AirPlaying Around

Hardware and software, modifications and DIY

Moderator: Staff

Ron The Mon
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 291
Joined: 2014-07-17 17:17
Location: Detroit

AirPlaying Around

Post by Ron The Mon »

Split from the Four Years in the Making topic in the Källa forum

-Moderator



Matteo wrote: 2021-04-20 08:40
Ron The Mon wrote: 2021-04-20 00:48 AirPlay or AirPlay 2? Are you sure?

Over ethernet? What Apple devices? What ancillary equipment?
My device is an iPhone 8, updated with the last iOS version available.

Cables are BJC Cat 6.

The router is https://tech.everyeye.it/articoli/speci ... 49070.html. No switches are involved.
Matteo,
Three things:
1] What about your ADSM? I assumed you were using a Mac computer and not an iPhone; I don't want to assume you have AirPlay 2 on the ADSM. Many here are using old firmware on their DSMs because it sounds better.

2] In my opinion, any iPhone sounds mediocre transferring music via AirPlay. I have been recommending the Apple AirPort Express as a streamer for over eight years on this Forum, with not one person trying it! It sounds fantastic using Airplay (or AirPlay 2) sourced from a Mac. I also have used two Windows XP computers with the, discontinued, Rogue Amoeba AirPlay app streaming Fidelify (Spotify Super-App) to an AirPort Express. It sounded fantastic.

I wasn't aware there was an AirPlay 2 until recently when I picked up an AirPort Express for $20 and realized the firmware was updated over two years ago! The new-to-me AE is now a streamer/DAC/pre-amp into an old Marantz power amp and Kans. This system in my kitchen was requested by my wife. We had a SONOS single speaker and she requested another to fill the whole room.

I mention all this as the SONOS product is over $600 new. The AirPort Express, power amp, and Kans cost less than that (and with better resale value), are stereo, and sound better. I suggest anyone contemplating a Källa to purchase an AirPort Express and nail down the ancillary equipment first.

For those not aware, the AirPort Express is a router, streamer, DAC, headphone amplifier, preamp, and also turns a standard printer into wireless model (the original reason I bought one) via its' USB connector. It cost $100 new, and is still supported by Apple. It sounds better than any version AppleTV, which many use to stream. Buy one.

3] Why don't you use an ethernet switch? You recently posted about cache-cleaning (which is actually "drive-cleaning"). If you use Spotify or Qobuz, they sound better "streamed" online than played locally. If you A/B an ethernet switch, be sure to delete all music files on your computer first and compare streamed to streamed. The apps revert to local files automatically. I made the mistake of removing my switch years ago because it sounded better. It took me many months to realize it sounded better because I was comparing local files to local files and little was actually going through the switch.

Ron The Mon
Apple-Fan
User avatar
Matteo
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 663
Joined: 2018-01-25 14:12
Location: Milano, Italia

Re: Four years in the making

Post by Matteo »

Ron

I listen 95% to the LP12 and 5% to Qobuz direct streamed from the Kat ADSM.

My NAS was dismissed years ago and I never used AirPlay for music in my life until yesterday :-)
LP12/Kar/Tramp2/Kore/Akito/ARad/Adikt/Slips7-ADSM/3-A2200-M109
User avatar
springwood64
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 387
Joined: 2008-10-13 18:19
Location: UK

Re: Four years in the making

Post by springwood64 »

I used an airport express into AV5103, streaming WiFi from a pc. This was 2008 ish. It sounded pretty poor so I abandoned it. I've still got it somewhere...

I compared the AE analogue into the AV5103 Vs AE digital into the AV5103 DAC and the AE DAC was pretty horrible in comparison.

So it's not directly comparable to the set up you recommend. I don't own a MAC btw
Pete

Linn Axis, Kinki, Hakai, Boazu, Espeks
Spannko
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 1404
Joined: 2008-01-24 21:46
Location: East of The Black Country, UK

Re: Four years in the making

Post by Spannko »

Ron,
Which version of the AE do you recommend?
Ron The Mon
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 291
Joined: 2014-07-17 17:17
Location: Detroit

Not AirPlaying

Post by Ron The Mon »

Matteo wrote: 2021-04-20 21:02 Ron

I listen 95% to the LP12 and 5% to Qobuz direct streamed from the Kat ADSM.

My NAS was dismissed years ago and I never used AirPlay for music in my life until yesterday :-)
Matteo,
Nine of your last ten posts on this Forum show an interest in Källa and improving your streaming of Qobuz. You even gave out advice (that you don't heed). Fredrik started this thread with the intention of members sharing experiences. I am suggesting you spend a tiny fraction of the value of your hi-fi and an hours time to improve it. Have you actually tried a Netgear GS108?

I am a cheapskate. I cannot understand owning a Katalyst ADSM for 5% of music listening.

Ron The Mon
Ron The Mon
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 291
Joined: 2014-07-17 17:17
Location: Detroit

More AirPlaying

Post by Ron The Mon »

springwood64 wrote: 2021-04-20 22:11 I used an AirPort Express into AV5103, streaming WiFi from a pc. This was 2008 ish. It sounded pretty poor so I abandoned it. I've still got it somewhere...
That unit sounds horrible. If you find it, throw it out.
I compared the AE analogue into the AV5103 Vs AE digital into the AV5103 DAC and the AE DAC was pretty horrible in comparison.

So it's not directly comparable to the set up you recommend. I don't own a Mac btw.
I was using a Linn Numerik at the time and agree. I also demoed an AV5103 and all three versions of the Numerik during that time. Your old AirPort Express could only be streamed via WiFi from a Windows machine or AirTunes from a Mac back then. AirPlay and AirPlay 2 sound much better.

Ron The Mon
Ron The Mon
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 291
Joined: 2014-07-17 17:17
Location: Detroit

More AirPlaying

Post by Ron The Mon »

Spannko wrote: 2021-04-20 22:18 Which version of the AE (AirPort Express) do you recommend?
Anything that looks like this...
Image
...they were made from June 2012 – April 2018, officially called "AirPort Express 802.11n (2nd Generation)". You can set it up with a Windows computer. To get the best musically streamed from it, you need a Mac made in the past seven years or so via AirPlay 2. Only AirPlay 1 or 2 work; no WiFi or Bluetooth. As Fredrik mentioned earlier in this thread, there may be Windows apps available that sound good.

This version AE can be a base station, extender, wireless printer adapter, pre-amp, DAC, and streamer. My main AE is the base station and allows wireless connection of all wireless devices on the network to print on a non-wireless printer. It is also a firewall. It has been on 24/7/365 times eight years. I've had to restart it twice. I live in a 6500 square foot home and get full strength reception in every room. With the extender/DAC/pre-amp in the kitchen, I now get full reception in the back yard. I use a third unit in an outdoor gazebo near my boat to improve reception as high winds often cause poor reception.

I mention all this as many people online state this unit is unreliable with poor reception. I have had nothing but excellent results and reliability. The only issue I've had with this device is using it as a streamer to a DAC. It outputs optical "mini" only. It took me months to find a mini adapter; they are easy to find now and around 67𝇍.

The Källa sounds like a mega-AirPort Express. The AirPort Express was designed to also be used as a pre-amp. If one has a Källa, and that is your only "Källa" ("source"), can you connect it directly to a power amp with good results? The bottom line is anything that makes an AirPort Express sound good should make a Källa sound good. Then save your pennies and hope the Källa sounds 80 times better.

Ron The Mon

P.S.
I'm not sure if this translates around the world but in the U.S., the AirPort Express (and recent AppleTVs and Mac mini) have non-grounded, non-polarized power cords. Orient the plug 180º to find which sounds best. You're welcome.
User avatar
Matteo
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 663
Joined: 2018-01-25 14:12
Location: Milano, Italia

Re: Not AirPlaying

Post by Matteo »

Ron The Mon wrote: 2021-04-20 23:40 Matteo,
Nine of your last ten posts on this Forum show an interest in Källa and improving your streaming of Qobuz. You even gave out advice (that you don't heed). Fredrik started this thread with the intention of members sharing experiences. I am suggesting you spend a tiny fraction of the value of your hi-fi and an hours time to improve it. Have you actually tried a Netgear GS108?

I am a cheapskate. I cannot understand owning a Katalyst ADSM for 5% of music listening.

Ron The Mon
Ron

Honestly, I do not like the tone of this post, that is both inquisitve and voyeuristic (as well as incorrect and blatantly in contrast to the spirit of this forum).

I own ADSM Kat for 100% of music listening (being also a pre / headphone amp) and more (digital inputs for TV, Sky and Blu-Ray ...).

Secondly, I know well what I heed, owning a streamer since 2010 and having largely tested Spotify, Tidal, Qobuz etc. during the last 10 years.
LP12/Kar/Tramp2/Kore/Akito/ARad/Adikt/Slips7-ADSM/3-A2200-M109
matthias
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 1194
Joined: 2007-12-25 16:47
Location: Germany

Re: AirPlaying Around

Post by matthias »

Upcoming "AirPort Express" from Belkin:

https://9to5mac.com/2021/02/24/belkin-p ... -features/

Matt
LP12 / Exposure / JBL3677
Lego
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 892
Joined: 2007-04-18 11:42
Location: glasgow

Re: More AirPlaying

Post by Lego »

Ron The Mon wrote: 2021-04-21 01:05
Spannko wrote: 2021-04-20 22:18 Which version of the AE (AirPort Express) do you recommend?
Anything that looks like this...
Image
...they were made from June 2012 – April 2018, officially called "AirPort Express 802.11n (2nd Generation)". You can set it up with a Windows computer. To get the best musically streamed from it, you need a Mac made in the past seven years or so via AirPlay 2. Only AirPlay 1 or 2 work; no WiFi or Bluetooth. As Fredrik mentioned earlier in this thread, there may be Windows apps available that sound good.

This version AE can be a base station, extender, wireless printer adapter, pre-amp, DAC, and streamer. My main AE is the base station and allows wireless connection of all wireless devices on the network to print on a non-wireless printer. It is also a firewall. It has been on 24/7/365 times eight years. I've had to restart it twice. I live in a 6500 square foot home and get full strength reception in every room. With the extender/DAC/pre-amp in the kitchen, I now get full reception in the back yard. I use a third unit in an outdoor gazebo near my boat to improve reception as high winds often cause poor reception.

I mention all this as many people online state this unit is unreliable with poor reception. I have had nothing but excellent results and reliability. The only issue I've had with this device is using it as a streamer to a DAC. It outputs optical "mini" only. It took me months to find a mini adapter; they are easy to find now and around 67𝇍.

The Källa sounds like a mega-AirPort Express. The AirPort Express was designed to also be used as a pre-amp. If one has a Källa, and that is your only "Källa" ("source"), can you connect it directly to a power amp with good results? The bottom line is anything that makes an AirPort Express sound good should make a Källa sound good. Then save your pennies and hope the Källa sounds 80 times better.

Ron The Mon

P.S.
I'm not sure if this translates around the world but in the U.S., the AirPort Express (and recent AppleTVs and Mac mini) have non-grounded, non-polarized power cords. Orient the plug 180º to find which sounds best. You're welcome.
That's very interesting Ron,love your enthusiasm .Just to get an idea how good this airport express sounds ,where does it stand compared to say the Linn streamers as an example .
I know that tune
Ron The Mon
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 291
Joined: 2014-07-17 17:17
Location: Detroit

AirPort AirPlaying

Post by Ron The Mon »

Lego wrote: 2021-04-29 08:40 That's very interesting Ron, love your enthusiasm. Just to get an idea how good this AirPort Express sounds, where does it stand compared to say the Linn streamers as an example.
Lego,
I have been playing with streamers for over 20 years. I built my own NAS and streamer from the excellent threads here. I have also used and recommend Fredrik's tips on connection methods, including connecting the AC power strips, and cables. My experience has shown all these "source-first" techniques have a greater positive influence improving musical playback than the streamer itself, let alone a DAC.

Most digital audiophiles start with improving the DAC; usually spending a lot of money. Then they get a better streamer. Then dissatisfied, they buy an even more expensive DAC. Some on this Forum buy a Linn streamer, then buy a more expensive Linn streamer without first trying ALAC (Apple Music/iTunes) ripping, or improving their home electrical system, or trying a Netgear GS108, etc.

An AirPort Express used to its' maximized potential will sound great. My point of starting this topic is anything that improves a Källa will improve an AirPort Express. An AE costs around $50. vs. $9K for a Källa. As tips come in for improving Källa, my Spotify playback will benefit if I follow suit.

I have read only fair or poor reviews of Spotify playback on Linn streamers (and HAKAI). Yet, my playback of Spotify sounds amazingly marvelous. I haven't listened via local streaming in over a year. I have always found Spotify better sounding (using tune-dem) than its' competitors. When I got my first Mac mini computer a few years back, I was stunned how good it sounded via AirPort Express, and (especially) from the headphone output. Many on this forum derided me, but at least one member took my advice.

I have taken my own advice this week and have been listening exclusively to Spotify from a Mac mini outputted to AirPort Express on my main hi-fi. I haven't seriously listened via AirPort Express in several years, meaning I haven't listened via AirPlay 2. The results are surprising. Because the AE is a high voltage amplifier, it needs burn-in and warm-up. Do not judge it by the first minute of operation. I'm now not sure which sounds better, AE or Mac mini headphone out. They are different presentations.

The bottom line is this; the game changer will be Spotify Hi-Fi. If it is musically better than standard Spotify, why buy a Linn streamer at all? Will Linn have an "app" or software better than what Spotify or Apple develops themselves? Do the Linn streamers have a better computer internally than a Mac mini, let alone an M1? Digitally, which is more important; the source, the streamer, or the DAC?

Many complain that streaming services don't have some artists or albums. Or they have worse sounding "remastered" versions. However, it is just as true there is music on Spotify not available on CD or vinyl. If you like discovering new music, a streaming service can't be beat.

I get it that a lot of consumers HATE Apple. Just as I get that a lot of you think it is silly to own anything less than a moving coil cartridge. Many on here think I'm a two-trick pony constantly recommending an AT-VM95C and Spotify on Mac mini/AirPort Express. The truth isn't just that those two items sound great; the "trick" is buying them and improving what comes before them.

Ron The Mon
User avatar
springwood64
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 387
Joined: 2008-10-13 18:19
Location: UK

Re: AirPlaying Around

Post by springwood64 »

Looking at eBay, it's possible to get a second hand Mac Mini and Airport Express for around £300 total, or less.

It would be cool to hear clips comparing Hakai+Spotify and MM+AE+Spotify.

Unfortunately, I'm both too happy with my Hakai and insufficiently curious to punt £300.

Ron, have you tested a cheaper iOS device - iPhone or iPad - with the AE?
Pete

Linn Axis, Kinki, Hakai, Boazu, Espeks
tokenbrit
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 1314
Joined: 2012-03-22 19:47
Location: New England

Re: AirPort AirPlaying

Post by tokenbrit »

Ron The Mon wrote: 2021-04-29 20:39 I have taken my own advice this week and have been listening exclusively to Spotify from a Mac mini outputted to AirPort Express on my main hi-fi. I haven't seriously listened via AirPort Express in several years, meaning I haven't listened via AirPlay 2. The results are surprising. Because the AE is a high voltage amplifier, it needs burn-in and warm-up. Do not judge it by the first minute of operation. I'm now not sure which sounds better, AE or Mac mini headphone out. They are different presentations.
ALAC, electrical, 108 - check!

Personally, I find Spotify-HAKAI to be remarkably musical with a good amount of material, but there are some tracks that just fall flat. I don't know if that's remasters; original recordings, or what causes the inconsistency, but the good is more than good enough that the majority of my listening is streaming - that doesn't mean I wouldn't have liked Kalla to support NAS, but I'm interested in anything that improves streaming specifically whether that be via HAKAI now, or to a Kalla in future.

With all that in mind, I've been looking at getting an AE, but the single Ethernet port, and 3.5mm headphone jack, have me wondering how best to connect it:
How do you connect your AE to your main hi-fi: headphone to RCA adapter with Linn interconnects, or headphone to RCA cable?
Is the AE your router or an access point, accessing the Internet via another router? If it's an access point, does the AE connect to the main router via Wi-Fi or Ethernet (via GS108?)?
Lastly, have you tried Spotify (app) on iPhone or iPad in comparison to the mini?
Ron The Mon
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 291
Joined: 2014-07-17 17:17
Location: Detroit

Re: AirPlaying Around

Post by Ron The Mon »

springwood64 wrote: 2021-04-29 21:16 Looking at eBay, it's possible to get a second hand Mac Mini and Airport Express for around £300 total, or less.

If you have a Mac mini, you don't need an AirPort Express. The headphone jack sounds really good. Trying an AE as a router may be worth the experiment of $30.

My wife refuses to let me buy from eBay or Amazon anymore. There are many small companies who sell online. Forget the "convenience" of the big guys. It only takes a slightly more detailed search. I find "Google" far too homogenized; try DuckDuckGo as your search engine. I have no experience spending money in the UK; these are just suggestions.

I live in a major U.S. city and have only recently discovered there are dozens of Apple and cell phone repair shops within miles of my house. A few months back, I saw two older Mac minis for under $100. I was tempted.
It would be cool to hear clips comparing HAKAI+Spotify and MM+AE+Spotify.
I agree.
Unfortunately, I'm both too happy with my HAKAI and insufficiently curious to punt £300.
I agree.
Have you tested a cheaper iOS device - iPhone or iPad - with the AE?
Yes, see below.

Ron The Mon
Ron The Mon
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 291
Joined: 2014-07-17 17:17
Location: Detroit

Re: AirPort AirPlaying

Post by Ron The Mon »

tokenbrit wrote: 2021-04-29 22:06 Personally, I find Spotify-HAKAI to be remarkably musical with a good amount of material, but there are some tracks that just fall flat. I don't know if that's remasters; original recordings, or what causes the inconsistency, but the good is more than good enough that the majority of my listening is streaming - that doesn't mean I wouldn't have liked Källa to support NAS, but I'm interested in anything that improves streaming specifically whether that be via HAKAI now, or to a Källa in future.
When you say "streaming", do you specifically mean Spotify? It seems to me that many Flat-Earthers/Source-Firsters/Tune-Demmers are afraid or embarrassed to admit they spend a lot of money on their hi-fi to play Spotify.

You are right about sound quality differences; but is it any different than comparing vinyl albums (or CDs)? Do you remember being in the listening room with me when a member of this Forum was comparing various pressings of the same LP and the differences were quite large? I have found recently that some movies I watch for free on Apple TV look and sound better than a Blu-ray I paid $25 for through my Oppo player. I have found the reverse as well; a "standard" DVD on my Oppo deck looks and sounds better than the "HiDef" version online. The bottom line is source-first works every time it's tried; meaning what's the least ruined version.
With all that in mind, I've been looking at getting an AE, but the single Ethernet [LAN] port, and 3.5mm headphone jack, have me wondering how best to connect it:
I have tried various Ethernet connections and the least intuitive sounds the best. I was in the electrical manufacturing business for many years and brought home dozens of modems, routers, switches, and combo units. Many were "professional" models designed for placement in an electrical panel. Most were consumer models. I often found the cheap models with the worst specifications and reviews sounded the best.

I also once believed adding an Ethernet switch, router, and extra CAT cables inline with the digital stream could only worsen the music. Injecting noise from two SMPSs into my AC power strip couldn't be good either. I likened it to adding a graphic equalizer to my pre-amp in the tape loop with the EQ sliders all set to zero. Since buying a GS108 and listening, I have yet to find an instance it didn't improve my digital playback musically.

My hi-fi Ethernet goes: Modem→AE→GS108→Mac mini. I have tried Modem→Mac mini direct (with everything else unplugged) and it sounds worse. I have tried Modem→GS108→Mac mini (with the AE on a GS108 port) and that sounded worse. I can't explain it and it seems counter-intuitive. All devices in my network communicate better this way as well. I wish I knew now with many devices I've tried as they may be different permutations that work and sound better.
How do you connect your AE to your main hi-fi: headphone to RCA adapter with Linn interconnects, or headphone to RCA cable?
Neither. I have a Naim pre-amp and use 3.5mm→5-pin DIN. I have purchased various Naim recommended cables over the years and the one that sounds the best is one I made up with the cheapest components. The cable itself is a simple two conductor with shield. This connection path ensures I have no ground loops as well.
Is the AE your router or an access point, accessing the Internet via another router? If it's an access point, does the AE connect to the main router via Wi-Fi or Ethernet (via GS108?)?
Now I think I'm more confused than you!

The AirPort Express I've been using since 2013, running 24/7/365 (flawlessly), is my router mentioned and connected as above in this post. It is located in my main hi-fi room on the second floor, which includes Naim amps and Linn Isobariks, and is central to my house.

In our 11'X15' kitchen, we had a single SONOS PLAY:3. My wife bought it and it sounded good. We really like the SONOS app and music; especially their Blues Channel. It just didn't fill the room. I recently came across a pair of Kans, a cheap power-amp, and another AirPort Express. In the kitchen, we also have an old Apple TV and flat-screen on the wall. This second AE (which has no wired Ethernet connection) does two things; it streams the sound from the Apple TV and our iPhones over the Kitchen Kans and acts as a Wi-Fi extender for the network to our backyard as it is sited on the back wall of our house.
Lastly, have you tried Spotify (app) on iPhone or iPad in comparison to the mini?
Two years ago I would have told you the iPhone performed the worst in all cases. Now, I'm not so sure. I have recently tried several combinations which included a separate DAC fed via USB, HDMI, and Toslink. The only item I wouldn't recommend for a Spotify source is Apple TV 4K fed HDMI into a DAC.

There are four major differences since my first comparison. AirPlay 2 sounds better than the original AirPlay. Spotify sounds better. Spotify now has "Spotify Connect" (which sounds better). IOS sounds better.

I don't have any Apple hardware made in the past year but with what I own, strictly using Spotify, the Mac mini app still sounds best. However, to quote a hi-fi friend of mine the other day; "Your kitchen system sounds better than my main hi-fi.".

Ron The Mon
Lego
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 892
Joined: 2007-04-18 11:42
Location: glasgow

Re: AirPort AirPlaying

Post by Lego »

Ron The Mon wrote: 2021-04-29 20:39
Lego wrote: 2021-04-29 08:40 That's very interesting Ron, love your enthusiasm. Just to get an idea how good this AirPort Express sounds, where does it stand compared to say the Linn streamers as an example.
Lego,
I have been playing with streamers for over 20 years. I built my own NAS and streamer from the excellent threads here. I have also used and recommend Fredrik's tips on connection methods, including connecting the AC power strips, and cables. My experience has shown all these "source-first" techniques have a greater positive influence improving musical playback than the streamer itself, let alone a DAC.

Most digital audiophiles start with improving the DAC; usually spending a lot of money. Then they get a better streamer. Then dissatisfied, they buy an even more expensive DAC. Some on this Forum buy a Linn streamer, then buy a more expensive Linn streamer without first trying ALAC (Apple Music/iTunes) ripping, or improving their home electrical system, or trying a Netgear GS108, etc.

An AirPort Express used to its' maximized potential will sound great. My point of starting this topic is anything that improves a Källa will improve an AirPort Express. An AE costs around $50. vs. $9K for a Källa. As tips come in for improving Källa, my Spotify playback will benefit if I follow suit.

I have read only fair or poor reviews of Spotify playback on Linn streamers (and HAKAI). Yet, my playback of Spotify sounds amazingly marvelous. I haven't listened via local streaming in over a year. I have always found Spotify better sounding (using tune-dem) than its' competitors. When I got my first Mac mini computer a few years back, I was stunned how good it sounded via AirPort Express, and (especially) from the headphone output. Many on this forum derided me, but at least one member took my advice.

I have taken my own advice this week and have been listening exclusively to Spotify from a Mac mini outputted to AirPort Express on my main hi-fi. I haven't seriously listened via AirPort Express in several years, meaning I haven't listened via AirPlay 2. The results are surprising. Because the AE is a high voltage amplifier, it needs burn-in and warm-up. Do not judge it by the first minute of operation. I'm now not sure which sounds better, AE or Mac mini headphone out. They are different presentations.

The bottom line is this; the game changer will be Spotify Hi-Fi. If it is musically better than standard Spotify, why buy a Linn streamer at all? Will Linn have an "app" or software better than what Spotify or Apple develops themselves? Do the Linn streamers have a better computer internally than a Mac mini, let alone an M1? Digitally, which is more important; the source, the streamer, or the DAC?

Many complain that streaming services don't have some artists or albums. Or they have worse sounding "remastered" versions. However, it is just as true there is music on Spotify not available on CD or vinyl. If you like discovering new music, a streaming service can't be beat.

I get it that a lot of consumers HATE Apple. Just as I get that a lot of you think it is silly to own anything less than a moving coil cartridge. Many on here think I'm a two-trick pony constantly recommending an AT-VM95C and Spotify on Mac mini/AirPort Express. The truth isn't just that those two items sound great; the "trick" is buying them and improving what comes before them.

Ron The Mon
That is great info Ron many thanks ,I'd also like to ask how your streaming setup compares to say a Hakai or a Linn streamer.

I've heard clips of a Malik DS compared to generic laptop with a Linn DAC and this gave me an indication how good the laptop sounded(very impressive) compared to DS

I'm sure you're amazed by the your sound/musicality etc of your streamer but I need a reference point ,if you know know what I mean.

Ron,you have an amazing insight to all things(hifi)
I know that tune
Lego
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 892
Joined: 2007-04-18 11:42
Location: glasgow

Re: AirPort AirPlaying

Post by Lego »

Ron The Mon wrote: 2021-04-29 20:39
Lego wrote: 2021-04-29 08:40 That's very interesting Ron, love your enthusiasm. Just to get an idea how good this AirPort Express sounds, where does it stand compared to say the Linn streamers as an example.
Lego,
I have been playing with streamers for over 20 years. I built my own NAS and streamer from the excellent threads here. I have also used and recommend Fredrik's tips on connection methods, including connecting the AC power strips, and cables. My experience has shown all these "source-first" techniques have a greater positive influence improving musical playback than the streamer itself, let alone a DAC.

Most digital audiophiles start with improving the DAC; usually spending a lot of money. Then they get a better streamer. Then dissatisfied, they buy an even more expensive DAC. Some on this Forum buy a Linn streamer, then buy a more expensive Linn streamer without first trying ALAC (Apple Music/iTunes) ripping, or improving their home electrical system, or trying a Netgear GS108, etc.

An AirPort Express used to its' maximized potential will sound great. My point of starting this topic is anything that improves a Källa will improve an AirPort Express. An AE costs around $50. vs. $9K for a Källa. As tips come in for improving Källa, my Spotify playback will benefit if I follow suit.

I have read only fair or poor reviews of Spotify playback on Linn streamers (and HAKAI). Yet, my playback of Spotify sounds amazingly marvelous. I haven't listened via local streaming in over a year. I have always found Spotify better sounding (using tune-dem) than its' competitors. When I got my first Mac mini computer a few years back, I was stunned how good it sounded via AirPort Express, and (especially) from the headphone output. Many on this forum derided me, but at least one member took my advice.

I have taken my own advice this week and have been listening exclusively to Spotify from a Mac mini outputted to AirPort Express on my main hi-fi. I haven't seriously listened via AirPort Express in several years, meaning I haven't listened via AirPlay 2. The results are surprising. Because the AE is a high voltage amplifier, it needs burn-in and warm-up. Do not judge it by the first minute of operation. I'm now not sure which sounds better, AE or Mac mini headphone out. They are different presentations.

The bottom line is this; the game changer will be Spotify Hi-Fi. If it is musically better than standard Spotify, why buy a Linn streamer at all? Will Linn have an "app" or software better than what Spotify or Apple develops themselves? Do the Linn streamers have a better computer internally than a Mac mini, let alone an M1? Digitally, which is more important; the source, the streamer, or the DAC?

Many complain that streaming services don't have some artists or albums. Or they have worse sounding "remastered" versions. However, it is just as true there is music on Spotify not available on CD or vinyl. If you like discovering new music, a streaming service can't be beat.

I get it that a lot of consumers HATE Apple. Just as I get that a lot of you think it is silly to own anything less than a moving coil cartridge. Many on here think I'm a two-trick pony constantly recommending an AT-VM95C and Spotify on Mac mini/AirPort Express. The truth isn't just that those two items sound great; the "trick" is buying them and improving what comes before them.

Ron The Mon
Many many thanks Ron,you have an amazing insight to all things Hifi streaming computers and I'm guessing plenty of other things also .Your information is indeed very valuable .

I understand how your AE sounds really really good but I'm wondering how does it compare to say a Hakai or a Linn DS .

I've heard clips comparing a laptop with a Linn DAC and a Magik DS and there wasn't much of a difference I'd actually say I easily preferred the Laptop on one of the tracks.

Can you give us an indication of how good your setup sounds compared to say a Hakai or Linn DS .

Thanks in advance
I know that tune
matthias
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 1194
Joined: 2007-12-25 16:47
Location: Germany

Re: AirPort AirPlaying

Post by matthias »

Ron The Mon wrote: 2021-04-29 20:39 I'm now not sure which sounds better, AE or Mac mini headphone out. They are different presentations.
Ron,
thanks for your insights, much appreciated.

Please, can you share your impressions about Mac mini HP out vs. AE analog output?

Matt
LP12 / Exposure / JBL3677
tokenbrit
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 1314
Joined: 2012-03-22 19:47
Location: New England

Re: AirPort AirPlaying

Post by tokenbrit »

Ron The Mon wrote: 2021-04-30 05:08 When you say "streaming", do you specifically mean Spotify?
Yes, Spotify, mostly, but also Internet radio using TuneIn urls, and radio paradise links

You are right about sound quality differences; but is it any different than comparing vinyl albums (or CDs)?
No; I wasn't suggesting that it was... The only(?) difference is that it's possible to acquire physical versions with reportedly better musicality, whereas we're limited to the library of the streaming service - that was all I meant.

My hi-fi Ethernet goes: Modem→AE→GS108→Mac mini. I have tried Modem→Mac mini direct (with everything else unplugged) and it sounds worse. I have tried Modem→GS108→Mac mini (with the AE on a GS108 port) and that sounded worse. I can't explain it and it seems counter-intuitive.
Thanks, that helps.
How do you connect your AE to your main hi-fi...?
... I have a Naim pre-amp and use 3.5mm→5-pin DIN. I have purchased various Naim recommended cables over the years and the one that sounds the best is one I made up with the cheapest components. The cable itself is a simple two conductor with shield. This connection path ensures I have no ground loops as well.
I guess I can start with a cheap(er) 3.5mm→RCAs to compare against my Hakai setup...

Is the AE your [only] router or an access point...?
Now I think I'm more confused than you!
I could've been clearer: I already have a wireless router, and my modem only has a single Ethernet connection so, for me, an AE could be instead of, or as well as... I was just trying to understand your setup.

The AirPort Express .. is my router .. located in my main hi-fi room .. and is central to my house.

In the kitchen, we also have .. [a] second AE (which has no wired Ethernet connection) .. it .. acts as a Wi-Fi extender for the network...
So, modem to AE (then switch) with a second AE as an access point/extender. Thanks for clarifying. Do you have any sense that your first/main AE sounds inherently better wired to the modem than the second AE connected wirelessly to the first AE? (main vs kitchen system notwithstanding)
Ron The Mon
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 291
Joined: 2014-07-17 17:17
Location: Detroit

Re: AirPort AirPlaying

Post by Ron The Mon »

matthias wrote: 2021-05-02 16:21
Ron The Mon wrote: 2021-04-29 20:39 I'm now not sure which sounds better, AE or Mac mini headphone out. They are different presentations.
Thanks for your insights, much appreciated.

Please, can you share your impressions about Mac mini HP out vs. AE analog output?
Matt,
I've now spent the last two weeks listening on my main system (Naim/Isobariks) almost exclusively through the AirPort Express. I say "almost" as I use a Mac mini for Zoom, FaceTime, Messages, and "sounds". None of those apps produce audio through an AirPort Express, so I had to switch back a few times.

The AirPort Express is more "Audiophile"; deeper soundstage, more detailed, etc. Switching back to the Mac mini headphone output put the swing back into the music. I was wishing I had the best of both worlds. The Mac mini is plugged into my "hi-fi" AC power strip, as that is where it sounds best. The AE is plugged into the "digital" power strip per Fredrik's recommendation. Rearranging that may alter the outcome.

Then I remembered, I was doing some Spring cleaning a week or so ago in a room and hallway that doesn't have music, so I used my wife's Bluetooth poolside speaker. I couldn't believe how good it sounded streaming Spotify from my iPhone! Then it dawned on me this morning maybe I now have Spotify HiFi. I never use automatic updates on my home computers but do on the iPhones. I have been burned a few times with Spotify after "updating". I once lost a playlist for almost two months before it reappeared. Another playlist wouldn't customize its' order.

I liked the old Spotify user-interface and haven't done their Mac updates in over six months even though the little blue checkmark has been reminding me to do so. I updated/restarted the app this morning and immediately regretted it; the new GUI scare Mongo. BUT,... Holy Smokes, I now have Spotify HiFi and it sounds wonderful.

The bottom line is there is a bigger difference from Spotify Premium to Hi-Fi than any DACs I've ever compared. I just relistened to Practica Lo Que Predicas by the Alex Skolnick Trio and am hearing new instruments, tones, and tune-dem galore. It doesn't matter which DAC I'm using. Source-first works every time it's tried.

There is no indication within the Spotify app that it is now "HiFi" but the sound quality improvement is undeniable.

Ron The Mon
matthias
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 1194
Joined: 2007-12-25 16:47
Location: Germany

Re: AirPort AirPlaying

Post by matthias »

Ron The Mon wrote: 2021-05-06 17:40 BUT,... Holy Smokes, I now have Spotify HiFi and it sounds wonderful.

The bottom line is there is a bigger difference from Spotify Premium to Hi-Fi than any DACs I've ever compared. I just relistened to Practica Lo Que Predicas by the Alex Skolnick Trio and am hearing new instruments, tones, and tune-dem galore. It doesn't matter which DAC I'm using. Source-first works every time it's tried.

There is no indication within the Spotify app that it is now "HiFi" but the sound quality improvement is undeniable.
Ron,
super interesting :-)
Thanks again

Matt
LP12 / Exposure / JBL3677
Ron The Mon
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 291
Joined: 2014-07-17 17:17
Location: Detroit

AirPort AirPlaying vs. NAS

Post by Ron The Mon »

Lego wrote: 2021-04-30 11:29 Ron,... how your streaming setup compares to say a HAKAI or a Linn streamer.

I've heard clips of a Malik DS compared to generic laptop with a Linn DAC and this gave me an indication how good the laptop sounded (very impressive) compared to DS

I'm sure you're amazed by the your sound/musicality etc of your streamer but I need a reference point, if you know know what I mean.
Lego,
I have compared my Squeezebox to my Oppo and my Squeezebox to a Majik DS(M?, the cheapest model with the power amp built in). I would rank my Oppo BDP-105D better sounding than a Linn Majik. I gave up on my HAKAI-alike after quite a few frustrating hours, though it sounded good. I can't overemphasize that improving the peripherals results in better music than the streamer itself.

Ron The Mon
Ron The Mon
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 291
Joined: 2014-07-17 17:17
Location: Detroit

Re: AirPort AirPlaying

Post by Ron The Mon »

tokenbrit wrote: 2021-05-03 03:27 Do you have any sense that your first/main AE sounds inherently better wired to the modem than the second AE connected wirelessly to the first AE? (main vs kitchen system notwithstanding)
No, but I can try unplugging the Mac mini ethernet and compare it wireless. It would also be very easy to bring the kitchen AirPort Express upstairs and power it from the same power strip and compare wired AE to wireless AE. I'll post the results if I try it.

See my reply to matthias above. I believe the reason my kitchen system now sounds so good is I have been inadvertently steaming Spotify HiFi from iPhones.

Ron The Mon
Spannko
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 1404
Joined: 2008-01-24 21:46
Location: East of The Black Country, UK

Re: AirPlaying Around

Post by Spannko »

I’m really glad I didn’t get an AE now it’s been downgraded to “audiophile” status!
Lego
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 892
Joined: 2007-04-18 11:42
Location: glasgow

Re: AirPort AirPlaying vs. NAS

Post by Lego »

Ron The Mon wrote: 2021-05-06 18:17
Lego wrote: 2021-04-30 11:29 Ron,... how your streaming setup compares to say a HAKAI or a Linn streamer.

I've heard clips of a Malik DS compared to generic laptop with a Linn DAC and this gave me an indication how good the laptop sounded (very impressive) compared to DS

I'm sure you're amazed by the your sound/musicality etc of your streamer but I need a reference point, if you know know what I mean.
Lego,
I have compared my Squeezebox to my Oppo and my Squeezebox to a Majik DS(M?, the cheapest model with the power amp built in). I would rank my Oppo BDP-105D better sounding than a Linn Majik. I gave up on my HAKAI-alike after quite a few frustrating hours, though it sounded good. I can't overemphasize that improving the peripherals results in better music than the streamer itself.

Ron The Mon
I hear you Ron, struggled with the networking I take it as the Hakai setup was very straightforward.
So the streamer is only as good as the peripherals.What are the peripherals?
I know that tune
Post Reply