Airfoil from Rogue Amoeba


I recently got the opportunity to play with Rogue Amoeba‘s latest offering, Airfoil. For those of you unfamiliar with Rogue Amoeba, they specialize in audio-based applications for OS X. (I’ve been a long-time user of Audio Hijack Pro and LineIn) Definitely check them out if you’re an audiophile of any sort.

Airfoil takes the idea of Apple’s AirTunes to the next level by allowing you to stream audio from any source (program) on your Apple Computer to remote speakers using an AirPort Express. You’re no longer bound to iTunes when it comes to utilizing your home stereo for audio from your Mac.

The interface is simple and clean and requires no more than a moment of observation before the controls are clear. I popped open Windows Media Player, selected it, and hit TRANSMIT. Then I hit play on the audio file I’d opened in WMP. After a slight delay, my music was playing through my stereo speakers loud and clear. (make a note to check the Airfoil Preferences and mute the local computer speakers when transmitting)

Next I popped open Firefox and set it as Airfoil’s source. I loaded up a Strongbad Email (because my 3 year old is a huge Strongbad fan) and let it run. Here’s where I ran into the downside of Airfoil. The slight delay between actually starting the source audio and the time it starts playing on your remote speakers is a couple seconds which is enough to ruin any sync between the video you may be watching.
There’s no setting in Airfoil to freeze the video until audio catches up on the remote speakers – and there really couldn’t be, as Airfoil only handles audio, and not any random program’s potential video output. I couldn’t figure a good way to freeze the video myself either, as it would pause the streamed audio each time as well, putting me back where I started.

So ultimately, if you’re an iTunes hater (for whatever reason…), and prefer some other jukebox program to handle your music library and listening, then check Airfoil out. It does a fantastic job of streaming audio from anything on your computer to your AirPort Express. However, if you dream of watching movies on your 17″ Powerbook, backed-up by your stereo’s surround sound system, keep dreaming. There doesn’t seem to be a viable way of making the 2 work together…for now at least. (I’m not quite techie or learned enough to determine whether Tiger’s Core Video and Core Image will have any bearing on this issue. Please sound off if you’ve got further insight that escapes me!)

l0ne was good enough to point out that the Airfoil Manual says to utilize MPlayer’s a/v offset to eliminate the sync issue with video & audio. So if you’re trying to use Airfoil for video purposes, use MPlayer.



VLC has an excellent delay function as well. Open up ‘all’ in the preferences (lower left hand corner) and you will see ‘audio desynchronization compensation’. Mine is set to -2050, but I don’t know if that would work for all. Dvds, mpegs, avi, whatever, all synced, all formats (5.1, etc.)

Now for my problem: how do you delay audio in Firefox? I cant get streaming video in sync, as firefox does not seem to have delay capabilities. Do any other browsers? Is there a fix? Anyone know? Before you say it, my headphone jack is stuck on itself and so my speakers don’t work. Well, technically they work . . .

simon Browne

Thanks Aaron. Having the music set to -2050 behind the video makes a BIG difference !! Very much appreciate you taking time to add your very valuable comment. Works great for Neil Young Rust dvd.


RealAudio streams will keep me using AirFoil until I can figure out how to rip the stream to disk. (Please don’t say it cannot be done!)

I love rocking the house with digital sound.
(except when the signal fades, and fade it does, despite multiple transceivers and antennae.)


Same as Jamie – I listen to hour after hour of Real streams of This American Life for free. I can now finally catch up on all the years of broadcasts I’ve missed!


Ah, thanks l0ne, I guess I should have RTFM…

And Jamie – good call on the Real Audio Streams. What else are people using their Airfoils for?


Airfoil’s help explicitely says to use MPlayer’s a/v offset capabilities to cancel out the delay.

Jamie Kirkpatrick

I dont think CI or CV will have any bearing. The issue is to do with syncing the display and the sound – maybe VLC or MPlayer have options to offset one from the other…i dont know though. My main use for Airfoil will be streaming Real Audio (radio) streams to my stereo … free Digital Radio :)

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