How can I reliably get Airplay to work without skipping?
August 26, 2016 4:50 PM   Subscribe

I bought an airport express with the sole purpose of letting me play music from my computer. Unfortunately, whenever I do so, within 0-50 minutes, the music starts skipping, and ultimately I get the warning: "An error occurred while connecting to the AirPlay device “[DEVICE NAME]”. The host cannot be reached." Any way to reliably fix this?

Here's my setup: I have a new Airport Extreme base station (this one) broadcasting to two networks (one 5GHz with a different network name). The airport express is 3 feet away. My laptop is around 20 feet away from both of those airports, and I'm in a loft so there is only a half-height wall in between my computer and the routers.

Detailed Details:
Checking my connection quality, I have RSSI: -78dBm, Noise -95dBm, Tx Rate 264 MBps.

Channel selection is automatic, security is WPA2 Personal, the network is not hidden. The router mode is DHCP and NAT. DHCP lease is 1 day, I'm blocking incoming IPv6 connections, not allowing Teredo tunnels, and am allowing IPSec authentication. I have two hard drives attached to my airport extreme that function as time capsules, secured with device passwords. In terms of internet settings, I have IPv6 configured automatically, native mode, with ipv6 connection sharing enabled. Let me know if there's any other stuff I can provide. I've reset the routers before, which helps for a few minutes but I get the same stuff after a while regardless.
posted by sirion to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oh, and the airport express is this one. (the new one). It's connected to the 5GHz network (as of this morning), but I got the problems when it is connected to either network. And adding a new 5GHz network name is a fix I tried this morning, so it used to be automatic switching (with the same problems). It's set to "Join a wireless network", rather than "Extend a wireless network"

There IS another airport express, which I'm using as a print server. That's an old model (that looks like a power supply brick). It's also set to Join a Wireless Network.
posted by sirion at 4:53 PM on August 26, 2016

Interesting. I don't know the solution to this off the top of my head. I will give it some more thought. But just to add a data point, I have streamed extensively to two Airport Expresses in my house and the only time I have a skipping problem is when the device I'm Airplaying from gets into an area of weak signal (e.g. when I go too far in the back yard). This is what pushed me to switch from Airport Express to Sonos for my main whole-house/backyard system. But when the source device has a good signal, I've played it for hours upon hours at a time with zero skipping.

Have you tried Airplaying from another device (an iOS device, maybe) to eliminate problems with the source device?
posted by primethyme at 5:54 PM on August 26, 2016

RSSI: -78dBm is a miserably weak connection, I'm a little surprised you were able to post this.
posted by contraption at 6:15 PM on August 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Based on that signal reading I imagine your laptop is connecting at 5GHz? If you're at 2.4 and seeing that much attenuation from 20' of mostly unobstructed air there has to be a hardware issue with your laptop or the Extreme. If you're not, try forgetting the 5GHz network, connecting at 2.4GHz and testing for a while to see if the problems continue.
posted by contraption at 6:39 PM on August 26, 2016

Response by poster: RSSI drops to -57dBm when connected at 2.4 GHz. I'll check to see whether that produces a working setup now..
posted by sirion at 8:50 AM on August 27, 2016

That sounds much more reasonable, I bet you'll see better results.
posted by contraption at 9:30 AM on August 27, 2016

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