AirPort Express AirPlay

Apple: Unexpectedly Cool! AirPort Express, AirPlay 2

I grouse a good bit about Apple, though I do usually love their products. One of the things I found very disappointing was their somewhat recent drop of the AirPort product line. A typical Apple move. Dump something everyone has grown to depend on from them.

But, unexpectedly, Apple announced a firmware update for one of the older products in that product line: the AirPort Express. Apple announced a firmware update that gives the considerably older AirPort Expresses the AirPlay 2 functionality! Those old devices, the Expresses, were loved because they included a stereo audio out port! We have 3 of them.

So, I updated the firmware and added one of them to our house audio system with a subwoofer attached to it. I placed it in the exercise room. So now, when I’m working out, I can stream audio to the 2 Sonos speakers in the room, stream the live audio artist/track/album information to the AppleTV which is typically playing photos from my SmugMug account, and add a hell of a lot of bass through the subwoofer attached via the AirPort Express. (I’ve mentioned before that it’s the bass line that keeps me alive when exercising!)

We had 2 original (read: ancient) AirPort Expresses. I was not able to upgrade the firmware at all on one of the original (ancient) AirPort Expresses. And I was only able to upgrade the firmware on another that was also very, very old. But it was not seen by the Home app as a possible choice for a speaker. My guess is that those run on such an old version of WiFi, 802.11b, that they will not work.

For future reference, I’m detailing the process for adding AirPlay to the AirPort Express. It’s not terribly intuitive, at all! Use AirPort Utility to upgrade the firmware on the Express. Make sure under the audio tab, enable audio is checked. Then, using the iOS Home app, add a new device. Specify you are adding one without a QR code or number. The app should then see the new AirPlay-enable Express. Add it to your Home. Now the device is available under the AirPlay 2 audio choice list.

Here are screenshots from Zac Hall’s article (at 9to5 Mac) to which I referred to figure out how to do this. Check out his article for detailed descriptions.1

Cool beans.


  1. I’m including the screenshots for when the article is no longer available.