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AE connection - 3.5mm stereo jack to 2 phono interconnect advice


grantr77
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Hi, about to plump for an Airport Express, aim to run iTunes and Spotify (with Airfoil) from my MacBook Pro. Can't afford a DAC so for now going to just connect the AE straight to the back of my Arcam Amp using a simple 3.5mm stereo jack to phono interconnect. Few questions:

 

- recommended connection cable for this set-up please (is this any good: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gold-3-5mm-Stereo-Phono-Interconnect/dp/B0009HC4O4/ref=pd_bxgy_ce_text_b)

 

- for future reference what is the best value DAC on the market that will enable me to properly realise the quality from the AE?

 

Cheers.

 

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Any cable really, I mean don't bother buying anything expensive because the DAC in the express is nothing special anyway. The cable you mention is fine.

 

This should help with your other query, which to be honest is a bit too general. The important point about the AE is that it is limited to 16/44.1 so unless you have an upgrade plan, don't bother getting a DAC that handles higher res that costs more.

 

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1) The cable you listed from Amazon looks fine. As commented don't worry about spending huge amounts as the quality isn't that good to begin (though could be argued that a higher price cable will let you get the best of what quality there is). If you are in UK (assuming because you posted link to Amazon.co.uk) you could visit either Richer Sounds or Maplins and get similar cable or a slight step up in quality from Richer Sounds.

 

2) Suitable DACs for the AirPort Express. Well as commented it's a difficult question to answer ... everything from the a Beresford (and even cheeper but I can't think of any) upto a full dCS will bring about improvements. Assuming a moderate budget the two most popular / recommended DACs around £200 tend to be the Musical Fidelity V-DAC and Cambridge Audio DAC Magic. Both are good value with the V-DAC possibly edging the DACMagic but a lot is down to taste / subjective preference rather than one being absolutely better than the other. The other possibility is to look to second hand market where you often find bargains.

 

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.

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Thanks everyone, perfect feedback, the Richer Sounds one looks like the one to get. Just one thing I wanted to pick up which I am sure has been covered before (apologies), you say that the quality of the AE isn't that good to begin, I currently have my MacBook Pro tethered with a very cheap phono/headphone cable to my hi-fi set-up, to be fair it sounds pretty good, the only reason I want the AE to perfom this function is so I don;t have to sit right next to the hi-fi etc. Will the AE set-up mentioned above be comparable in sound quality or is there an appreciable degradation? Thanks again guys.

 

Grant

 

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Will you notice a difference in sound quality ... the two devices are probably quite comparable in sound quality, but the only true way is to get the AE and test it. Rememer in the UK you have the distance selling regulations which might help you being able to test the AE against direct output from the MacBook ...

 

Quoted from the BBC's "Five consumer laws you really aught to know" article [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/8253915.stm]

DISTANCE SELLING REGULATIONS

The Headline: When it comes to buying over the web, you're allowed to change your mind

Scenario: You buy an iconic white MP3 player from an online retailer as a birthday treat for yourself and, stone the crows, your aunt has only gone and bought you an iconic white MP3 player herself.

Yours is unopened so you try and return it, but the online retailer refuses to give you a refund.

The Truth: The Distance Selling Regulations allow customers a cooling-off period of seven working days. For goods, this counts from the time the goods are delivered. For services, it's seven working days from the contract being agreed.

This applies to all transactions carried out over a distance, not just to online transactions.

In a nutshell, you can get your refund. But there are some things you should be aware of, says Ms Fuentes.

"You do have to bear in mind who pays the postage."

And, she says, there are a range of things that are excluded: newspapers, magazines, personalised goods, flowers, food, software where the seal is broken, clothes that have been worn other than just to try them on, hotel bookings, and transport tickets.

Where it applies: The law applies across the UK, but has some differences as applied in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

 

In a "readers" comment, it was noted...

With regard to the Distance Selling Regs, you should have added the advice as published by the OFT under section 3.58 of the "guide for businesses on distance selling" ie

"Can I insist that consumers who cancel an order within the cancellation period return the goods as new or in their original packaging?

No. Consumers are under a duty to take reasonable care of the goods while in their possession as discussed in paragraph 3.44. The DSRs allow consumers to examine goods they have ordered as they would in a shop. If that requires opening the packaging and trying out the goods then they have not breached their duty to take reasonable care of the goods. In these circumstances you cannot insist that consumers return the goods as new or in their original packaging.

You may ask consumers to return goods with the original packaging, but you cannot insist on this. In the case of goods such as earrings that have hygiene seals, you may require consumers to exercise reasonable care by not removing the seals when examining them."

 

Please note none of this advise I have posted is given by me as legal advise, just for reference to show that (in the UK at least) you can order online and change your mind AFTER TRIALING the device.

 

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.

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The difference in quality with your existing setup and using the airport express as a DAC will be insignificant.

 

If I were in your shoes, I would do this;

 

1. Save the money that were going to plonk down on an airport express.

2. Your Macbook Pro has an optical output. That same connection that you are using to connect to your stereo is also an optical output. You can check by un-plugging the the RCA/headphone cable and you should see a little red light shining from within the jack.

3. When you saved up enough, get a decent mini plug to toslink adapter ;

 

4. Buy a budget DAC, like the Beresford TC-7520 . Despite its relatively low price, this DAC has been favorably compared to the likes of BenchMark's DAC1.

 

So, you saved $80 from getting the Airport Express. My suggestion will cost about $220.00 more, but you will be very well on your way to a high quality music server system that you will be able to enjoy for quite a while.

 

CD

 

 

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The AirPort Express will give you the convenience of separating the MacBook from the stereo system, it wont improve the quality (shouldn't degrade it either though).

 

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.

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Thanks everyone, going to mull this over, as you say maybe the best thing is try the AE out and take it from there, if not happy with that set-up return the unit and then consider the TOSLINK / DAC route suggested here also. I presume Airfoil will do the trick in terms of streaming from Spotify rather than just relying on iTunes, reason I want to use that is to free up some space on my Mac seeing as so much of my library is already on Spotify. I have searched the forums and seems Airfoil is well rated although of course do shout if anyone knows of any pitfalls in such a plan.

 

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Any cabling you use should be commensurate with the quality of gear you are using. You don't want cheap cables that will degrade the sound of better electronics or hi quality cables that are overly revealing of poor equipment. So audition/experiment if possible.

 

Of course there are folks that believe that cables have little effect on the sound. Which is true with some cables. And there are other brands that get better at each level of design.

 

 

 

James[br]

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wonderful product. Basically any sound your Mac makes can be routed, via Airfoil, to nearly any sound output device. The device can be your internal speakers, another Macs internal speakers, any Airport Express, etc.

 

If spotify is playing through your internal speakers now then the addition of Airfoil gives you the option to relay that sound wherever, pretty much.

 

CD

 

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The iPhone remote is an app to control iTunes only. Airfoil is basically just a sound driver/re-director, and Spotify is a competitor to iTunes. I heard that there is a recently approved Spotify app for the iPhone. What it does, I don't know.

 

CD

 

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The Spotify app on the iPhone will only (AFAIK) allow you to play music from the Spotify library ON your iPhone, you can't use it to control Spotify on a "remote" PC/Mac. It also only works with a full (premium) Spotify account. Spotify isn't really a competitor to iTunes because it's economic/business model is completely different, being based on a subscription to access everything rather than purchasing individual music as you wish. It's like saying Blockbuster is a competitor to HMV for instance.

 

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.

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thanks for all the advice above, have ordered up an AE and will see how I get on. Will get the 3.5 - phono lead from Richer Sounds as recommended. One last question on this topic - on my amp I have various inputs, phono, cd, tuner, vcr, av/dvd, I have an Arcam cd player hooked into the cd (obviously) but all the the other slots are spare, does it matter which slot I use to connect the AE??

 

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You can connect the AE (via the 3.5mm to dual phono) to almost any input on your Arcam amp except the phono input (this will have the required special amplification and equalisation neede for a turntable).

 

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.

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