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PC Guy With Apple Question (Apple TV/Airport Express)


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Hello.

 

 

I'm wondering if the following configuration would work:

 

Windows PC with JRMC and library on internal hdd (OS: Win7 64bit Home Premium)

Ethernet cable

Router

(other side of house)

Ethernet cable

Apple TV or Airport Express

USB cable

USB DAC

RCA

Audio system

Remote: iPod 2, 3, or iPod Air with JRemote

 

If both AppleTV and Airport Express would work, which would work best?

 

 

Thanks.

 

 

Win10 Sweetwater recording studio PC running JRMC > Soundcraft Ui24r 24-track digital mixer > JBL LSR308 via Magomi Balanced XLR cable pair

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Edit: does jrmc even support AirPlay?
It does not. You would have to go through Airfoil, which works, but can be a hassle to set up.

 

You can configure the Airfoil driver as a Zone in JRiver, but have to set which AirPlay devices that actually plays to via the Airfoil app.

 

I am also concerned that JRiver may decide to block access to the Airfoil driver as they have done with JPlay recently. JRiver have repeatedly stated how they don't want to support AirPlay, and it is not properly supported on OSX where AirPlay is built into the OS.

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the Apple TV and airport express are not for audio.
They are absolutely for audio playback, it's just that the USB port is not intended for use with a USB DAC.

The original AirPort Express is where AirTunes (now AirPlay) debuted.

 

My original AirPort Express from 2004 is still working perfectly today, with its optical output feeding a DAC. It is limited to 16/44 though.

 

The AirPort is a WiFi extender with Audio capabilities, while the Apple TV is a network streaming device with audio and video capabilities. The Apple TV will also resample everything you send it to 48kHz, so resample it in your player or buy the AirPort Express if you don't want that.

 

There are measurements of the latest version here: Apple AirPort Express Audio Quality

And older versions here: Computer Audiophile - Measurements: First and Second Generation Apple AirPort Express

 

The biggest issue with these devices right now is that they have not yet been updated to support 802.11ac if you want to extend a recent AirPort Extreme/Time Capsule network.

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They are absolutely for audio playback, it's just that the USB port is not intended for use with a USB DAC.

The original AirPort Express is where AirTunes (now AirPlay) debuted.

 

My original AirPort Express from 2004 is still working perfectly today, with its optical output feeding a DAC. It is limited to 16/44 though.

 

The AirPort is a WiFi extender with Audio capabilities, while the Apple TV is a network streaming device with audio and video capabilities. The Apple TV will also resample everything you send it to 48kHz, so resample it in your player or buy the AirPort Express if you don't want that.

 

There are measurements of the latest version here: Apple AirPort Express Audio Quality

And older versions here: Computer Audiophile - Measurements: First and Second Generation Apple AirPort Express

 

The biggest issue with these devices right now is that they have not yet been updated to support 802.11ac if you want to extend a recent AirPort Extreme/Time Capsule network.

 

It seems I was barking up the wrong tree.

 

I'm attempting to obviate the need of tethering computers to each of our 4 audio systems without giving up resolution (from a library of FLAC files). If I read the information correctly from the above links, and according to the responses thus far; neither Apple device can stream at audiophile standards, which by itself is a deal breaker. Furthermore, neither will work well (if at all) with a Win7 PC running JRMC.

 

Let me know if I got this wrong. Otherwise, thanks for helping me avoid losing more hair;)

 

 

Gary

Win10 Sweetwater recording studio PC running JRMC > Soundcraft Ui24r 24-track digital mixer > JBL LSR308 via Magomi Balanced XLR cable pair

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I think you would have to look to DLNA devices for that.

AirPlay is currently limited to 16-bit for audio, and 44/48kHz depending on the device.

Sonos is similarly limited to 16/44.

 

I'm not really sure what would be a good choice for a DLNA renderer though - none of the ones I have tried worked well with JRiver. I couldn't even get gapless playback working, and I don't think JRiver even supports synchronized playback yet if that's a feature you care about.

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Not to encourage spending MORE money but Sonos (the little ZP-90) does exactly what you want. I have 4 zones outside of my main listening room.

Analog: Koetsu Rosewood > VPI Aries 3 w/SDS > EAR 834P > EAR 834L: Audiodesk cleaner

Digital Fun: DAS > CAPS v3 w/LPS (JRMC) SOtM USB > Lynx Hilo > EAR 834L

Digital Serious: DAS > CAPS v3 w/LPS (HQPlayer) Ethernet > SMS-100 NAA > Lampi DSD L4 G5 > EAR 834L

Digital Disc: Oppo BDP 95 > EAR 834L

Output: EAR 834L > Xilica XP4080 DSP > Odessey Stratos Mono Extreme > Legacy Aeris

Phones: EAR 834L > Little Dot Mk ii > Senheiser HD 800

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It seems I was barking up the wrong tree.

 

I'm attempting to obviate the need of tethering computers to each of our 4 audio systems without giving up resolution (from a library of FLAC files). If I read the information correctly from the above links, and according to the responses thus far; neither Apple device can stream at audiophile standards, which by itself is a deal breaker. Furthermore, neither will work well (if at all) with a Win7 PC running JRMC.

 

Let me know if I got this wrong. Otherwise, thanks for helping me avoid losing more hair;)

 

 

Gary

 

JRMC will support one Airplay device under MacOS with no issues at all, but every Airplay device is going to be limited to 16/44.1 resolution. Same is true with Sonos, so if you want hires in your remote zones, rule out Sonos.

 

The J. River ID will give you a JRMC instance in a NUC format (i.e. about the size of a Mac Mini, but a little fatter.) That will play pretty much all your music, including hires and DSD streamed from your main JRMC server. As noted, it may not synchronize playback perfectly yet, but if you are playing as separate zones there is no issue at all.

 

Like always, you need a modestly robust network to support all that. Both Airplay devices driven from iTunes and Sonos do a good job of supplying that network for you, if you can live without hires music. :)

 

You can get high res streaming from some other choices, but the cost is several times what the solutions here are. Nait, for example.

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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JRMC will support one Airplay device under MacOS with no issues at all, but every Airplay device is going to be limited to 16/44.1 resolution. Same is true with Sonos, so if you want hires in your remote zones, rule out Sonos.

 

The J. River ID will give you a JRMC instance in a NUC format (i.e. about the size of a Mac Mini, but a little fatter.) That will play pretty much all your music, including hires and DSD streamed from your main JRMC server. As noted, it may not synchronize playback perfectly yet, but if you are playing as separate zones there is no issue at all.

 

Like always, you need a modestly robust network to support all that. Both Airplay devices driven from iTunes and Sonos do a good job of supplying that network for you, if you can live without hires music. :)

 

You can get high res streaming from some other choices, but the cost is several times what the solutions here are. Nait, for example.

 

For the record, you started me down this new rabbit hole with your suggestion to use an iPad with JRemote to control my system. I caught wind that my sister-in-law caught wind that I was looking at used iPads and she's suddenly looking to buy a new iPad Air. Last night, I mentioned to her that I hadn't decided which iPad would best fit my needs, hoping to discourage her from buying such a costly gift, but she is completely unpredictable and VERY tech-smart.

 

Anyway, a big question here is if I am aiming too high sonically given our current main audio system. After all, I'm pretty happy with my vintage audio gear, though the Canton CT-800's are a bit sibilant at moderate & higher volumes - an issue I hope to remedy after re-capping the internal crossovers, but I digress. My point is that higher-res playback might not yield an appreciable audible difference through a Luxman R-117 receiver + Canton CT-800's. Also, it's unlikely I'd ever wish to use more than one instance of JRMC at a time.

 

Still, you bring up a new issue that a Mac would be required. May I assume just one Mac Mini would be required as server, with an Airport Express + optical DAC at each audio system? This would increase cost over my first proposed system, but not as much as a PC or (gulp) Nait at each audio system. Plus, the Mac Mini could reside next to our audio system to replace one of the Airport Express units, which may yield better SQ.

 

Could this be a good configuration for me?

Win10 Sweetwater recording studio PC running JRMC > Soundcraft Ui24r 24-track digital mixer > JBL LSR308 via Magomi Balanced XLR cable pair

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Hi Gary -

 

I think you are doing fine with a PC with JRMC and JRemote on an iDevice to start with. It actually sounds a lot more complex than it is.

With the iPad, you will have not only remote control, but remote streaming to the iPad as well. There's a breakdown below that might help a bit.

 

Start with JRiver on a Windows PC with JRemote on an iPad. From that point, you can grow the system and network in many directions. :)

 

If you just want to listen remotely on headphones, you can use JRemote on your iPad to stream full resolution audio to your iPad with a set of headphones. You can attach a DAC like the iFi DSD Nano to the iPad and stream high res audio. There are some limitations, but they are few and usually easily overcome.

 

If you want to stream to a remote station to listen on headphones or with a conventional audio systems AND perfect synchronization with other remote locations is not an issue, then install a J. River ID and appropriate DAC/Amp/etc. This will give you full access to all your music, high res included. The only caveat is that you need to use an external DAC to get DSD, and that requires a bit of editing in Linux. J. River would probably set it up for you before they ship if you asked them to and gave them the exact specifics of what you want.

 

If you only want Redbook quality music at your remote locations AND perfectly in-synch playback is an immediate and absolute requirement, then buy Sono's equipment. Once installed and on the network, they will show up as Zones in J. River Media Center than you can select like any other zone. (You can synchronize multiple zones to play the same thing at the same time in multiple locations, but J. River has not worked all the bugs out of that yet.

 

If you want top quality streaming, there are many choices, but they all get expensive really quickly. I expect prices will fall like a rock over the next 18 months, but currently, I like the NAIM streaming players the best. And J. River can see and send music to them as a separate zone. There are a lot of complications in this, such as ensuring you get gapless playback with no issues- I strongly suggest consulting a dealer for this solution.

 

 

 

For the record, you started me down this new rabbit hole with your suggestion to use an iPad with JRemote to control my system. I caught wind that my sister-in-law caught wind that I was looking at used iPads and she's suddenly looking to buy a new iPad Air. Last night, I mentioned to her that I hadn't decided which iPad would best fit my needs, hoping to discourage her from buying such a costly gift, but she is completely unpredictable and VERY tech-smart.

 

Anyway, a big question here is if I am aiming too high sonically given our current main audio system. After all, I'm pretty happy with my vintage audio gear, though the Canton CT-800's are a bit sibilant at moderate & higher volumes - an issue I hope to remedy after re-capping the internal crossovers, but I digress. My point is that higher-res playback might not yield an appreciable audible difference through a Luxman R-117 receiver + Canton CT-800's. Also, it's unlikely I'd ever wish to use more than one instance of JRMC at a time.

 

Still, you bring up a new issue that a Mac would be required. May I assume just one Mac Mini would be required as server, with an Airport Express + optical DAC at each audio system? This would increase cost over my first proposed system, but not as much as a PC or (gulp) Nait at each audio system. Plus, the Mac Mini could reside next to our audio system to replace one of the Airport Express units, which may yield better SQ.

 

Could this be a good configuration for me?

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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Hi Gary -

 

I think you are doing fine with a PC with JRMC and JRemote on an iDevice to start with. It actually sounds a lot more complex than it is.

With the iPad, you will have not only remote control, but remote streaming to the iPad as well. There's a breakdown below that might help a bit.

 

Start with JRiver on a Windows PC with JRemote on an iPad. From that point, you can grow the system and network in many directions. :)

 

If you just want to listen remotely on headphones, you can use JRemote on your iPad to stream full resolution audio to your iPad with a set of headphones. You can attach a DAC like the iFi DSD Nano to the iPad and stream high res audio. There are some limitations, but they are few and usually easily overcome.

 

If you want to stream to a remote station to listen on headphones or with a conventional audio systems AND perfect synchronization with other remote locations is not an issue, then install a J. River ID and appropriate DAC/Amp/etc. This will give you full access to all your music, high res included. The only caveat is that you need to use an external DAC to get DSD, and that requires a bit of editing in Linux. J. River would probably set it up for you before they ship if you asked them to and gave them the exact specifics of what you want.

 

If you only want Redbook quality music at your remote locations AND perfectly in-synch playback is an immediate and absolute requirement, then buy Sono's equipment. Once installed and on the network, they will show up as Zones in J. River Media Center than you can select like any other zone. (You can synchronize multiple zones to play the same thing at the same time in multiple locations, but J. River has not worked all the bugs out of that yet.

 

If you want top quality streaming, there are many choices, but they all get expensive really quickly. I expect prices will fall like a rock over the next 18 months, but currently, I like the NAIM streaming players the best. And J. River can see and send music to them as a separate zone. There are a lot of complications in this, such as ensuring you get gapless playback with no issues- I strongly suggest consulting a dealer for this solution.

 

Synchronous playback at multiple locations isn't needed, and Redbook is sufficient for the three non-main audio systems. With that in mind, what about this option:

 

If I want hi-res music for the main audio system only, and Redbook streaming to the other locations with no need to be in-sync: use a Mac Mini with JRMC and USB DAC to connect hi-res playback directly to the main audio system, and optionally use the same Mac Mini (which, btw, is connected to the network via ethernet) to stream to Airport Express units with optical DACS (also ethernet wired to the network) at the other audio locations.

Control = iPad 2 or above with JRemote

 

Hmm?

Win10 Sweetwater recording studio PC running JRMC > Soundcraft Ui24r 24-track digital mixer > JBL LSR308 via Magomi Balanced XLR cable pair

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That is kind of what I do, but it has a serious flaw in it. You can only play one audio stream to the remote devices, though you can play that stream to 1, 2, 3, or all of the remote devices at the same time. This is because JRMC does't see the Airplay devices individually, it sees the Airplay output device on your Mac, which is more like an ASIO or some other device.

 

In this case, since Redbook works great for you, then Sono's devices in the remote locations is a good, and relatively inexpensive fit. That would allow you to stream different music to each location as well as (attempt) to synch them to all play together. Also you can control them from JRemote. And it doesn't matter if you are running JRMC on a Mac (my preference) or on Windows, it will all work just the same.

 

Alternately, a little JRiver NUC at the remote locations with a set of powered speakers would also sound great and do the same job, for roughly the same cost as Sonos Play5. (The Play 5 sounds really good by the way. :)) Again, you can control these completely from JRemote, and you can choose to run your main system on Windows, MacOS, or even Linux if you wish.

 

Airplay is wonderful, but really needs to get a serious update.

 

Synchronous playback at multiple locations isn't needed, and Redbook is sufficient for the three non-main audio systems. With that in mind, what about this option:

 

If I want hi-res music for the main audio system only, and Redbook streaming to the other locations with no need to be in-sync: use a Mac Mini with JRMC and USB DAC to connect hi-res playback directly to the main audio system, and optionally use the same Mac Mini (which, btw, is connected to the network via ethernet) to stream to Airport Express units with optical DACS (also ethernet wired to the network) at the other audio locations.

Control = iPad 2 or above with JRemote

 

Hmm?

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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They are absolutely for audio playback, it's just that the USB port is not intended for use with a USB DAC.

The original AirPort Express is where AirTunes (now AirPlay) debuted.

 

My original AirPort Express from 2004 is still working perfectly today, with its optical output feeding a DAC. It is limited to 16/44 though.

 

The AirPort is a WiFi extender with Audio capabilities, while the Apple TV is a network streaming device with audio and video capabilities. The Apple TV will also resample everything you send it to 48kHz, so resample it in your player or buy the AirPort Express if you don't want that.

 

There are measurements of the latest version here: Apple AirPort Express Audio Quality

And older versions here: Computer Audiophile - Measurements: First and Second Generation Apple AirPort Express

 

The biggest issue with these devices right now is that they have not yet been updated to support 802.11ac if you want to extend a recent AirPort Extreme/Time Capsule network.

 

What trozhaiha actually wrote, before you chopped off the beginning:

 

Usb on the Apple TV and airport express are not for audio.

 

This is absolutely correct as originally written. The USB ports are NOT for audio. The optical ports and HDMI on the ATV are audio outputs.

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It seems I was barking up the wrong tree.

 

I'm attempting to obviate the need of tethering computers to each of our 4 audio systems without giving up resolution (from a library of FLAC files). If I read the information correctly from the above links, and according to the responses thus far; neither Apple device can stream at audiophile standards, which by itself is a deal breaker. Furthermore, neither will work well (if at all) with a Win7 PC running JRMC.

 

Let me know if I got this wrong. Otherwise, thanks for helping me avoid losing more hair;)

 

 

Gary

 

 

I think you would need to convert FLAC to ALAC, but apart from that it would work. The airport express can play bit-perfectly with 44.1kHz. The ATV resamples, but as far as I can hear, the resampling is transparent.

 

The ATV can play independently of the main system, as long as iTunes is simply open, which enables it to serve your library.

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The J. River ID will give you a JRMC instance in a NUC format (i.e. about the size of a Mac Mini, but a little fatter.)
NUCs are considerably smaller than the Mac Minis:

 

QObSVN9.jpg

 

I'm not sure that I'd recommend spending $400/room on the JRiver ID though, especially when new Broadwell NUCs are due soon, and JRiver are working on porting to Raspberry Pi:

 

Raspberry Pi + JRiver

JRMark -- JRiver's Benchmark Tool

 

If all you're wanting to do is feed a DAC, you don't need a full PC for the task, and this would be more like $100-150/room rather than $400.

 

And JRiver still don't do synchronized multi-room playback even with the ID.

On the Mac, AirPlay works in JRiver if you only have a single device on your network. It's completely useless if you have more than one AirPlay device. You can't select which device it plays to, it just picks whatever is first in the list.

 

Still, you bring up a new issue that a Mac would be required. May I assume just one Mac Mini would be required as server, with an Airport Express + optical DAC at each audio system? This would increase cost over my first proposed system, but not as much as a PC or (gulp) Nait at each audio system. Plus, the Mac Mini could reside next to our audio system to replace one of the Airport Express units, which may yield better SQ.
If you already own a PC running JRiver, you just need an Airfoil license and an AirPort Express in each room. There's no need for a Mac.

 

Playing audio through Airfoil is limited though. The Airfoil app controls how audio is routed to each room, rather than being able to set up each as a zone in JRiver. However this has the advantage of it handling the multi-room playback which means you get perfectly synchronized audio which JRiver cannot do.

 

The main concern I have is that they blocked the JPlay driver on a whim and may do the same thing with the Airfoil driver at any time.

 

If you have ethernet hooked up in the rooms, one of the nice things about AirPlay is that it's Apple hardware so it is very reliable and you can pick up used v1 hardware for about $50 which is all you need if you're using its optical output into a DAC. $75 if you want a refurb of the newer models from Apple.

 

Synchronous playback at multiple locations isn't needed, and Redbook is sufficient for the three non-main audio systems.
Be warned that I thought it wasn't an issue until I actually tried to set up a multi-room system with JRiver.

 

It turns out that synchronized audio is a big deal if you're playing the same music to more than one room at a time. I didn't think it would be an issue until I tried it. JRiver can get so out of sync that both rooms are playing different tracks after a relatively short amount of time playing.

 

The ATV can play independently of the main system, as long as iTunes is simply open, which enables it to serve your library.
It's not a great idea to try and maintain both a JRiver library and an iTunes one at the same time, in my opinion. Far more trouble than it's worth.
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slippery slope warning

 

 

Brother, I should have headed your warning.

 

I also should have stated from the beginning that all I'm trying to do is emulate a four speaker switch. I don't want music in multiple rooms simultaneously; just the one I'm in. I can achieve this with a few spools of decent speaker wire and a speaker selector switch and call it a day (and preserve the rest of my hair for the next time my wife's laptop freezes)...

 

OR

 

...use precisely the right ingredients suggested so far in this thread: PC, JRMC, iPad, Airport Express, Apple TV, USB DAC, Toslink DAC, AirPlay, Airfoil, OSX, AirTunes (now AirPlay), FLAC, DLNA, Sonos ZP-90, NUC, iTunes, Mac Mini, Nait (!), Linux, ASIO, ALAC, Broadwell NUC, Rasberry Pi.

 

You have to admit, this is a bit funny. I admit, I've never been more confused.

 

Is there a better CA solution than wire and a speaker selector, or is this a good case for Occam's Razor?

 

Either way, I truly thank you for your input, and hope you all have a wonderful Holiday Season!

 

 

Gary

 

 

 

ps: I noticed an error in the OP; I wrote "iPod" when I meant "iPad".

Win10 Sweetwater recording studio PC running JRMC > Soundcraft Ui24r 24-track digital mixer > JBL LSR308 via Magomi Balanced XLR cable pair

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hardwire and speaker selector is a legit option. i couldn't run wires through the wall, or at least didn't want to. It was about 2 years ago that I went on this whole-house audio kick and went through a lot of the same options you are. All my music was already alac/aiff however. bought a bunch of klipsh airplay speakers at about $150 a pop. also have an airport express, couple of apple tv's. I can airplay using the remote app controlling the mac mini, or just airplay directly from my idevice (pandora or music on the idevice) to whichever room i want. Works great. But no high-res streaming.

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hardwire and speaker selector is a legit option. i couldn't run wires through the wall, or at least didn't want to. It was about 2 years ago that I went on this whole-house audio kick and went through a lot of the same options you are. All my music was already alac/aiff however. bought a bunch of klipsh airplay speakers at about $150 a pop. also have an airport express, couple of apple tv's. I can airplay using the remote app controlling the mac mini, or just airplay directly from my idevice (pandora or music on the idevice) to whichever room i want. Works great. But no high-res streaming.

 

Thanks. It's great to hear this kind of information. Hi-rez streaming would be nice if I had multiple "worthy" systems, but I even wonder about my main system.

 

There are other benefits to my solution: 1. I'll only need one amplifier, which could be significantly upgraded by the influx of funds from selling the other now-unnecessary systems, 2. Much cleaner look with just a pair of speakers and volume knob. Wife would love that. There are drawbacks too, but I'm starting to think this is the hot ticket. I've always wanted to listen to music in my woodshop without fear of headphone wires getting caught in spinning blades. A mini audio rig housed in a custom case with filtered venting would solve the problem of dust vs. electronics, but building it would be a time-consuming task. Lack of that time has kept me in a silent workshop for many years, but that case wouldn't be necessary in the new thinking system. Just speakers and a volume knob.

 

I'm going to keep my options open and spend some time thinking about this.

Win10 Sweetwater recording studio PC running JRMC > Soundcraft Ui24r 24-track digital mixer > JBL LSR308 via Magomi Balanced XLR cable pair

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I think you would need to convert FLAC to ALAC, but apart from that it would work. The airport express can play bit-perfectly with 44.1kHz. The ATV resamples, but as far as I can hear, the resampling is transparent.

 

The ATV can play independently of the main system, as long as iTunes is simply open, which enables it to serve your library.

 

Hi Bill & Gary,

 

The following quotes from the Peachtree Audio web site supports Bill's advice about Apple TV's sound quality.

 

Computer Audio and AirPlay | Peachtree Audio

 

"The optical out on the Apple TV provides outstanding sound quality."

 

"Why Apple TV instead of AirPort Express: The new Apple AirPort Express is very similar to the Apple TV, except for the advantage of being able to set it up with your computer. However, at present, the AirPort Express has excess jitter that prevents the DAC from properly locking onto the signal. The Apple TV, on the other hand, works fine."

 

“[Here] was a jewel of an affordable system, being operated here by Peachtree’s David Solomon. Peachtree’s new decco65 D/A integrated amplifier ($899), which uses a 24-bit ESS Sabre DAC and offers 65Wpc into 8 ohms, drove Dynaudio DM2/6 bookshelf speakers, the system being completed with an Apple TV and cables to give a total cost of $2,000.

 

John Atkinson posted on June 8, 2012"

 

 

“This was one of the best and smartest systems of the show, in my opinion, because it offers sound that an audiophile can love while providing the simplicity and versatility that everyone wants - all at a real-world price. I think it's also important to note that Dave Solomon and Peachtree's "Ambassador of Awesome," Jonathan Derda, provide outstanding demonstrations - clear, comprehensive, and fun.”

 

Stephen Mejias commented on June 8, 2012"

 

The thing is Peachtree is a well respected audio manufacturer and the fact they chose to display (market) their products at an audio show using Apple TV speaks volumes. One would expect that the were endeavouring to show their products in the best possible light and that in itself is an endorsement of the Apple TV.

 

Garry wrote previously:

 

"May I assume just one Mac Mini would be required as server, with an Airport Express + optical DAC at each audio system? This would increase cost over my first proposed system, but not as much as a PC or (gulp) Nait at each audio system. Plus, the Mac Mini could reside next to our audio system to replace one of the Airport Express units, which may yield better SQ.

 

Could this be a good configuration for me?

 

YES- just replace the Airport Express with an Apple TV in your various zones and stream to them (wired or wirelessly) using Airplay and you will get what you want easily and cheaply.

 

Install Audirvana combined with iTunes as its database on the Mac Mini in the lounge room and you will be able to play Hi-Res in all its glory. You can then stream (however, resampled down to 48khz) to any other room by simply selecting either "this computer" or a single Apple TV" or multiple Apple TVs at the same time using iTunes.

 

The best part is that your family and friends can also play music from their own iDevices directly to the Apple TVs via Airplay. Just make sure you call each one obvious names so that people know which one to select.

 

As Bill correctly pointed out the problem for us "purists" is that Apple TV resamples, i.e. it is not bit perfect, however, IMO if it is for second or third zone listening it is usually for background music and you can still do your serious listening in your lounge.

 

I am technically challenged but have been able to set up this system at my beach house. I went halves with my brother and law who has his 3 teenage kids, and with my 15 year old son who is a music nut, together with all our visiting friends its really cool when someone wants to play something that they can simply connect their iPhone to the apply TV. There is also a facility called mirroring, so anything on their phone (photos, videos, can be shown). We have one upstairs in our lounge (and a MAC Mini) connected into a benchmark DAC1 playing into powered Akimate mini speakers (excellent second set for $400/pair) and one downstairs in the kids room.

 

Anyway it doesn't cost much of your money or time to dip your toe in the water - just buy one for $99 and connect it up to your existing wifi and Hifi (you will need optical input on your DAC or you can buy a FiiO D03K Taishan DAC for $40.) and then borrow an iPhone, or MAC laptop, from a friend and see how it sounds (they also need to be connected to the same wifi network). On the iPhone you simply swipe upwards from the bottom and the control panel opens and then select the Apple TV.

 

Good Luck

LOUNGE: Mac Mini - Audirvana - Devialet 200 - ATOHM GT1 Speakers

OFFICE : Mac Mini - Audirvana - Benchmark DAC1HDR - ADAM A7 Active Monitors

TRAVEL : MacBook Air - Dragonfly V1.2 DAC - Sennheiser HD 650

BEACH : iPhone 6 - HRT iStreamer DAC - Akimate Micro + powered speakers

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Hi Bill & Gary,

 

The following quotes from the Peachtree Audio web site supports Bill's advice about Apple TV's sound quality.

 

Computer Audio and AirPlay | Peachtree Audio

 

"The optical out on the Apple TV provides outstanding sound quality."

 

"Why Apple TV instead of AirPort Express: The new Apple AirPort Express is very similar to the Apple TV, except for the advantage of being able to set it up with your computer. However, at present, the AirPort Express has excess jitter that prevents the DAC from properly locking onto the signal. The Apple TV, on the other hand, works fine."

 

“[Here] was a jewel of an affordable system, being operated here by Peachtree’s David Solomon. Peachtree’s new decco65 D/A integrated amplifier ($899), which uses a 24-bit ESS Sabre DAC and offers 65Wpc into 8 ohms, drove Dynaudio DM2/6 bookshelf speakers, the system being completed with an Apple TV and cables to give a total cost of $2,000.

 

John Atkinson posted on June 8, 2012"

 

 

“This was one of the best and smartest systems of the show, in my opinion, because it offers sound that an audiophile can love while providing the simplicity and versatility that everyone wants - all at a real-world price. I think it's also important to note that Dave Solomon and Peachtree's "Ambassador of Awesome," Jonathan Derda, provide outstanding demonstrations - clear, comprehensive, and fun.”

 

Stephen Mejias commented on June 8, 2012"

 

The thing is Peachtree is a well respected audio manufacturer and the fact they chose to display (market) their products at an audio show using Apple TV speaks volumes. One would expect that the were endeavouring to show their products in the best possible light and that in itself is an endorsement of the Apple TV.

 

Garry wrote previously:

 

"May I assume just one Mac Mini would be required as server, with an Airport Express + optical DAC at each audio system? This would increase cost over my first proposed system, but not as much as a PC or (gulp) Nait at each audio system. Plus, the Mac Mini could reside next to our audio system to replace one of the Airport Express units, which may yield better SQ.

 

Could this be a good configuration for me?

 

YES- just replace the Airport Express with an Apple TV in your various zones and stream to them (wired or wirelessly) using Airplay and you will get what you want easily and cheaply.

 

Install Audirvana combined with iTunes as its database on the Mac Mini in the lounge room and you will be able to play Hi-Res in all its glory. You can then stream (however, resampled down to 48khz) to any other room by simply selecting either "this computer" or a single Apple TV" or multiple Apple TVs at the same time using iTunes.

 

The best part is that your family and friends can also play music from their own iDevices directly to the Apple TVs via Airplay. Just make sure you call each one obvious names so that people know which one to select.

 

As Bill correctly pointed out the problem for us "purists" is that Apple TV resamples, i.e. it is not bit perfect, however, IMO if it is for second or third zone listening it is usually for background music and you can still do your serious listening in your lounge.

 

I am technically challenged but have been able to set up this system at my beach house. I went halves with my brother and law who has his 3 teenage kids, and with my 15 year old son who is a music nut, together with all our visiting friends its really cool when someone wants to play something that they can simply connect their iPhone to the apply TV. There is also a facility called mirroring, so anything on their phone (photos, videos, can be shown). We have one upstairs in our lounge (and a MAC Mini) connected into a benchmark DAC1 playing into powered Akimate mini speakers (excellent second set for $400/pair) and one downstairs in the kids room.

 

Anyway it doesn't cost much of your money or time to dip your toe in the water - just buy one for $99 and connect it up to your existing wifi and Hifi (you will need optical input on your DAC or you can buy a FiiO D03K Taishan DAC for $40.) and then borrow an iPhone, or MAC laptop, from a friend and see how it sounds (they also need to be connected to the same wifi network). On the iPhone you simply swipe upwards from the bottom and the control panel opens and then select the Apple TV.

 

Good Luck

 

 

OUTSTANDING! This is worth serious consideration; especially since it was exactly what I had originally hoped for, and I can use my existing USB DAC and cables for the main system. All I need is a used Mac Mini as the core component ($300 on ebay) and an AppleTV ($100 new), optical DAC ($40), and cables ($50) per additional location. JRiver will probably clip me for another half a Benjamin for the Mac version of JRMC bringing my total cost to $920 for all four locations, but I can start with just Mac Mini and JRMC for $350 and build from there.

 

 

NUCs are considerably smaller than the Mac Minis:

 

QObSVN9.jpg

 

I'm not sure that I'd recommend spending $400/room on the JRiver ID though, especially when new Broadwell NUCs are due soon, and JRiver are working on porting to Raspberry Pi:

 

Raspberry Pi + JRiver

JRMark -- JRiver's Benchmark Tool

 

If all you're wanting to do is feed a DAC, you don't need a full PC for the task, and this would be more like $100-150/room rather than $400.

 

And JRiver still don't do synchronized multi-room playback even with the ID.

On the Mac, AirPlay works in JRiver if you only have a single device on your network. It's completely useless if you have more than one AirPlay device. You can't select which device it plays to, it just picks whatever is first in the list.

 

If you already own a PC running JRiver, you just need an Airfoil license and an AirPort Express in each room. There's no need for a Mac.

 

Playing audio through Airfoil is limited though. The Airfoil app controls how audio is routed to each room, rather than being able to set up each as a zone in JRiver. However this has the advantage of it handling the multi-room playback which means you get perfectly synchronized audio which JRiver cannot do.

 

The main concern I have is that they blocked the JPlay driver on a whim and may do the same thing with the Airfoil driver at any time.

 

If you have ethernet hooked up in the rooms, one of the nice things about AirPlay is that it's Apple hardware so it is very reliable and you can pick up used v1 hardware for about $50 which is all you need if you're using its optical output into a DAC. $75 if you want a refurb of the newer models from Apple.

 

Be warned that I thought it wasn't an issue until I actually tried to set up a multi-room system with JRiver.

 

It turns out that synchronized audio is a big deal if you're playing the same music to more than one room at a time. I didn't think it would be an issue until I tried it. JRiver can get so out of sync that both rooms are playing different tracks after a relatively short amount of time playing.

 

It's not a great idea to try and maintain both a JRiver library and an iTunes one at the same time, in my opinion. Far more trouble than it's worth.

 

This is an intriguing solution as well. If I have this right, the Rasberry Pi is a micro-computer (NUC?) that can output bit-perfect audio under a Linux OS? If it doesn't require a degree from MIT to get it running, this looks VERY promising indeed. I didn't find a seller for the main piece here in the US, but amazon sells some components in their line of products.

Win10 Sweetwater recording studio PC running JRMC > Soundcraft Ui24r 24-track digital mixer > JBL LSR308 via Magomi Balanced XLR cable pair

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OUTSTANDING! This is worth serious consideration; especially since it was exactly what I had originally hoped for, and I can use my existing USB DAC and cables for the main system. All I need is a used Mac Mini as the core component ($300 on ebay) and an AppleTV ($100 new), optical DAC ($40), and cables ($50) per additional location. JRiver will probably clip me for another half a Benjamin for the Mac version of JRMC bringing my total cost to $920 for all four locations, but I can start with just Mac Mini and JRMC for $350 and build from there.
Just to make it clear, you do not need a Mac for AirPlay - and JRiver does not work properly with the native OSX AirPlay support once you have multiple AirPlay devices on your network. Even on a Mac you would have to go through Airfoil for multi-room support, so why not just buy an Airfoil license for your PC instead? ($25)

 

This is an intriguing solution as well. If I have this right, the Rasberry Pi is a micro-computer (NUC?) that can output bit-perfect audio under a Linux OS? If it doesn't require a degree from MIT to get it running, this looks VERY promising indeed. I didn't find a seller for the main piece here in the US, but amazon sells some components in their line of products.
Yes, the Raspberry Pi is basically a very low-power micro-computer - much smaller than even the NUC.

However it's a real "hobbyist" device so I don't know that you would want to try setting one up unless you are quite technically knowledgeable. JRiver seem to be working on getting JRMC to work on the RPi though, so presumably they would sell pre-configured devices similar to the ID (which is just a pre-configured NUC) but at a much lower cost per room.

 

The advantage of the RPi is that it would support high-res audio in each room, unlike the AirPort Express/Apple TV or most other inexpensive networked solutions.

 

 

However, if you are thinking that you would be happy with an Apple TV paired with a $40 DAC, why not just buy an AirPort Express and use its own built-in DAC? (the AirPort Express has a DAC, while the AppleTV does not)

I can't imagine that it is any worse than a $40 DAC. Apple actually seem to do a decent job when it comes to audio on their devices.

 

I'd recommend that you get a trial of Airfoil, buy an AirPort Express, and see what you think of it. If you don't like it, return it to the Apple Store.

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