Headless AppleTV?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by godslabrat, Mar 22, 2008.

  1. godslabrat macrumors 6502

    Aug 19, 2007
    Hi all,

    I've got someone looking to stream mp3s to a stereo in a distant room. Just a stereo, no TV at all. Is it possible to turn on the AppleTV and set it to play random songs without having access to a monitor of some kind?
  2. godslabrat thread starter macrumors 6502

    Aug 19, 2007
    Oh, so THAT'S what that thing does! (feels stupid) :eek:
  3. datawrangler macrumors newbie

    Mar 24, 2008
    Pushing and pulling

    Airport Express offers AirTunes service, but will not play music from shared playlists by itself. Computers on the LAN configured to access AirTunes can send their audio streams to the amplifier, but Airport Express cannot "pull" music from the LAN.

    AppleTV can operate in either direction: either receiving an audio stream via AirTunes or "pulling" from a Shared Playlist on the LAN. Pulling a shared playlist requires using AppleTV's menus, so the television must be powered up to see what you're doing. After that, simply turn off the television to go "headless".
  4. Much Ado macrumors 68000

    Much Ado

    Sep 7, 2006
  5. uva25 macrumors regular

    Feb 2, 2008
  6. brand macrumors 601


    Oct 3, 2006
    Simply turning off the TV does not make it headless. If that were the case, and we went by what you are saying, I could turn off the backlight on my MBP and it would be headless.
  7. MagnusVonMagnum macrumors 601


    Jun 18, 2007
    That's exactly what I've been doing upstairs (running an AppleTV without video output for AirTunes. I set it up with the home theater downstairs where I have my other AppleTV and then once set up, unplugged it and took it upstairs to my music-only listening room. It works fine. I use an iPod Touch with Remote Buddy to control the music selection on it.

    I DO have an airport express (the new 802.11N one at that which I picked up for $79 at Best Buy due to having the wrong sign up for the clearance of the old one that was gone). The PROBLEM with the Airport Express is that it doesn't maintain a digital signal when you change tracks so my old digital to audio converter I already had for some time would lose its 'lock' on the signal and take 2+ seconds to get it back again when the new track would start playing. So essentially, I'd miss the start of a song any time I manually selected a new track to play (playlists would be ok after the first song since the cross-fade option can keep the signal alive; I'd set it to one second only).

    Well, that got annoying and so I tried Airfoil out and that solved the problem (it buffers the output first), but it didn't sync precisely and it had clicks/pops/drops every so often (apparently their backwards engineering isn't perfect and well frankly, it SUCKS to hear stuff like that on $2000 speakers). So that left me with two other options. One is to buy a new DAC (digital to audio converter) that is fast enough to not miss the start of a new song and the other was to either use the Airport Express' built-in DAC which is pretty darn crappy and can't even produce a full range signal (maxes out 2V less than the maximum 16-bit signal a lossless CD rip can produce from what I've read) or get an AppleTV which has a better quality DAC built-in and would also give me future video capbility down the road when I plan to get a flat-screen to hang above my piano in that room. So, I use the Airport Express for a 2nd network (to use B/G devices on) now instead.

    Apple apparently has some issues to work out in AppleTV, though. I can't seem to buy/rent any movies on it. It tells me it doesn't recognize my name/password (which work fine on my actual Mac and PC computers) and this appears to be a fairly common/widespread issue. Some people have got it working by various tinkering methods, but none have worked so far for me. Apple is apparently perplexed themselves why it happens to some people/hardware and not others. I mean it's a simple encrypted password check for goodness sake.... This is making them look bad. Apple should be "it just works" not "it can't do its primary function". Fortunately, my primary function was a music system, not video rentals, but I got the one downstairs originally because I do have a high definition 93" projection system and it's more convenient to rent an HD movie I might only watch once than buy a $30 blu-ray disk each time (or rent them through Netflix and get a scratched up POS disc that won't play, which is frustrating as all heck, but then so is selecting rent and it telling me it doesn't recognize my valid password/id for that matter).
  8. participant03 macrumors newbie

    Apr 24, 2009
    For me, this wouldn't work without being plugged into a TV unless I ran airtunesd manually after turning the Apple TV on. I got this to work as follows:

    1. Install SSH on your Apple TV, perhaps by following either http://wiki.awkwardtv.org/wiki/Install_SSH or http://wiki.awkwardtv.org/wiki/Enable_SSH_Without_Opening_the_Apple_TV

    2. Set up ITunes to be able to stream to your Apple TV. It should be visible in ITunes.

    3. Power down the Apple TV, move to wherever, then turn it back on, no TV needed.

    4. ssh into your Apple TV: ssh frontrow@appletv.local

    5. Run airtunesd as a daemon: launchd -d /usr/libexec/airtunesd

    6. The Apple TV should show up in ITunes as a set of remote speakers (bottom right), although it still won't show up as a device on the right hand column like it does when plugged into a TV. Logging out of ssh at this point is fine.

    This requires doing each time your restart your Apple TV. I'll bet something more permanent can be done by creating the right file for airtunesd in /System/Library/LaunchDaemons or /System/Library/LaunchAgents

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