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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.

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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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