How to sync audio and video for DVD playback using your remote speakers, AirPort Express, Rogue Amoeba’s Airfoil and VLC

Apple AirPort Express

I’ve been enjoying using my Apple AirPort Express to stream music from my laptop to our living room speakers using iTunes. The other evening I wanted to watch a DVD and use the good speakers to get the best sound, but you can’t do that without using a helper program.

Rogue Amoeba's Airfoil

I found a program that lets you route any audio signals to your AirPort Express — it’s called Airfoil (free to try out, $25 to purchase) and is made by Rogue Amoeba. It’s very simple to install and run. When I tried playing a DVD, though, the audio didn’t synch properly with the video.

This is the solution I found to fix the audio synchronization problem using VLC to play back the DVD and by adjusting the preferences and using VLC’s ability to buffer audio and adjust the synchronization settings.

How to increase audio buffering amount in VLC for DVD playback

  1. Open preferences in VLC
  2. Click on Advanced tab on bottom of screen
  3. Select Input/Codecs
  4. Select Access Modules
  5. Select DVD with menus [Note: to make this same adjustment when you are playing back regular files as opposed to DVDs, simply select File instead of DVD with menus and continue with the rest of the instructions]
  6. Change the default value (300 milliseconds) to 6000. This will increase the amount of audio data buffering to 6 seconds, which should be enough to synchronize the audio playback.
  7. Click Save to activate your changes (you may need to quit VLC to ensure the settings become active).
  8. Re-open the DVD using VLC and click Play.
  9. Click the “f” key repeatedly to adjust the amount of audio synchronization offset. It adjusts the audio offset downwards by 50 millisecond increments. I had to set mine to around -4900 milliseconds to correctly match the audio with the video output on my system. Press the “g” key to increase the offset in the other direction. Watch the actor’s lips and adjust the offset until it matches perfectly.
  10. Enjoy listening to your DVD audio through your speakers, streamed wirelessly!

Hacking the Gibson

Download VLC (Free Open Source video player)

Download Airfoil

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