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I picked up an Airport Extreme today and have a question...


tfarney
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My ancient wireless hub died yesterday, so today I picked up an Airport Extreme. I got it up and running almost immediately. That was easy. But if I plug the hard drive holding all my music files into it, can I stream them to my laptop anywhere in the house?

 

Anything special I need to know?

 

Tim

 

I confess. I\'m an audiophool.

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You surely can Tim.

 

While your question seems basic there are a lot of considerations and qualifications to be made. By stream do you mean leaving the files on the AE hard drive and listening to them from any computer but not having them in an iTunes library? Or, do you want to put your iTunes library on the AE hard drive? Either way it will work. An all 802.11n 5GHz network will do wonders for speed and dropouts.

 

We can fine tune things through different settings etc... Let us know what you need.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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Well, I'm not sure. iTunes is on my iBook's hard drive, but my music folder is on the external hard drive that I would connect to the extreme. The point would be that I would be able to plug phones into the iBook from anywhere in the house and listen to the tunes on the drive.

 

Tim

 

I confess. I\'m an audiophool.

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OK cool, just treat your AE drive like a NAS and have your iTunes library point to it. Set the iTunes music folder to the AE drive location and mount the AE drive at login. I've done this with the AE many times and had no real issues that I couldn't work around.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

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Cool. If I've got this right, that means that, once again, Apple will be making this very, very easy. iTunes is already pointing to the external drive. So if I just unplug it from the iBook, plug it into the AE, double check my iTunes preferences for good measure, it should work from the next room as if nothing changed.

 

This is why I love, and am willing to pay for Apple!

 

I think I mentioned, I picked up a pair of Audio Technica phones recently. While they're not as smooth as the Senns, they are very efficient and the iBook's headphone jack drives them with authority. So far they've been used to listen to internet radio around the house, but it'll be great to have access to my full library. Almost makes me glad my old wireless router died...

 

Tim

 

I confess. I\'m an audiophool.

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So if I just unplug it from the iBook, plug it into the AE, double check my iTunes preferences for good measure, it should work from the next room as if nothing changed.

 

My guess is it won't happen quite like that, but it could depend on how you configure the security options on the AirPort regarding access to the drive's contents. Here's my experience:

 

When you have the drive connected to your computer, the Mac sees it as "/Volumes/Drive". Any folders you have on the top level of the drive then form the next part of the path. If you had a Music folder then it would be seen as "/Volumes/Drive/Music".

 

When I connected my drive to my AirPort it was empty. I permitted the contents to be visible to anybody without authentication but required a valid username and password to make changes. When connecting to the drive via AirPort my Mac still sees a storage place called "/Volumes/Drive"... but beyond that there's a bit of hidden magic. Instead of seeing all the contents of the drive displayed there, what's actually visible is the contents of another folder called "Shared" on the drive.

 

The real actual files on the disk are /Volumes/Drive/Shared/files.

The AirPort shows them as /Volumes/Drive/files.

 

So... you may need to help the AirPort out a tiny bit and create an empty "Shared" folder yourself, move your existing music contents inside it, and then plug it into the base station. Sounds logical to me, but bear in mind I'm only speculating based on my experiences.

 

Make damn sure you have a full backup before you try this!

 

 

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Tim,

 

While it's not exactly the same as having your drive connected, you don't need to manually create a shared folder as was suggested above.

 

After you connect your drive to the AE, double-click on your Macintosh hard rive icon. You should see a new entry - the name of your Airport Extreme hard drive (named as you set it up) - under the heading Shared. Double-click on this will point you to the files on your hard drive.

 

It's been a while since I did this, so I don't recall exactly, but I believe you may want to add your these files to your iTunes library AFTER making the move. EDIT: I just did the opposite switch to test this out (from AE shared drive -> direct connect) and the music played fine without any manipulation at all.

 

You will most definitely need to update preferences to point to the new volume (i.e. name) if you want newly ripped files to be stored, otherwise iTunes will store them on your local hard drive.

 

Be sure to UN-check the box that says copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding, as this will create an additional copy on your local hard drive. EDIT: Disregard this comment, as you don't seem to need to add the files to iTunes - at least based on my 'reverse' experiment.

 

enjoy

clay

 

 

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Heh.

 

Clay, don't forget that with computers there's almost always more than one way to get something done. Your way may work, but I checked carefully before I posted about the behaviour of my own gear - there is definitely a "Shared" folder on my drive in which my AirPort Extreme keeps the files that are accessible to users without authentication. I did not create that folder. And it's only visible when I take the drive and plug it directly in to my Mac.

 

That's why I said it might depend on how the security options are configured on the AirPort. Perhaps if there's no security applied at all the AirPort just shares the contents of the drive as they are - which would actually be the nearest thing to Tim's "it just works" ideal.

 

But failing that, both you and I made essentially the same point: Tim will have to make some kind of slight adjustment to get iTunes working with his existing files connected to the AirPort instead of connected directly to his Mac.

 

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Apologies, Kdoot

Didn't intend to slight your comments, my disagreement was with your suggestion that Tim might need to create a 'Shared' folder, at least that's what I thought I read.

 

Yes, we are in agreement on the need for the slightest of adjustment - he's done the hard part setting up an Airport Extreme.

 

TIm,

just go to iTunes>Preferences>Advanced and select 'Change'; in the popup box, under 'Shared', you should see the name of your Airport Extreme, and after clicking it, you should see the name(s) of the volume(s) on the hard drive which contains your Music folder. note: Previously, this volume name would have shown up under Devices.

 

clay

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Clay - just for comparison, how do you have security configured on your AirPort hard drive? I strongly suspect that what you've written might only be true with the AirPort configured in certain ways.

 

Like I said, mine allows anonymous access to read data from the (invisible) "Shared" folder, but requires a valid username/password combination to make any changes.

 

When logged in you also have exclusive access to a user-specific folder which has the same name as your user account.

 

The AirPort automatically created folders on my USB hard disk to support this: "Shared" and "Users/[myusername]". The disk itself was named "Media" and had no folders on it before I plugged it into the AirPort. When users connect via AirPort they see the name "Media" but are presented with the contents of the "Shared" folder.

 

This sounds like it's different to what you have experienced. Not saying you're wrong - just that the experience may vary depending on configuration.

 

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I'll defer to your superior knowledge of setting up specific user access rights on an AE-connected disk, and hopefully other things, as soon as I figure out what they are. :)

 

I'm only using the Airport Extreme security (WPA2), and probably even allow guest access, cause, you know, life is too short, ....I've got multiple Macs, multiple external hard drives and multiple Airport Express base stations, in addition to the Airport Extreme....worrying about extra passwords, and access rights interferes with time spent elsewhere.

 

It's good to have an expert on these matters here. :)

 

clay

 

 

 

 

 

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Can I ask about larger file sizes? If you stream audio to DAC at 802.11g will there be issues? The mac mini does not support 802.11n so the speed is reduced...would the say HRx size files cause issues? I stayed away from the NAS option and went for a fanless USB drive in RAID1 exacly because of this...then being frustrated with drop outs etc...

 

Any thoughts?

 

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Thought this could do with some clarification. The setting which I suspect causes the different behaviours that Clay and I have experienced is found in AirPort Utility under Disks: File Sharing: Secure Shared Disks. I've chosen the "With accounts" option. The other two options are "With a disk password" and "With Airport Extreme password".

 

As for life being too short... I've got young children with access to computers. It was worth taking a few minutes to set up security so that those happy little clickers can't accidentally delete or rename stuff on my AirPort disk.

 

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Moving 24-bit samples 192,000 times a second equates to a data rate of 4.6 megabits per second. The maximum bandwidth available on the Mac mini's 802.11g wireless is 54 megabits per second.

 

In reality, with the 802.11 wireless family you can generally only count on about a third of the advertised bandwidth being available for moving your data. But that's still 18 Mbps for the Mac mini. Should be able to move 24/192 audio very reliably, assuming decent radio conditions.

 

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As often happens with all things Apple, I just ran out of time and faked it. I sandwiched that task between installing quarter round molding in the master bedroom and getting the meatloaf out of the oven. I didn't refer back to your excellent, helpful posts. I didn't crack the quick start guide. I just gave it the 10 minutes I had, plugged the drive into the AE and re-booted the Mac. The Mac found it, asked me for my network password, and that was pretty much it.

 

I'm now sitting up in bed, writing to you and listening to Allison Krauss and Union Station from the drive down the hall.

 

God save Steve Jobs.

 

Tim

 

I confess. I\'m an audiophool.

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