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i already have an ibook, and two airport express units plugged into two hifi's, i'm thinking of adapting my system with upgrades. let me start by saying i'm not mega flush as some are, so this is my proposal.

i can plug in an NAS to the network loaded with apple lossless albums, then plug the airport express into a beresford dac via the optical lead, then the beresford is plugged into the amp/speaker combo of choice.

i'm thinking of using a squeezebox duet as my main control unit thus also providing a radio source so i suppose the airport express should be plugged into the squeezbox, which then goes to the dac which in turn goes into the amp.

as a newbie to the site i do find some of the chatter confusing, but as i'm already using wifi music which has never failed i must be able to do something right.

what i need to know is am i on the right track?




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iTunes is fine for radio and you can use an iPod Touch to control it remotely. The Touch is much more versatile and more fun than a Squeezebox and works with your present system if I've understood you correctly.


I must say that I put larger HDs in my two Apple computers and just used Time Machine for backup and I haven't bothered with NAS at all.




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I'll second the assessment on not needing the Squeeze. What you will probably want is to make sure you get a good quality GLASS toslink optical cable not the fiber version so readily available (for less).


Keep in mind that the sound this way is 16 bit 44K via the Apple Express but it would be fine.


At one point I was running my intel mac mini as my main computer in another room. Originally it was just a music server. The HDD external drive held all the music, about 20K of songs and was transmitted wirelessly to the Apple Airport Express.


Using a Sonicwave glass cable from the output of the AE to a Lavry DA10 DAC, I could not hear any difference at all from when I had the mac mini connected directly to the DAC. It was that good.


Now I found out about the utilities program audio/midi and have changed that to 24 bit (you should too) and the whole system sounds better. But before I did that, I was amazed that the sound to the Lavry DA10 was so good.


Before I knew about the glass toslink cable I had an analog connection (1 to 2 adaptor) running into my preamp. I did not know the sound would be so much better running optical out from the AE with a glass toslink cable.


Good luck!


If you have another computer, you could always control everything from the Mac OS's build in VNC too. That's what I do now from a MacBook Pro. But even using the "Remote" application by Apple on my iPhone 3G is amazing.





intel mac mini 1.6 Core Solo via WD 500 GB - Lavry DA10 DAC - PS Audio GCP 200 Preamp - NHT x-D 2.1 & modified Sony SACD 777ES SACD all sitting on a fine tuned Grand Prix Audio Monaco stand.

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can u elaborate on utilities audio/midi do i have to download that or is it hidden away somewhere in osx?

ok so i don't need a squeezebox, so do i really need a dac? or should i stick with what i've got?

i do already use itunes for the internet radio and have downloaded airfoil for bbc/iplayer use, i have also used patio tunes, which is an itunes remote program, but i must admit i don't need much of an excuse to buy an ipod touch.

the main reason i wanted an NAS was to have two itunes libraries, one full of lossless on the NAS, and one on the laptop hdd for aac music to use with my mobile player, currently a nokia n95. unless you know of a better plan, maybe a new laptop?

i'll definitely get a glass cable or two though.

thanks for everything so far chaps.





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The audio midi application is part of OSX. You'll find it in the applications/utilities folder. Launch the app and make sure volume is set to 100% to ensure bit perfect transfer of data. You can also adjust audio output for 16/44 or 24/96. iTunes "drives" its audio thru Audio midi on the Macintosh, so after you make all your changes, your should quit and re-launch iTunes to pick up the changes.


While you don't really need a DAC, you can plug your AExpress directly into your amplifier with a 3.5 mm headphone to RCA cable, but many have opined that the DAC within the AExpress as "adequate." I am one of those in that camp. My AExpress optically feeds and EMU-0404 which then feeds my stereo. There was a significant upgrade in sound for my implementation when I added the EMU0404.


Do you really need a NAS? To keep your costs low you can just add another drive inside your desktop mac or maybe 2 drives and use one as backup. In my setup, I have an old G4 Mac as my music server and use carbon copy cloner to backup my music library to my other desktop Mac. My library is relatively small, mostly lossless music of about 160 albums taking up 45 GB of disk space.


Hope this helps




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ok, so i've gone to audio/midi, pushed the sliders to 100% and switched to 24bit, now if i understand correctly, what people are saying is that my ae with an optical cable is ok, but things can be improved by adding glass cables, then improved further by adding a dac.

i know some of you will think i'm being dim, but my plan is to create a system that works and negates the need to engage in format wars, e.g vinyl, cd, md, dvd, blue ray etc etc.

i want to avoid expensive mistakes, and the equally expensive format wars. so just try and bear with me.

thanks for everything so far.





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it looks like a little edumacation is in order:)


The purpose of an optical cable is to enable the AE to connect to a DAC. So, if you have an optical cable connected to your AE then the other end is connected to some sort of DAC.


The AE itself is a DAC. If you wanted to use the DAC within the AE, you would need a different cable, a 3.5 mm stereo (miniheadphone) to RCA cable. The RCA cables would connect to your stereo.


You would use either the optical or the 3.5 mm to RCA cable on your AE, not both. They plug into the same place on your AE.


Now, there are types of optical cable. There are glass optical cables and plastic optical cables. The argument is that the glass optical cables are of better quality and therefore transmitt the digital audio from the AE to the DAC better, thereby providing better sound. This is yet another one of those raging battles between audiophiles.


My experience with optical cable is that it does not make much of a difference to me, BUT, a glass cable may be better because optical cables, unlike regular electrical cables, do not like to be bent. Yes, you can bend them and the signal will still go through, but try bending an optical cable 90 degrees. If it doesn't break the digital signal will at least be affected dramatically, unlike with an electrical cable.


Because optical cables don't like to be bent, a plastic optical cable, when bent, will degrade the signal more than when a glass optical cable is bent, this being due to the bends in the cable causing more reflections in the cable, and with a plastic cable the degradation happens more quickly than with a glass cable.


So, glass is better because it's more durable, but if you get a decent plastic optical cable and are careful not to bend it too much, you can have great results with it as well.



Oh and you should switch the audio midi back to 16 bit because the AE can only deal with 16/44 data. Your system may be working now but that's because somewhere along the line the 24/96 data is then being sample rate converted down to 16/44, and you want to have your signal path(itunes to audio midi to AE to DAC to Stereo) such that sample rate conversion happens only once, if at all.


Obvioulsy there's a lot more to this, but for now, I hope this helps.







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Part of this decision is what your system is capable of distinguishing and that's a qualitative issue to some extent. I believe that the glass vs. fiber is not merely a slight difference. Not in my Lavry DA10/PS Audio GCP 200/ NHT xD system anyway.


I'd strongly suggest you try a glass optical cable like from Sonicwave and the cheaper fiber ones that cost a mere fraction. If you can hear the difference it's worthwhile, if not, your system can't take advantage of it.


But on the output of the AE, the distortion is going to be much higher using the analog (one to two plug adaptor) into your DAC. You should be able to hear a difference between that and optical, especially the glass toslink optical cable.


Give it a shot and let us know what worked for you.


Good luck.


intel mac mini 1.6 Core Solo via WD 500 GB - Lavry DA10 DAC - PS Audio GCP 200 Preamp - NHT x-D 2.1 & modified Sony SACD 777ES SACD all sitting on a fine tuned Grand Prix Audio Monaco stand.

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