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PC Computer/Airport Express/DAC


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"Long time listener...first time caller."

 

I've done quite a bit of serching here before posting, so apologies to all here if these questions have been addressed.

 

I want to use my current XP computer, located in the study, to stream music to my listening room which is just off from the study. I've thought about purchasing a Squeezebox but I have a few questions first. And if I sound like a complete digital audio noob it's because I am. But I'm a quick learner.

 

We have a wireless internet system in our home using Hughesnet (we live in the country with no hope of landline DSL soon). Hughesnet is our only choice for "fast" internet. It's not fast but it is faster than dialup. When we're using more than one computer at a time to access the internet, it seems to slow down the wireless connection on both computers. Which leads me to my questions:

 

1. Will a Squeezebox use my existing network and slow down my wireless network even more? I can see me trying to listen to music in one room when my wife can't surf in the livingroom with her laptop. Would Airport Express use my existing network as well?

 

2. Assuming either one would not slow down my wireless network, why not just use a computer/Airport Express/DAC/amplifier setup? Wouldn't that allow anything my computer is playing (be it iTunes, internet radio, raw files, etc.) to be heard with decent quality through my audio system? Wouldn't I have more flexibility with an Airport Express?

 

3. Couldn't I use my iTouch (with the appropriate app) to control say, iTunes, on my XP computer from my chair in the listening room? That would seem to be as good a remote as one that comes with a Duet.

 

After reading so many posts, there always seems to be a few new questions that come to mind. I want to try to use what I have now (PC computer) to test the digital server waters without adding another computer.

 

Thanks for reading this far and I really appreciate the knowledge this Forum has supplied me.

 

David[br]walw.org

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I'm by no means an expert but hope I may be able to help you a little...

 

I've no idea how the HughesNet works to connect to you ... do you just have a normal wireless card in your PC to receive the connection; do you have a router box and then wired connection to your PC; or is it Cellular Mobile Broadband (i.e. via cell phone network?). One solution that may or may not be practical for you is to use a cabled connection between your PC and the Airport Express, or set up a wired access point wired to the PC and then use the Airport Express via that.

 

I can help you answer questions 2 and 3 hopefully...

 

The Airport Express (connected to DAC then amplifier), as it comes from Apple, will allow you to only listen to items in iTunes, so no internet radio or music not in itunes. You can get a programme called AirFoil from Rogue Amoeba (http://rogueamoeba.com/airfoil/) which will allow you to direct other audio sources on your Mac or PC to the Airport Express allowing you to use internet radio.

 

Your iTouch can be used as a brilliant remote control for iTunes, that's how I normally control my music listening. You can't however control any audio sources outside of iTunes that you may be directing to the Airport Express via AirFoil. You could download from the App Store a VNC client to control the PC for other listening.

 

Hope this is a little help

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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Thank you so much, Eloise!

 

Your comments answers quite a few of my questions.

 

My Hughesnet setup begins with the internet receiver in the garage wired to my linksys router. From there we use two linksys boosters...one placed in the livingroom (approx. 40 ft from the router) and the other placed in the study (another 30 ft away from the first booster). I pick up the wireless signal on my PC in the study from the linksys "stick" in the USB port.

 

Not the best setup for music or video streaming but it's what I have to work with and it works pretty good most of the time, unless of course there's several computers trying to do the same thing at one time. That was the reason for the question about an Airport Express or a Squeezebox latching on to my current wireless network.

 

Thanks again!

 

David[br]walw.org

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Welcome to computer audiophile. I'll attempt to keep your post here at the top of the "active forum topics" list by posting this, because I don't think I'll be much help otherwise. Maybe someone else will come along with better suggestions.

 

A couple of things though:

 

- Whether we are talking about the squeezbox or an airport express, if you are streaming radio from the internet, you will definitely be slowing down that network - just like adding another surfing computer to the network. It may be 'manageable', it may not be.

- For playing back files from a local computer, it shouldn't matter. It shouldn't slow your network down. It is then all about the bandwidth of your base station/ wireless hub and not your ISP's download speed.

- You can set up an airport express as a 2nd network in the house, selectable separately from each computer. This will bypass the Hughesnet for local playback (still no internet streaming), but if you then connect the two networks and then try to stream from the internet you will still be facing that limitation and slowdown due to your ISP's speed. I wish I could tell you how much that slowdown would be, but I cannot.

 

Also, iTunes and therefore airport express will absolutely stream internet radio (that is what the little "radio" button is for in the left hand column of iTunes). I have also pasted a few radio stations' urls that aren't on the Apple list into my library page. The airport express just has to be linked to the internet .... but that is what your issue is here it seems. Slow(er) internet. I personally think that you would have much more flexibility with the airport express/DAC/Amp scenario. I can't think what you can do to solve your ISP speed issue though. Have you tried a service call from Hughes or maybe one of the tech-types over at your radio station? --- yeah, I looked at your link. You do the overnight?

 

Regards,

markr

 

 

 

 

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Yeah, I'm the person responsible for our 12m to 6a music. I'm also responsible for getting sponsors for the station, writing checks and sweeping floors . There's not a lot of money in it but we get free music every day. Thanks for checking out our small homemade site for our small hometown station. But small ain't always bad.

 

You have answered two of the main questions I had:

 

1. An Airport Express setup wouldn't necessarily slow down my wireless network, unless I'm going to the internet for music and

 

2. An Airport Express setup would allow (overall) more flexibility than some other options I'm considering and it would save me a couple hundred dollars as a bonus.

 

Eloise was kind enough to answer the other question on using an iTouch as a iTunes remote for my PC iTunes setup.

 

HughesNet is OK for what it is. We're signed up with the "middle speed" service of their three speed options available but it's still rather expensive, especially compared to my AT&T service here at the station. The only other thing I could do to speed things up is to hardwire the study and listening room.

 

Thanks to you and Eloise for taking the time to respond in the detail you did.

 

David[br]walw.org

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why not just use a computer/Airport Express/DAC/amplifier setup?

 

My thought is buy an Apple TV instead of the airport express. It will allow you to stream if you want, but if you have trouble with your wifi, it will also allow you to sync to the ATV from your PC w/XP with ITunes (wirelessly or via ethernet) and then be the direct source to your DAC/amplifier rig. It will eliminate the risk of streaming cutouts or issues with your wifi. Or you can use it as part of a system later as in Series #3. The ATV can be controlled by your Itouch. If simplicity is what you want, this is it. It also gives you a set of HD video functionality that may be attractive to you.

 

The downside seems to be support of anything above 16/44.1 CD resolution, but it is an inexpensive starting point and in terms of reliability and ease us use, its hard to beat.

 

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Here’s my deal; I have been a life-long audiophile, although in recent years I have given up my past habit of constantly upgrading pieces of my system. About seven or eight years ago I got it to a point where I finally said “ok this works”. I had streamlined everything down to just the essential elementals and all “A” rated bits – a Wadia CD player with digital volume control, one of Nelson Pass’s single-ended amps, a pair of Gallo two ways and a really good sub - all strung together with silver Audioquest and some custom power cords and filtering. After having lived with lots of different rigs, I finally found one that was satisfying…

 

 

 

Increasingly in the past couple of years I have enjoyed the convenience of digital music management, first primarily on an iPod and an Itunes-based desktop system and now wanting to flow that ease into the big rig… I have a new HP Pavilion Laptop with 750GB of outboard storage. I have about 1000 CD’s ripped onto that HD all in Apple Lossless files. At the office we share music and I have access to about 30,000 songs in all sorts of resolutions and formats.

 

 

 

So after doing a bunch of reading from all sorts of sources on the web, I have been thinking about two options. The first would be to buy the best out-board USB DAC I can afford, an Apple Airport Extreme and pull the Wadia out of the system except on the occasions that I wanted to reconnect it to player red book CD’s one at a time. My questions there would be: Which DAC? Is USB the best connection? And how do I best manage the volume control I will need running the DAC directly into the power amp (use a DAC based volume control or rely on Itunes or HP volume controls)? The other option is to send the Wadia CD player back to the factory and have a digital input board added ($600) that would allow me to use the DAC in the CDP. The input on that board is either Tos-link or coax so I am not exactly sure what the best wireless solution is there.

 

 

 

Thoughts?

 

 

 

Longtime audiophile, new to CA

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firstly if you get an apple mac mini you will have the option of outputting 24/96 into a usb dac, airport express downscales to 16 bit i believe. i've just bought a beresford dac which is also available with usb connection, although the mac mini headphone jack also does optical, therefore a regular beresford dac, will connect optically and still output 24/96, and they really are value for money.

 

i must admit i'm new to this game myself but am considering the mac mini route for 24/96, it will also allow the connection of a large external hdd at a later date offering increased flexibility.

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Is your ISP providing internet via satellite? I've come across some hughesnet hardware at one of our remote sites, it was for satellite internet. One hallmark of that kind of delivery is high latency, compared with wireless, dsl, or cable. I monitor 4 or 5 sites that use satellite internet.

 

So any kind of time sensitive traffic like voice, and I would expect music as well, would have a harder time on satellite internet than the other common types. Increased traffic will definitely slow things down. But as markr says, that won't affect music streamed locally, within your own network.

 

One note for a secondary wireless network, the D-Link DIR-655 that I use has the option for a "guest" wireless network that has proven useful with my recent addition of an iPod Touch. Routing between primary and secondary networks on the router is optional and a nice feature to have. This can let you segregate networks - in house stuff can be on the guest, and internet access can be on the primary.

 

 

 

 

 

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