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Google Play Music Tips for Apple TV

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View Screensaver or Album Art

Users have the option to view album art or watch the Screensaver when playing music over AirPlay. If you prefer to view the album art, you may have to adjust the Screensaver settings on Apple TV. Go to Settings > General > Screensaver and set Show During Music and Podcasts to No. When you play music via AirPlay, the album art will be displayed after one minute. Pressing the Menu button on the Siri Remote displays the Home screen. The album art will be displayed again after one minute of inactivity on the Home screen. You can launch the Screensaver by pressing the Menu button once or twice on the Home screen. This prevents the album cover from being displayed. You will still see track information briefly displayed on the top right corner of the screen, when a new track starts.

Keep in mind that a defect in Google Play Music will produce a brief pause or stutter the first time the album art is displayed. The pause will happen again any time the album view is redisplayed. It seems to occur when the album cover art is transferred over AirPlay to Apple TV. This flaw has me preferring the Screensaver over the album cover art. The aerial Screensavers on Apple TV are gorgeous. I even prefer them to Roger Dean album covers, and that’s saying a lot!

Reduce Loud Sounds and Full Dynamic Range

tvOS offers the Reduce Loud Sounds feature. This setting tames the audio dynamic range by making quiet sounds louder and loud sounds quieter. Reduce Loud Sounds is ideal for watching a movie late at night. You can hear the dialog, but explosions and loud music are quieter. It’s also great if you are listening to music from a playlist, as songs from different albums have varying audio levels. You can turn on Reduce Loud Sounds by holding down the Siri button on the remote and saying “Turn on Reduce Loud Sounds”. You won’t see any confirmation. If Siri understands the request, it will just turn the feature on. You can also toggle Reduce Loud Sounds from Settings > Audio and Video screen.

UPDATE: The tvOS 10.2 update has broken Siri’s control over the Reduce Loud Sounds setting. You’ll have to use the Settings app or slide-down panel (on video apps) until this is fixed.

Most modern pop music is mastered with a lot of program compression. This means that the dynamic range is already attenuated. Using Reduce Loud Sounds can make the music sound dull, lifeless or even distorted. It can also undermine the subtle dynamics of jazz and classical music. If I am listening to a well-mastered album, I always use Full Dynamic Range (Reduce Loud Sounds turned off). You can turn on the setting by telling Siri to “turn on Full Dynamic Range”. Siri also understands “turn off Reduce Loud Sounds”. The setting can be toggled from the Settings > Audio and Video screen.

Be advised that you should change this setting before you start playing music, as it can produce unexpectedly loud audio. If you change it while music is playing, make sure to turn down the volume on your TV or connected audio system first.

Listen on Multiple AirPlay Speakers

AirPlay is a mature and powerful technology. Growing out of AirTunes, AirPlay has evolved to support multiple features and myriad devices. Unfortunately, AirPlay support for iOS and tvOS (the new Apple TV operating system) doesn’t offer the ability to beam music to multiple speakers. (continue…)

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