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Posted on October 1st, 2012 by Barry Collins

AirPlay for Apple TV: not quite what it seems

Apple TV

The Apple TV software received a discrete update last week, with one new feature that I was particularly keen to try over the weekend. The feature list for the Apple TV 5.1 update states that you’re able to “send audio content from Apple TV to AirPlay-enabled speakers and devices (including AirPort Express and other Apple TVs)”, which I assumed would allow you to play back movie audio through a decent set of speakers, instead of the iffy integrated set in my television. Turns out I was wrong.

In fact, you can only beam sound to a set of AirPlay speakers from pure audio applications, such as Podcasts or Music, and not from video, which is a little odd considering the primary application of the Apple TV is — obviously — video. It’s even more odd when you consider that you can beam video soundtracks to AirPlay speakers from an iPad, and that beta testers of the Apple TV software reported that they had the ability to beam video soundtracks, too.

So what’s going on here? A problem with keeping 1080p video and AirPlay audio synchronised?  Some daft DRM restriction? I’ll wait for a written apology from Tim Cook.

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12 Responses to “ AirPlay for Apple TV: not quite what it seems ”

  1. Dom Says:
    October 2nd, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    > A problem with keeping 1080p video and Airplay audio synchronised?

    I’d say this. Massive, massive shame. Really frustrating. Know of any workarounds?

  2. Mr Tom Says:
    October 4th, 2012 at 7:07 am

    Apple will see this not as a problem, but an opportunity.

    Before long, they’ll be selling the audio streams as separate purchases on iTunes. (Joke)

  3. Geoff Says:
    October 4th, 2012 at 8:51 am

    Not sure why you would want this feature really, I have used the digital audio out socket on the Apple TV to link with my hi fi set up since Day 1, I also route all tv, DVD player sound through the same set up….as you say must ultra thin Tv’s now have crappy sound, even one of these sound bar things is much better…… Surprised you still use your TV’s speakers….

  4. Mike Barden Says:
    October 4th, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    Very disappointed with Apple TV – tend to just connect iPad via hdmi

  5. Dan Says:
    October 5th, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Just plug the speakers in to the TV?

  6. Simon Says:
    October 8th, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    I just have a little FiiO D3 DAC – even smaller than the AppleTV itself, takes optical in and outputs plain phono stereo which goes to my hifi. £30 from Amazon and elsewhere.

    What is baffling is why they couldn’t have used a combined 3.5mm stereo and optical audio jack, as they do on the Macbook and elsewhere.

  7. Andy Says:
    October 10th, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    As others have pointed out there’s a digital out for this, or you can loop the HDMI through an AV amp enroute to the TV – even works with cheaper integrated blu-ray 5.1 systems. Purpose of airplay here is to steam iTunes Match to other rooms in the house without having to turn the computer on. Works brilliantly for that.

  8. Richard Says:
    October 12th, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    Typo: “discrete update” should be “discreet update”.

  9. Anthony Says:
    October 16th, 2012 at 11:52 am

    Clearly Apple have introduced a serious bug into the Apple TV with the 5.1 firmware.

    Prior to the update, all my AppleTV 3’s were fine. Every couple of days the needed a restart, because they “lost” the homeshare – but while that’s pain, it was a quirk I could live with – nobody, even Apple, are perfect.

    However, since the firmware update, AppleTV has gone to hell-in-a-hand-basket! The living room and bedroom units were updated, but my son’s bedroom unit wasn’t. So his works fine – as before.

    But, the living room Apple TV 3 loses the homeshare constantly. Taking one or two restarts to see it again. Also, when playing 720p video, it simply drops out and reports “no network” then after 5 seconds finds the network and homeshare again. Play the video again, same thing happens. The unit no longer plays HD content from iTunes.

    The bedroom unit has similar problems with seeing the homeshare. Also, in 2 out of 3 cases, if you have watched one video, the next film/TV you go to watch doesn’t play. Just the hourglass of death. Restart is required to sort the problem.

    This is JUST the problem of the two Apple TV 3 units with updated firmware, because my third unit which works fine wasn’t updated from 5.0 and my PC, iTunes library and network hardware have NOT changed.

    So Apple neglected to advertise the “other” new feature of their update!

  10. simianstar Says:
    January 14th, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    Freakin’ fan boys. “I dont see why youd need this”? Well, you don’t need an apple tv either – you can buy a dvd player and plug that into your tv. No need for remote controls you can stand up and go and change the channel. What if your speakers are behind you? Or your stereo is a little too far for an optical cable, or you just want to do the same thing from your Windows based iTunes and send video to one place and audio to another?

  11. applesucks Says:
    January 21st, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    I have just checked with Apple support, if it it really tru that Apple TV do not airplay movie sound. According to Apple support it’s by design. So why do they not say so when you read the product details. I have bought my last Apple product.

  12. Mikael Says:
    February 3rd, 2013 at 10:55 pm

    New update to the ATV OS, but this still doesn’t work. So frustrating. I have a projector in a lift in my roof void and am dying to put my ATV away too up ther, connecting wirelessly with my speakers. Really dying to… Any rumours that this might be forthcomng?


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