Before we get started
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If you asked someone to sum up the technology giant Apple in one word, that word could well be ‘innovation’. Apple leads the way in much of its hardware – the iPad and MacBook Air are cases in point – but one way it’s influenced the market in terms of software is through AirPlay, which gives Macs the ability to stream to an equipped television. This feature will enhance your browsing, viewing or gaming experience – when it’s working.
AirPlay’s current Achilles’ heel is that often, when playing movies in Safari and various other applications, the streamed audio lags two seconds behind the video. Let’s take a look at ways to get rid of this headache.
There’s a reason (according to user ‘ysolmaz’ on Apple’s forums) why Safari’s having such trouble delivering a pleasant streaming movie experience: it doesn’t play well with movies encoded in a non-Apple format. You should, therefore, experience no problem when playing .mp4, .mov and .aac, for example, but seeing as YouTube videos and those on many other sites are encoded in different formats, the streaming problem will surface.
We’re hoping that Apple will soon release an update to AirPlay on the Mac that fixes this, but while the Cupertino giant gets its act together, the developers of Rogue Amoeba software (strange name, as they willingly admit) have worked double time to release a fix for this frustrating bug: a programme called Airfoil (https://rogueamoeba.com/airfoil/mac/). A free trial of this app should allow you to experience fully-functioning movie streaming – but the bad news is that if you want to continue the experience, you’ll need to drop $25 on the software. Depending on how essential streaming is to you, it may be worth your while to wait.
The surprising fact is that while AirPlay in Safari doesn’t function properly, there’s no problem when using Quicktime. This app is by default limited to playing only a few types of video, though, so you may have ruled it out as a player for more exotic file types. However, this issue can be resolved by downloading the free app Perian (http://perian.org), which will install itself as a preference pane and enable you to play virtually every format of video in Quicktime. Something to note, though, is that this app is no longer being supported by the developers; if problems develop, you’ll have to ask the community of users.
This otherwise excellent video player suffers from the same problem as Safari, creating a delay in sound playback whenever you start streaming. Thankfully, there’s an easy and free workaround for those for whom VLC is the app of choice. Offering customisation far greater than that of Quicktime X, one of VLC’s additions is the option to change the audio delay. This can be adjusted using the keys ‘f’ and ‘g’; because the gap between sound and picture is exactly two seconds, setting this delay to ‘-2000 ms’ will solve your problem.
If you’re not keen on tweaking with the settings, your alternative is to use an app called NicePlayer. Free to download (http://sourceforge.net/projects/niceplayer/), it’ll stream perfectly from the get-go.