Jump to content
IGNORED

Another newbie with a MacBook Pro who is fascinated with this web site


Recommended Posts

hello all,

 

this is definitely the most interesting website covering computer audio. i have a brand new macbook pro and i'd like to send music wirelessly via itunes to my amp. i have the airport express router but i have an old marantz amp that only has rca connections. can i fulfill this goal with this setup? secondly, how does a dac or dac-like device like the affordable m audio transit fit in? i will upgrade my amp eventually, but this is the set up for now. alternatively, i have an xp pc and i would be willing to forgo the wireless option and just connect directly, but how? thanks in advance to all.

 

narroyo

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you have an Airport Express (the one that looks a bit like a white wall wart) and not an Airport Extreme (white flying saucer or cake tin) then you're ready to make wireless music. Get hold of a stereo mini-jack to rca cable - chances are you may already have one, if not get the cheapest one you can find in your local computer / electronics store - plug it it, fiddle with the wireless setup and away you go. Alternatively, just plug the same cable into the headphone output of your macbook or xp box and have fun playing some music.

 

If you like what you hear, and you find yourself wondering just how much better it could sound if you get this... or that... then join the club! (And start saving your cash)

 

With your current setup, I'd suggest that you do some comparisons between playing a cd directly (if you have a cd player) and using iTunes to rip the same cd to something like a 128 or 256kb mp3 and a lossless format like aiff or alac. Chances are you'll hear a difference - the low bit rate mp3 won't sound bad, but it will probably sound a bit "clunky" compared to high bitrate or lossless files. I would expect you'd hear the same sort of improvement again if you were to upgrade your dac from the one built in to your Airport Express / computer, but only you can judge whether a new dac or amp or speakers or headphones will give you the best value for money.

 

I strongly recommend trying things out before you buy. Your local hifi dealer with all those weird shiny scarily expensive things in the window will probably also have a decent range of more affordable gear you can listen to. Also you'll find lots of reading material here and elsewhere to give you some idea of what to expect.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

thanks for responding. keith, your set up sounds like a good wired option, esp with the fire wire connection rather than usb.

 

souptin, i do have airport express and have read that the stereo mini-jack to rca cable results in inferior sound, but i guess that also depends on the file format, as you detail. what about dacs? could a dac connected within these two configurations improve the sound? the m audio transit is a cheap $75 option, but i can't figure out how it would work.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"i do have airport express and have read that the stereo mini-jack to rca cable results in inferior sound"

 

Indeed. But it all depends on what you're comparing with. If you currently have no sound at all except what you're getting through the built in speakers on your computer, then it's going to sound a whole lot better. At the other extreme it will most likely be blown away in sound quality terms (not to mention cost!) by one of Coops' setups. A basic minijack to rca cable from Airport Express to your amp is a way for you to get started, is all. The cable itself isn't the limiting factor.

 

You probably already know this, but: There is a dac built in to your computer's motherboard, and one built in to the Airport Express, and one built in to M-Audio Transit. They take the digital information in the music file on your hard disk and change it into an analog signal which can drive an amplifier / powered speakers etc. They all do the same thing, they're just not all created equal, partly because of the components, partly because of the design. The inside of the computer case is not a good environment for d to a conversion because of electrical noise, so that's one reason why a Transit might well sound better than the computer's headphone output.

 

Hope this helps a little.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The M-Audio Transit won't help you with improving sound from your AirPort Express - the Transit is designed to add an SPDIF Digital Optical output and basic (in terms of sound quality) analogue output from a computer with USB port - you already have a similar level analogue output built in to the AirPort Express.

 

Souptin's suggestion of starting with a Mini-Jack to RCA cable makes a lot of sense. What I would suggest is that you rip any CDs to Apple Lossless (ALAC) or AIFF, not to MP3 or AAC. You might not notice any difference on playback using the analogue (mini-jack) output from the AirPort Express, however if you later upgrade the AirPort output (I'm coming to that) then you would want to re-rip to a lossless format (ALAC or AIFF) to get the best results.

 

Once you've decided you like the convenience of iTunes and the AirPort Express, then your next step is to look at improving the analogue output. This is done by adding a DAC (Digital to Analogue Converter). There are various ways of connecting a DAC and you will read about terms like SPDIF, Co-ax, Optical and TOSLink, along with USB and FireWire. USB and FireWire are used for connecting a DAC directly to a computer so if you wish to continue using the AirPort Express, then these are of no use to you (yes the AirPort Express has a USB connection but this CANNOT be used for audio). SPDIF is an umbrella term for consumer digital audio connection and this can be made using either an electrical connection (Co-ax) OR an optical / fiber optic connection. The optical connection is also known as TOSLink (named after TOShiba Link, Toshiba being the creator of the system). The AirPort Express has a TOSLink / Optical connector hidden within the mini-jack connector. To use this you'll need a Mini-TOSLink to TOSLink cable, or (not ideal) a Mini-TOSLink adaptor and a standard TOSLink cable (when looking for cables the term optical may be sustituted in all of those descriptions - i.e. Mini-Optical to Optical cable).

 

Almost all DACs will provide an improvement over the analogue output of the AirPort Express (assuming it has an optical connection). A few options available to you if buying new are the Beresford TC7510 and TC7520 (£110 - £150 UK Price); Music Fidelity V-DAC (£170) and Cambride Audio DACMagic (£225). This is no way an exhausted list but are three devices that get good reviews and customer feedback at the lower end. If you are happy to take a punt, eBay often provides good second hand bargains.

 

I hope this has been some help to you. Please feel free to come back and ask any further questions you have - people here are generally friendly to novice users.

 

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i will rip all my audio files using lossless processes as you all mentioned.

 

to comment on wired vs wireless setups:

 

a wired route such as a Mac Book Pro (or windows pc) --> DAC via firewire (or usb) --> amp seems ideal. I could use the ipod touch as a remote, as coops has suggested, and unplug the mac from the dac when not listening to music. could the m audio transit serve as an inexpensive dac, given that my old amp only has rca connections?

 

I will also try the wireless route that audio_elf detailed, using a mini-jack to rca cable. Apple sells one for about $40, but there must cheaper ones that are equally as good.

Now if the AirPort Express has a TOSLink / Optical connector hidden within the mini-jack connector, then can i get a toslink/rca connection cable or would I have to upgrade my amp?

 

I know these are a lot of questions, and I appreciate the help and advice.

 

narroyo

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The TOSLink connector is only for connection to a DAC (DAC literally meaning Digital to Analogue Converter). You can't go direct from TOSLink to RCA in on your Marantz.

 

The cheapest solution for you is to buy a MiniJack to RCA cable. You can try this both via the AirPort Express and also direct to the laptop. I've never listened to the analogue output of the M-Audio transit, but suspect there will be no worthwhile improvement over the Output straight from the Laptop.

 

Beyond that it's difficult to advise in detail without a budget you are prepared to spend. You can start at a few hundred dollars for a Devil Sound cable or EMu 0404 (as examples) or spend several thousand on a Weiss DAC2. All are good at their respective prices it all depends how deep your pockets are.

 

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.

Link to comment
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
 Share



×
×
  • Create New...