Tag Archives: AirPort Express

AirPort Express Woes

So now I’ve had the AirPort Express for a little while. My wife loves it – she uses a MacBook and iTunes and can pump music out to our family room stereo with no problems.

One thing that is bugging me is that I can’t configure the AirPort Express from my Dell laptop. The AirPort Utility just refuses to connect or see it. Whereas the AirPort Utility on the MacBook works with no problems. To me, it’s not a big deal as I can use my wifey’s MacBook.    But after a bit of googling, I’ve found that many others are having similar problems. But they might not have access to a MacBook, so they’re really.. just… stuffed… and left with a white brick.

First, to explain my home network configuration:

  • Wireless Linksys WRT54G wireless router connected to D-Link ADSL Modem to the Internet
  • All devices in the house are connected wirelessly.  This includes my wifey’s MacBook, my Dell laptop, Tivo, PS3, AirPort Express, any work laptops, etc.
  • WIreless uses WPA-PSK (TKIP).

Now, when I first set up the AirPort Express, it created its own wireless network by default.   I think my Dell did find it at the time, but couldn’t configure it.  I ignored it at the time and just configured wirelessly using the MacBook.   After configuring it, I ended up with this:

  • AirPort Express connecting to my existing network with remote speakers configured.
  • iTunes on the MacBook can see remote speakers
  • iTunes on the Dell laptop can see remote speakers
  • AirPort Utility on the MacBook can see the AirPort Express and configure it
  • AirPort Utility on the Dell laptop can’t see the AirPort Express at all

Here is the AirPort Utility output from the MacBook:

AirPort Utility from MacBook
AirPort Utility from MacBook

Here is the AirPort Utility from the Dell laptop:

AirPort Utility from Dell Laptop
AirPort Utility from Dell Laptop

Not really useful.  I click on the Rescan button but it finds nothing.

I’ve checked that the AirPort Express is actually there.  For example, I see it listed in the list of wireless DHCP clients on the Linksys WRT54G status page, and I can actually ping the AirPort Express from my Dell laptop.

Pinging the AirPort Express
Pinging the AirPort Express

In the AirPort Utility, you can actually specify an IP address directly.  I tried to enter the AirPort Express IP address, but it still can’t connect.  But it gives me an error this time:

AirPort Utility error
AirPort Utility error

Oh, the dreaded 6722 error.  I did a bit of googling and I think I found someone with the same problem and he was being bounced between Mac and Windows forums as they pointed the finger at each other.

It’s wierd that iTunes on the Dell laptop can see the AirPort Express, it can ping it, but the AirPort Utility can’t.  I’m convinced it’s a software bug with the Windows version of AirPort Utility.

I’ve installed the latest updates and firmware but it hasn’t helped.  For now, I’ll have to make sure we keep the MacBook around in case I need to reconfigure it.   But everyone else out there – if you don’t have an iMac/MacBook/etc, you may want to think twice before buying an AirPort Express.   You may be buying a very pretty, smooth and white…  brick.

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Review: AirPort Express

A few years ago, I made myself a mini project to try and convert all our CDs into a digital format, like mp3s.  Why?  Imagine having all your music accessible immediately, at your fingers, never having to find a CD again.  It was a nice dream and I got part of the way there.

So, fast forward to today – I have gigs of music stored on some external hard drives.  But what now?

Listen to them on my laptop or through headphones on my laptop?  That’s not I wanted either.

I want to be able to listen to my music on my home stereo!!  But how?

There are many products and solutions out there that try to solve this problem.  For Father’s Day, I was fortunate enough to receive (with a little hint), an Apple AirPort Express!  Yep, no socks or ties – a piece of technology – w00t!!

Unboxing the AirPort Express
Unboxing the AirPort Express

The AirPort Express is a little box sold by Apple.  But what does it do?  Many things, but the thing that attracted me was that it basically is a “remote” speaker for your computer.  I’ve put it near my amp, and plugged the audio out of the AirPort Express into the stereo.  Then, by the magic of iTunes, wifi and some Apple technologies, it appears in iTunes as a “remote” speaker that I can output music to.  You’ll read that it enables you to “stream” audio from iTunes to an amp or speakers connected to the AirPort Express.

So, now I can play all my music that is on my laptop, and the sound comes out of my home stereo.  Not bad 🙂  Works fine as long as I want to control my music from my laptop/computer.

So here are some thoughts:

It’s SMALL!  Yes, upon unboxing the AirPort Express, I was surprised by how small it is.  It’s basically the same size as the power adapter for a MacBook.  Cool.

The AirPort Express
The AirPort Express

It looks SIMPLE!  It follows Apple’s simple yet stylish design philosophies that drive the iPod, MacBooks, etc.  I like how it’s white and smooth.  I like the power plug IS the device.  No extra wires to contend with.  I like the absence of buttons so I can leave it behind my stereo without needing to fiddle with it.  All the configuration is done remotely on a laptop (but see below for some problems I ran into).

It does so many things!  Too many maybe.  Via software that you run on your laptop/computer, you can configure the AirPort Express to be:

  • A wireless bridge – if you want to connect wired ethernet devices to a wireless network.  I could’ve connected the Tivo into this maybe.
  • A wireless access point – if you want to add wireless capabilities to your network.  I didn’t need this as I already have a wireless router.
  • A print server – if you want to connect your printer directly on the network.  Would be good if you want to share a printer between multiple computers.  I might try this one day as we currently share a single USB cable.
  • A set of remote speakers for iTunes – if you want to be able to play music in iTunes and get the sound to be output via the audio jacks
Ports at the back
Ports at the back

I like the selection of jacks (ethernet if you want it to be wireless bridge, or a wireless access point), USB and analog stereo or digital stereo.

I like how you can decide whether it should join your existing wireless network or set up its own.

I would have liked an RCA plug and digital connection to be included.  I have optical inputs in my amp, but I now have to buy a separate cable.

I did run into a problem in setting it up though.  When I used the AirPort Utility on my Dell, it could not connect to the AirPort Express.  I didn’t bother investigating much, because wifey has a MacBook, and it worked perfectly on there.

Also, I’m now frustrated that iTunes is the only officially supported player.  I use Foobar2000 and Media Monkey to organise and play my music on the laptop.  With a bit of Googling, I’ve found these two things that could help:

  • AirFoil – http://rogueamoeba.com/airfoil/ – exposes the AirPort Express as a sound output to Windows, basically allowing you to output all sound/music from Windows and Windows applications to the AirPort Express.  Neat 😉  I guess I could even play games and hear the sound through the AirPort Express 🙂
  • AirPort Express remote speaker plugin for MediaMonkey – http://emilles.dyndns.org/software/out_apx.html – let’s MediaMonkey output its audio to the AirPort Express.

The main drawbacks I see to the AirPort Express is that the music has to be controlled through a computer.  What if I turn off my laptop?  What if I’m sitting in front of the stereo and want to play something?  I’m lucky for now that the laptop is in the same room as the stereo, but if they’re not, then what?

Luckily I’ve also setup my laptop as a Media Server for my PS3, but that’s a story for another time…