Apple Adds AirPlay 2 to the Discontinued AirPort Express

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Despite no longer offering the audio-enabled base station for sale, Apple has updated the 802.11n model of the AirPort Express to support AirPlay 2, making it a decent option for whole-house audio.

I guess the irony is that with this firmware update I realize even more what a loss it is that Apple no longer offers their inexpensive, simple, and reliable wifi-to-audio dongle. Kudos to them for issuing the firmware anyway. :+1:

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Immediately after I installed the firmware update, my Amoeba Airfoil now fails to connect with my AirPort Express, showing an “RTSP Forbidden Error”

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You should be able to downgrade by option-clicking on the version number after selecting the Airport Express in the main display of Airport Utility.

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Many thanks Kevin. We’re back to a functioning Airfoil.
If only all firmware downgrades were so easy!

I’ll bet Rogue Amoeba pushes out an update soon. @paul1, any info on this situation?

Yes – I contacted Rogue Amoeba at the same time I posted my comment on TidBits, and got a very prompt, courteous, and helpful reply, including a link to a Rogue Amoeba beta ‘development build’ as a likely solution, while Rogue Amoeba prepares an official update to fix the problem that the Apple firmware created.
Rather than use the Rogue Amoeba beta patch, I chose to use Kevin’s suggestion (posted above) – I downgraded my Airport Express firmware to the prior version. That solution works fine for my needs.
If anyone wants to try out the Rogue Amoeba ‘development build’, please contact them. I don’t want to post the link to their beta fix without their permission.
My thanks to both TidBits and Rogue Amoeba!

We’ve just shipped Airfoil for Mac 5.8.2, which includes full support for AirPort Express units running the new 7.8 (AirPlay 2) firmware, along with a heaping handful of bug fixes and improvements. Get the latest here:

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On adding an AirPort Express to the Home app you need to configure the AirPort Express to use Airplay first - else it will not show up in Home’s accessory adding.

Looks like this is only for the 2nd generation of the 802.11n Express — my first gen won’t show the update.

That’s correct.

This is pretty cool that Apple updated discontinued hardware.

Also, regarding adding the Express to the Home app, the article states that “As far as we can tell, this works only on the iPad and does nothing.” First, it works on an iPhone, too—at least in iOS 12. More importantly, adding the Express to the Home app actually does something extremely useful: it enables you to add the Express to a room in the Home app, which in turn enables you to control playback on the Express via Siri voice commands, e.g., “Hey Siri, play the Desert Island Discs Podcast in the living room.” The Siri commands can be given to any iOS device (not sure about Macs) or to a HomePod or Apple Watch.

Now if they would just offer an audio streaming stick for Airplay 2 (or something similar) so that we could add audio devices that have no built-in streaming capabilities, I would be even happier. Hunting down deals on old Airport Express devices on eBay has become harder since the firmware update.

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