Apple TV Music Visualizer

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Apple TV Music Visualizer

Apple TV doesn’t feature a built-in music visualizer. This article demonstrates how to beam a music visualizer to Apple TV with an iOS device.

It seems as though Apple thought of almost everything with the new Apple TV. The tvOS operating system and App Store provide an app-centric ecosystem. Siri makes it easy to control the device with voice commands. The Siri Remote is so well designed, it feels almost like an extension of the human body. One glaring omission, however, is the lack of a music visualizer. Fans of iTunes, Winamp and other music players have grown to love the interactive graphical choreography provided by visualizers. Fortunately, there’s a hack that can bring music visualizers to Apple TV.

Beware of Visualizers in the tvOS App Store

Unscrupulous developers have taken advantage of the lack of a stock tvOS music visualizer. They offer apps that promise a music visualizer, but this is simply impossible with tvOS. When you play music on an Apple TV, after two minutes, tvOS will either show the album art or the Screensaver. This happens whether you play music over AirPlay or use a native tvOS app. There is no way for developers or users to override this behavior. At the time of this writing, no tvOS app can provide a visualizer that works with your choice of music. At best, they may feature their own spacey music and graphics. They’re just novelties and not real music visualizers.

AirPlay Mirroring Is the Key to Music Visualization on Apple TV

After much experimentation, I have come to the conclusion that AirPlay Mirroring is the only way to enjoy a music visualizer on Apple TV. It’s the only way to prevent tvOS from displaying album art or the Screensaver while playing music.

The basic setup involves downloading a music visualizer app for your iOS device. There are numerous music visualizers in the iOS App Store. Some are free and others are not. I recommend exercising care before making a purchase. There’s no guarantee that a music visualizer will actually work with audio from another app. Once the music visualizer is installed, you can launch AirPlay Mirroring, start music playback from your preferred app and switch back to your music visualizer app. Let’s take a look at the specifics of how to setup a music visualizer for Apple TV

How to Setup a Music Visualizer for Apple TV

I’m assuming that you already have a music player of choice. I personally use Google Play Music, however, just about any music app will work. This app needs to be installed on your iOS device.

The next step is to install a music visualizer. This will need to be installed on your iOS device. For the purposes of this article, we will be using Audiogasm — a free app. Launch the App Store and search for Audiogasm. Tap Get to download and install the app. Tap Open to launch Audiogasm.

When you first launch Audiogasm, you’ll see the visualizer on your iOS device. Tap the screen to display the main menu. Next, tap the AirPlay icon and select your Apple TV. I also recommend turning the microphone input down all the way. After all, you want the visuals to follow the music, not background sound. The microphone capabilities are handy if you’re displaying visuals for a live band.

As you can see, Audiogasm defaults to AirPlay Mirroring and is designed for Dual Screen AirPlay mode. The Audiogasm menu is displayed on your iOS device while the visualizer is shown on Apple TV. Visuals fit the entire screen, unlike with standard AirPlay Mirroring. Audiogasm was designed to work with your Apple TV.

Now it’s time to start your music. You’ll need to exit Audiogasm in order to launch your preferred music player. Don’t close Audiogasm. Simply launch or switch to your music player. Start playing music and then switch back to Audiogasm. You will notice a small dropout in music playback, but you should hear music and see the visualizer on your Apple TV. Your iOS device’s screen will stay unlocked while the visualizer is running. You must leave your device unlocked for the visualizer to function. next page →

UPDATE: tvOS 11 added interactivity to the default Now Playing view on Apple TV. When music is played, the colors change according to the music. It’s a very subtle, yet stimulating and interesting. You can enjoy this built-in visualizer, even when using AirPlay, by going to Settings > Screensaver > Show During Music > No. If you disable the screensaver during music playback and leave your Apple TV idle, the new, interactive Now Playing visualizer will display after two minutes.

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