Catalina Music player Sound Check not functioning when using Airplay output


macrumors newbie
Original poster
Feb 7, 2020
Bunbury, Western Australia
I've been using iTunes on a Macbook Air for several years in my retail store, to stream a shuffled playlist to my Airport Express. Except for the occasional glitch, the Sound Check and Crossfade options have worked just fine.

A few weeks ago I upgraded my Macbook Air, and it arrived with Catalina installed. Things migrated over perfectly, and I was pretty happy until I started to stream music. The Sound Check and Crossfade options in the Music Player, when switched on, refuse to work when I stream the music to my Airport Express.

In a retail store, this is a big deal. The music varies from inaudible to blaring from track to track, annoying both customers and me. I've tried adjusting the individual volume adjustment in the Options tab of each song, but this also has no effect.

If I set the output within the Music Player to "Computer", then the Sound Check and Crossfade options immediately work just fine. As soon as I select the Airport Express as the output, these options stop functioning again.

The Airport Express firmware is fully up to date, as is Catalina and the Music app, as far as I can establish.

I've found a workaround, and it just makes the situation even more bizarre. If I set the Music Player output to "Computer", and then using the speaker icon at the top of the Catalina screen, set the "Output device" for the computer to "Airport Express", then Sound Check and Crossfade work just fine. Unfortunately, this means that any other noise that my computer makes is also played through the shop speakers. So far though, this is the best solution I can find.

What do you think is going on here? Why wouldn't these settings work when the Music Player app is directed to the Airport Express output, as they did with the old iTunes app?