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Apple TV the way to go? Also, DAC suggestions needed!


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Hi everyone,

I need your advice!


I currently have a Sony laptop running Vista which I use for audio (itunes) as well as internet/email and general use. I like to use the internet whilst sitting on the couch watching Sky on the lounge TV (on mute) AND listening to music/internet radio from my itunes through my hifi. I currently use a 4m interconnect from the analog audio out of the laptop to a Trends TA 10.1 integrated amp connected to Roth Oli1 speakers (which isn't ideal as the interconnect trails accross the lounge floor).


I want to get into Apple as I have used a Mac recently and have been blown away by the ease of use. Also, I am getting the iphone in a few weeks on Vodafone.


My current thinking is to continue to use the Sony laptop but to buy a DAC and an Apple TV and connect them via optical. It is important to me to be able to use a laptop whilst sitting on the couch...I have contemplated getting a mac mini and connecting it to the TV and using a wireless keyboard from the couch, but this would be no good as when I am browsing the net I won't be able to have Sky on, like i do at present with the laptop.


It would be better, would it not, to get an Apple TV since I can continue to browse the net from the Sony laptop from the couch, whilst watching Sky (on mute) on the lounge TV, and playing music from the Apple TV (which doesn't need to be connected to a TV...I can use it remotely using my Sony laptop/iphone). Also, the Apple TV has optical out whereas the Sony laptop doesn't - I would much prefer to connect to a DAC via optical than USB...I have listened to both and feel optical sounds better.


Another approach I have thought of is to get an Airport Express and stream directly to a DAC/Trends/Roths using the optical out. Clearly, this is the cheapest option. However, I am concerned about sound quality/dropout and would prefer a wired connection between hardrive and DAC, hence the Apple TV. Maybe I should get an AE in the first instance and if I dont like it sell on ebay for a small loss?


I welcome any suggestions you may have on this set up, particularly any recommendations for a DAC, as this will definitely improve my sound compared to using the analogue out on the laptop. If money were no object I would get a Macbook, sync the content to a Mac Mini or Apple TV and run the optical out to AVI ADM 9.1s. However, unfortunately money is an object :)


One final thing about the Apple TV...if I have 50gb of iTunes synced to the Apple TV from my laptop, but my iphone is only 16gb, am I still able to access all the content on the Apple TV via the iPhone? Hope this makes sense.



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It sounds like the ATV would work well for you. In your system, it'll essentially be a second computer, with its own storage and music serving capabilities, freeing your laptop to be used as you please. Airport express would work as well, but you'd be streaming from ITunes on your laptop. Differences here...




Sound dropout shouldn't be an issue if you have a solid network.


You can use your IPhone to control the ATV, the hard drive storage on the IPhone isn't used (it's just a remote control) so you'll be able to access all your ITunes content.


As far as DAC, that depends on personal taste and budget. Do a search on this site for "Best DAC" and it'll bring up several threads for various budgets and requirements.


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I have an ATV that I picked up from Ebay and have been very happy with it as a music server. At first I just used it through a Yamaha A/V receiver but later added a Benchmark HDR DAC (which I highly recommend). I use the optical output from the ATV to the DAC.


I prefer to sync content as I've had problems with drop outs, but you may have a different experience. There are options of adding a larger HD to the ATV (320GB from weaknees.com for around $200). If you go this route get a cheap 40GB model and have the drive upgraded.


Some say the sound of the ATV is not as good as a mac mini, but for the price and ease of use I think the ATV is hard to beat.


Gary[br]AppleTV -> Benchmark HDR -> Aragon 8008 -> Snell Type D

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You seem to have thought this out a fair bit and I would agree that apple tv seems to be a good way to go in your case. As mentioned by the previous poster, one of the benefits of apple tv, especially in an all music setup, is that your music collection will likely all fit on the apple tv itself so there will be no need to stream any content to it. And the iphone makes a great remote (although I drool over the possibilities of the mythical apple tablet as a remote).


As for dac I've been looking at a similar setup so here are my two recommendations of the week. The Musical Fidelity V-dac is $300 and although it doesn't look like much it's supposed to be a solid performer. The PS Audio Digital Link III doesn't get much mention on this site as its usb implementation is rather standard and nothing special, but for $700 it is regarded quite well via its digital inputs.


Good luck and let us know how things work out.


PS Audio Quintet > Powerbook (iphone with apple remote app) > HRT Streamer II > Kingrex Pre-amp > Kingrex QS-01 > Devore Fidelity Gibbon 7.1\'s

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Thanks for all your advice everyone.


I like how the ATV can be used with my laptop off or if I leave it in the office.


If I were to get someone to install a larger hardrive into the ATV for me, would I still be able to download software updates for it or would it wipe the content? Is there a maximium size hard drive that can be fitted to a ATV? My thinking is that if I could get a 1TB HD in it I wouldn't have to worry about storage space for a very long time!


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I use ATV Flash with my ATV. It works well, and can be removed at any time.

I think there's a limit to the internal drive on the ATV, not software limited but that they don't make 1TB drives in that measurement. Not sure about that though.

You can use ATV Flash to make the external drive function as if it were the internal. In that case the internal is useless, so don't bother getting a big internal drive if that's your plan.

I think updates may wipe the drive, so you'd want to have your content in another place in addition to the ATV.



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According to to weakness.com, 320 GB is the largest HD you can put in the ATV. That will hold more than 1,000 CDs in Apple Lossless format. I have heard of DYI kits that are larger but I would be wary of them.


Upgrading the HD has no effect on the software updates. I am not positive, but I don't think that is the case with the software hacks like Flash.


Gary[br]AppleTV -> Benchmark HDR -> Aragon 8008 -> Snell Type D

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With atvflash, you can decide to automatically update from apple whenever they're released, or turn that off and do it when you're ready. Whenever you update, the atv goes to the factory default unhacked state, and then you'll spend 5 mins re-running the hack USB. This isn't a big deal since updates occur only every several months. If you have the larger internal drive, you wouldn't need the hack at all. Atvflash should only be necessary to use the external as your primary drive. Of course, you can stream limitlessly from another computer and only sync your favorite 160gb.


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