Airtunes dropouts with Mac mini to Airport Express

I just got my Mac mini (2 GHz)hooked up to the airport express (wireless N version). I am having audio dropouts every few minutes - very annoying. Anybody have same problems? How do you guys fix this?

Right now I have the Airport Ex configured to join my network. The wireless router is b/g/n version. The airport in one room below the mac mini.

I find that a microwave will sometimes interrupt WI-FI.
Yes. Have had the problem of dropouts. Cause? who knows. neighbors phones, microwaves, time transporter ?.....

Sometimes "Use Interference Robustness" in wireless preferences helps. Sometimes.

I stopped using the AE for my main system, went to a long cable. I know that is not practical for everyone. Still use the AE for background music setups and live with the drops.

good luck
I had the same problem with a Linksys router. It was around Christmas time. Turns out the "router" is preset... I think... to operate on Channel 1. However, it will do as well on Channel 7.

I searched online and one guy explained that when many people all of a sudden operate on a common channel (new routers, Christmas gifts) dropouts happen.

Maybe this is happening to you. Do you live in an apartment building or an area with many routers? If it is a Linksys router, put the serial number in your browser address box and change to a different channel... try 7.

After I made the change, no more problems. BTW it was operating flawlessly up until it started dropping out (good 6 months).

Hope this helps.
I had a similar problem with my MacBook to Squeezebox. Originally had the router WiFi mode set to 11b/g/n, reset it to 11b/g and everything was fine.

"I stopped using the AE for my main system, went to a long cable. I know that is not practical for everyone. Still use the AE for background music setups and live with the drops."

Is the long cable you use USB, mini-jack, or ethernet? I am thinking of bypassing the wireless headache. If I use a long USB or mini-jack cable from the Mac Mini to the DAC in the room below (not using airport express at all) then I will have no sound on the Mac mini when I use it for other stuffs and itunes at the same time. Ethernet cable down to the airport express may be the other way (dont know if this will work with airtunes).

This PC audio is a headache!
With all these report of dropouts, how do you get a stabel system? Connect the Mac directly to the DAC (long cable to other room) using USB or mini-jack, or connect long ethernet cable from Mac to airport express?

Moving the Mac into the listening room is not a great idea since I dont have a minitor there so maintenance the itune library/sytem would be a nightmare.
Droputs are difficult because they are not always caused by things within your control, eg. neighbours. I suggest you use wired over wireless whenever possible if you have persisting problems. I've run ethernet cables through my house and all problems are solved. The cables are not expensive pre-terminated. Howwever, to save money, you can also make your own custom cables pretty easily too with some cable, jacks and a simple connector tool, all from Home Depot.
7 Wireless Router Problems And How To Solve Them

Notable quote:
Most routers work on the 2.5GHz band. So do Microwave ovens, cordless phones, garage door openers, baby monitors, and some other electronic devices. Have you added anything to the environment recently that works on the 2.5GHz band -- just about when the problem started? If so, turn it off and see if there's an improvement.

If that's not an issue, keep in mind that the 2.5GHz band has only three real channels (1, 6, 11) despite pretending to have eleven (the others overlap with each other).

I use a 9ft USB cable from a G5 Mac to a USB DAC through two walls into the main system (living room)

your concern about the mac mini sound is likely when you are in front of the mac mini right? I use my computer in my office with another set of powered speakers in that room-I can either use mini-jack(analog) or the Toslink to a separate DAC. You just need to select the output choice in the Audio Preferences or the Audio MIDI setup - the USB DAC shows up as an option in the output menu. Pretty easy to set up. So in my set up itunes is either playing in the office or the living room, not both when using the digital outputs. I can use the headphone out (mini-jack) and have sound going to Toslink simultaneously. But on my computer USB and mini-jack do not work simultaneously. BTW: older G5 PPC dual proc. OS 10.4.11

I am pretty sure you cannot use the ethernet from computer to AE for music.

hope that helps. send me a PM if you need more details.
What are you sending over the enet cables? are you using a mac?
Or get another router... and if the situation doesn't improve, return it.

I'm listening to the AE right now, like you, configured to "join" my existing network and it works great. You can't beat the convenience.

I've used a D-link, Linksys (WRT54G.. cheap), and another Airport Express. The D-Link gave me no problems, but I was living in a house/low density neighborhood. Another Airport Express as the router was the worst sound. Makes sense I suppose, a lot packed in a small package.

I didn't expect there to be a difference in sound vs the linksys but there seems to be. I was having minor drop-out problems with the Linksys in my new place (apartment/lot of singles) during certain hours. Not nearly as bad as my other place during Christmas as mentioned, but for some reason around dinner time and 2 AM, it would drop out for a few seconds.

The Airport Express as router never experienced drop outs for the 2 weeks I had it in.

However, I'm going to stick with what I think is the better sound. As a matter of fact, while writing this, I just switched back to the Linksys, and am quite happy. The 2nd AE as a router and it's sound was starting to tick me off.

If the dropouts become too problematic I'm going to change channels or do some research and get another router.

At our big box electronic store, there is a 90 day return policy....

Or you could always get a really long USB cable as suggested, provided your DAC accepts USB. As for digital cables though, note that the AE and MacMini's optical output is a "mini-toslink".

I'm using a meter long VanDenHul Optocoupler II, mini-toslink on one end, standard toslink on the other (no adapters necessary) into a Monarchy M24.

Not sure if an adapter would degrade the signal/sound, and I'd imagine an extra long glass toslink cable wouldn't be too cheap.

I wouldn't give up on the wireless set-up just yet....this is of course, provided you haven't already tried different routers. Like the other poster suggested, it may very be your neighbors, in which case you're going to have to explore other options.

Good luck.
PS.. Ethernet to Airport Express would not work. Music can only be sent through the Mini-Jack. If you use a 3mm RCA Y cable then you're using the AE's DAC. Use a mini-toslink optical cable and it sends the signal to YOUR DAC.

The USB output on the AE can only be used for printing. No audio signal.

Why wouldn't you be able to use the Mac-Mini while using itunes?

I'm doing it right now with my Macbook?
Correction, I use the mini-Toslink to a PS Audio DL3 Dac, not the mini-jack (analog).

When you run itunes for your main audio system or office system, can somebody use the computer (mac) for movies with sound coming thru the computer? Therefore the mac would be real multitasking.

If I run ethernet from my mac mini to my airport express, i can hook the toslink from the airport to the DAC. Will this work?
I have been using an AE for a couple of years now linked with my netgear wireless router...... I do get an occasional drop-out but nothing major probably once a month or so........ I also think it is a great device especially for internet radio for background listening....... have considered buying a DAC and by-passing the AE DAC ...... not sure how much improvement I would realize ....... might try a PS Audio DAC as thay provide a 30 day free trial......
04-26-09: Jeanluc07
When you run itunes for your main audio system or office system, can somebody use the computer (mac) for movies with sound coming thru the computer? Therefore the mac would be real multitasking.
Sure you can run anything you want along with itunes playing. The processing resources are there. but you cannot dicate where the audio is sent for each app. All audio goes to the same output. For instance, I can have iTunes running and Pandora running and the audio from both overlap one another. I don't know of a way to send Browser or DVD player audio to output A and iTunes audio to output B. It would be awesome to be able to route the audio to different outputs!

04-26-09: Jeanluc07
If I run ethernet from my mac mini to my airport express, i can hook the toslink from the airport to the DAC. Will this work?

I haven't seen that done.

BTW, I also have a 9ft Toslink cable from my computer to my AVR receiver as a alternative/backup. Sounds OK, but obviously using the AVR's DAC.
I changed my router channel to an un-used channel. So far for 2 hour, no dropouts yet. This is an improvement but I dont know how long it will last since wireless is a trickery thing. Mean while I will continue to work (or think about) making the set-up wired (instead of wireless).

Dropouts are UN-ACCEPTABLE for serious listening (for me).
You can run ethernet from your mac to an airport express, just have to configure it with the airport setup utility. I did this with my old ibook which didn't seem to have enough juice to keep a steady flow of music going without hard wiring it.

Does the configured AEx show up in the Speakers pulldown in iTunes? Therefore it would be an optional Airtunes speaker. It would help to know for those looking for hardwiring options.

It doesn't seem possible that the Ethernet would be a choice in the System Prefs via Audio Midi Setup settings for Audio Output. But maybe it shows up in the outputs after the AEx is connected?

I finally finished with getting the AEx hardwired to the mac mini. Problems solved. Using with the iTouch is great as a remote.
Cool Jeanluc. The iTouch is definitely a bonus.
Airport does not work well with some security protocal e.g WEP, I do not recall the best setting WEP or WAP but i had dropouts witch was fixed buy simply changing my main wireless router security setting, yes you may have to change password.