Will Apple TV operate in "Airplay only" mode ? (can it connect on an Airplay network without a wireless access point?)

I've tried to connect my Apple TV to an existing Airplay network, but the connection always fails. The Airplay network consists of my iMac and an Airport Express and streams tunes from my iTunes library without using my ISR (intergrated switch router with wireless access point). I'd like to be able to use the Apple TV in "Airplay only" mode to stream music without having my internet connection active.

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    Basically, yes. Your question is rather strangely worded, so I will elaborate on how AirPlay, the Airport Express, and the Apple TV work.

    AirPlay pushes audio and video from iTunes to the AirPort Express (audio only) or the Apple TV (audio and video). Similar to the way you select the AirPort Express to be your output device in iTunes, you click on the AirPlay icon in iTunes to select the Apple TV as the video output device.

    Note that in both AirPlay cases (Airport Express and Apple TV) the audio and video are streamed through your wireless router, but an internet connection is not required. Your iMac does NOT talk directly to the Airport Express; all communication must go through the router, whether you're using Ethernet cabling or its wireless capability. The same applies to the Apple TV.

    An important difference is that the Apple TV can also operate in "pull" mode; that's when you're using the remote that comes with it. If you turn off your internet modem (thus disconnecting you from the internet), only two icons will appear on the Apple TV: Computers and Settings. Selecting the Computer icon displays a list of all the computers on your network currently running iTunes (yes, you can have multiple computers, Macs or PCs). Click the computer you wish to play media from, and you get the Music/Movies/TV Shows/Podcasts menu. Select a category, choose the media you wish to play, and the Apple TV "pulls" the music from the computer.

    Now power up your internet modem. In a few moments, a dozen or more icons are displayed on the Apple TV; these are the internet sources that Apple TV can pull media from: Netflix, YouTube and vimeo, to name just three Some (e.g. YouTube and vimeo) are free; others like Netflix require a paid subscription.

    It helps to think of iTunes as being your own private media server, and Apple TV can use your iTunes server or one of the media servers on the internet.

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