Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
mike.s

Airport Express DAC for room audio

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

I'm looking for a Toslink DAC connection under $200 to connect to a setup I have for room audio (8 different rooms & 4 different macs):

Mac ==> Airport Express --> DAC (TBD) --> Dayton DTA-100a --> Pioneer SP-BS22-LR

 

For the most part there will be minimal direct active listening, but instead quiet passive listening while reading, studying and writing with some active listening while relaxing over a glass of wine.

 

Budget is less then $199... FIRM (remember, this is 4x and primarily passive listening).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm looking for a Toslink DAC connection under $200 to connect to a setup I have for room audio (8 different rooms & 4 different macs):

Mac ==> Airport Express --> DAC (TBD) --> Dayton DTA-100a --> Pioneer SP-BS22-LR

 

For the most part there will be minimal direct active listening, but instead quiet passive listening while reading, studying and writing with some active listening while relaxing over a glass of wine.

 

Budget is less then $199... FIRM (remember, this is 4x and primarily passive listening).

 

No need for anything more than 50-60$ glass cable here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
No need for anything more than 50-60$ glass cable here.

OK, so glass cable connects from APEX, but what exactly would that glass cable connect to? (the DAC is "TBD" --> to be determined by this thread).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm looking for a Toslink DAC connection under $200 to connect to a setup I have for room audio (8 different rooms & 4 different macs):

Mac ==> Airport Express --> DAC (TBD) --> Dayton DTA-100a --> Pioneer SP-BS22-LR

 

For the most part there will be minimal direct active listening, but instead quiet passive listening while reading, studying and writing with some active listening while relaxing over a glass of wine.

 

Budget is less then $199... FIRM (remember, this is 4x and primarily passive listening).

 

I really liked the original Musical Fidelity V-DAC, which I fed the same way with the optical from the Airport Express. It's been replaced by the V-DAC II, but you don't need the additional feature of the asynchronous USB. I think the rest of the insides are the same. You'd need to find it on the used market, and you should be able to get it for less than $199.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry Mike, I didn't read your post as thoroughly as I should have.

 

Not sure if you've purchased anything yet but I'm supposing you need an Airplay solution for 8 zones/rooms?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For a long time I used a Cambridge DACMagic connected to an Airport Express via toslink - the combination worked very well (it was in a bedroom system). It's not a current model, but their DACMagic 100 looks to be similar and I think should fit the budget.

 

I think it's worth mentioning that the analog output from the Airport isn't so bad, particularly if it's mainly for background music. Also the analog out (in my experience) tends to be more tolerant of poor wireless reception should this be an issue in some of the rooms.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like the silflex toslink cable by lifatec.


JWN Tube Amps--90w and 15w per channel respectively, in pentode, with Jim Nicholls' modified see-saw circuitry. The headphone amp uses 4 6V6 GT Magnavox tubes, and the big amp sports 8 6P3S-E Sovteks.

 

Neko Audio MKII DAC; Conrad Johnson PV-15 preamp; 2012 Mac Mini; VPI Scout turntable; Ortofon 2M black cartridge; Cayin CD-t23 transport; Dali Helicon 400 speakers; Shure SRH 1440; Grado RS2i headphones.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
So far, it seems that, until I can find a great deal (50% off amazon pricing on V-DAC or DACMagic), I'm relegated to analogue?

 

There's a very low budget DAC, the FiiO D7 (~$55 on Amazon), that accepts optical toslink input. I don't know whether the quality would be any better than the DAC in the Airport Express though; I haven't heard it.

 

You definitely don't need the V-DAC II if you're going to use optical input. The original V-DAC is sufficient. You might have to work at it for a few weeks to find 4 of these though (Musical Fidelity V DAC | eBay). ListenUp in Colorado used to have some extra stock of these that they were selling at discount; you might call them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good question, but personally I don't have a good answer. I suppose I could google up a short list for you but it would all be products that I've never used.

 

Here's one, for example:

Lindy DAC review from the experts at whathifi.com

No idea if it's any good. I've bought a couple of cables from Lindy and they're well made and good value but that doesn't really tell us much about the dac, which according to the review I've linked to is re-badged from someone else's product.

 

Strictly speaking, you're not "relegated to analogue", you're just using the built-in dac. Dunno if that helps though!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I use a Lifatec optical cable out of a first gen. Airport Express. I have been very satisfied with the sound although obviously limited to the 14/48 restiction imposed by the AE.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's plenty on affordable solutions Mike, all depend on what/how you need these systems to operate.

 

Is this a multi user work space or home use? Is space a concern where there's limited room for equipment ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Are you looking to spend $200 for all 8 rooms? That's tough. I agree with the suggestion that you just try the analog out. It's OKish and you may find it perfectly acceptable for background listening. If you want to spend $200 total, it's tough to beat monoprice both for the dacs and cables: For only $20.02 each when QTY 50+ purchased - Digital Coax & Optical Toslink to R/L Stereo Audio Converter

 

Have you bought your set up yet? If you haven't, then I'd chuck out the dayton express amps (they run around $100 each) and pick up the Onkyo TX 8050 stereo receiver. They have digital inputs and can also stream. They can also do more than one zone I believe. You may find that a less expensive way to set up your house. Plus the onk has a more robust amp section than the dayton amp which really does only 30 watts at 8 ohms.


Macmini (as server)-> AE Express/SB Touch-> Dacmagic plus -> Outlaw RR2150 -> PSB Image T6 (dedicated 2 channel audio system)

Macmini (via toslink)-> NAD T747 -> PSB Imagine B/SVS SB2000 subwoofer (home theater)

Macbook Pro-> Peachtree idecco->PSB Imagine Minis, Energy ESW-M8 subwoofer, Beyerdynamic DT880 (home office)

IMac->audioengine D1 dac->airmotiv 4 (work system)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Are you looking to spend $200 for all 8 rooms?

No!

There are 4 rooms with macs that have near field systems for each family member (wife & 2 kids). Then there are 4 other rooms that are used for various states of work/homework/play/creativity (wife is an artist). The other 4 rooms are what I'm filling with music.

Onkyo TX 8050

The Onkyo sounds interesting (have 1 Dayton right now... wife likes minimalist approach that's easy to cover from flying clay and paint), I'll dig into that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Onk is has a significantly better amp section than the little Dayton (the Onk is 4 ohm stable) at 2x the price. But it has a tuner, digital inputs, a usb connection for an ipod or hard drive, and it has wireless capabilities. It will give you a much greater choice of speakers than the Dayton amp.


Macmini (as server)-> AE Express/SB Touch-> Dacmagic plus -> Outlaw RR2150 -> PSB Image T6 (dedicated 2 channel audio system)

Macmini (via toslink)-> NAD T747 -> PSB Imagine B/SVS SB2000 subwoofer (home theater)

Macbook Pro-> Peachtree idecco->PSB Imagine Minis, Energy ESW-M8 subwoofer, Beyerdynamic DT880 (home office)

IMac->audioengine D1 dac->airmotiv 4 (work system)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why not all-in-one Airplay speaker units then?...wireless, Airplay, simple, economic and pretty good sound for background/recreational units.

 

Logitech UE

Samsung DA-E670

klipsch Gallery

B&W A5

......and a few other both higher and lower on the price point scale.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

mike.s - what is the source for the music you want in each room?

 

ie: a) will the person / people in each room have their own computer / iPhone / iPad with music on it,

or b) do you want to make a communal music library available in all rooms?

 

My point being that if you want option b, you would be better off with Apple TV units instead of Airport Express. If you have apple TVs in each room, reading music from a communal computer running iTunes, then you can have different music in each room. But with Airport Express you can only stream the same music to each room.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I recommend the Audioengine D1, even though that will exceed your budget a little. I've paired the D1 with a DTA-100a and I really like them together.

 

I went down this same path about a year ago with the goal of putting together the most inexpensive system I could that I also enjoy listening to. I even purchased the FiiO D3 DAC for $25 as an experiment -- it's not too bad although I really prefer the D1. I'd even be curious to compare the Lepai T-2020 T-amp with Dayton's T-amp, though I went straight with Dayton originally and remain impressed with their little amp.

 

If I were doing this again today, I'd consider a Raspberry Pi-based solution:

 

RPi -----USB digital audio----> DAC (Audioengine D1) ------> Amp (Dayton DTA-100a) ------> Speakers (Infinity Primus)

 

I've installed shairport on OS X and it works well, so I expect an RPi solution would also.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mike.s - what is the source for the music you want in each room?

4 different iTunes libraries with 1 shared between people. All but one room will need access to each library.

 

I recommend the Audioengine D1

This looks like an excellent choice!

 

If I were doing this again today, I'd consider a Raspberry Pi-based solution

I've been looking for an excuse to toy with an RPi system, and the audio solution is clearly interesting, but I don't know where to start with it, nor in this case understand it's role. Is it a replacement for the Airport Express? Is there a link to some kind of cookbook or parts list? A thread?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The RPi is a alternative for the AE. The positives are price ($35, but $60 with 1 A power supply, enclosure, 4 GB SD card, and wifi dongle, so that's really about the same as a second hand AE), and flexibility—I borrow my kid's RPi to use as a print server, and we use it to make time-lapse movies with a camera and little npn switch electronic shutter release. There's a zillion RPi projects. The negatives are packaging, lack of S/PDIF, and possibly its DIY aspect, unless like me you view that as its appeal. Just Google for all the setup issues, both for the RPi itself and for shairport. If you're in the U.S., you can find everything you need at Newark electronics, or possibly Amazon.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...