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MacBook, SqueezeBox, Airport Express, Apple iTouch and AVI ADM 9.1's - how it all hangs together :-)

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Hi guys - I was thinking last night, after playing with my Penguin (more later!), how far I have come on this computer audiophile road this last few months, and that goes for many of us here too I bet! I thought perhaps it might make interesting reading for folks new to all this just how much fun computer audio can be - plus how many ways there are for one hi-fi nut (me!) to get his fix :-) So for those who like playing with their music listening - here is run down of my computer audiophile playground and how it all hangs together for different circumstances and moods!


Listening Choice 1:

I fancy surfing the Net and reading these wonderful posts here at computeraudiophile whilst listening to my own eclectic music collection.

The Solution:

My MacBook has its own iTunes library which points to my server (Windows Home Server) for its music files, I stream my music via an Airport Express to the AVI ADM 9.1 digital active speakers - no stutters, no dropouts - whilst listening and surfing I completely forget the round trip the digits have to make to get to my ears!

Components: MacBook->iTunes->AX->ADM's (16bit 44.1khz)


Listening Choice 2:

As above but I get bored with my stuff so fancy listening to some streamed content from the t'Internet.

The Solution:

Load-up Safari (or the Internet browser of choice) and have a listen to either a) Last.FM - hours of listening to all sorts of music from artists I have never heard of based on a few I have! With links to their bio, other stuff they did, similar artists - great! b)Spotify - new one this, by invitation only right now, but probably how most music will be delivered in the future - search for an album or artist, or just play genre/year based radio again with album covers displayed, often artist bio's and reviews c)BBC iPlayer - catch up on the Archers or listen to a Radio Three concert - often higher bit rate than you would expect - the BBC know they have an invaluable archive here for the future and iPlayer team intend to deliver it to us as high a quality as they can! d)Internet Radio - thousands of stations, much rubbish, some gems.

Components: MacBook->Safari->Airfoil (little software utility to get any content on your computer to stream to the Airport Express)->AX->ADM's (16bit 44.1khz from AX although 128-192kb/s various bit rates depending on Internet source – Spotify uses MP3/Ogg Vorbis q5 160kb/s)


Listening Choice 3:

Laptop quietly sleeping whilst I read some music mags (yeah, I am obsessed!) and I fancy doing all or any of the above.

The Solution:

Out comes my trusty iPod Touch (from now on referred to as simply iTouch as the iPod bit never gets used – not brilliant sound, hardly any room for my tracks and I keep getting pulled over by the traffic cops for wearing Grado headphones whilst driving!!). Anyway what the iTouch is good at is running applications – like my aforementioned Penguin friend (iPeng) – which allows me to remote control my SqueezeBox and either listen to my own stuff or Last.FM or Internet Radio etc. I get cover art and playlists and searches and shortly (waiting 1.1 iPeng hopefully) artist bio’s and all the usual stuff from Last.FM.

Components: SqueezeBox (controlled via iTouch & iPeng)->ADM’s (16bit 44.1khz from SqueezeBox for my stuff and 128-192kb/s various bit rates depending on Internet source).


Listening Choice 4:

Ok it’s audiophile night at Tim’s and I want to impress my mates with some recently downloaded 24bit/96khz music files!

The Solution:

Sit the MacBook on the hi-fi rack and plug in the mini-toslink optical cable direct to the ADM’s (built-in 24bit/192khz DAC – not sure if it upsamples everything or sends native high bit rates straight through – anyway it sounds amazing!?). I then have a choice of either kneeling in front of said rack and manipulate iTunes (as if worshipping at the icon of modernity! Why not!?) or sit back with my trusty iTouch and use Apple Remote app to control iTunes – again with album art displayed and all the usual bells and whistles.

Components: MacBook->iTunes (controlled direct or via iTouch apple Remote app)->ADM’s (24bit/192khz potentially depending on source file). (Edit: Just have to remember to set Audio Midi on the Mac to 24bit and appropriate sample rate - not that I can tell the difference but hey!)


Phew! And ain’t it all great fun :0)


PS. Perhaps a Mac Mini could give me some more options, but I think I will wait until Apple update it to work as well with TV screens in their native resolution as their Apple TV does – then its multi-media media-centre time!!


PPS. I need a lay down :-s





Qobuz -> Auralic Aries Mini -> Chord Mojo DAC -> Heed Obelisk SI -> Mark Audio Pluvia 11 Custom Built  Mass Loaded Transmission Line Speakers

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