HELP! iTunes Using Airplay Glitching With ND5 XS2

Hi everyone. Please bear with me. After extensive research, I recently bought a used Naim ND5 SX2 streamer in ‘as new’ condition. I have just set it up and am looking forward to exploring the dark world of digital music streaming. This is very early days for me, as I’m a newbie to streaming, so forgive me if I’m missing something obvious.

My system comprises the ND5 XS2, a Naim CD5Si (for my collection of 5k+ silver discs), through a Bryston BP17 pre-amp and 4BSST2 power amp and PMC Twenty.24 speakers.

The ND5 XS2 is connected to the latest (802.11ac) SKY broadband router with a new Audioquest audiophile Ethernet cable. The wi-fi is stable and (mostly) reliable.

After initial review, the ND5 XS2 seems to work fine when using the Naim app on my iPhone over wi-fi. The problem comes with Airplay from my Windows 11 laptop running iTunes, which has a library of over 75k songs, mostly using AAC. I want to be able to use Airplay to access this sizeable resource accrued over many years through the Naim, if only as background music when working.

Anyhoo… to the point! Playing anything in iTunes or the Apple Music app, using Airplay to stream to the ND5 XS2 results in a ‘glitching’ about every 4 seconds or so. It’s like a momentary drop out or hiccup - very, very annoying. This occurs whether I use a laptop or my iPhone 11 (or my son’s equivalents). I can’t find any reference to this specific problem (or, sadly, a solution) anywhere when searching the Internet.

I have done all the usual/obvious things, including reset the ND5 SX2, reset the router, re-started my laptop and iPhone, etc. Various diagnoses don’t reveal anything amiss. I have tried different ethernet ports on the router and have also tried streaming over wi-fi without the Ethernet cable (as well as running a cable between my laptop and the router), so connectivity isn’t the issue. I am running the latest versions of iTunes, Windows 11, iOS and the Naim app. The Naim is running the latest update of its firmware.

Unfortunately, it’s always the same issue; glitchy sound using Airplay to the Naim. Ggrr. Argh. Sigh.

To test the implementation of Airplay, it works fine when streaming to our SKY Q box and Marantz A/V receiver from both iTunes and the Apple Music app. As mentioned above, the Naim seems to work fine except when using Airplay. I haven’t, as yet, subscribed to any streaming services, as I want to get this fundamental issue fixed first and then go down the streaming service route, so I can’t be definitive on this aspect yet.

The only conclusion that I can reach at this point is that the problem is either with Airplay (BUT only on the Naim) or with the Naim itself (unlikely?). I am pretty certain that it is not a wi-fi issue and hope to goodness it isn’t a Naim problem.

I (hopefully, obviously) don’t want to start from scratch again, with the existing investment in Naim hi-fi, iTunes and the Apple-verse.

I was also hoping to subscribe to Apple Music but if Airplay doesn’t work, then this will be a major problem (and, yes, I know Airplay is limited at the moment). The alternatives appear to be Tidal (costly) or Spotify (also limited). At some point, assuming I can fix the issue, I hope to obtain a Naim Uniti Core for bit-perfect versions of favourite albums.

I really, really don’t want to ditch the Naim or run parallel but incompatible music resources. I would truly appreciate any advice to help resolve the issue. Thank you one and all.

Hi, I’m afraid I don’t have a firm diagnosis of your problem, but a bit of trial and error might help to narrow down the culprit.

Sky TV hardware has occasionally been known to interfere with your network. As a test, turn all your Sky boxes off, then restart the router only and see if that helps.

Do other services fail when used over Airplay? Try casting from a different app and see if this has dropouts too.

Try using Chromecast instead of Airplay. This sends the stream directly from router to streamer, with the phone just acting as a remote, whereas Airplay sends the stream wirelessly to your phone, then back to the streamer.

Do other streaming services drop out too? Try a free trial of Qobuz, Tidal or whatever and see what happens.

Good luck!

Hi. Thanks for your prompt reply. I removed all SKY TV from the network, reset the router and started afresh. Unfortunately, the Airplay glitching problem persists. The artefacts are duplicated on my son’s iPhone and laptop, so it doesn’t appear to be a single device causing the issue.

Chromecast isn’t compatible with iTunes on PC. The only Apple Music with Chromecast is the Apple Music app on Android and I’m in the Apple camp. I could go the faff and convert my library to another format and use Chromecast but that’s another complication with no guarantee. Airplay should work straight out of the box. In fact I’m using Airplay on my LG OLED TV now without any issues. I mentioned that I haven’t gone down the route of alternative streaming services yet, as I want to get the fundamental issue sorted first. I expect Qobuz and Tidal to work through the Naim app as advertised. Internet radio from the Naim app works fine, so I just need to nail down the solution to Airplay before I can move on. NB. I tried Amazon Music and it said it couldn’t cast to that device.

If you or anyone else can help me fix Airplay to the ND5 SX2, please keep coming with the ideas.

Thanks and best wishes

Welcome @Tonykins - let’s see if we can help. You have two long posts, so having a bit of trouble getting to the exact issue.

Naim ND5 SX2 is not receiving and playing airplay = ok.

@ChrisSU has asked about Sky - is it Sky Q? Is Sky box providing the wifi?
Follow Chris’s advice again and then do the following.
Router back on, everything else off, connect Naim streamer by ethernet and restart. Check that airplay is active in settings.
Restart one control point (restart means totally off first) - use an iPhone.

On iPhone download the app “Radio Paradise” - it’s a great station(s) and its app and listening free - please subscribe if you adopt it for regualr listening, it is user supported, with no ads.

Start / open the RP app, choose one of the streams, main, mellow or whatever and start it playing, through the app, on the iPhone. Once playing, in the bottom right of the iphone screen, set airplay to Naim streamer - which should appear on the list of units responding to iPhone airplay. If it plays then you know the streamer is ok. Then it will be trial and error.

Useful point to remember when posting, consider details rather than “The Naim is running the latest update of its firmware.”
Simply Naim ND5 SX2 on firmware xx; similarly iPhone xy on iOS 1*.*
One last thought, if you have only just acquired the Naim streamer, wise to do a factory reset; we can guide you if necessary. Try the above first, then reset when you know more.

Hi. Many thanks for your very helpful advice. Apologies for long posts - just trying to include as much relevant info as possible.

The problem is definitely Airplay → ND5 XS2. It connects but playback is glitchy.

The SKY router is the (latest) 2019 SKY Broadband Hub (802.11ac) with separate SKY Q 2TB box. The router is about 3ft from the Naim connected by Audioquest Ethernet (also tried wi-fi - same result).

Laptop is running Windows 11 ver. 22H2 (up-to-date)
iTunes on laptop is ver. 12.12.7.1 (up-to-date). New laptop soon.
ND5 XS2 firmware is 3.8.1 (5437) (up-to-date) - factory reset done twice now
Apple iPhone 11 running iOS ver. 16.2 (up-to-date)
Naim/Focal app is ver. 6.0.3 (up-to-date) - Airplay is the only active input on the app and the app reset twice now

Thanks for Chris SU and your advice., both followed precisely. Radio Paradise installed - excellent station. Thanks.

Radio Paradise stand alone running Airplay to the ND5 XS2 sadly still glitches. Argh.
Radio Paradise also appears in the Naim app - runs perfectly with no problems (apart from I can’t select alternative streams or bitrate).

Other preset internet radio stations in the Naim app (Naim Radio, Deep Vibes Radio, Classic FM and KCRW89.3 Eclectic HD24) all play very well with no glitches. Woohoo. I think the ND5 XS2 is not at fault unless there is a specific route that Airplay takes once it hits the Naim.

Gradually narrowing it down to a specific problem with Airplay to the ND5 XS2, as Airplay works OK with other devices (LG OLED TV, Marantz A/V receiver, SKY Q box).

Please help to fix i/tunes → Airplay → ND5 XS2, as it is a significant hurdle to moving on. Many thanks and best wishes.

Look in the Hi-Def section of the iRadio input and you’ll see the lossless FLAC versions of Radio Paradise and other stations. They are listed separately from the lower res stations.

Hi. Many thanks. It took a moment to find my way in there Internet Radio Hi Def) - I’ve learnt something new today. Great stuff; lots to explore that I didn’t know was there! The ND5XS2 is just an expensive radio now until I can get Airplay working properly. Thanks again

Have you got both aerials attached to your ND5XS2?

Since your ND5SX2 is wired, and your glitching happens when the Airplay sources are wireless, could you temporarily connect your laptop to your router via Ethernet? As a second test, try connecting your ND5SX2 via wireless as well. That might help isolate the transmission chain leg with the problem…

Thanks for the insight guys

I did have all 3 aerials (2x wi-fi and 1x Bluetooth) attached to begin with and when testing whether the problem was with wi-fi or Ethernet. The Naim is currently wired to the router with an audiophile Ethernet cable and no aerials. I also tried the laptop wired by a standard Ethernet cable direct to the router and tried both wi-fi and Ethernet from the router to the Naim. Sadly, none of these made a difference. The problem isn’t my laptop or iTunes as it glitches from my iPhone 11 as well via Airplay. It also glitches from my son’s laptop/i|Tunes and his iPhone, also via Airplay.

I am currently listening to Internet radio via the Naim app and it sounds wonderful. No sign of any issues. Even the low bitrate channels sound pretty good Heresy I know). This kinda proves that the wi-fi and the Naim are both working correctly, even at FLAC bitrates. This suggests to me that Airplay is the culprit but it isn’t conclusive… yet.

NB. My son was a bit disappointed at the lack of (very) heavy metal Internet radio stations available within the app.

P.S. There has been an update to the iOS Naim app today, to ver. 6.0.5. Again, sadly, no difference to Airplay glitching.

Does this issue need to be communicated direct to Naim support?

I cannot believe that I am the only person who has experienced this, or am I just plain unlucky? I would have thought that, if it were a known problem, the solution would have been found or advice that Airplay to the Naim is faulty would be evident. Unless the issue is resolved, the Naim’s future is in the balance, as is my intended subscription to Apple Music. I simply have too much invested in my iTunes library. I don’t want that to happen. There must be a (simple?) solution somewhere.

Thanks again one and all. Hopefully, we can get to the bottom of this and it may help other people in the future.

So did it still not work correctly with the aerials attached?
My understanding is Airplay needs the aerials to work.

There are a few “corner case” issues with Airplay and most seem related to specific network equipment and/or connectivity, rather than iPhone or Naim. There are lots of threads on various forums about Airplay or other multicast problems that affect some, but not all, users of a wide variety of gear.

For me as an example, I lose Airplay (and Chromecast) connectivity to my Nova when it’s wired to my switch (same Ubiquity switch that is the backhaul for Ubiquity WiFi AP): it gets discovered and connect and play, but becomes un discoverable after some random amount of time from a few minutes to several hours. But it’s rock solid when Nova is connected via WiFi. Nobody else here has this issue, even though there are several Ubiquity users on the forum (even those with same gen switches and access points). That’s why I suggested trying all combinations of wifi and wired for the Airplay source (laptop or iPhone) and endpoint (Nova)… just in case one specific combination might be glitch-free for you.

You can search on IGMP Snooping (a router setting, usually) to see how that might affect things…

…but I’ve never seen anything like you describe, with audio glitching periodically but not losing device discovery or connection: that sounds very unusual indeed.

You might also want to explore joining the Firmware and App Beta Testers group. Among other things, the software team there takes an active interest in faults like this to see if there is an area where code in their control can be improved.

Sorry this isn’t more helpful!

I think this would only be true if the Naim box were not connected to the network via Ethernet… Airplay is a network “transport” channel and doesn’t require wifi (eg if you want to Airplay from a wired Apple laptop to a wired Naim streamer, there is no wifi radio transmission involved)

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Understood Alan.

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Thanks again guys. Looks like I’m an ‘outlier’, which is a bit disappointing for my first efforts at streaming. The experience hasn’t emboldened me to explore further until I get Airplay working. I think you are right that it may be a combination connectivity issue. I wish I could add an audio file, so you could hear the issue. I’ve had a look around but being new to the community, how do I join the firmware group?

You could email the Beta team on beta@naimaudio.com

I don’t recall you saying what equipment you are using - brand or model of router, switches, access points, mesh or otherwise, etc., … that might encourage other forum members to speak up with their experience. Same goes for other complications, like vlans for your television or telephone, or if you see fast synchronized blinking lights on all the ports of your switch(es)…

There are other things to try at home, including setting up a very simple internal network with an alternative router. Connect only your Novaand iPhone (with wifi and wired combinations as appropriate) and see if the problem persists or if it might be related to your ISP router. Try only your laptop and Nova… try adding more things to see if it breaks. If possible, maybe try direct connections (using long cables if needed) of your laptop and Nova to your main router.

Good luck. This is frustrating for sure! Be patient, try stuff out. I hope you can make progress.

Your first port of call should be Naim support. Give them a call and they should be able to help.
Your dealer may also be able to help, but some are better than others at this kind of stuff.

Hi again, much appreciated

Thanks. The comprehensive list…

My system comprises:
Naim ND5 XS2
Naim CD5Si
Bryston BP17 pre-amp
Bryston 4BSST2 power amp
PMC Twenty.24 speakers

Airplay sources:
Windows 11 Laptop running iTunes
Apple iPhone11 running Apple Music
(also tried my son’s laptop and iPhone)

Internet:
SKY Broadband via 2019 SKY Broadband router

Connections:
Wi-Fi Laptop → router (also tried Ethernet cable)
Wi-Fi iPhone → router
Audioquest Pearl Ethernet cable SKY router → Naim (also tried Wi-Fi)

Versions:
Laptop is running Windows 11 ver. 22H2 (up-to-date)
iTunes on laptop is ver. 12.12.7.1 (up-to-date). New laptop soon.
ND5 XS2 firmware is 3.8.1 (5437) (up-to-date) - factory reset done twice now
Apple iPhone 11 running iOS ver. 16.2 (up-to-date)
Naim/Focal app is ver. 6.0.5 (up-to-date) - Airplay is the only active input on the app and the app reset twice now

iTunes is home to 75+k tracks, hence why I want to use Airplay to access them on the Naim.

To reiterate, the only problem appears to be Airplay.

I think contacting Naim support may be the next step.

If you run a UPnP server such as Asset on your computer, or any other suitable device on your network, it will be able to access your iTunes library and serve the music files to your streamer. This should give better sound quality and potentially a more reliable connection than Airplay.

Obviously you will want to get Airplay working too, but I think the above is a better solution for playing locally stored music.

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Hi again. Thanks.

While I’m trying to get Airplay to work properly, I’ve looking into things, so here’s an interesting update. Windows Media Player (ver. 11.2210.33.0) can ‘see’ my iTunes library (after a fashion) and it can cast to the Naim ND5 XS2 with no glitching. It is a very clumsy way to get my iTunes library to the Naim without glitching issues. I have no idea what audio codec WMP uses but it works (and presumably is NOT Airplay). A crude workaround will have to do for now until Airplay can be fixed.