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AirPlay 2: what’s going to change

airplay-2

The world will have to wait until autumn 2017 for Apple to introduce AirPlay 2, the new version of the brand’s audio streaming technology. On the occasion of the launch of the new iPhone and the release of iOS 11, AirPlay 2 is expected to introduce a multiroom audio streaming function for iPhones, iPods and iPads. Synchronous streaming of the same track to several different AirPlay 2 compatible wireless speakers will thus become possible.

Airplay 2: compatible equipment

AirPlay 2 does not seems to imply a need to purchase new equipment, and most integrated AirPlay network controllers may be updated–that is, if the firmware of the wireless speaker, network stereo receiver, home cinema receiver, soundbar or network audio player can be updated.

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AirPlay 2: Hi-Res Audio compatibility?

Since AirPlay 1 limited audio streaming to 16-bit/48kHz, Hi-Res Audio (24-bit/96kHz) playback (files available from Qobuz, for example) was impossible. This is hardly surprising as Apple sought to be the sole source for music downloads and iTunes only offers compressed 16/44 AAC files. Since this hasn’t changed, and since the iPhone 7’s USB audio output doesn’t handle HD audio files, it is reasonable to imagine that Hi-Res Audio playback will not be part of the AirPlay 2 package.

Only in autumn 2017 will it be possible to know for sure that the DLNA, DTS Play-Fi and Chromecast protocols will remain the only HD audio streaming solutions.

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AirPlay 2: Apple Homekit compatibility

The Apple Homekit home automation technology should be interoperable with AirPlay 2. In other words, voice control should be enabled for AirPlay 2 compatible speakers and receivers. A pleasant surprise would be the ability to command a speaker to connect to Deezer and directly stream such-and-such a track…

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AirPlay: a reminder about the technology’s current capacities

Airplay was designed to enable wireless playback of tracks streamed from an iPhone, iPod, iPad, Apple computer or iTunes (Windows version included) over a home network. Its particularity is that, unlike Bluetooth technology, it uses a lossless audio codec (Apple Lossless, ALAC). By relying on the local WiFi network (and Ethernet in some cases), AirPlay allows the user to listen to music on a remote device placed several tens of meters away, and even in another room.

Its advantages:

  • Lossless CD-quality playback
  • Good range
  • Playback may be controlled with a wide range of iOS apps
  • Volume control via iOS or Mac OS

Its constraints:

  • HD audio not supported
  • Multiroom not supported

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This post is also available in: French

About the author

Tristan Jacquel

Tristan est rédacteur chez Son-Vidéo.com. Passionné de musique, d'acoustique et de high-tech, il réalise notamment les tests matériels pour notre blog.

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