Airport Express Audio Output Query

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by neil950, Dec 30, 2010.

  1. neil950 macrumors newbie

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    Dec 30, 2010
    #1
    I realise that the 3.5mm audio output jack on the airport express is a combined analogue and digital jack and that I can use a 3.5mm jack to stereo RCA lead to output analogue audio and a 3.5mm to Tos Link cable to output digital audio.

    My question is - is there a device/adapter I can connect to the express to allow me to connect both the Digital Cable (3.5mm - tos link) AND an analogue cable (3.5mm - RCA) at the same time??

    The reason I want to do this is that I connect my express to my multi-zone A/V receiver but on my receiver, Zone 2 output will not accept digital sources, only analogue.

    Grateful for any advice...
     
  2. grawk macrumors 6502

    grawk

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    #2
    No, you either hook it up optically or via analog. You could buy a device like a behringer src2496 that would take the digital input, and output both analog and digital, tho.
     
  3. KStinque, Apr 6, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2011

    KStinque macrumors newbie

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    #3
    Neil950 - I have the same issue and have been looking for an inexpressive way to do the exact same thing you are asking about. I don't want to spend the type of money that the behringer cost, plus I don't think I need anything that sophisticated for my needs. After a bit of research (probably too much!) this is probably what I'm eventually going to go with:

    - 3.5 / toslink cable out of the Airport Express and into a...
    - toslink to toslink splitter like this:http://www.amazon.com/Cables-Go-27027-Toslink-Splitter/dp/B0002344GG
    - one toslink out of the splitter to the optical input on my receiver (for main zone)
    - one toslink out of the splitter into an inexpensive DAC like this: http://www.amazon.com/Menotek-Digital-Audio-Analog-Converter/dp/B003ODDD9U/ref=sr_1_5?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1302133173&sr=1-5
    - RCA cable our of the DAC and into an analogue input on my receiver (for zone 2)

    Because this is a relatively cheap splitter, I'm not confident the sound will be amazing for the second zone, but then again, going analogue directly out of the Airport Express doesn't produce amazing sound anyway. Besides, my second zone will either be the kitchen, dining room or back yard, so it's going to be background music anyway. I think this should serve my purpose, and the total cost to integrate this is palatable - about $50 total including the DAC, a couple of additional toslink cables and the splitter. My only real concern is that I'm currently going from the Airport Express directly to the optical input of my receiver, and with this set up it will go through a splitter first - not sure how that will affect the sound quality of the main zone.

    Probably not going to set this up for a while (as I need to stop spending time and money on my a/v for now), but if you do, I'd be interested to see what kind of results you get.
     
  4. grawk macrumors 6502

    grawk

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    #4
    You might be better off feeding the second zone with a tape output from your receiver. Optical splitters are problematic, and the receiver's probably got a better dac than the cheapie. Or get another airport express used, for just a bit more.
     
  5. KStinque macrumors newbie

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    #5
    I'm confused - how would using the tape output solve the issue - aren't those analogue? Wouldn't you still have the issue of having the convert the Airport Express to analogue before connecting it to the receiver? My understanding is that the DAC in the receiver only works for the main zone. Zone 2 on all but very high end / expensive receivers only handle analogue inputs.
     
  6. grawk macrumors 6502

    grawk

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    #6
    Yah, my bad. I missed the original query, and wasn't aware it was an actual 2 zone receiver in question. I'd just use 2 airport expresses, rather than a splitter and a dac for the 2nd one.
     
  7. EvilC5 macrumors 6502a

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    Hanover MD
    #7
    I had the same issue with the digital and analog signals. I took my ATV2 and use it as the digital source, and an airport express for the analog source for my 2nd and 3rd zone out.

    not ideally cost effective, but the atv2 is 99 bucks, and the AE is 99 bucks, easy to setup, works well, no splitters to deal with.
     
  8. grawk macrumors 6502

    grawk

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    #8

    That's an idea. AppleTV 1 has analog and digital outs, and can be had for ~$100, as well.
     
  9. KStinque, Apr 7, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2011

    KStinque macrumors newbie

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    #9
    Yeah, it looks likes the ATV1 has optical and analogue outs (the current model ATV2 only has optical out). That would be a nice streamline solution. However, I'm not seeing any ATV1's available on-line for less than $220 new / $160 used. A second AX is a good idea too, but I personally like the idea of having everything centralized around my a/v receiver - plus my zone two speaker(s) will likely be portable / wireless so a second AX probably wouldn't work for that application. For the money and the fact I don't need superb quality zone 2, I think I'm going to go the splitter / DAC route. Seems like most reviews I've read about the splitters used for this type of application are very positive.

    edit: Also, ATV can not act as a wireless router as the AX can so if your AX is your router (as it is in my case) you'd need to also buy a wireless router if you go with the ATV.

    edit#2: Uh...I guess you would be able to still use the AX as your wireless router...duh!!
     
  10. grawk macrumors 6502

    grawk

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    #10
    There are several used appletvs on ebay ending soon for under $70...
     
  11. KStinque, Apr 7, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2011

    KStinque macrumors newbie

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    #11
    Yeah, I guess I could keep the AX as my wireless router and go with one of 3 options:

    1. Get an ATV2 to serve as the digital input to my receiver (as well as all the other cool stuff that the ATV does) and have the AX feed the analogue input to my receiver.

    OR

    2. I could get an ATV1 and have that be the analogue feed and the AX be the digital feed (or vise versa) as well as the wireless router.

    OR

    3. Get the ATV1 to serve both the analogue and digital feed and just have the AX serve as the wireless router only.

    Couple questions:
    For options 1 or 2 above, I guess iTunes would have to connect to "multiple speakers", i.e. the AX and the ATV - would that work? Also, would the ATV connect to my wireless network in client mode or do I also have the option of just connecting it via ethernet cable my network?

    You guys are swaying me to go the ATV route rather than my splitter / DAC route. Seems like it will $70-$100 for a better quality system as opposed to $50 for the questionable quality set-up I originally proposed - still palatable cost wise
     
  12. grawk macrumors 6502

    grawk

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    #12
    You can certainly send different streams to different wireless speakers (atv/apx). If you feel like you'll want to do something along those lines, the digital from the APX and analog from ATV seems like the best choice. If you don't, I'd feed both from the ATV, because then you're avoiding the sketchy mini optical connector.
     
  13. KStinque macrumors newbie

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    #13
    Cool thanks! Sorry, but where is this "mini optical connector"? Also, how does the ATV connect to the network?
     
  14. mchalebk, Apr 7, 2011
    Last edited: May 2, 2011

    mchalebk macrumors 6502a

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    #14
    For my own use, I would simply run analog to the receiver to drive both zones. Sure, the Express might not have the best D/A converters in the world, but (IMO) they're adequate.

    Nevertheless, the optical splitter and optical to analog converter solution should work. I wouldn't worry about the splitter causing quality issues. The signal is digital, which means it will either work or won't work.

    Here's a link to a pretty affordable optical/coax digital to analog converter (though it's out of stock at this time):

    http://www.monoprice.com/products/p...=10423&cs_id=1042302&p_id=6884&seq=1&format=2
     
  15. iPhisch macrumors 6502

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    Indiana
    #15
    i just found out last weekend that i have this same problem. damn yamaha! i just sent back to using the analogue headphones->RCA cable since i already have it. kills me to know there's digital audio going unused, but whatever. one solution is to have both the optical and analogue cables hooked up to the receiver, and stitch them at the AX for the different listening environments if it's easily accessible.
     
  16. KStinque, Apr 7, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2011

    KStinque macrumors newbie

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    #16
    Don't hate too hard on the Yamaha! I just got one too after pretty extensive research - seem that all brands only output analogue to zone 2 in all but the really high end /expensive models. I think it's because a second / separate internal dac would be required. I was going to go the route you suggested, but don't want to have to deal with switching anything manual! (One of the main reasons I got the new receiver was to replace my 23 year old luxman that did not have a remote control - was sick of having to get up every time we wanted to adjust the volume.)
     
  17. iPhisch macrumors 6502

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    Indiana
    #17
    i'm just kidding, I love Yamaha. I have 3 receivers in my house. It's the best receiver brand out there that's affordable, IMO. If you ever get a useable workaround for this issue, please post. I'm running a RX-V665 for my home theater (all Paradigm Monitor series), and my outdoor zone 2. I had to run a set of RCA's from my cable box (along with the HDMI) just to get TV audo to play in zone 2, and completely forgot I had my AX set up with optical last week since it's been cold all winter and I havne't been out there. Couldn't figure out why I wasn't getting music outside! duh...
     
  18. KStinque, Apr 8, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2011

    KStinque macrumors newbie

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    #18
    Cool! I just got the same receiver - still working on getting all the settings right to optimize the sound, but loving it so far. I will definitely post when I get the analogue set up for the airtunes (either atv or dac & spitter). Btw, why do you have TV audio set up for zone 2? I've been trying to decide if I should do this, but haven't figure out when I would ever want to hear the TV in zone 2 and not see it. Thanks!
     
  19. iPhisch macrumors 6502

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    Indiana
    #19

    When I'm watching sports and going in and out while grilling, or having a cigar on the back patio, so I don't miss any action. Works out great. Definitely worth the cost of a 18" RCA cable.

    As for the receiver, I use PLII Movie for non digital tv, and it automatically switches to Dolby Digital for HD stuff. I use 7ch Enhanced for music. I the mic to set distances and speaker levels, then switch to the GEQ and tweak the settings.
     
  20. KStinque macrumors newbie

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    Apr 6, 2011
    #20
    So I decided to go the toslink splitter / dac route rather than the atv route for a number of reasons, primarily because the atv2 is very limited compared to the atv1. Also, because the atv1 is no longer being made, they are pretty expensive. Anyway, the dac, splitter and cabling set me back about $40 (through monoprice). Just got it set up and it works perfectly - pretty happy to be able to stream airtunes to both zones.
    :D
     
  21. iPhisch macrumors 6502

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    #21

    sweet, can you post links to the parts? may be interested in trying this.
     
  22. KStinque macrumors newbie

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    Apr 6, 2011
    #22
    Sure - here you go. Also, check out the attached diagram to see how it all hooks up. It was too much trouble to fetch the links, so I just copied and pasted the items from my MonoPrice invoice.

    2671 Toslink Female to Toslink Mini Male Adapter 1 $0.86 $0.86
    6774 6ft Optical Toslink 5.0mm OD Audio Cable 1 $1.98 $1.98
    3395 1.5ft Optical Toslink 5.0mm OD Audio Cable 2 $1.35 $2.70
    1556 3ft Toslink to Mini M/M 5.0mm OD Molded Cable 1 $1.94 $1.94
    966 DIGITAL OPTICAL TOSLINK SPLITTER ADAPTER 1 $5.52 $5.52
    6884 Digital Coax & Optical Toslink to R/L Stereo Audio Converter 1 $25.60 $25.60

    You'll also need an RCA cable, but I already had one lying around so I didn't buy one.
     

    Attached Files:

  23. KStinque macrumors newbie

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    Apr 6, 2011
    #23
    update: ATV2 2-sone set-up

    Recently got an ATV2 so that I can stream video content to my a/v system from my iphone - it's awesome! I thought I'd provide an update on this new set-up for the 2-zone solution...

    Now that I am using the ATV2, I no longer need my AX as an airplay device - only using it as my wifi router. So now, to get both an analogue and a digital feed from the ATV2 to my a/v receiver to feed both zones, I do the following:

    - for zone 1 (digital): hdmi from ATV2 directly to my receiver
    - for zone 2 (analogue): toslink from ATV2 to the DAC listed in my above post - then RCA from the DAC to my receiver.

    See attached diagram for this ATV2 2-zone set-up (which is an update from what I had lined out for the AX 2-zone set up).

    Also, as a side note, the iphone does not support streaming to multiple airplay speakers they way you can from your computer - why is beyond me. Therefore, using two airplay devices, one for each zone, to stream content from your iphone both zones simultaneously doesn't work.
     

    Attached Files:

  24. iPhisch macrumors 6502

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    Indiana
    #24
    I will be running the same setup, DAC arrives Monday, just in time for spring!
    Now I can use my Apple TV to play music outdoors on Zone 2, instead of moving my AX back and forth between the living room and the bedroom. Too bad the Apple TV doesn't have the same digital/analogue output that the AX has, so I don't have to have the powered DAC...
     
  25. KStinque macrumors newbie

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    Apr 6, 2011
    #25
    true, but if you used the AX for analogue - it would have to be analogue for both zones so you wouldn't get the benefit of digital for zone 1. to get digital for zone 1 and analogue for zone 2, you would still need the external DAC for zone 2 with the AX.
     

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