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Any way to use a USB DAC w/ Airport Express?


darascal
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Hi,

 

I'd love to try one of the USB DACs on the market (particularly the Wavelength Proton) in my secondary system that is currently sourced by an Airport Express. Is there any way to do this? I searched the internet and there doesn't seem to be a way to convert optical to USB. Is there some other way to get a USB signal to a secondary system from the primary's computer? A long (in my case, 50') USB cable would seem to be a bad (and potentially expensive) solution.

 

Thanks,

Rascal

 

A: Mac Mini => Peachtree Nova => LFD Integrated Zero Mk.III => Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 | Musical Fidelity X-CAN V-8 => AKG K 701

B: Airport Express = > Benchmark DAC1 => Rega Brio-R => B&W DM 601 S2

C: Airport Express => AudioEngine A2

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with apologies to Thomas Huxley,

 

How extremely stupid (of me) not to have thought of that.

 

Great idea, but I don't know how to pull it off.

 

What the (audio) world needs is little battery-operated linux boxes that solve problems such as this.

 

clay

 

 

 

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Clay, I think "little battery-operated linux boxes" could solve just about any problem.

 

But a Mac Mini is almost of a little linux box. (Ok, not battery-operated, but...). Seems I should be able to use it as an interface somehow. Rogue Amoeba makes Airfoil Speakers, which is suppossed to make any mac look like an Airport Express. Then, I'm thinking output via USB. Though I don't know what would happen to the sound quality, and I'd hate to be sending crap into a nice DAC like the Proton.

 

Maybe I'll experiment with this ... anyone ever try this? Any other ideas along this line?

 

Thanks,

Rascal

 

A: Mac Mini => Peachtree Nova => LFD Integrated Zero Mk.III => Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 | Musical Fidelity X-CAN V-8 => AKG K 701

B: Airport Express = > Benchmark DAC1 => Rega Brio-R => B&W DM 601 S2

C: Airport Express => AudioEngine A2

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I assumed that you didn't want to put an entire Mac Mini in between the AE and the Proton. You could just skip the AE and access the Mac Mini headlessly, perhaps even accessing the music files via iTunes Shared Library feature (if they are stored out of proximity of the Mini), or via Airfoil Speakers I suppose, I haven't used it despite being a big fan and loyal user of the basic Airfoil product.

 

clay

 

BTW, USB out of Mac Mini to Proton is highly recommended, even by Gordon himself.

 

Someone posted recently about not using the two outermost / leftmost (looking from front) USB ports in the Mini

 

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"Clay, I think "little battery-operated linux boxes" could solve just about any problem."

 

Agreed, that's why I put 'audio' in parenthesis in my original comment. I don't know if people read my parenthetical comments as intended, but... when I use them, in many cases they are intended to signify that the statement works both ways, i.e. with and without the parenthetical comment, with the latter being a more generalized statement.

 

cheers,

clay

 

 

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... an entire Mac Mini between the AE & the Proton. Reason being, I'd like to have the same music playing from my main system (Mac mini wired to a DAC) on my second system (through the AE). So I'd be using a second Mini as audio interface. Overkill, I suppose, but I don't know what other option there is.

 

If only I could use that USB on the AE! But printed music just doesn't sound as good as the real thing. For now I'll have to be content with the AE optical out to my V-DAC. Which I am content with (but of course never quite content - you know, that whole audiophile thang).

 

Thanks,

Rascal

 

A: Mac Mini => Peachtree Nova => LFD Integrated Zero Mk.III => Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 | Musical Fidelity X-CAN V-8 => AKG K 701

B: Airport Express = > Benchmark DAC1 => Rega Brio-R => B&W DM 601 S2

C: Airport Express => AudioEngine A2

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The airfoil speakers program run on your Mac Mini would get you to the same point as the AE. I can't comment on sound quality for critical listening, as I only use the Speakers part for casual listening. My understanding is that it's hijacking the stream without manipulation, so it should be fine. But that means the AE would be an unnecessary component in the chain. Unless you want to use the AE as an ethernet access point for the Mac Mini so you don't have to run wireless in that box.

 

Sure would be nice to use USB from AE and ATV.

 

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So, Clay, what is you point? There are currently converters available for either end.

 

The fiber optic cable is an option for long runs not possible with some protocols run over copper wire.

 

In addition, you cannot believe for one minute that USB connection to a DAC is anything more than a temporary band-aid. The audio industry will adapt to any physical link and protocol that the computer industry dishes out, and the trend is pointing to new uses for fiber optics.

 

Daphne

 

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Ah yes, Egon, you're quite right - I'd forgotten that the AE would be uncessesary in this situation. The Mini would be acting as a big, smart AE.

 

Thanks,

Rascal

 

A: Mac Mini => Peachtree Nova => LFD Integrated Zero Mk.III => Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 | Musical Fidelity X-CAN V-8 => AKG K 701

B: Airport Express = > Benchmark DAC1 => Rega Brio-R => B&W DM 601 S2

C: Airport Express => AudioEngine A2

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Daphne, I thought Clay's point was that these cables would not be a solution for converting the AE optical out to USB suitable for a USB DAC. And while the audio industry may adapt in the future to computer industry physical links & protocols, I'm looking at what's out there right now that meets my requirements (the Proton currently being at the top of my list).

 

But thanks for your input, these cables are good to know about!

 

Rascal

 

A: Mac Mini => Peachtree Nova => LFD Integrated Zero Mk.III => Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 | Musical Fidelity X-CAN V-8 => AKG K 701

B: Airport Express = > Benchmark DAC1 => Rega Brio-R => B&W DM 601 S2

C: Airport Express => AudioEngine A2

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My point was that Opticis products don't seem to address the issue at hand - converting from the Optical S/PDIF (aka Toslink) output from the Airport Express to the USB input of the Wavelength Proton DAC.

 

Perhaps I missed something in their offerings?

 

clay

 

OOPS: just noticed that darascal already made my point.

 

 

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