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Outlaw 990 with MacBook/iTunes


AvFan
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First post to those most interesting site. I'm very intrigued by the reality of my computer replacing my CD player and providing audiophile quality. Now my question:

 

I have an Outlaw 990 home theater processor that has a USB port that is supposed to make my home theater system act like a sound card. The 990 has excellent audio capability with multiple stereo settings including an upsample mode. Howver, I've hooked up a MacBook using iTunes via USB directly to the 990 with no results.

 

I've scoured iTunes Preferences for a setting to direct audio via USB to no avail; I only get audio from the MacBook speakers. Any suggestions on how I can get this to work? I'm a fairly regular contributor to Outlaws forum and have posted a similar question in their "Saloon".

 

Thanks for the help!

 

AvFan

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Thanks! I'm a PC guy and I borrowed my daughters MacBook for this experiment. After looking at the Mac some more I think I was able to do the same thing through System Preferences. With the USB connected I was able to select between the USB connection and the internal speakers. Now that I've got audio I can start having fun and do comparisons between my OPPO 980H as a trasport with a coax digital connection versus the MacBook and the USB. I really like iTunes and if all goes well I may become a Mac user in the future in large part so I can manage my growing library of music. I look forward to your next installments of the Music Server series in hopes of finding a wireless way to put my system together.

 

Thanks again!

 

AvFan

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I do the same with our 2150 and it works great. One oddity tho is that if I am playing via Macbook/iTunes/USB and I put a CD in the player (actually a DVD player) it cuts out the USB and the Macbook reverts to the internal speaker. Just noticed that today.

 

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That is odd the USB would shut off when you put a CD in the player. The 2150 must have some type of hierarchy built in when it senses a signal may be on its way. If it is a big deal I'm sure Outlaw could provide some insights into why the 2150 behaves that way. Regardless, the USB input on the 990 and 2150 seem to be pretty slick.

 

I ripped Dave Matthews Bands "Crash" CD to my daughters MacBook (AIFF format) for my test. I played both the CD on my OPPO via digital coax and the MacBook via the USB and switched between the two throughout the CD. I used the 990's Upsample stereo mode for both inputs. I couldn't tell a difference between the two. I kept having to look at the 990's display to tell what input I was using.

 

My daughter won't give up her MacBook so down the road I'll probably trade out my old Dell PC for an Apple MacBook. The Crash CD was 650mB so I'll keep checking this site for ideas how to deal with storage and mobility. I'd really like to sit on the couch with a laptop, have a bank of drives hold my music, and listen through my 990/HT setup. I'm sure that is possible now, but the fun is learning how to do it.

 

AvFan

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"I'd really like to sit on the couch with a laptop, have a bank of drives hold my music, and listen through my 990/HT setup. I'm sure that is possible now, but the fun is learning how to do it."

 

Very possible and you've found the right place for all the answers. Look around, if you don't find what you want post a question and relax while someone does the work for you :-)

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks in advance for your opinions on how well this setup will work as a music server.

 

Computer: MacBook (specific one TBD)

Airport Extreme

LaCie 2Big Network (not sure of size yet) set to RAID 1

Outlaw 990 w/USB audio input to internal DACs

 

The LaCie would be connected to the Airport Extreme via Gigabit Ethernet. The 990/USB would be connected to the Airport Extreme via an Ethernet cable then a Ethernet/USB converter to the 990. I'd run iTunes and all other software wirelessly from the MacBook. All music and other data (e.g. photos) would be stored on the LaCie.

 

The AExtreme, LaCie, and cable modem can be located in another room but that will require some drywall work after fishing wires in the walls. I'd rather not do that but it depends on how noisy the LaCie is. Anyone want to offer an opinion on how quite the LaCie is?

 

An optional addition may be a seperate small USB hard drive connected to the Airport Extreme USB to back up the MacBook's internal hard drive using Time Machine.

 

Thanks for the help!

 

AvFan

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Hey AvFan - I am a little confused by your proposed system I think this statement gets me:

 

"The 990/USB would be connected to the Airport Extreme via an Ethernet cable then a Ethernet/USB converter to the 990."

 

I jut need a little clarification and I'll off and running to give you a hand.

 

 

something like component A >> B >> C >> Speakers etc...

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

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Well, that was one of my better written sentences, lol! Let's see if I can restate it and add a little more info.

 

I'd like the Airport Extreme, LaCie and modem to be in an adjoining room. I want to keep the number of pieces of gear to a minimum in my home theater equipment cabinet and keep any noise from the LaCie from interfering with music playback. In my case the distance between the AExtreme and my Outlaw 990 might be over 5 meters or the cable length limit for USB. I was under the impression I could use an ethernet cable (Cat 5 or 6?) plugged into one of the three gigabit ethernet ports on the AExtreme and run it to my Outlaw 990. At the 990 I would use an ethernet/USB converter so I could plug into the 990's USB port. At that point the 990's DACs take over and handle the digital audio signal the same way it would from a coax or toslink connected source.

 

Thanks for your patience and help.

 

AvFan

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Unless you use the Airport Express you'll need to output the sound through a usb port on your computer. So, keep the Airport Extreme, LaCie disk, and cable modem in the other room. Connect to the disk over the network and connect your computer to the 990 directly via USB.

 

Does this accomplish what you need?

 

If you want the computer out of the room you'll need an Airport Express or a Squeezebox/Transporter.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

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So, the data is supplied by the LaCie to the MacBook via the Airport Extreme; that is good. I thought the Airport Extreme was a transmitter and a wireless receiver so it could wirelessly receive the info (iTunes, etc) from the MacBook and then it also was a router and send (hard wired in my case) the digital audio to my Outlaw 990. If that's not true I can add the Airport Express and it can receive the iTunes info from the MacBook and feed my 990, but not through its USB connection? Its all becoming clear...I think.

 

I was trying to avoid a hard connection between the MacBook and my 990 so I need to look at other options. I'll check out the Squeezebox to see what it can do. If I use the Airport Express it looks like I'm limited to its toslink output which has some issues. I suppose I could try it and see if the Airport Express' shortcomings via toslink are a problem for me.

 

Chris, you have mentioned a Pacecar in other posts, and it may be terrific, but to be honest that device is too expensive. Are you aware of any other similar devices that will "clean up" a toslink output and convert it to USB? Are there any devices like the Airport Express that will output wireless digital audio from a MacBook to USB?

 

Thanks for everything!

 

AvFan

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Hey AvFan - Here is my recommendation in this specific situation.

 

Get the Airport Express and use the TOSlink output into your 990. The Express is pretty cheap. If you aren't satisfied with the sound you have a couple options, keeping in mind a reasonable budget. The easy thing if you don't like it is to throw it up on eBay and recoup as much of your minimal cost as you can. The other thing you can do is wait for the PS Audio Digital Lens to be released. This device will reclock the signal from an Express and should be vastly cheaper than a Pace Car. I haven't heard the Digital Lens yet so I can't comment on the quality.

 

What is your plan for remote controlling your music?

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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Thanks for the recommendation, Chris. The Airport Express using TOSlink might be just fine for my system and listening habits. However, the PS Audio Digital Lens sounds very interesting; I'll keep an eye out for it. Do you know when it might be released?

 

As far as controlling my music I wanted the mobility of the MacBook running iTunes to play and control my music stored on a remote drive. The idea of sitting on the couch with the MacBook and listening to the music that fits my mood without having to shuffle through CD's is very appealing. And its not an afterthought that I want it to sound as good or better than my CD player. FYI, I did program my Harmony 880 with a "MacBook Music" activity and learned the little Apple remote's commands so at least I can pause/play and skip backward and forward if I leave the MacBook in one place.

 

AvFan

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