Appledystopia: Independent Technology News

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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