Wireless Speaker 2.0!

This guide is written by mikebrady. For a regularly updated guide go to the GitHub repo.

This is the guide for making the speaker on a Raspberry Pi. The speaker will end up being compatible with AirPlay 2 (the newer version that supports multiple speakers. Click here to use the master version that doesn’t support AirPlay 2)

Building Shairport Sync for AirPlay 2

  • Build instructions are different from previous versions of Shairport Sync. Please read carefully.
  • This code is experimental and much of the normal functionality of Shairport Sync is broken. Please do not use it in situations where reliable service is expected.
  • Be especially careful with audio systems capable of very high volume output — the volume control in this software may not be reliable!
  • For now, leave the settings in the configuration file at default except as noted below.
  • At the time of writing, May 2, 2021, everything is on the latest version of the software — macOS 11.3, iOS 14.5, Raspberry Pi OS 5.10.17-v7l+ (Buster), Ubuntu 20.04 — fully updated.
  • Shairport Sync relies on a program called nqptp to monitor timing signals. This program uses ports 319 and 320 and replaces any PTP service you have on the computer. (FYI, most computers do not have a PTP clock running. They often use a (totally different) Network Timing Protocol (NTP) service to keep the system clock synchronised with world time.)
  • The POSIX Shared Memory Interface (SMI) Version numbers of nqptp and Shairport Sync must match. If they don’t, you’ll get a message in the logs. It means that one of the programs is out of date with respect to the other.
  • Build instructions are likely to change.


Overall, you’ll be building and installing two programs. The first one is nqptp and the second one is Shairport Sync itself. Build nqptp first.

In the commands below, for a Debian/Ubuntu-like Linux, note the convention that a # prompt means you are in superuser mode and a $prompt means you are in a regular unprivileged user mode. You can use sudo (“SUperuser DO”) to temporarily promote yourself from user to superuser, if permitted. For example, if you want to execute apt-get update in superuser mode and you are in user mode, enter sudo apt-get update.

Turn Off WiFi Power Management

If you are using WiFi, you should turn off WiFi Power Management:

# iwconfig wlan0 power off

WiFi Power Management will put the WiFi system in low-power mode when the WiFi system is considered inactive. In this mode, the system may not respond to events initiated from the network, such as AirPlay requests. Hence, WiFi Power Management should be turned off. (See TROUBLESHOOTING.md for more details.)

Update Your System

Do the usual update and upgrade:

# apt-get update
# apt-get upgrade


Remove Old Copies

Before you begin building Shairport Sync, it’s best to search for and remove any existing copies of the application, called shairport-sync. Use the command $ which shairport-sync to find them. For example, if shairport-sync has been installed previously, this might happen:

$ which shairport-sync

Remove it as follows:

# rm /usr/local/bin/shairport-sync

Do this until no more copies of shairport-sync are found.

Remove Old Startup Scripts

You should also remove the startup script files /etc/systemd/system/shairport-sync.service and /etc/init.d/shairport-sync if they exist – new ones will be installed in necessary.

Reboot after Cleaning Up

If you removed any installations of Shairport Sync or any of its startup script files in the last two steps, you should reboot.

Tools and Libraries

Okay, now let’s get the tools and libraries for building and installing Shairport Sync.

First, install the packages needed by Shairport Sync:

# apt install --no-install-recommends build-essential git xmltoman autoconf automake libtool \
    libpopt-dev libconfig-dev libasound2-dev avahi-daemon libavahi-client-dev libssl-dev libsoxr-dev \
    libplist-dev libsodium-dev libavutil-dev libavcodec-dev libavformat-dev uuid-dev libgcrypt-dev


Download, install, enable and start nqptp from here.

Shairport Sync

Please use git to clone the repository!

As you probably know, you can download the repository in two ways: (1) using git to clone it — recommended — or (2) downloading the repository as a ZIP archive. Please use the git method. The reason it that when you use git, the build process can incorporate the gitbuild information in the version string you get when you execute the command $ shairport-sync -V. This will be very useful for identifying the exact build if you are making comments or bug reports. Here is an example:

Version with git information:

Version without git information:

Build and Install

Download Shairport Sync, check out the development branch and configure, compile and install it:

$ git clone https://github.com/mikebrady/shairport-sync.git
$ cd shairport-sync
$ git checkout development
$ autoreconf -fi
$ ./configure --sysconfdir=/etc --with-alsa \
    --with-soxr --with-avahi --with-ssl=openssl --with-systemd --with-airplay-2
$ make -j
# make install

By the way, the autoreconf step may take quite a while — be patient!


Now to configure Shairport Sync. In this walkthrough, it is configured for an alsa output device.

A list of alsa output devices is given at the end of the help information. For example, on a Raspberry Pi, at the end of the output from the command $ shairport-sync -h, the following appears:

Settings and options for the audio backend "alsa":
    -d output-device    set the output device, default is "default".
    -c mixer-control    set the mixer control name, default is to use no mixer.
    -m mixer-device     set the mixer device, default is the output device.
    -i mixer-index      set the mixer index, default is 0.
    hardware output devices:

Using a program such as alsamixer, the name of a mixer (i.e. an attenuator or volume control that could be used to control the output level) can be determined. In this case, the name of the mixer is Headphone.

Following this, here are the important options for the Shairport Sync configuration file at /etc/shairport-sync.conf. Note that everything is case-sensitive:

// Sample Configuration File for Shairport Sync on a Raspberry Pi using the built-in audio DAC
general =
  volume_range_db = 60;

alsa =
  output_device = "hw:Headphones";
  mixer_control_name = "Headphone";

The volume_range_db = 60; setting makes Shairport Sync use only the usable part of the Raspberry Pi’s built-in audio card mixer’s attenuation range. It may not be necessary for other output devices.

Automatic Start

To enable Shairport Sync to start automatically on boot up:

# systemctl enable shairport-sync

Now, either reboot or start the shairport-sync service:

# systemctl start shairport-sync

Running From the Command Line

You may wish to run Shairport Sync from the command line (but remember to ensure it is not already running as a daemon). To enable debug messages and statistics, use the following:

$ shairport-sync -vu --statistics

The user doesn’t need to be privileged, but must be a member of the audio group for access to the alsa subsystem.

Using Shairport Sync

The Shairport Sync AirPlay service should appear on the network with a service name made from the machine’s hostname with the first letter capitalised, e.g. hostname ubuntu gives a service name Ubuntu. You can change the service name in the configuration file.

Connect and enjoy…

Restart Your Mac!

At the time of writing, there seems to be a bug in the Mac Music app, particularly on Apple silicon Macs. It appears that, if the Mac has been sleeping, the AirPlay 2 infrastructure is not fully reenabled, and it will be unable to drive AirPlay 2 devices for more than a few seconds. The only known solution is to reboot.

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