Handling audio delays and speaker synchronization

The audio protocols Airfoil uses to stream to devices feature inherent delays. As a result, remote playback of audio streamed with Airfoil will be slightly delayed, so it can be heard in sync from all devices. Read on for more details.

General audio delays

When starting your audio streaming with Airfoil, the initial transmission delay will be about two seconds, regardless of the output (local, AirPlay, Bluetooth, Chromecast).

Audio delays and video playback

Airfoil is not intended for use with local video playback. Because of the audio delays inherent in transmitting audio, remote audio will be heard out of sync with local video, resulting in a sub-optimal viewing experience.

However, while not recommended, it is possible to use Airfoil in conjunction with media player apps which offer a manual sync adjustment. One such player is VLC. Using the sync adjustments available in VLC, you can offset audio playback from video playback, to workaround the delays noted above. With the right manual configuration, you may be able to sync remote audio with local video. Please note, however, that this usage is not supported.

VLC's Advanced Audio Controls

Synchronizing audio between speakers

Airfoil automatically works to keep any and all devices to which it's streaming in sync with one other. Most users should have no need to manually adjust the sync offset.

In rare cases, however, a device may have a separate delay which causes it to fall out of sync. If a speaker has an unexpected amount of additional latency, audio may not be heard in perfect sync. You can correct this using the controls in Airfoil's "Advanced Speaker Options" window.

Airfoil's Advanced Speaker Options Window

The sliders in this window can be used to manually offset the sync between devices:

  • AirPlay: Increase or reduce delay, up to about ±1 second
  • Chromecast: Increase or reduce delay, up to about ±1 second

The controls in the "Advanced Speaker Options" window provide a constant latency adjustment, and are remembered between launches of Airfoil. With a bit of trial and error, you may be able to adjust settings to get perfect sync.

If a device has a fluctuating amount of latency, these sliders won't be able to correct things permanently. This can occur when there's an issue with the local network, interference from other sources, or an issue with the device itself. When these problems arise, it may be impossible to sync multiple outputs.

In very rare cases, local playback sync could periodically slip against remote speakers. If you are experiencing this issue, we suggest running a copy of Airfoil Satellite on the same computer, so you can send audio to it instead of the "Computer" output. This should help avoid issues for now.

Sync Issues with Sonos and other AirPlay 2 devices

We're always working on perfecting sync between all outputs to which Airfoil sends audio. At present, audio may not play in sync when using Sonos outputs or AirPort Express outputs running the 7.8 firmware. Stay tuned for more details and further updates, as we work to improve this.

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