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In-Tone

The Best Apple AirPlay Streamer

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Now that the Apple AirPort Express is going away, what is the best AirPlay streamer available?

Only Apple AirPlay.  No UPnP, ChromeCast or other network protocol/service.  Something simple that just does AirPlay.

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You mean the best AirPlay receiver. For now, you might still be able to get an older Apple TV that has an optical output; the current model only has HDMI. I haven't heard much about other devices that aren't inside components like receivers, or that aren't software solutions for a computer. 


I write about Macs, iTunes, music, and more at Kirkville.

Author of Take Control of iTunes 12

Co-host of The Next Track podcast.

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Let me clarify, it needs to be a currently available product/component that replaces the Apple AirPort Express Toslink output, or has a high quality internal DAC.

 

What is the best AirPlay receiver (access point)?  Not a stereo/home theater receiver with amplifiers.

 

Only using AirPlay for iTunes on Mac and the Music app on iOS.

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I use an older Apple TV that has an optical output, the TV3.  Mine was $40 at the Apple refurb store and I often see them on Amazon, etc.


"The overwhelming majority [of audiophiles] have very little knowledge, if any, about the most basic principles and operating characteristics of audio equipment. They often base their purchasing decisions on hearsay, and the preaching of media sages. Unfortunately, because of commercial considerations, much information is rooted in increasing revenue, not in assisting the audiophile. It seems as if the only requirements for becoming an "authority" in the world of audio is a keyboard."

-- Bruce Rozenblit of Transcendent Sound

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The Apple AirPort Express and old Apple TV are not current products.  They are both discontinued and considered legacy.  I have several AirPort Expresses that I currently use, but I want something better, if possible.

 

I need a current (in production and shipping) product that does high quality AirPlay.  I only use AirPlay, so I don’t need it to do UPnP or any other platform.

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better, how?

 

 


"The overwhelming majority [of audiophiles] have very little knowledge, if any, about the most basic principles and operating characteristics of audio equipment. They often base their purchasing decisions on hearsay, and the preaching of media sages. Unfortunately, because of commercial considerations, much information is rooted in increasing revenue, not in assisting the audiophile. It seems as if the only requirements for becoming an "authority" in the world of audio is a keyboard."

-- Bruce Rozenblit of Transcendent Sound

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Better sound.

 

An AirPlay receiver with Toslink optical out, for using a nice external DAC....OR an AirPlay receiver with a great internal DAC.

 

Is there a current component that works perfectly for just AirPlay?

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Not that I know of. 

 

Maybe time to start thinking like a guy that owns an old sports car and accumulate a stash of Apple TV3's or whatever unit you think has better SQ.


"The overwhelming majority [of audiophiles] have very little knowledge, if any, about the most basic principles and operating characteristics of audio equipment. They often base their purchasing decisions on hearsay, and the preaching of media sages. Unfortunately, because of commercial considerations, much information is rooted in increasing revenue, not in assisting the audiophile. It seems as if the only requirements for becoming an "authority" in the world of audio is a keyboard."

-- Bruce Rozenblit of Transcendent Sound

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I have a good stash of AirPort Express units.

 

Maybe someone should design and create a solution....?  A high quality AirPlay DAC....hmmmm.

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see if you can get @jabbr to do it - he has some optical stuff & a line on a linear low noise IC power supply regulator chip that he may have found in a hospital somewhere


"The overwhelming majority [of audiophiles] have very little knowledge, if any, about the most basic principles and operating characteristics of audio equipment. They often base their purchasing decisions on hearsay, and the preaching of media sages. Unfortunately, because of commercial considerations, much information is rooted in increasing revenue, not in assisting the audiophile. It seems as if the only requirements for becoming an "authority" in the world of audio is a keyboard."

-- Bruce Rozenblit of Transcendent Sound

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@In-Tone

 

When I had a subscription to Digital Concert Hall (BPO), I used an Apple Express Toslink out to a Wyred4Sound Remedy Reclocker between the AE and my DAC.

https://wyred4sound.com/products/digital-converters/remedy-reclocker

 

It was a significant improvement over the AE>DAC. So much so, that many times I used the iPad Tidal app to listen to Tidal via Airplay when I did not want to deal with UPnP/DLNA.

 

I foolishly sold it when I stopped subscribing to the Digital Concert Hall. They can be found sometimes used for $250 and occasionally direct b-stock from W4S with full warranty.

 

This was the best Airplay / Toslink sound I ever heard.


 

"The function of music is to release us from the tyranny of conscious thought", Sir Thomas Beecham. 

 

 

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Thanks for the information.  I will contact him.

 

We have our own in-house solution that we have been using for serveral years.  I was curious if anything else like it existed.  We specialize in high quality AirPlay music & media systems for custom homes.

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@rodrigaj

 

Thanks for the recommmendation.  We have been evaluating “re-clocking” solutions.

 

Our AirPlay source simultaneously provides: a variable analog output provided by a wonderful sounding internal DAC and a fixed Toslink output (that can feed a “re-clocker”).  I’ve been looking at the Empirical options.

 

What are some other “re-clockers” that could improve the Toslink output?

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stan-alone re-clockers, or DACs with reclocking built in?


"The overwhelming majority [of audiophiles] have very little knowledge, if any, about the most basic principles and operating characteristics of audio equipment. They often base their purchasing decisions on hearsay, and the preaching of media sages. Unfortunately, because of commercial considerations, much information is rooted in increasing revenue, not in assisting the audiophile. It seems as if the only requirements for becoming an "authority" in the world of audio is a keyboard."

-- Bruce Rozenblit of Transcendent Sound

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AFAIK, a lot of better DACs have builtin reclocking - others would know for sure

 

You will want to accommodate AirPlay2 in any product you develop

 

I will be VERY interested if you can do something that improves SQ on this very convenient easy to use method of music (and photo) delivery.


"The overwhelming majority [of audiophiles] have very little knowledge, if any, about the most basic principles and operating characteristics of audio equipment. They often base their purchasing decisions on hearsay, and the preaching of media sages. Unfortunately, because of commercial considerations, much information is rooted in increasing revenue, not in assisting the audiophile. It seems as if the only requirements for becoming an "authority" in the world of audio is a keyboard."

-- Bruce Rozenblit of Transcendent Sound

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We are currently able to deploy AirPlay and will implement AirPlay 2 as soon as we get more information from Apple.

 

With the discontinuation of the AirPort Express and the desire for higher quality audio playback, we feel there is a need for a dedicated AirPlay source.

 

We will keep you posted and would like your feedback.  Thanks for sharing your time.

 

Allan

www.In-Tone.com

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You will implement AirPlay 2 as soon as it's fully rolled out. For now, it's only available to stream from iOS devices, not Macs. So if you're setting up systems that stream from iTunes, you'll have to wait. Surprisingly, it's not in the Mojave betas either, and I find it odd that it is available on iOS but not from iTunes. I wonder what's holding it up. 


I write about Macs, iTunes, music, and more at Kirkville.

Author of Take Control of iTunes 12

Co-host of The Next Track podcast.

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On 6/24/2018 at 4:00 PM, In-Tone said:

we feel there is a need for a dedicated AirPlay source.

 

Perhaps a Raspberry Pi running Volumio, I believe they incorporate an AirPlay receiver via Shairport Sync.

 

From there the output could be USB, or with an appropriate I²S "HAT" either SPDIF or DAC/analog output.


no-mqa-sm.jpg

 

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2 hours ago, In-Tone said:

We are waiting for Apple to release AirPlay 2 API and Certification requirements.

 

any plans to update your web site?


"The overwhelming majority [of audiophiles] have very little knowledge, if any, about the most basic principles and operating characteristics of audio equipment. They often base their purchasing decisions on hearsay, and the preaching of media sages. Unfortunately, because of commercial considerations, much information is rooted in increasing revenue, not in assisting the audiophile. It seems as if the only requirements for becoming an "authority" in the world of audio is a keyboard."

-- Bruce Rozenblit of Transcendent Sound

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It’s not out yet..l but the Naim ND555 supports AirPlay 2 (okay so also supports protocols the OP doesn’t want). 

 

(Maybe not really helpful)

 

I was going to suggest Raspberry Pi with DAC “HATs” and similar solutions but someone has mentioned them.


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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A somewhat higher end SBC based streamer/endpoint/renderer that includes the Shairport AirPlay emulator already installed (among other output choices) is the Sonore microRendu. Pricier than Raspberry Pi based solutions, but also superior in a variety of ways.

 

I have a microRendu but have only used it in UPnP mode, however it can be configured as an AirPlay emulator (via Shairport) in a couple of clicks.

 

Output is restricted to USB with the microRendu, unless a USB to SPDIF converter is added.


no-mqa-sm.jpg

 

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@Ralf11

 

Website?  One step at a time.

 

We are integration designers and our main focus was to create an AirPlay source that we can provide to our clients.  As we use our solution more (especially as the AirPort Express is not an option moving forward) we see the need for something similar for “audiophiles” and have been curious to get some feedback from this community.

 

In full disclosure, my original posted question was a little loaded.  We do want to know if there is an AirPlay source that we could use, but as we dig into it, there’s nothing out there that fits what we have already done.  We are evaluating if and how we would create a “product”?

 

We feel that AirPlay is not only native to the Apple ecosystem and easy to use, but can sound great when setup properly.  Maybe some of the people using Apple AirPlay want a higher quality solution?

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