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Airport Extreme/Express Audio Streaming Drop-Outs

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I'm the newbie who put up my first post on this forum about a week ago detailing my initial experiments at using iTunes on a MacBook Pro to stream wirelessly through an Airport Extreme/Express network to my audio system. You can see my introductory notes on that at:




Late last Friday afternoon I ran into my first problem streaming this way when I started getting intermittent stream drops and then a complete loss of the audio stream and a complete loss of the link to my Airport Express connection from the iTunes screen. I thought I might share the information I learned from working with the Apple Tech Support staff who trouble shot the problem for me. If this is yesterday's news to any of you more experienced "old hands" out there I apologize in advance. It's all new to me.


I was put in touch with one of the more experienced Apple wireless tech support staff after their first level staff couldn't get to the root of the problem. And here's the interesting part about what the more experience techie did. He got me to Google iStumbler and had me download this third party iStumbler software that the Apple techies use in these situations. From what he told me and what I saw when I activated it from my computer it does a real time analysis of the network activity in your local neighbourhood showing the names of the networks. But the more important piece of information that it also shows is the 2.4 Ghz channel for which each network is set up to use. And, it turns out, this was the crux of my problem. There are only 11 channels available for use on the 2.4 Ghz frequency. By looking at the count of the numbers of each user of each channel in my local neighbourhood the Apple techie was able to ascertain that a whole lot of other network users were using the same channel as me at that time. And, in the resulting overload of the bandwidth of that particular channel I got cut off (others may have too, but I didn't ask about that at the time).


Once the Apple techie was able to ascertain that this was the problem he then went about also looking at the use of the remaining channels. What he told me he wanted to avoid was reconfiguring my network to a channel that had too high a user count on the adjacent channels as that can also cause a "cross-bleed" overload of th bandwidth (sort of like a radio station with a hugely powerful transmitter overpowering other stations to the right and left of its assigned broadcast frequency. The Apple techie narrowed down his final choice to the most optimal channel assignment in my neighbourhood and, voila, problem solved.


After all this I asked him why he simply didn't choose the 5 Ghz frequency if there were so many 2.4 Ghz frequency users. He told me that there are so many users out there with many legacy Apple products that need to use the 2.4 Ghz frequency for their b/g compatible Apple products. When I told him that I would only ever be the only user of the network on an all n product network we then switched my configuration to the 5 Ghz n only configuration for the increased bandwidth and transmission speed. No drop-out problems again. So, for now I'm configured for the 5Ghz frequency n only set-up.


One question I have for anyone out there using a Drobo hardwired via USB to the Airport Extreme is - will my proposed use on the 5 Ghz frequency cause any problems with using a Drobo (i.e. is the Drobo only a 2.4 Ghz compatible product or does the fact that it would be hard wired to the Airport Extreme mean that wouldn't be a problem?)


By the way, I've now tested about 15 CDs ripped to my new system and all sounds great so I'm pretty much settled on making the purchase of the Drobo as my next phase of this experiment.


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You anticipated my follow-on finishing move by talking about the iPod Touch but it's not the answer i wanted to hear! I was planning on getting this Drobo-based storage/retrieval system up and working with the Airport Extreme wireless system now working at 5 Ghz and then, at some point down the line, finishing everything off with controlling the whole works with an iPod Touch using Apple's free Remote software for iTunes. But I guess that will have to wait until they come up with a 5 Ghz model of the Touch.


Oh well, it's something to look forward to......


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I thought you might ask that question - the Apple techie on Friday asked the very same thing. Unfortunately, I bought my Airport Extreme and Express about two weeks before Apple made their announcement about the new dual mode Extreme being available for purchase. So mine is one of the 2.4 Ghz OR 5 GHz models (double checked this on the box).


Oh well, live and learn.........


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