AirPort Express audio drop out – how I solved it.

At the end of 2007 I found my old AirPort Express. Looking down on it I remembered why I put it away; Audio Drop Out. What a big mistake buying that thing. Well, I desided that I had to use some time to solve the problem and start using this fantastic nice gadget.

The first thing I did was to look into the information at Apple’s own site to see if they had written anything about this issue. And yes, they have. a firmware update should solve the issue (firmware update)… BUT it did not.

So I had to search the net to look for help. Whow, it seems that a lot of people is experiencing this problem. There is a lot of fancy and odd solutions and I tried everything I ever came over:

  • Firmware Update
  • Changing wlan channel
  • Using network robustness
  • Moving microwaves and wireless phones around
  • Upgraded the network from 802.11b to 802.11g
  • Using multiple speakers
  • and more…

Here are some links:

Nothing helped. So I then had to figure out what actually happend with my computer during the drop out. I looked at 2 things; Network traffic and CPU usage. What I found out whas that the network traffic was ok, nothing odd with it. But, when I looked at CPU usage, I found one correlation with the drop out. Whenever my computer was working or had a CPU usage that was more than typically a couple of %, I got a drop out.

[% oiopub-link-2-left %]


So, what did I do?

When streaming music to my AirPort Express I shut down all other applications, typically MSN, Firefox, Word etc. This solved the problem. No drop outs.

My conclusion is that there is no problem with the AirPort Express, the problem is related to the client that streams.  AirPort Express drop out is not a problem for me anymore I just have to focus on the music not doing a lot of things at the same time 🙂

  25 comments for “AirPort Express audio drop out – how I solved it.

  1. RR
    July 24, 2008 at 7:04 am

    Did not work for me!

  2. beretta
    August 10, 2008 at 2:54 am

    Doesn’t work for me either.
    I think you were just lucky. It’s firmware – I just wish Apple would recognise the issue and fix it.

  3. mike
    December 9, 2008 at 7:30 pm

    It didn’t work for me, either.

  4. December 20, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    Yeah probably luck. Seems Apple has a problem with this product, talked to a lot of people with the same problems.

  5. Andreas
    December 30, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    I’m using the Airport Express solely for AirTunes. As a router I’m using a WRT54GL with Tomato, and let the Express join that network. No problems with drop-outs whatsoever.

    I remember I had the problem mentioned at a time that I used the Express as an Access Point.

    This “tip” may not help you at all, since I guess most people will actually use the AP-part of the Express.

  6. Peter
    March 21, 2009 at 12:02 am

    Here’s a fix for random drop outs that worked for me. I have an airport express and I’m running itunes on a PC with windows vista. My AX required a firmware upgrade before it would work with itunes 8.0 (itunes reported an error code if I tried to connect to remote speakers). I could connect following the firmware upgrade, but I experienced audio drop outs approx every 60 seconds. I noticed in windows update today that an optional update was available for my Belkin MIMO network adapter. It had been available since about Oct 2008 but had not installed automatically since it was tagged as ‘optional’ rather than ‘important’. Installed the update this morning and all my drop out problems have disappeared. I hope this is some use to forum members.

  7. Paul
    May 1, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    Here’s another fix for anyone who’s still struggling with the audio dropouts from iTunes8 to Airport Express . . .

    iTunes7 worked fine with my AE but after upgrading to iTunes8 I experienced random dropouts. Long story short – I changed the Beacon Interval from 100 to 25 in the ‘Wireless LAN’ settings of my router and this has finally fixed the problem.

    Hope this helps someone else!

  8. Richard
    June 9, 2009 at 12:21 am

    Top Man Paul! Changing the Beacon interval has done the trick for me too!

  9. Tom
    July 5, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    Paul, I owe you a beer! Changing the Beacon Interval finally did the trick for me too.

  10. bob
    July 15, 2009 at 12:15 am

    i had a question about your computers hardware, because it may have worked for a few people and not others because of the CPUs capacity i was just wondering wat your CPU was RAM was and other things like that that can improve your CPUs capacity

  11. starfruit
    August 23, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    This is something that solved my problems with the airport express.
    When cresting net work, under the wireless tab, the “Wireles Options” reset the multi cast rate and turning on interference robustness.

  12. DWYutzy
    October 23, 2009 at 2:48 am

    The CPU was the issue on my end. I was running VisualHub compressing a movie in the background and had all kinds of drop-outs via AE wirelessly, even though I could play locally just fine. Once I stopped the compression and let the CPU settle down, the tunes magically started in the other room.

  13. Nick
    May 16, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Couldn’t agree more on this post. It’s a nice thing to show off to your mates but embarassing when you end up having to mess around with resetting iTunes/computers when you are trying to chill with friends.

    I have a Windows based network working from a BT home hub. I have had various problems with the Airport Express and one main area had been around it dropping, almost constantly, after 5 minutes. If we were downloading or syncing with my apple tv you may as well forget working Airport Express at the same time. The only option I found when using the Airport Express with my own wirless network (not as an extender) was to downgrade the security from WPA to WEP with 64 bit security. Confusingly the AE has no setting for 64 bit – only 40. After trying this with 128 I couldn’t find the AE. The only option was to have the network on 6 bit and the ae on 40 bit. I have been successfully streaming my music now for two hours… dropped network yet.

  14. jeff
    July 5, 2010 at 10:17 am

    This seems to be a major issue with the Airport (there are hundreds of messages all over the web !) – Apple should be doing more to resolve this problem; the product is NOT doing what it says on the tin. Like many others on this forum I have tried most of the suggestions to repair, with little success. It is still randomly dropping out (spoiling the listening experience)- I’ve gone back to WIRES…aaaggghhhh!!!

  15. Michael
    July 5, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    Finally! I’ve made the decision to put the Airport Express away for good. I got it to work with a old version of Itunes (think it was 7 or something). But with 9 it’s just a bad product. I’ve tried every tip i’ve found on the net without any success.

    I can’t believe they make a product this bad, or a product where you have to be a engineer to make it work. Bye bye Apple!

  16. glfrancisco
    August 14, 2010 at 7:23 am

    Greetings, this troubled me for some time also. I’m using Windows 7, Airport Extreme and 2 Airport Expresses. Worked well until iTunes 9, then drop outs, iphone and ipod would only connect at inital connection and then wouldn’t reconnect and like Nick said you’d have some friends around to listen to some tunes and spend half the night stuffing with iTunes and wireless trying keep it alive. I tried everything reinstalling itunes, bonjour, firewall settings, antivirus all to no avail.

    What i did… turned off Use wide channels…that’s it!!!!!!!!!!!

    Been 4 hours now and not one drop out ipod and phone reconnect at will.

    Hope this saves someone months of aggravation.


  17. September 14, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    Having this problem with music playing on my Apple TV (160G), streaming over my network (Airport Extreme, plus two Airport Expresses to extend range). Using iTunes 10.0. No serious network traffic going on, but dropouts of several seconds occur randomly? Just tried setting the streaming buffer to LARGE on my iMac iTunes. Will see if this helps, even though its not presently the streaming source?

  18. Garry
    January 23, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    It’s a firmware issue.

    I have Airport Extreme, Airport Express, MacBook Pro, iPad, iPhones, iMac, etc, and the setup has worked perfectly for the past 5 or 6 years until the last few months. Now, I now suffer music dropout when streaming from any of the above devices and, occasionally, lose internet to my MacBook Pro.

    It goes without saying, I have done everything. Resetting, re-sighting, rebuilding the network, the lot. The only thing that usually helps is if I put the laptop, iPad, etc., within a foot or two of the Airport Express. But I haven’t had to do this for the last 5 years. Until recently, everything has been perfect.

    I can only think this has something to do either with the latest iTunes release, or Airport Express firmware. Something has affected the range of the system and it seems we are all suffering to varying degrees. Unless we all have faulty Airport Expresses! Haha!

    Come on Apple. This needs sorting.

    Garry Robson.

  19. Eric
    October 5, 2011 at 4:46 am

    My 2 cents….
    I run iMac with TV, extreme, express and iPhones as remotes to TV or Mac. I get dropouts exclusively with the express.
    Everything else works fine. Whether I stream from the iPhone directly to the express or from the iMac, the result is the same. Random dropouts of signal which drives me insane. Apparently, sigh, I am not the only express user with this problem.
    Is there not someone from Apple who can resolve this issue?

  20. rick parks
    January 2, 2012 at 3:41 am

    Okay. I went into the offending airports settings and went to manual settings/then wireless/then wireless network options/ then chose a lower multicast rate (I’d had it set on 11, so I chose half that)
    and for the last half hour… no drop-outs!
    good luck friends.
    I know how maddening this is.

  21. F Kim Hodgson
    June 1, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    Has no one considered the issue of connection speed? I’ve noticed that often when I’m experienced these dropouts, Comcast connection speeds are fluctuating wildly, from as low as 4 Mb/s to as much as 25 Mb/s! Not that I won’t try a couple of your suggested fixes, but I can’t help thinking that download speed is significant, as well.

  22. Gautam
    September 20, 2012 at 11:18 am

    I was having the same problem and im on BT Broadband. I tried every thing that is mentioned on the WWW and finally found the solution by mucking around with the router settings. all i did was i changed the channel from automatic to some random channel and it worked. I dont know if this just worked for me but its worth a shot.

  23. jfc
    October 25, 2012 at 12:02 am

    Just bought the AX last week to use it as a wireless client only to stream music. And kept on fighting with hourly drops.

    Finaly, it is the fix proposed by Paul in this thread that worked:
    Beacon Interval changed from 100 to 25 in the ‘Wireless LAN’ settings of my router.

    Thanks Paul.

    Here is a link I found very interesting too:

    I realized that continuously Pinging the AX was preventing it from falling asleep as suggested in this article.
    But no need for that with the Beacon Interval set at 25.


  24. Mynor
    December 6, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    Paul on May 1, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    This guy deserves a good beer!

    Thank you!

  25. Paul Jackson
    January 15, 2013 at 10:52 am

    I have assigned static IP addresses to all my equipment.

    Macbook Pro
    Apple TV
    Airport Extreme

    Has solved all buffering/dropout/frame skip issues.

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