Airport Express: Optical Output and Quality

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by GarrettNolan, Jun 9, 2006.

  1. GarrettNolan macrumors newbie

    Jun 9, 2006
    I had a few questions about the audio that comes out of the Airport Express. It looks like a 3.5 mini jack, but it says on apples site that it does have Oplitcal out. If so where is it?

    How is the sound through optical output? Cause i would think that 3.5 mini jack sounds like crap in comparison. I'm trying to go for audio purity cause i have a collection that is all lossless.

    Second question is does it work like a wireless hub? Taking a wireless signal i've already got from my Netgear router and making a secondary wireless signal thats the same as the Netgear? So it can all be on one network.

    Can you use the USB port to hook up a Backup HDD by chance?
  2. jdechko macrumors 68040

    Jul 1, 2004
    I'll try to answer them as best as I can.

    1) I believe there is an adapter that fits in the minijack, allowing the single port to be used for both analog (copper 3.5mm headphone jack) and the digital optical out.

    2) As far as I know, the specs state that it supports up to 10 users

    3) No you can't hook up a HD to the Airport Express.
  3. whawhat macrumors 6502

    Jun 9, 2006
    airport and airport express have been out for some time - anyone know if they will be updating these products soon???
  4. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    Probably not. They might, if there are some new media features they'll be adding, but I doubt that'll happen for a while yet.

    Otherwise, the'll probably just be a quiet refresh once the next-gen wireless standard is finalized (can't remember the letter right now... "n"?), but that won't be for a bit yet.
  5. jsw Moderator emeritus


    Mar 16, 2004
    Andover, MA
    It's a lossless* digital transmission through the router, so there should be no loss of quality whatsoever.

    * Assuming your reception strength is adequate, and, given relatively low CD bit rates, even for lossless, it should be.
  6. GarrettNolan thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 9, 2006
    Well my fear is that the 3.5 sucks ass, all 3.5 sucks ass if you ask me. So thats why i'm inquiring about the optical thats a digital signal. So is it gonna sound like if i hooked up my stereo via the 3.5 headphone jack on the MacBook/pro? Or is it going to be digital processing of the music so that my EQ and Receiver has a nice clean sound to it that i turn up to 11 on the volume? :D

    If its the later i'll be in heaven.

    As for the networking, Does it act like a secondary hub or not? Esentially extending my already existing wifi network i have in place right now?

    Trying to move all my Equipment into one room so i dont have to run cables back and forth through my house. Would be awesome to have it all work well.
  7. Sesshi macrumors G3


    Jun 3, 2006
    One Nation Under Gordon
    It's on the same jack. If you plug in a mini toslink optical cable (which is shaped like a regular 3.5mm jack) the optical out switches on.

    Respectable. The analog out isn't bad either. If you're really after audio purity though do what I do. Have a premium soundcard attached to the Mac (such as the RME Fireface I use) or if you want to take it further, do what I do and hook the soundcard (with clock) to an outboard DAC. If you want to take it even further (and are prepared for some headaches), you can get USB I2S interfaces which plug into I2S enabled DACs.

    It should play nice with your Netgear router acting as the DHCP server. Use the wired link to hook the Netgear up to the Airport so that the Airport treats the Netgear as the DSL modem.

    Unless there's a hack I'm not aware of, no.

    Another altenative to wirelessly streaming music is to get a Squeezebox, which is a wireless client (i.e. just like adding another computer on your existing wireless network) which works off the library stored in your Mac, just like the Airport. The difference is that it has a remote, a display and somewhat better quality audio stage than the Airport.
    I have to admit I don't use my Squeezeboxen much as I've had a computer in every room now for a while (now Macs of course :D ), but it's not bad.

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