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Fix dropout problems when streaming music over Airport Express g Network
I've been using Airport Express wireless-g for years to stream music to my stereos. And they work great once you get them working, but with the wireless-g models, I have always had problems setting them up on a new network after they have already been setup on another network. I use it as a streaming device, so it is set up as a device on my network, and not as my router. The problem with dropouts when streaming music over an Airport Express g can be resolved by changing the network settings on the wireless router.

First of all, the Airport Utility never seems able to find an Airport Express that does not have factory settings and is not set to communicate with the existing wireless network. Sometimes holding down the reset button on the AE until the light blinks rapidly while it is plugged in works. In other cases, I have had to hold it down before plugging it in and then plug it in to get it to work. I have often had to repeat these steps multiple times before I can get the Airport Utility to recognize it. It takes persistence, but eventually the Airport Utility will recognize it.

Once it is recognized, the setup is straight-forward. However, every time I set one up, I seem to forget about the dropout issues. I've found that dropouts occur when the network router wireless settings allow for both TKIP and AES security protocols (on a WPA security setting). I've found that by changing my router wireless settings to either TKIP or AES, but not allowing the use of both, the dropouts no longer occur.

Hope this works for people, as I love the AE's once they work. Just got a new wireless-n AE, and it seems some of the issues may have been resolved.

[crarko adds: I remember seeing some of these issues with the older AirPort Express as described here. I thought they were fixed with firmware updates, but I'm not absolutely sure. This sounds worth trying if you still have the dropout problem.]
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Fix dropout problems when streaming music over Airport Express g | 10 comments | Create New Account
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Quickly convert videos to AA
Authored by: wd8pgn on Jan 10, '12 08:56:10AM

Often when trying to follow a hint, my Apple menu does not show the correct options.

Case in point, "iTunes: Quickly convert videos to AAC" on January 10, 2012. I am using Apple Lion 10.7.2 and iTunes 10.5.2 I can't get the option 'Convert to AAC'.

Is there some reason I don't match your suggestion ?



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Quickly convert videos to AA
Authored by: leamanc on Jan 11, '12 11:55:18AM

Maybe because it's not under the Apple menu? "Convert to AAC" would be found under the Advanced menu in iTunes...and only if your Import Settings are set to one of the AAC types.



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Fix dropout problems when streaming music over Airport Express g
Authored by: CJYetman on Jan 10, '12 08:57:19AM

in regards to not being able to find the Airport Express on a network that it is not configured for....

if memory serves, plugging your computer into the Airport Express directly with an ethernet cable will allow you to access it with the Airport Utility application in most cases, regardless of how the Airport Express' wireless connection is configured



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Fix dropout problems when streaming music over Airport Express g
Authored by: dizziness on Jan 11, '12 06:25:38AM

This hint is helpful. I was having similar issues recently and corrected it by the same method. Switching my mail router to AES only corrected the dropouts.



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Fix dropout problems when streaming music over Airport Express g
Authored by: Grant Symon on Jan 12, '12 11:31:27AM

One of the biggest problems with streaming to an Airport Express, is if the iPod/iPhone has Bluetooth turned on. There appears to be a bug in iOS5 (and before) which causes the connection to fail. Turning off Bluetooth connectivity fixes the problem (and creates another if you need both protocols at once).



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Fix dropout problems when streaming music over Airport Express g
Authored by: aMacUzur on Jan 14, '12 02:59:36AM

I was having the same kind of drop-out issues described by many others but finally managed to solve it by changing the "WPA Group Key Timeout" to be "1 days". Because of previous research, I'd also set "Wireless Security" to "WPA2 Personal", but that hadn't cured things -- 'though it may have helped and is still a better/more secure setting, assuming you don't still require WPA.

More Detail
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My setup consists of 3 Airport Express (AE) units, all behind a full-service (pfSense) router/gateway (RG). The AE units are setup for LAN-based routing, only (i.e., "Connection Sharing:" is set to "Off (Bridge Mode)", and DHCP is handled by the RG. One of the AE units is a new "n"-capable version while the other two are the older "g"-capable versions and have been in service for quite a while.

The AE-n unit is connected to the LAN via ethernet and it hosts a USB printer and is the "WDS main" unit to which one of the AE-g units is remoted (i..e, slaved as a "WDS remote"). That remoted AE-g unit is not connected to the LAN via ethernet (if it was, it wouldn't need to be a "WDS remote") and it's sole purpose is to transport AirTunes/AirPlay music to our living-room stereo setup (i.e., it has "Allow wireless clients" turned off). To try to minimize interference, the power on the WDS remoted AE-g unit is turned down to 50% (because it only needs to communicate with the WDS Main AE-n unit, which is within about 30 feet/10 meters). The other AE-g and the AE-n units are both set to 100% "Transmit Power".

The other AE-g unit is also connected to the LAN via ethernet and is simply there to extend coverage when it's not put into my laptop case when traveling or being used for testing.

Once I set all the AE units to use a "WPA Group Key Timeout" setting of "1 days", my constant drop-out issues went away. Previously all the AE units had been set to 20 minutes and I was getting extended dropouts about every 10-15 minutes -- which would make sense if the "re-keying" was affecting the flow on both the WDS main and remote units and they were updated on different schedules ('though I would have expected that the buffering would take care of the main unit's re-keying delay). I should note that I had the constant drop-out issues when playing iTunes music on a high-end iMac via the gigabit LAN connection, which then went through the AE-n to the remoted AE-g unit and into the stereo (well, intermittently, at least).

At this point, I can reliably dump music from an iPhone 4S to the stereo while walking around the house -- well, at least until a phone call comes in and interrupts it or until someone turns on the microwave in the kitchen ... that completely blocks the remoted AE-g unit (no, I'm not springing for another AE-n just for that -- I have some Scottish blood in me! ... but I may get energetic and drop another ethernet cable to the now-remoted AE-g unit <grin>).

BTW, for those of you who have Airport and/or Airport Express units, the free "AirPort Utility" iApp can be real useful (e.g., to see how effectively the microwave blocks out an AE unit as you walk around the signal field <sigh>).



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Fix dropout problems when streaming music over Airport Express g
Authored by: oldmacusr on Apr 13, '12 02:09:48PM

I was unable to find an AE setup "WPA Group Timeout" using Airport Utility.
My configuration is nearly identical to what's described here so to determine if something related to WPA setup was the culprit I reconfigured my wireless network to have no security at all (I set up the AE base station to hide the network name). Dropouts still occur, often several seconds long. Both AE's are wireless-n, latest firmware installed.



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Fix dropout problems when streaming music over Airport Express g
Authored by: oldmacusr on Apr 13, '12 02:39:46PM

I was able to locate the WPA Group Key Timeout selection when I reconfigured the AE for WPA2 & did set it to 1 day. Dropouts are less frequent but still occur. I can't believe Apple hasn't identified the cause of this problem.



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Fix dropout problems when streaming music over Airport Express g
Authored by: oldmacusr on Apr 14, '12 10:24:06PM

I have an almost identical setup but with airport express wireless-n units, the only way I found to get rid of audio dropouts was to set up the AE base station to allow the network to be extended, then set up the AE that supports airplay to extend the network. If you set up the airplay AE to just join the network you will experience dropouts of several seconds. Of course this won't work with older wireless-g airport express units.



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Fix dropout problems when streaming music over Airport Express g
Authored by: SLM on Sep 23, '12 05:21:55PM

Thanks. This has helped.



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