Airport Express sound quality

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by raymondu999, Jan 6, 2013.

  1. raymondu999 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2008
    #1
    I've just bought an Airport Express, solely for the AirPlay capability. I can stream any bitrate to it - but I just want to ask - does the audio still get played in whatever bitrate I play from iTunes? Or does it get downscaled to ease Wifi load?
     
  2. thetacoman macrumors newbie

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    Sep 15, 2007
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    Connecticut
    #2
    I looked this up when I was getting an AirPort Express for the same reason... Long story short, the AirPort Express does receive receive music at the same quality (or roughly the same quality) as it is encoded in your computer.

    However, the DAC on the Express is not very good, so if you are concerned about sound quality, it would probably be a good idea to connect the 3.5mm optical out jack on the AirPort Express to an external DAC, then run it to your stereo.

    If I had the disposable income to do so, that's probably what I'd do, at the very least.
     
  3. Confuzzzed macrumors 68000

    Confuzzzed

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    #3
    There's an optical out on the new AirPort Express? I have the previous gen which only has the jack out port. Intrigued
     
  4. thetacoman, Jan 6, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2013

    thetacoman macrumors newbie

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    #4
    Lucky for you!! All versions of the Express have had optical out. They use a mini-TOSLINK adapter that plugs into the 3.5mm audio jack. They sell mini-TOSLINK to TOSLINK adapters for that purpose.
     
  5. Confuzzzed, Jan 6, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2013

    Confuzzzed macrumors 68000

    Confuzzzed

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    #5
    LOL! Really?!?! They all do? I'm going to have to investigate when I get home! All I know is that I have a 3.5m audio jack out which I ran straight into the Aux port of my amp and as if my magic, audio out! Without using any adapters.

    ----------

    Although I am intrigued by the DAC proposition. For £20, I may test one out to see if I can see a tangible benefit in sound quality.
     
  6. raymondu999 thread starter macrumors 65816

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    Feb 11, 2008
    #6
    If it's like the MacBook Pro, there's a small catch inside the jack. If you plug in a 3.5mm optical jack in, it flicks the catch, and you get an optical out instead of an analog jack out
     
  7. Confuzzzed macrumors 68000

    Confuzzzed

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    #7
    You learn something new every day. Looking forward to playing around with this, see if the external DAC will vastly improve the sound quality. Thank you.
     
  8. raymondu999 thread starter macrumors 65816

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    Feb 11, 2008
    #8
    While we're on the subject of DACs, does anyone know if it's possible to rig the USB port on the Express to give digital audio out? I have a small spare DAC (an iBasso D10) which is good anyways and has optical in, but I don't have the optical cable.
     
  9. bluespark macrumors 65816

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    New York
    #9
    No, you can't use the USB port for that purpose, but why would you need to? You won't have any trouble finding an optical cable that works with the 3.5" mini jack and your DAC's optical in.
     
  10. hpriem macrumors newbie

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    Jan 20, 2013
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    Denmark
    #10
    Thanks to Thetacoman. I have a mac mini with no optical out, but if I get you right I can get the optical digital quality out via my Airport Express, and don't have to use an USB connection? That makes it easier to choose a new DAC (as replacement for the build in DAC in Airport Express) :D
     
  11. tekboi macrumors 6502a

    tekboi

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    #11
    What advantages would I get from Time Capsule?

    So, right now I have a Linksys E4200 with a NAS attached to it for backing up hard drives and a separate 2TB WD HD for video files that I'm working on.

    What advantages would I have for buying the Time Capsule if I wanted to replace my current setup?
     
  12. mcpingist macrumors newbie

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    Jul 15, 2013
    #12
    Preface: I am an neophyte (and an old, non techie one at that) when it comes to this stuff, so I may very well be confused about any and/or every thing I have in my feeble brain.

    I just bought an AirPort Express and am running an optical cable to my receiver. I was under the impression that the receiver's DAC would do the conversion, not the APE. I thought that was the reason to use an optical cable vs going the analog 3.5 to RCA route. Is this incorrect, or are you just suggesting a better DAC than is found on most receivers?

    Thanks
     
  13. smellalot macrumors 6502

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    Dec 6, 2011
    #13
    Not all receivers have an optical input. That's where it can be useful to get a stand-alone DAC. But I believe you'll need a high end stereo to even notice a sound difference compared to the APX's DAC.

    You are right. Your receiver does the digital-analog conversion.
     
  14. FreakinEurekan macrumors 68040

    FreakinEurekan

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    #14
    Most Mac Minis have the same optical out built into the 3.5mm headphone jack, same as he AirPort Express. I know all the Intel ones do, not sure if the G4 does.
     
  15. Dark Dragoon macrumors 6502a

    Dark Dragoon

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    #15
    The G4's don't, I used to use an M-Audio Transit (USB sound card) which provided an optical output for my Mac mini G4.
     
  16. iSayuSay macrumors 68030

    iSayuSay

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    Feb 6, 2011
    #16
    Like others said, if you want to make sure you get bit by bit exact copy for Airplay streaming to your speaker, get the 3.5mm miniTOSLINK jack adapter connected to Airport Express and plug the other end into your stereo receiver.

    Airplay itself is a decent method for lossless streaming, add TOSLINK lossless connection to your stereo and you have nothing to worry about quality loss.

    At least it won't get worse than your music source.
     
  17. bnd_ck macrumors newbie

    bnd_ck

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    Dec 22, 2015
    #17
     
  18. bnd_ck, Dec 22, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2015

    bnd_ck macrumors newbie

    bnd_ck

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    Dec 22, 2015
    #18
    I agree with that. but i have a question. AE analog out's (3.5mm) sound quality is already degraded. so how it improves sound quality if we connect to an external DAC?
     
  19. priitv8 macrumors 68020

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    Jan 13, 2011
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    Estonia
    #19
    AE has optical out in the same connector. Just as MacBooks used to.
     

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