OS X

How To Fix AirPlay Audio Syncing Problems


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.

Safari

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.

Quicktime

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.

VLC

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.

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Chris

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  • Im using “AirFoil Speakers” on Mavericks 10.9.5 trying to stream the audio on my iPad Air 2 iOS 8.3 to the Macbook Pro but is in other point of use because i want to work with this method on my Music Studio.
    Everything goes fine and the audio quality it´s pretty good.
    But i have some troubles with latency it costs 3 or 4 secs to respond, akind off delay lag or whatever.
    If i update to Yosemite, do you think i will solve this problem?

  • The solution of using VLC player with Airfoil works really well to solve the 2 second sound delay between my MacBookPro and my Airport unit used to receive wifi data and feed audio into my Sonos room speaker amps. Once you find the video you want to watch on YouTube, copy the URL of the YouTube video from the address box and paste it into the VLC player’s File>Open Network source dialogue box. The video starts playing just as in YouTube on the browser, but using the ‘f’ key in the VLC player enables the -2000 sec delay to be inserted, so perfect picture and sound sync now. Great. Many thanks for this.