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Bluetooth or Wireless for my mom


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Hello,

 

My mom asked me for a music solution for her without "all the ugly wires everywhere" as she puts it. I haven't really followed the whole new wireless DACs and streamers so I need help now.

 

Is bluetooth and wireless pretty much the same? My guess is that bluetooth is limited against wireless but I could be all wrong here. Looking at the bluetooth specs though, I don't see mp3 or redbook supported. Hence my confusion.

 

About my mom: She has a Windows 7 laptop with an external 1TB portable drive and a 15yo Sony receiver with speakers that sound pretty decent. Music is always on there, mostly background, but always on. Let's just say she doesn't sweet spot sit and listen... As much as I love her, I know she won't hear the difference between 24/96 and mp3 (nor will she care) so mp3 It will be. Therefore, the goal here is NOT to get a DSD 2048-Magico-dCS-Boulder-Odin-cables deal... The goal is to get an easy, convenient and cheap solution.

 

The obvious choice would be the Sonos at this point (If a tad expensive for her) but I think her receiver/speaker would most probably sound just as good If not better than a Sonos. I went to BestBuy and there was Bose and Sony bluetooth all-in-one speakers solutions pretty much like the Sonos but cheaper. Yet again, Im not sure about was exactly is bluetooth and her receiver might sound better still.

 

There is the possibility of a soundbar (which she wanted) or simply to buy a wireless DAC to connect to the Sony receiver. Or buy a new receiver altogether with all the bells and whistles. Or... I dunno! Maybe just an AppleTV or Airport Express is all she would need? I am thinking out loud here.

 

So, I would appreciate more infos about bluetooth and/or possibly suggestions for a wireless DAC. Or any other ideas at this point.

 

Just remember here the goal is convenience and affordability. No need to bother with 24/96 as It won't be needed.

 

Also, my mom doesn't have (nor want) a phone/tablet. The player will be on her laptop. Whatever player that will be.

 

Thanks!

Arcam rDAC / Oppo BDP-83 / NAD 315BEE / Totem Arro

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Hello,

 

My mom asked me for a music solution for her without "all the ugly wires everywhere" as she puts it. I haven't really followed the whole new wireless DACs and streamers so I need help now.

 

 

Is bluetooth and wireless pretty much the same? My guess is that bluetooth is limited against wireless but I could be all wrong here. Looking at the bluetooth specs though, I don't see mp3 or redbook supported. Hence my confusion.

 

About my mom: She has a Windows 7 laptop with an external 1TB portable drive and a 15yo Sony receiver with speakers that sound pretty decent. Music is always on there, mostly background, but always on. Let's just say she doesn't sweet spot sit and listen... As much as I love her, I know she won't hear the difference between 24/96 and mp3 (nor will she care) so mp3 It will be. Therefore, the goal here is NOT to get a DSD 2048-Magico-dCS-Boulder-Odin-cables deal... The goal is to get an easy, convenient and cheap solution.

 

The obvious choice would be the Sonos at this point (If a tad expensive for her) but I think her receiver/speaker would most probably sound just as good If not better than a Sonos. I went to BestBuy and there was Bose and Sony bluetooth all-in-one speakers solutions pretty much like the Sonos but cheaper. Yet again, Im not sure about was exactly is bluetooth and her receiver might sound better still.

 

There is the possibility of a soundbar (which she wanted) or simply to buy a wireless DAC to connect to the Sony receiver. Or buy a new receiver altogether with all the bells and whistles. Or... I dunno! Maybe just an AppleTV or Airport Express is all she would need? I am thinking out loud here.

 

So, I would appreciate more infos about bluetooth and/or possibly suggestions for a wireless DAC. Or any other ideas at this point.

 

Just remember here the goal is convenience and affordability. No need to bother with 24/96 as It won't be needed.

 

Also, my mom doesn't have (nor want) a phone/tablet. The player will be on her laptop. Whatever player that will be.

 

Thanks!

 

An AirPort Express has analog RCA outs so she can just hook it right into her existing receiver and use her laptop to stream her library to her stereo. IF however she does not use iTunes then you might want to look at a Sonos piece called Connect which is $350 and will take her library and play it to her stereo along with being able to stream pretty much any music service in existence to her system also. It has analog outs like the Apple but also has a great app for her Windows computer. It may be a bit more than you want to spend but trust me, it us worth every penny. She'd be thrilled.

 

PS. Your instinct that her speakers and old receiver will sound better than those wireless speakers is right on.

David

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There are a lot of different systems, each with their own pros and cons.

 

Bluetooth is fairly ubiquitous. It's not a good audiophile solution as it can only play back compressed audio, but the advantage is that it runs on its own wireless protocol, separate from wifi, which means that you do not need to be on a network to play audio to it. Its range is quite limited though.

Just about anything can play to a Bluetooth audio device if it is within range. Computers, phones, tablets of any brand. If your laptop doesn't have Bluetooth built in, you can buy a simple USB adapter.

That's why the majority of portable speakers or sound "docks" use Bluetooth rather than any other protocols.

 

 

UPnP/DLNA are networked devices which use either a wired Ethernet connection or WiFi. These support lossless audio - often high resolution audio too, and work with most server applications.

However, you have to be on the network to play to them, and you often cannot play to them directly from another device like a phone, you have to send audio via a server app running on a computer or NAS box somewhere.

You can often control playback with an app running on the phone, but not send audio directly from it.

 

It's a good solution for home networked audio, but not if you want to play directly from a device, or if you have guests over that want to play their own music.

 

 

Apple AirPlay is another networked solution that works either via Ethernet or WiFi. It supports lossless CD quality playback, but not high resolution audio. Unlike UPnP/DLNA, you can send audio directly to the device from your phone - as long as it's an iPhone. Because it's an Apple standard it's closed-off and proprietary, so it only really works well with Apple hardware/software.

You can send audio to it from a PC if you are running iTunes or via applications like Airfoil, but I don't know that there are any solutions for Android/Windows Phone for example.

 

We have a number of AirPlay enabled devices here, because we wanted to be able to stream CD-quality audio around the house and most of the computers/phones here are Apple devices.

However this was problematic last weekend when we had guests over that wanted to play their own music - those with Apple devices have to be on the WiFi network to send audio to the devices, and those without Apple devices couldn't send audio to it.

I wasn't there at the time, but I think they just ended up pulling the 3.5mm jack from the AirPort Express and playing back music via the headphone jack.

 

So with Apple hardware on your own home network, it's just as convenient as Bluetooth but higher quality with better range. Once you get outside of your home network, or have non-Apple devices, it starts to become very limiting.

 

iOS 8 is rumored to include AirPlay Direct, which would let you play to AirPlay devices without being on the WiFi network, but that has been rumored before and did not materialize. Even if it does happen, it would not solve the connectivity problems with non-Apple devices, and may require new receivers to work.

 

 

Sonos is similar to Apple's AirPlay - it's using Ethernet or WiFi, and runs its own proprietary protocol. Because nothing has Sonos support built in, it's even less convenient for playback - you need to be running a specific Sonos app for it to work. There are apps for Android as well as iOS though - but not Windows Phone.

And just like AirPlay, it has support for lossless CD quality audio, but not high res.

People that have bought into the Sonos system seem to like it, but it seems too closed-off for my liking.

 

 

Ultimately, one of the networked solutions seems like the best idea if your goal is to stream over a long distance, and play from a computer with storage rather than a device like a phone or tablet.

 

It sounds like she is already set up with speakers and an amplifier, so I would just look into an adapter rather than buying a portable/wireless speaker.

 

For Bluetooth Audio something like this Logitech Adapter would be a good choice: Bluetooth Audio Adapter

For AirPlay, Apple's AirPort Express is the obvious choice: Apple - Mac - AirPort*Express

I don't really have any specific recommendations for UPnP/DLNA.

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For simplicity and convenience I would say Bluetooth. With Bluetooth she can take it anywhere.. If she goes traveling or outside of her house Airplay most likely won't work since it uses your home network to stream the music.

 

I actually have Flac on my Blackberry and play it easily over bluetooth in my car and house. I have some 24 bit/96kHz stuff and I don't know if my BB downsamples it but it plays..

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Thanks a lot for the replies guys!

 

I threw the Apple Airport Express as a possibility almost as a joke as I didn't realize It could do the trick so easily (and cheaply!). Very interesting indeed.

 

In a way, It all comes down to whatever player/interface she would be more comfortable with on her laptop as both Sonos and Airport Express do pretty much the same thing, the same way (Sonos having more inputs/options).

 

Stupid question here but where is the DAC in all this? Is this like an all-in-one chip (like Intel or whatever) within each component or is it the DAC inside the laptop that's at work in this scenario?

 

Just to be 100% clear here, Bluetooth devices will play mp3's fine, right?

 

Thanks again. Very helpful here.

Arcam rDAC / Oppo BDP-83 / NAD 315BEE / Totem Arro

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Each component has a DAC built in.

 

Bluetooth will work with any audio source, but it will be converted to a lossy codec when transmitting to the receiver.

 

It wouldn't be my choice for home audio - but a Bluetooth adapter can be useful if you have a spare input.

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We (my brothers and I) ended up buying my mom an Airport Express with an iPad Air. We almost went for the Sonos but even though she didn't want a tablet, I am pretty sure she will enjoy the iPad a lot.

 

The end result will be iTunes on her Windows 7 laptop going Airplay to the Express to the receiver. I will go install that this week and hopefully It will be a smooth sailing.

 

 

Thanks again to everyone for the help.

Arcam rDAC / Oppo BDP-83 / NAD 315BEE / Totem Arro

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We (my brothers and I) ended up buying my mom an Airport Express with an iPad Air. We almost went for the Sonos but even though she didn't want a tablet, I am pretty sure she will enjoy the iPad a lot.

 

The end result will be iTunes on her Windows 7 laptop going Airplay to the Express to the receiver. I will go install that this week and hopefully It will be a smooth sailing.

 

 

Thanks again to everyone for the help.

 

Perfect start and possibly finish as well.

She will love that iPad.

David

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If you're using an iPad for control, you might want to consider JRiver with JRemote - I prefer it to Apple's own remote app.

You would also need to buy Airfoil to send audio from the PC to the Airport Express.

 

There's nothing wrong with using iTunes of course.

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