Under The Microscope

Current Notes on Airfoil & AirPlay 2

Since Apple first announced AirPlay 2 at WWDC 2017, we’ve heard many questions from users about how it would affect our home audio streamers Airfoil for Mac and Airfoil for Windows, as well as our software audio receiver Airfoil Satellite. It took quite awhile for Apple to ship AirPlay 2, but it’s finally here.

The biggest user-facing change provided by AirPlay 2 is the new ability for iOS devices to send directly to multiple AirPlay outputs. Airfoil for Mac and Airfoil for Windows have both been able to stream to multiple outputs for many years, so AirPlay 2 doesn’t change anything there.

However, there are some relevant questions, which we’re still in the process of answering.

Can Airfoil send to AirPlay 2 devices?

Update (September 13th, 2018): Sonos has now updated several of their newest speakers with AirPlay 2 support. Airfoil for Mac 5.8 and Airfoil for Windows 5.6 added support for streaming to these Sonos devices, as well as other AirPlay 2 compatible hardware from other vendors.

Currently, the only available AirPlay 2 receivers are the Apple TV and the HomePod. Airfoil has long supported playing audio to any number of these devices, all in sync, and that continues to work great. Below, you can see Airfoil sending to these devices perfectly:

Later this year, several dozen third-party devices from manufacturers like Sonos and Denon will add AirPlay 2 support. We expect to work with these devices when they’re updated. Watch for further updates to Airfoil in the future.

Can Airfoil send to a stereo pair of HomePods?

It’s possible to configure two HomePods in a special mode where they act as a stereo pair. When configured this way, audio is split between the two devices, with one playing the left channel and the other the right channel.

At present, sending audio to stereo pairs is not supported by Airfoil, but we’re exploring this for the future.

Can Airfoil Satellite receive AirPlay 2 audio?

Airfoil Satellite receives audio via the AirPlay 1 protocol. Because of this, it can’t currently be part of a multi-speaker group receiving audio from iOS. If you attempt to add Airfoil Satellite to such a group on iOS, it will become the only receiver.

It’s still possible to send audio from iOS to a group of outputs that includes Airfoil Satellite, with the help of Airfoil in the middle. As well, Airfoil Satellite can still be part as part of a multi-speaker group receiving audio sent by iTunes on your Mac.

It remains to be seen if we’ll be able to support receiving audio via AirPlay 2 in our Airfoil Satellite apps. We’re always working on updates to Airfoil, so stay tuned for more in the future.

Our Software