AirPlay broken on my Mac

Previously added a snarky comment to the article How to AirPlay to Your Mac about how it doesn’t work too well from mine. Apologies, but it’s since gotten worse. Worse to the point that I contacted Support. That’s always frustrating because they assume you’re a typical user and run through a cookbook of possibly inappropriate steps they want you to try, most of which disconnect your chat.

As many of you know, there are two places where you can connect to AirPlay devices on the Mac: the AirPlay icon in the Music app or from the Control Centre icon on the menubar.

Since updating the computer to 12.5.1, the Control Centre toggle completely fails to connect to my speakers. Just hangs forever. From the Music app AirPlay icon, I can get a connection but the Music app goes into a zombie state where it fails to display the track it’s playing: usually there’s a crawler showing the track time. That’s frozen. When the next track starts playing, the display doesn’t get updated. It also doesn’t record the track it’d just played. Then after a while it drops the connection and hangs, forcing a restart of the app.

Restarted the computer in Safe Mode. No joy there: exact same behaviour. Control Centre can’t connect and Music app gets zombified.

The Mac is a 2021 Macbook Pro overspecified with way too much RAM and storage. The speakers are B&W Formation Duo (which sound fabulous when the source works). I’ve had absolutely no issues with the speakers using AirPlay from my phone (iPhone 13m) but my music library is on the Mac. That’s where I curate tracks to determine the small subset that gets synced to the phone.

Found plenty of complaints about AirPlay, wireless speakers, and the Mac on various and sundry Internet forums, but most are a few years old. Couldn’t find anything recent.

AirPlay isn’t very forthcoming about its failures, either. There’s probably some logging somewhere but I’ve yet to find it.

Wondering if the brain trust herein has any insights and/or suggestions.

BTW: The Apple Support tech suggested reinstalling the O/S. Not keen on that, mostly because it probably won’t fix anything. (I’ve friends in QA at Apple. A constant refrain from them is how shoddy QA is done there. Maybe they’re just cynics (like me) but it seems to match my experience of excessive broken software from the Fruities.)

I have found Airplay to be somewhat fickle, and definitely prone to difficult-to-diagnose issues. I was having a lot of trouble with one of the speakers getting dropped, or music getting out of sync between speakers. For unrelated reasons, I recently went poking around in my mesh router (Orbi RBR50) configuration to improve video call performance, and discovered that moving my satellite and reducing the CTS/RTS Threshold from 2347 to 500 improved networking performance dramatically and seems to have fixed most of the issues with speakers dropping out or losing sync.

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