will need to update the WiFi credentials on the Express for the new WiFi, but basically the same way you set it up originally.

Airport Utility on iOS or Mac can do this over WiFi. Or, you can temporarily connect the Express to LAN and do the configuration update.

Either way, go to the Wireless Tab in AP Utility, and select Join a wireless network, provide the credentials as you would on any WiFi device joining the network, and then perform an Update.
 
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skipcooney

macrumors member
Original poster
Feb 7, 2010
31
1
Connecticut
Thank you techwarrior. I finally got the Orbi network set up using the same SSIID and password from my old network. The airport express works just fine in client mode as an airplay device.
 

Martin Wingate

macrumors newbie
Sep 9, 2020
7
0
UK
If the AP Express is currently setup in Client Mode (Join a wireless network), and you setup your new WiFi network with the same Network Name (SSID) and password, then you won't need to do a thing to use the AP Express in the new WiFi.

If you use a different SSID and password, you will need to update the WiFi credentials on the Express for the new WiFi, but basically the same way you set it up originally.

Airport Utility on iOS or Mac can do this over WiFi. Or, you can temporarily connect the Express to LAN and do the configuration update.

Either way, go to the Wireless Tab in AP Utility, and select Join a wireless network, provide the credentials as you would on any WiFi device joining the network, and then perform an Update.
Hi there - I have this exact situation some 3 years since you posted this helpful answer. One other question if I may.....In addition to the Airport Express, could I add a Time Capsule to the Mesh network in the same way? I envisage using the Time Capsule just as a backup disk and foregoing its routing capabilities.
Thanks
Martin
 

priitv8

macrumors 68040
Jan 13, 2011
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It is not really joining the mesh network, but your public WLAN. It connects as a client, just like your computer.
In real terms this means, your TimeCapsule will consume part of your WLAN bandwidth to extend it wirelessly. (Mesh networks use separate radio connection for this).
But yes, also Time Capsule can join your WLAN as a client and you can make its HDD visible on the network.
In the Wireless configuration page, it is called "Extend Wireless Network" mode:
 
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Martin Wingate

macrumors newbie
Sep 9, 2020
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UK
It is not really joining the mesh network, but your public WLAN. It connects as a client, just like your computer.
In real terms this means, your TimeCapsule will consume part of your WLAN bandwidth to extend it wirelessly. (Mesh networks use separate radio connection for this).
But yes, also Time Capsule can join your WLAN as a client and you can make its HDD visible on the network.
In the Wireless configuration page, it is called "Extend Wireless Network" mode:
Thanks so much. You have explained it perfectly.
 

techwarrior

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Jul 30, 2009
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Hi there - I have this exact situation some 3 years since you posted this helpful answer. One other question if I may.....In addition to the Airport Express, could I add a Time Capsule to the Mesh network in the same way? I envisage using the Time Capsule just as a backup disk and foregoing its routing capabilities.
Thanks
Martin
If you don't intend to use the Time Capsule as a wireless access point, just connect via ethernet to the network. WiFi is a little fickle in most homes due to traffic and interference. You would tend to get better file transfer speeds on ethernet in most cases.

To do this, turn WiFi off, connect the WAN port to a LAN port on your network, and turn the router mode to off (bridged).
 
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priitv8

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Jan 13, 2011
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Estonia
To do this, turn WiFi off, connect the WAN port to a LAN port on your network, and turn the router mode to off (bridged).
I on the contrary, like how well AirPort acts as a wifi access point, esp if you set it to 5GHz only and wideband channels. This works like a charm, esp. with Apple devices as clients.
 
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Martin Wingate

macrumors newbie
Sep 9, 2020
7
0
UK
If you don't intend to use the Time Capsule as a wireless access point, just connect via ethernet to the network. WiFi is a little fickle in most homes due to traffic and interference. You would tend to get better file transfer speeds on ethernet in most cases.

To do this, turn WiFi off, connect the WAN port to a LAN port on your network, and turn the router mode to off (bridged).
Hi again - Can you tell me what the difference would be in connecting ethernet to Time Capsule's WAN port or one of its LAN ports?
I have it in Bridge Mode and Time Capsule backups are working. I just can't see any difference in behaviour between the two Time Capsule ports.....Thanks
 

Martin Wingate

macrumors newbie
Sep 9, 2020
7
0
UK
I on the contrary, like how well AirPort acts as a wifi access point, esp if you set it to 5GHz only and wideband channels. This works like a charm, esp. with Apple devices as clients.
Are you still connecting the Time Capsule to your mesh router via ethernet? I cannot seem to connect mine using wifi.....Only using ethernet.
 

techwarrior

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Jul 30, 2009
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Hi again - Can you tell me what the difference would be in connecting ethernet to Time Capsule's WAN port or one of its LAN ports?
I have it in Bridge Mode and Time Capsule backups are working. I just can't see any difference in behaviour between the two Time Capsule ports.....Thanks
There may not be a difference. Apple simply configures the firmware to make the WAN port another LAN port in bridge mode.

Essentially, a router designates one (WAN) port to be on a different network, your ISP network. It then controls access to the WiFi and LAN ports on the device using routing protocols, firewalls, etc. When you put any router device into bridge mode, it is really not much more than turning it into a network switch with none of the routing functionality being used.
 
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Martin Wingate

macrumors newbie
Sep 9, 2020
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UK
Thanks again......That is what I wondered - Bridge Mode kind of overrides everything.
Anyway, I have the TP-Link Deco mesh system set up. I have the Time Capsule connected to the Deco router via ethernet (Time Capsule WAN to Deco LAN). Deco is connected to my ISP modem/router which is in modem-only mode.
I actually set the Wireless option in Airport Utility to OFF which obviously makes Bridge Mode default OFF (your point above).
Time Machine will now back up to the Time Capsule.
Just going to try and connect the Airport Express to the network now :)

Cheers
 

CmdrLaForge

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Feb 26, 2003
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Hello, I have a very similar question and not getting forward. I have a mesh network running and I would like to add my "very old" Airport Express and my even older TimeCapulse to Print over the Wifi and listen to music. When I turn them on they just blink yellow but I cannot see them in the Airport Utility nor in the Network Utility. What can I do to see and configure them? Any help appreciated.
 

Martin Wingate

macrumors newbie
Sep 9, 2020
7
0
UK
Update - I got it working. Took an old Macbook with a LAN adapter and some peeking and poking...
Good news. I think mine flashed yellow. I did have to reset my Airport Express (small pin hole thing) and then I followed all the instructions from Tech Warrior (Bridge Mode, Wifi off etc), using Airport Utility and I am still working fine. Backups occurring on TimeCapsule, music streaming on AirPort Express. Both devices are NOT used for WiFi
 
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