View Full Version : Airport Express Audio Quality?

Aug 14, 2013, 06:09 PM
So, today is my birthday and I'm looking to get myself a nice set of speakers. What I'm looking at are the Bowers and Wilkins A5 and Zeppelin. Airplay is the main thing here.

What I wanted to know is how good audio quality is coming through the Airport Express, and whether getting an older MK1 Zeppelin and an Airport Express would be as good as either an A5 or a new Zeppelin Air.
I understand the Air will be better technically, because it has a better built in DAC (I'm unsure if the MK1 even had one) and has slightly better internals, but if I can get it for £300 as apposed to £450, my student budget wallet would be eternally grateful.

So yes, basically, does the Airport Express have good audio quality is essentially the question.

Thanks very much guys!

Aug 14, 2013, 07:37 PM
You have selected an odd set of equipment if budget is a consideration. The Airport express is very good and it even has an optical output.

About speakers, Why are you looking at small size active speakers? Is this going into a dorm room or something that size? And if so then why bother with wireless, just run a cable and save the cost of the Airport Express?

If budget is the problem get some higher quality passive speakers and a stereo amplifier. If you can't run wire then add an Airport express to that.

As for "if there is a DAC inside or not, ANY device that connects to an analog outpiiut or a speaker has a DAC inside. The airport express has one, all airplay speakers do. your iPod has one and so does the Mac and so on.

Aug 15, 2013, 05:57 AM
Also, I feel like I should mention that the audio signal coming through an AirPort Express will not have deteriorated at all. It's a Wi-Fi device, so it's all data. It's either transferred completely or it hasn't at all.

So plugging a sound system into the Airport's audio output will be maximum quality, only slightly delayed, compared to plugging in directly to your source device.

You probably already know this, but I just want to get it out there.

Aug 15, 2013, 08:28 AM
So plugging a sound system into the Airport's audio output will be maximum quality, only slightly delayed, compared to plugging in directly to your source device.

There is no delay through airport express.


Aug 15, 2013, 08:44 AM
There is no delay through airport express.

YouTube: video (http://youtube.com/watch?v=pKNkf0MDEPY)

There typically is a delay, but iTunes compensates for it by delaying the local speakers to match the Airport Express. It has to maintain a buffer to keep playback smooth from what I understand.

If you use a product like AirFoil, it becomes apparent that there is a delay.

Aug 15, 2013, 12:30 PM
[QUOTE=inscrewtable;17737192]There is no delay through airport express.

All audio output is delayed, the question only is how much. Even the built-in speakers delay by a few milliseconds.

But for listening to recorded music you don't care about delay. You cent't even notice it. The people who do care are musicians doing multitrack recording. It drives them nuts if it goes best a few tens of milliseconds.

Aug 16, 2013, 04:55 AM
The Zeppelin Air should serve you well. Thing is that for the price of the Zeppelin, you could always go with a dedicated bookshelf loudspeaker setup and then include the Airport Express along with an external DAC.

Aug 18, 2013, 11:20 AM
The AirPort Express (or rather AirPlay) streams in Apple lossless format regardless of your audio source… so that won't be a bottleneck.

Aug 21, 2013, 08:30 AM
I use the A5 and also the express. It's the same, and the express is much more versatile.

Having said that, you would like the A5. As a matter of fact, I'm using it right now to stream some some effects from my iPod ( was using it for a movie ten minutes ago).

Point is: I use the A5, because it is fantastic and fits anywhere.

I really like the A5. It's one of the the better buys I've succumbed to. The sound/footprint ratio is minimal.

Gotta love B&W

Aug 24, 2013, 12:00 AM
Just do your research on best speakers in your budget and get those + the Express. They'll be better than previously-mentioned options.