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How are all you Airport Express owners hooking yours up to the stereo?

Discussion in 'Macintosh Computers' started by MattG, Oct 9, 2004.

  1. macrumors 68040


    I'm interested in hearing how other people have their Airport Expresses hooked up!

    I'd been wanting to get a computer to use as a "music server" of sorts. Being that Apple refuses to make a cheap headless box for me to use, I built myself a PC. It's got an AMD processor, 512mb RAM, Windows XP, and a 160gb hard drive for plenty of music storage. I've taken most of my CDs and ripped them to 320kbps AAC files. They're all on this computer (over 5300 songs). I've got iTunes loaded up on it, and it's set so other computers on the network can share its music.

    The computer has an M-Audio 2496 sound card in it, which gives me one set of RCA audio in and one set of RCA audio out. I've got my Airport Express connected to the "in," and the "out" is connected to my stereo system. Setting it up like this is great because the music can be played through my stereo in several ways:

    A. I can play it directly from the server, without the use of my Powerbook (doesn't use the Airport Express at all...plays through the sound card, out to my stereo).
    B. I can connect to my server's music share from my Powerbook, stream it through the Airport Express, then it goes back through the sound card and out of my stereo (nice for when I want to control the music that's on the server remotely)
    C. I can play music that's NOT on the server, but instead is on my (or someone elses) laptop. Streams from the laptop to the Airport Express, where the signal is fed into the server and then out of the server to the stereo.

    What do you all think?

  2. macrumors 68030


    Why are you ripping your music at 320 kbps when it downgraded when you stream through the airport express. the better solution would be to run a program that plays the music directly from the server instead of trying to stream through the airport express. this will by pass the airport express and let you listen to your music at max quality.
  3. macrumors 68040


    How is it getting downgraded by playing through the Airport Express?

    I can do what you're talking about (by using a VNC client and connecting to the PC through my Mac), but I don't think I have to...why would the signal be downgraded by playing through Airport Express? It isn't necessary if it is...I mean, a 54mbit/sec connection should certainly be able to stream 320kbps audio without compressing it any further.
  4. macrumors regular

    We'll since I came from using pc's, havent gotten an airport express yet to switch to a mac setup... Though I may just keep it like it is, since I can do audio and video to any room (well video only if theres a screen of course), and the whole X10 automation stuff is built for pc's (gonna add that soon)

    I just got a computer in all the rooms (except the bathroom, audio to the aquatronics [plastic cones] speakers in there just gets feed off a 2nd audio card in the livingroom system)... In rooms where there is a monitor available I just use that to see what music is playing or change the song with a wireless keyboard/mouse... Where there is no monitor, I got a bluetooth connection that connects to my SE T610 cellphone, on the phone screen itself I can then see the playlist, available songs, whats playing, and of course play/pause songs. ~ All the systems have a wired network connection to share songs or movies across the home; since the equipment probibly will never be moved I didn't bother to use a wireless setup a few years ago.

    As far as the audio equipment, all the computers are quiped with Sound Blaster Live cards (got them in a bundle a while ago for cheap) and Bose systems are being used, except in the bathroom and my bedroom which has the bottom speakerbox of an NSM jukebox to use... doubles as a bench to sit on and a place to hold the tube amp.

    I would on one hand like to change it to an apple setup, but I dunno... it works right now, probibly wait till the computers either break or become to old to run better audio/video codecs.... Though if i replace the systems with macs i'm going to atleast have fun with one thing, since osx has software to make it possible so when I walk in with my cellphone; the system knows I walked in (by whatever bluetooth cellphone came in) and can automaticly play some music that I like till I leave the room, or put video/pictures up for that matter.
  5. macrumors 6502a


    Here's how my network is set up.

    My modded xbox with an 80 GB hard drive acts as my music server. Through xbox media server I can play my music files stored on the hard drive and stream music from them either an imac or ibook with itunes sharing. I can't play protected AAC files on the xbox but hymn fixes that problem.
    My songs show up in a nice playlist on the TV.
    It's not an airport express but it works for me.
  6. macrumors 601


    Just for the record, iTunes streams music to the Airport Express via an encrypted Apple Lossless stream regardless of the format on your computer. In your case it decodes the 320 Kbps AAC and re-encodes to Apple Lossless encrypts and streams on the fly. It could however still easily handle uncompress AIFF as well. Perfect CD quality audio only runs 1411 Kbps, only 1.4 Mbps compared to the 54 Mbps that AEx can handle. The only reason that it uses Apple Lossless is because of the additional encryption.
  7. macrumors 68030



    First, Apple Lossless doesn't have encryption, the stream is encrypted using AES. In anycase, the 320 kbps files decoded in a raw format the re-encoded into Apple Lossless on the fly. the conversion causes audio loss, plus lossless works best when working from the orignal PCM file. if the guy is encoding his music files at 320 kbps he is most likely and audiofile and could hear the difference between them.
  8. macrumors 68040


    While I do enjoy experimenting with different audio equipment, I don't know if I'd call myself an "audiophile." I'm sure if I compared the two, I'd probably be able to tell the difference between the 320kbps and the original. However, the slight loss in sound quality is worth it to me...having all of my music ripped to one computer and being able to pull up any song on demand from any computer in the house is just great!
  9. macrumors regular

    ...and the whole X10 automation stuff is built for pc's (gonna add that soon)

    I use Indigo for x10. Works great.
  10. macrumors 6502

    There certainly is some data loss by using AAC as the base file type, but none of the handling after that should make any difference. Apple Lossless is simply a compression technique (perhaps like a .zip file) that just reduces the file (or stream) size. When the stream gets to the other side it still has all of the information that it began with.
  11. macrumors 68040


    Here is my set-up.

    Powerbook---->Airport Express -------------> Home stereo. (Via the Apple optional Optical audio cable.)

    Works like a charm. Who needs a dedicated PC. when I have my PB?

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