Apple recently added the option to wirelessly send audio from Apple TV. We have received a few questions regarding how it works so we thought we would provide a quick guide and some hands-on experiences.
Getting wireless audio from Apple TV
The principle is simple and effective. Wireless sound is a 100 % digital transfer so no loss of audio quality occurs and at the same time it eliminates cable clutter in the living room. The biggest challenge when it comes to wireless audio is delay but with the latest update to the Apple TV box we are very close to a full-blown wireless solution.
You need the following:
A fully updated Apple TV box (2nd or 3rd generation)
An Airplay speaker (or an audio system with built-in Airplay)
A wireless home network
You can select the desired Airplay speaker from the Airplay menu or by holding down the center button on the Apple remote while watching a movie
In the settings menu of the Apple TV box you recently received a new Airplay menu. Go there. From this menu you can see all the Airplay speakers and devices connected to your home network. I have four options (many more if I turn on all my devices. Tip: Sharpport4w will make your PC/HTPC an Airplay receiver). But you do not have to select a speaker from here. You can also press and hold the center button on the Apple TV remote during a movie running via for example the Netflix, iTunes or Hulu app to get a list of Airplay-speakers.
In our quick test we used a Libratone Zipp speaker with built-in Airplay. We also tried to connect an Airport Express to an audio system with no Airplay built in.
How it works
Everything is pretty straight-forward. Once you have selected a speaker the audio starts streaming and the movie start rolling on the TV. However, we did experience delay issues when we connected an Airport Express to an audio system. This configuration had video/audio sync problems that we were unable to fix.
We used a Libratone Zipp with Airplay but you can use any Airplay-enabled audio system
But with the Libratone Zipp (with built-in Airplay) it was smooth sailing. The Zipp easily outperforms pretty much any audio system in a modern flat panel TV but you can obviously opt for even more powerful solutions. Audio and video synchronization adjusted automatically and we were able to control the audio volume directly on the Zipp speaker.
The wireless Airplay system works not only during movies but also for music. If you like to listen to radio or iTunes from your Apple TV on your Airplay speakers you can. It works in every app found on the Apple TV; including Netflix and Hulu. The main limitations right now there is no way to use it for TV channels or for example gaming from an Xbox or PlayStation.
Airplay on Apple TV is one of the first working wireless audio systems for TVs, and it holds great potential. Our wish list for the future includes a way to synchronize more Airplay speakers to create for example wireless surround sound. And in addition to that we would love to see it integrated directly into a TV to enable wireless audio for everything; even gaming. This is basically one of the key selling points of a potential Apple iTV; a wireless TV with video coming in via WiFi and audio going out via WiFi (Airplay).