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jrdub Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
The noise I hear during iTunes 10.1 playback through AppleTV (2nd Gen) resembles static or old LP "pops" and it ranges from very occasional to almost constant. I've confirmed it happens on music from 256AAC selections purchased on the iTunes store or Apple Lossless or AIFF (lossless) cuts ripped from CDs but there may be other formats affected as well.

The Apple TV is hooked up via HDMI to a Pioneer VSX-1020-K receiver. My computers (happens on both) are either a Macbook Pro 2.33Ghz (circa 2007) running Snow Leopard or a Mac Pro early 2008 running Snow Leopard. I can either connect via ethernet or WiFi and the problem still exists. I can run the library and music files from an internal drive or an external drive and the problem still exists. I have an Apple Airport Extreme (2008) Wireless N router running the latest firmware (7.4.2). I have power cycled the router many times.

Any ideas?

Macbook Pro Core 2 Duo 2.33ghz 17", Mac OS X (10.6.5)
  • jrdub Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I should point out that the clicking or popping noise does not occur when I run a digital audio out (Toslink) line to my receiver directly from my Macbook Pro. Nor does it occur when I listen to music through headphones or the built-in speakers. Only when connected via Airplay (and, like I said, this occurs on both computers).
  • HuDDy25k Level 1 Level 1 (25 points)
    I Have noticed this too but I only get it when using the phone out from my tv to my home cinema system when I use the Optical out on my TV to the Optical in on my Amp the problem seams to go if i try using airplay through all 3 of my TVs all **** brakes loose you would think they would all be in sync but there is about a 3second delay from on to another and they suffer from digital brake up like mad
  • jrdub Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I should also point out that this does not happen on any other material played through the Apple TV. So movies, TV shows (even TV shows played using Home Sharing), Netflix, YouTube, podcasts are all flawless. It only occurs when playing back music through Home Sharing using iTunes in Airplay mode on the remote computer.
  • jrdub Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    After updating to iOS 4.2.1 on ipad and downloading latest Apple TV firmware update, I report no changes. To be clear, this is the Apple TV that was released this fall.

    If you're experiencing occasional to almost constant clicking or popping noises in the background of music, you're hearing what I'm hearing. It also seems to occur more often the louder the music becomes and also as the bit rate and sampling rate go up.

    Just for laughs, I switched out the HDMI cable and there are no differences. Both cables are 1.3 compliant.
  • G-meister Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
    I am getting this too, very disappointing!

    I have an airport express and atv2, both of which suffer from this airplay issue (lp like static pops and general noise) when using either iTunes or Airfoil.

    also see:

    I wish apple would sort out the rubbish audio quality of airplay, it truly is abysmal!
  • Kralin Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I get exactly the same problem, but with a wired connection of my iphone to the pioneer VX-920-K.
    maybe the combination of pioneer and apple hardware is not that successful...
    this happens only with high quality tracks played from the iphone. the same track on a USB drive is played without any popping sound
  • capaho Level 4 Level 4 (3,650 points)
    The noise I hear during iTunes 10.1 playback through AppleTV (2nd Gen) resembles static or old LP "pops" and it ranges from very occasional to almost constant.

    It's hard to figure how that could be possible short of the noise having been recorded into the original soundtrack. In the case of AirPlay, or any other content an ATV can play, it's digital data transmitted through a digital network, it's not possible for it to be susceptible to electrostatic interference. It's more likely to be related to the quality of the source file or the audio device playing the music.
  • chrisincville Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    If I understand correctly, you are running an AirPort with an optical link into your home receiver to listen to your iTunes music through your home stereo...or at least that is what I do and I get the same popping noise when forwarding between songs.

    In my opinion the receiver is to blame for the noise, not the AirPort or iTunes. When switching between songs, the AirPort briefly stops transmitting information through the optical link, and this interruption in signal causes the receiver to make the popping noise. It is similar to the sound emitted when changing channels on your set top cable box if the cable box is linked to the receiver through digital or coaxial cable. This can be overcome in configurable receivers by configuring your receiver to default to an analog input when the digital input drops out, at least in the case of the cable box which has both analog and digital outputs.

    Unfortunately, while the AirPort has both analog and digital out capabilities, it does so from the same output. Presumably, you could use an analog connection only and that would eliminate the popping noise, but then you would be using the likely inferior Digital Audio Converter of the AirPort, as opposed to the superior DAC of your home receiver.
  • 0x80 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I have a new apple tv for a couple of days now and just started to notice this problem. I didn't notice it at first when listening to pop and rock and other loud music, but it's really a big problem when listening to classical music like piano sonata!! The first time I thought it was in the recordings but then I said to myself "there's no way this guy didn't clip his finger nails!". I started to investigate going over the same piece again and again and notice the clicks occur at different positions every time.

    Sometimes it get really frequent and at short intervals, but mostly its occasional. Also it never seems to occur in the really soft / low volume parts.

    I'm pretty sure apple tv is to blame and not the receiver like Chris is saying. I have it hooked up to a Caiman plus DAC, with its analog output going to my amplifier.

    I hooked up my macbook's optical output (the 3mm jack is also optical) to the DAC directly, and the popping clicking noise dissapeared. That's why I'm sure it has to be the apple tv!

    I really hope there will be a fix soon, otherwise I'll have to switch to an airport express or something, hoping that it doesn't have this same issue. This is really unacceptable for any hifi system.
  • streamworksaudio Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
    I too have this.... HDMI to a Sony Receiver (which is the HDMI switch to the TV).

    The sound is best described as digital clipping - I get it when playing songs on teh Apple TV via Home Sharing. It is not 'all the time' - often a reboot will fix it. But eventually it comes back.

    This 4.2.x upgrade is killing me!
  • 0x80 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I would not describe my problem as digital clipping. Clipping is quite a harsh form of distortion. My experience is more like the pops you get when playing vinyl. The pops are quite subtle and soft though most of the time. I can image most people don't notice it. You'll need decent speakers and listen carefully to music like piano recordings in order to hear it. I am not able to hear it with pop music. Digital clipping is something which I think I can hear in any kind of music, aside from some heavy guitar music maybe.

    However subtle this issue may sound, as soon as you notice the pops you hear them about every other second which makes it impossible to fully enjoy certain types of music. The pops sometimes appear more and sometimes less frequent. It's even more apparent with headphones but that goes without saying really.

    I wouldn't be surprised if every ATV2 has this problem but 99.99% of consumers don't notice this issue. I've been in a position before where I tried to convince people the audio was distorted and they thought I was crazy just because they're not used to "really" listen to sound. That even was about a way more obvious problem...
  • 0x80 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I borrowed an Airport Express from a friend to see if it has the same problem. It does have exactly the same issues. Unless both the airport express and the ATV have the same hardware issues this would be software bug.


    Summing up my experience so far:


    - its not my DAC, since I can use the optical out of my laptop which sounds fine

    - its not my ATV, since the Airport Express has the same issues

    - The amount of pops can change, and occasionally when it's really bad (rattling sound) simply pause/play in itunes fixes 99% of the pops.

    - it sounds like a buffering problem where samples are skipped on read/write. This would explain why the pops are loudest in the more dynamic (loud) parts, since a hit and miss there would have the biggest impact on overall sound.

    - the clicks are most apparent in piano music, but since I got a new/better amp I can now hear it in some pop music too.


    My best guess would be that it's an itunes bug. I guess it's time to file a bugreport.

  • Micbarry Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    It's been a couple of months since this thread had a post, but I wanted to add my 2 cents.


    I experience the exact same thing. I'm using an Airport Express with an optical out to a Denon AVR-1311 and I hear those pops/clicks too. When I play the same track from my Macbook directly into the same optical input on the Denon receiver, it is perfect.


    I concur 100% that it is most obvious on solo piano music. With some recordings, it is almost absent. You need good amp/speakers and a keen ear, but it is absolutely there.


    I think the best way to submit a bug report would be to somehow capture a recording of the marred playback and bring it up on a waveform which shows the clicks visually. Then, one could bring up a waveform of the same section of music without the clicks. It is then much easier to demonstrate. That is, if the clicks show up clearly enough...


    I started noticing this just recently. When did everyone else first notice this?

  • HeavyLiquid Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I consistently notice the clicks and pops from my Airport Express when using firmware 7.5.2 and streaming from iTunes, iPad, or iPod. When reverting back to 7.4.2 they are not present.

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