Fixing AirParrot Audio Problems

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Many people are trying to use AirParrot in lieu of upgrading to Mountain Lion with AirPlay screen mirroring. Additionally, some Mountain Lion users cannot use AirPlay screen mirroring, as their Mac simply does not have the CPU processing power. Issues with AirParrot audio could be due to insufficient processing power on the users’ systems. It is possible to verify whether this is the case and solve the problem.

AirParrot does use quite a lot of CPU power. Keep in mind, the software is doing a lot. It is encoding everything that happens on your Mac’s screen as H.264 video and sending it to a remote device using AirPlay. Even on my quad-core Mac Pro, I can run into limitations with AirParrot. It works fine for video playback. However, if I use it to mirror iTunes with a CPU-intensive visualizer, it will often crash. The visualizer itself uses a lot of CPU cycles. The addition of AirParrot and Splashtop can push a Mac Pro over the limit. In my case, I was able to choose a simpler visualizer, iTunes Classic, and never had a problem again. Indeed, if you push the limits of your CPU, you will experience audio drop-outs, crackles, and AirParrot/AirPlay could even crash.

You can verify AirParrot and your media player’s CPU usage on your system. If your system’s CPU is maxed out, that is most likely the cause of your audio problems. Don’t worry, you probably don’t need to buy a new Mac. I’ll show you some modifications you can make to get audio working with AirParrot.

First of all, you need to replicate the condition which causes AirParrot audio problems. Start up your AirParrot setup in the proper sequence. I outline the correct order for starting up an AirParrot setup in a how-to article. Next, go to Applications -> Utilities and start the Activity Monitor. Alternatively, you can just search for “Activity Monitor” in Spotlight and start the app. Activity Monitor shows various system statistics, such as CPU activity and memory usage. Click on the CPU button on the bottom part of the window.

Monitor cpu activity to diagnose AirParrot audio problems

If you are seeing very high CPU usage on the graph while your AirParrot setup is running, then you have insufficient processing power. There are two options for ameliorating this issue. First, you can make adjustments to your Mac in order to reduce CPU usage. You can also transmit the audio to your TV room using another method, such as a wireless audio transmitter. (continue…)

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  1. My problem is that enable audio is greyed out. I get the message that sound drivers need to be installed but when I go through the process and restart the Mac no drivers are installed

    1. That is unfortunate. Which version of Mac OS X are you running? You can get this information by clicking on the Apple logo in the top menu bar and then clicking “About This Mac”. My hunch is that your version of OS X might not support the audio driver. If that is the case, I recommend getting an inexpensive audio transmitter and hooking it up to the headphone jack. You can get these at most drug stores. The audio can then be transmitted to any radio in your home. If you have a nice stereo with a radio receiver, you’ll get great sound this way!

  2. I have the same problem. Randomly “Audio: Connection Blocked.” and “Audio: Disconnected Remotely”. But all of a sudden it works after many tries. I can not really tell what I did to make it work??? Forcing AirParrot to 720p and back again might have done the trick. But right now it works at 1080p (not forcing 720p). I am using the newest AirParrot, which have another preferences window than the one shown in this article.
    Buying a new Mac will off cause solve this problem. Any MacBook Pro newer that Early 2011 have AirPlay included, making AirParrot redundant 🙂

    1. Thanks for the comment Thomas. It could be a resource issue. Perhaps forcing it down to 720p frees up resources, and when it is set back to 1080p, it still works. You can verify this by looking at CPU activity and processes. I will update the article to include your findings.

  3. You’ve been patient and helpful — many thanks for that.

    I’m running OS 10.9.2 with a DDR3 that I am pairing to an AppleTV2.

    So …. I’m thinking, what if I simply revert to the previous AirParrot version? BUT, I’m not seeing that option. Does that option exist?

    Past that, maybe I should just nut up and buy a new Mac… Again, thanks.

  4. Thanks for these suggestions. I’ll get under the hood, but first I did notice that I have grayed-out notes in AirParrot.

    Right now, it reads “Audio: Connection Blocked.” Last night it read “Disconnected Remotely.”

    I was testing the new Popcorn-Time. Perhaps there’s an issue from the host, given the nature of the content. Again, I’ll try Activity Monitor, etc.

    Much appreciated.

    1. Sometimes it’s easier to just reboot your system (closing all apps) and then start fresh. That will close anything running in the background, unless it is set up as a startup app. You can see what’s starting up automatically by going to System Preferences > Users & Groups. Next, select your user and click on the Login items tab. Typically, iTunes helper starts whenever you login, which is fine.

      Another user just replied and mentioned that s/he is having the same problem. It could be an issue with the newest version of AirParrot. It could also be that the new version requires more processing power.

  5. I’ve got the same problem as RJM. Never had this problem before and i’ve had airparrot for a long time.

    1. What do your CPU stats look like when AirParrot is running? Are you closed out of other software that might be running processes? Also, some processes might be running in the background even if an app isn’t running. Check all of the running threads in Activity Monitor.

      It is possible that Squirrels pushed a newer version of AirParrot, although you would have to acknowledge the upgrade. Ver 1.5.4 was released at the end of February 2014, so it may have introduced this issue. Sometimes newer software versions require more processing power.

      Let me know how it goes. I might need to update this article…

  6. Am having an AirParrot audio play back issue that seems slightly different than your (excellent) article. Audio is enabled, but when I activate AirParrot to my Apple TV, the video transfers, but the AP dropdown now reads ‘Start Audio.’ If I click Start Audio, then AirParrot shuts down.

    I tried your System Preference solution, but nothing helped.

    I have screen grabs if you ever have the time to offer advice. Thanks and great site. Cheers…

    1. My hunch is that your system might be overwhelmed. AirParrot can take up a lot of processing power. Try running it and then check your CPU activity, as mentioned in the article. If it is using up a lot of CPU just doing video, then audio might not be possible. You can always try using an inexpensive audio transmitter. Let me know what your CPU activity looks like when AirParrot is sending video to your Apple TV.

  7. Hi there,

    I noticed that Airparrot only streams via Airplay in Stereo and not in Dolby? Is that correct or can this be solved somehow?

    Best regards,

    1. That seems to be the case. There aren’t really any settings to change AirParrot’s audio from stereo to DSS.

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