AppleTV as Music Hub- Crazy?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by Much Ado, Aug 3, 2007.

  1. Much Ado macrumors 68000

    Much Ado

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    #1
    This is a set-up a friend of mine wants as part of a "state-of-the-art" (cough) music system:

    Apple TV ---> Wall Mounted Plasma TV ---> Lots of high-quality speakers


    He likes the idea of scrolling through his music from a distance using the IR remote and streaming all his music from his Mac down to the living area where these speakers and screen are.

    Sure it will LOOK gorgeous, but is the idea of using iTunes music as part of such an expensive set-up just plain crazy? Will it look great but sound awful, or does iTunes sound acceptable through big, juicy speakers?

    Tell me what you think.

    Thanks,
    MA.
     
  2. combustible macrumors newbie

    combustible

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    #2
    i've got a similar setup to this. all my music is encoded lossless, and streamed to the appletv, then runs via optic into my amp. i think it sounds superb. maybe not quite as rich as my dedicated sacd player. but it'd be very very hard to tell the difference.
     
  3. Much Ado thread starter macrumors 68000

    Much Ado

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    #3
    That's interesting, thanks.

    My knowledge of music and formats etc. is unusually poor, so could you tell me how you're getting all your music encoded as lossless? I presume that's all from a CD?
     
  4. KingofAwesome macrumors regular

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    #4
    Yeah, this all really depends on how the music has been encoded. If it's all 128kbps mp3 with missing ID3 tags, it's going to sound bad and look worse. If it's all properly tagged files with good album art and high bitrates, then it will be a lot better. I'd recommend sending the sound directly to an amp though, instead of going through a TV. Some TV's have decent sound and can work well as passthroughs, but it will almost always work better to send the sound signal directly to the device that is going to produce the sound.
     
  5. pilotError macrumors 68020

    pilotError

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    #5
    Apple TV works pretty well. I agree with the encoding comments. It looks great when it scrolls through the album art. Most people are pretty impressed when they see it.

    If he want's to go all out, the new Denon AV Receivers can take streaming directly from iTunes if I remember correctly.
     
  6. kjr39 macrumors 6502

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    #6

    While I don't have an AppleTV, yet... I do have my music setup in a similar fashion with Airport Expresses doing the streaming to my 2 HT systems.

    As has been said, go with Lossless for encoding and you're fine and it will sound great.
     
  7. powerbook911 macrumors 68040

    powerbook911

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    #7
    AAC sounds that bad compared to Lossless? I always thought Dolby claims and stuff that most people can't tell a difference with AAC and a CD?

    Now I'm not nieve. I know AAC 128kbps is not going to be as good as the original, but is it that bad on your guys high end systems? What about a higher bitrate AAC like 196 or 256? Still bad?

    Just curious your guys take on it. Thanks.
     
  8. Killyp macrumors 68040

    Killyp

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    #8
    Okay, currently I'm listening to iTunes (directly from MacBook) through a 'hi-end' system (Bowers & Wilkins DM7 speakers, BeoMaster 6500 amplifier, Chord Carnival speaker cable, custom made cable). I store music at 256 k AAC from CDs. To my ears, 192 AAC > 224 MP3.

    for MP3:
    128k = appallingly bad
    160k = still pretty bad
    192k = vaguely acceptable
    256k = pretty good
    320k = very very good

    for AAC:
    128k = unlistenable
    160k = vaguely acceptable
    192k = pretty good
    256k = very very good
    320k = almost indistinguishable from a CD played on the computer. Still very different from a CD played on a proper CD player.

    Lossless is identical to a CD played on the computer to my ears, and the tech info about lossless backs that up. AppleTV + Lossless + a good external DAC = fantastic sound. The AppleTV's built in soundcard is not the greatest, although it's not that bad. But to really get superb sound, you'll want a better DAC than the one that's built in. The aTV has a digital output, making it suitable for proper listening.

    The reason Dolby claims most people can't tell the difference, is because most people have no idea what the music should really sound like, and have pants systems anyway. Heck, most people think vinyl sounds rubbish compared to CD, and they're so wrong.
     
  9. Much Ado thread starter macrumors 68000

    Much Ado

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    #9
    ^ Killyp that was a superb help, thanks.

    So now i've got to help my friend engineer this system and although i'm great with Macs etc. my knowledge in this area is embarrassing.

    ---So we need to import CDs into iTunes under the Apple Lossless preference for that CD-like sound. (We have big HD, so no need for AAC?)
    ---Hook up an :apple:TV straight to an amp -> speakers via optical cable.
    ---Plug it into a display to get the interface running.
    And we're off.

    Is that it?

    Help always appreciated, i'm really quite getting into this project now. Once we get the lighting sorted and a slide-away panel for the screen this thing is going to rock :)
     
  10. powerbook911 macrumors 68040

    powerbook911

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    #10
    I'm going to save your opinion. Thanks.

    I usually encode at 160-192 AAC. I don't have any high end stuff at all, just a basic $600 put together (instead of those awful HTIB) myself home theatre, so the sound isn't very good, but I want to encode better, for future equipment I might have.

    Problem I have is I wish iTunes would arrange it better, you know? Having 2 copies of a song is rather annoying in iTunes. I wish they would have an update that would deal with that.
     
  11. pengu macrumors 6502a

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    #11
    in itunes:
    View-> Show Duplicates
     
  12. miTunes75 macrumors 6502

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    #12
    I want to do that. But, for now, I'm saving to get my piano. We moved into a new house and I had to leave my other piano behind b/c there was no way to get it moved....we have alot of steps to get up into our new place. I'm planning on getting an electric one where the weight is moot compared to the original one. But after the piano purchase, ATV is next. I love the idea of streaming everything to the tv and music coming out of my surround sound. My music equipment is NOT high-end / or Hi-Fi by any means. I download any music I want nowadays through the iTS and it's just fine. Yes, I do have a critical ear and I can hear it, but it doesn't make me want to throw up or anything. However, I do listen critically to classical and jazz. This, I purchase the CD and encode in Apple Lossless, but everything else, I just buy from iTunes (as long as it is avail) and I am perfectly happy with it. I love that I don't have to continue finding storage space for cds :p
     
  13. powerbook911 macrumors 68040

    powerbook911

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    #13
    I don't really see how that helps me manage things though in terms of what goes on my iPod/phone and what is for my computer and Apple TV.
     
  14. pengu macrumors 6502a

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    #14
    you complained about multiple copies of a song. what the hell does that have to do with syncing to devices??
     
  15. Brize macrumors 6502a

    Brize

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    #15
    To the OP: I use my Apple TV almost exclusively for music and, already, I can't imagine interfacing with my music in any other way. As others have said, just make sure the bitrate's sufficient and also be sure to connect the Apple TV directly to your amplifier via the RCA stereo output.

    I'd use Lossless if I had the hard drive space on my MacBook, but I've had to settle for 192 kbps AAC as a compromise. It still sounds acceptable through my B&W speakers though, and the high-quality album artwork (all scanned) makes for a nice visual experience.

    People romanticise vinyl. I had a reasonable LP collection before I sold it off a few years ago and I've never looked back. There were a few records that I favoured over the CD, but even then, the odd pop or crackle would spoil my listening enjoyment.

    Vinyl's just too fragile a medium to reproduce music flawlessly. People talk about static and suchlike being an integral part of the vinyl experience, but I'm not convinced. It may add some ambience to a Beatles record or similar, but that sort of extraneous noise really cuts through a solo piano recording. I'd take a well-mastered CD over vinyl any day.
     
  16. danny_w macrumors 601

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    #16
    I bought an :apple:TV with audio as the primary intent. I had a Roku Soundbridge that could stream wirelessly from iTunes and worked great, and had better searching capabilities than :apple:TV, but the only display was smallish and could not be seen from the couch, so I seldom used it and my wife would never use it. Now we both use the :apple:TV because it is so much easier to play our cd collection. I wish Apple would add better searching capabilities and on-the-fly playlist creation, but I'm quite happy as it is now.
     
  17. powerbook911 macrumors 68040

    powerbook911

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    #17
    No I was complaining about it being hard to get 2 copies of the song all organized and stuff. Maybe it came out wrong.

    I want a way for iTunes to actually help me keep multiple copies of the song.
     
  18. Gav macrumors regular

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    #18
    As everyone else is saying, as long as the music is encoded in a decent enough bitrate/format, you should be good.

    All my music is in 320Kbps MP3, sorry to go off topic here a bit - but does anyone think there is any need to convert to FLAC or anything else, and would I need some uber high end hardware to notice ANY difference?
     
  19. pengu macrumors 6502a

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    #19
    OHHHHH.. you (like me) have many albums from a band (Pearl Jam is a GREAT example) and you find the same song (sometimes slightly different versions, especially if its a live performance) on multiple albums, and you want iTunes to recognise them as the same? So you want to make sure that song only goes onto limited storage (ie phone, ipod etc) devices? or stuff like sharing lyrics etc?

    that actually WOULD be good (particularly if we could link a song to a music video!!). apologies for the mistaken-assumption before.
     
  20. ingenious macrumors 68000

    ingenious

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    #20
    OT: Aren't you concerned about the difference in tone between an acoustic piano and an electric one?
     
  21. miTunes75 macrumors 6502

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    #21
    there is a difference yes. However, the higher end electric you get, the closer it sounds to the real thing. the feel is the same, etc. It works best in my household, b/c I can come home from work at midnight and work on a piece for an hour with headphones on and not bother anyone.
     
  22. Much Ado thread starter macrumors 68000

    Much Ado

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    #22
    Thanks again for the responses guys :)

    I'm setting up the system as i type. If anyone has any last suggestions or preferences for the speaker/amp side of things feel free to post or PM me.

    I have a good budget without being extortionate, if that helps.

    Thanks for your time and wizened expertise,
    Much Ado.
     
  23. miTunes75 macrumors 6502

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    #23
    send a pic of your setup. i'd like to see. let us know how it goes
     

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