Airport Express -- airplay or cable

Core Machine = 2012 13" Macbook Pro

Airport Express -> DAC

Roon is streaming to my Airport Express using Airplay, but since I also have a network cable between the two I wanted to try that connection as it may be more direct / easier on the hardware.

I don’t see where I can tell Roon to use the cable connection though.

Any suggestion?

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Airplay is a communication protocol. It can be transmitted via wifi or ethernet. If you want to turn off wifi on the airport express it should still work via ethernet. It will still show up as Airplay either way.

Ah! Thank you very much for clarifying. The “air” in the name suggested to me that it was definitely no “cable play” option.

There were occasional skips of part of a track spanning a few seconds of silence and I wanted to see if I could prevent those by improving the connection. I don’t see a spot where I can see / change the amount of buffering in my setup of MacBook Pro running Roon.

For the moment I reverted back to the JRiver media player #26, also reverting to just one hard disk of music, using the other USB port to connect directly to the DAC bypassing the Airport Express. That works without hickups.

Next (today or tomorrow) I will try the same setup with ROON again. The look&feel of Roon are so much nicer. If the comms goes just as well it’s preferable.

Hi @Cdamo,

How is your MacBook Pro connected to the network? Is it also connected via Ethernet?

Generally, as we note in our Networking Guide, we recommend using an Ethernet connection whenever possible for the Core machine, so I’d definitely recommend that and we can see if that helps resolve the playback issue you’re experiencing.

Well, you should have no clicks, pops, delays, skips, whatever. If you do there is an issue and people like @dylan will help you get it fixed.

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Hi @dylan,

Thank you for your quick response.

The MacBook Pro was in wifi. Then I Ethernet cable-connected the MacBook Pro with the Airport Express. The Airport Express was connected to the DAC with the optical cable. The hickups still happened. Yesterday I assumed this was because Roon was still importing music in the background and that used up resources.

Next I will try to bypass the Airport Express and use the USB connection to the DAC the same way that I’m using now, playing with the other app.

With the USB connection (so nothing wireless) there appear more options to select and I expanded the buffer time but still a skip or two happen in every track…

In the meantime I simplified the setup, taking out the network cable that went from laptop to Airport Express. I noticed it did not snap-click in place to I threw away that Cat5 cable. Also took out the optical cable from Airport to DAC so that is also not an optional connection anymore.

So it’s just the one big HD with music connected to macbook-pro by USB, into Roon app, and music from the app via USB into the DAC and onwards.

Gave the Roon software the time to import and process all audio files before attempting to press play again.

At some point the Roon app displayed a message on screen that due to a new version, the music database needed to be re-processed.

And now the music seems to stream uninterrupted. Just once the music completely stopped in the middle of a track. I don’t know why, but after pressing play again, all is fine – so far so good!

A few days later all streams fine still all day long. A few times I caught a message on screen reporting audio was loading slowly. Is there a log somewhere where I can look up what kinds of brief remarks have appeared on screen while I was not looking?
Maybe once a day there’s a second or two that I wonder what’s happening / halting but if I’d be playing dozens of vinyl records instead there’d certainly be more hassle and if I’d be playing a stack of CD’s one of them would jitter so the stream wins anyway.
Looking back, it seems that the direct connection (usb to dac) helped a lot and also giving the app the time to import, index and sort out the catalog in the background.

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Hi @Cdamo,

Apologies for the delay, I’ve been out of the office for a few days. I’m glad to hear that things are a bit better now! The initial import and analysis is definitely more resource intensive than normal usage, so that could definitely have been playing into things.

Have you noticed any patterns here? Does this always happen for certain types of content? When playing to a certain endpoint? How often do you notice it?

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Hi @dylan, Thanks for your reply! There was no hurry as such things need time anyway to get spotted properly and in the process all settled nicely. I did not see a pattern in the ‘loading slowly’ messages because I rarely look at the Macbook Pro core machine. That’s why I wondered if such feedback by the app was logged somewhere so I could look at the log.
So far i am only playing to the USB -> DAC -> monoblocks -> speakers. Have not tried sending audio to the Homepods yet for instance. The “Background Audio Analysis” is still slowly grinding its way through the catalog but seems not to bother the playing even at the “Fast (2 cores)” setting.
I also have the JRiver #26 app that works well but ROON’s look&feel is so much better and I enjoy Roon’s options like the Roon Radio and the option to search a certain type of music.

Hi @Cdamo,

We do have logs that you can take a look at, which you can learn more about here. Roon does a lot in the background (communicating with devices, updating metadata, communicating with streaming services, etc.) so the logs can be a little tricky to navigate for those unfamiliar with them, but they’re there if you’d like to take a look.

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