I thought I'd start a new thread focused on the apple tv. I chose the apple tv primarily for it's nice interface and simplicity of use. The mac mini is obviously far more customizable however requires a keyboard and mouse.
My 30gb model is about to get a new 250 gb hard drive from techrestore.com. My biggest issue with apple tv is the inactive usb port. Ideally I would like to send music to the dac using this port. It appears this may be possible by hacking the unit and installing the full version of osx.
After playing around with it I figured out how to stream my itunes music from my imac. This more or less eliminates the need for the bigger hard drive. Although I typically do not have the computer on while entertaining so I will need to sync some music. I cannot figure out how to stream video. I have heard of others doing this. It would be nice to hold movies on an external hard drive and stream them from itunes. Anyone successful in doing this?
I just got my 160GB ATV 2 days ago...so far, so good. My current library of ALAC files is relatively small (only ~120GB), so I have synced all my music to the ATV hard drive, and I stream movies that I convert w/ VisualHub... I'm a Mac fanboy, so to speak, and am very happy w/ this setup. I'll be looking for a DAC (probably the DL III as others have suggested) when I switch to separates from my Cambridge Audio 540R receiver.. I think the 540R does post-processing regardless of whether an analog or digital input is used, so getting a DAC now would be pointless..
After a few days of use, I contacted Apple to return my Apple TV.
I have now purchased a MacBook and it is everything that I could want. The sound is much better. Imaging is much more stable. The strings have come alive with much more presence, and the detail in male and female vocals is much more textured and transparent. If you can afford the upgrade, get it.
How does changing from an Apple TV to a MacBook improve the sound? Are you using the same DAC you teamed with the Apple TV, or no DAC at all? How are you connecting this to your system? I remember from your posts on the Wadia iTransport that you were looking for a more effecient way to display iTunes other than your TV. The MacBook would solve this issue.
I was on the path to purchasing an Apple TV before I read this post. It's easy to return an Apple TV, but most stores have strict guidelines regarding laptops. Convince me your MacBook solution is better.
after talking to the founder of computeraudiophile.com, he helped give me that little nudge to go with the MacBook.
I was experiencing shifts in imaging that really bothered me. the vocals also didnt have much shape or texture, even less than the squeezebox I was replacing. I was also concerned about the optical output adding too much digital jitter to the signal. Another issue was my desire to have a smaller screen to navigate the menu's compared to the 57' screen i was currently using. I like to listen to music in the dark and the big screen displaying the album art took me away from that a bit.
these are just my opinions, but I have spent the last few years trying to find a cheaper way to have a music server. i finally sucked it up and decided to do it right. if you are on the fence, go ahead and get a MacBook and a USB DAC of converter to use your own DAC, you will not regret it.
Mr. Holenneck, If you used the Macbook via Thingy (AES) and Squeezebox (Coax) both into the same Dac (Anthem D2), (as well as Transport and Apple TV) then why should there be such an improvement in sound quality with the Macbook and Thingy, especially versus SB3? I am trying to understand and very interested! (not critical at all) Thanks.
Well, the squeezebox was hardwired to a desktop computer via a router. The Ethernet cable was 80 ft long and I could never get over the feeling that I was losing some resolution due to that. The other issue was, even though the SB has a good user interface, I have experienced the user interface of the MacBook and the Apple TV and it is much easier to use and much easier on the eyes.
Those things combined helped me make my decision to try and find something new. After all, it is in our blood to not stay in one place long, if I did that, what kinda audiophile would I be?
The end result is everything that I could have hoped for.
I'm not sure why the macbook, or imac or any mac for that matter would have better imaging and detail then the apple tv. Does the macbook have a higher quality dac? I am definitely not impressed with the audio quality of the apple tv but I wasn't expecting much. For $299 I am extremely impressed with the interface and ease of use. The movie rentals from itunes are as good of quality or better then cable on demand. The photo archiving and playback via screensaver are very neat. I do intend on adding a bel canto dac 3 for the audio quality.
Perhaps there isn't a reason for the Apple TV to not sound as good as a Mac computer, but it didn't. If you lived in my area I would certainly invite you over to experience the difference. For whatever reason, the music did not sound as clean and controlled with the ATV as it does with the MacBook. I just don't think the digital outputs on the ATV are implemented that great. The HDMI and optical outputs both are guilty of higher levels of digital jitter than other digital outputs. That could be part of the reason the music sounded inconsistent at times. Maybe the product isn't ready for primetime? I have also read many negative comments concerning the quality of ATV's audio and video. I can say that the HD video quality was quite poor. Downloading HD content is far from being able to compete with hard disk material. I would say that HD movies downloaded from Apple are only slightly better than the same movie on a SD DVD disk. For some people, these issues may not be as apparent or as bothersome as they are with me. I really wanted to like the ATV, but in the end, I didn't have faith that it was as good as I could do.
I agree the hd video is not as good as a hard disk. It is better then the HD videos I get from my cable service. I noticed that my ps3 had much superior audio playing a cd which was also ripped to apple tv using apple lossless. I hope that a high quality dac will remedy this.
@Mbehner: I too hope that an external DAC will improve sound quality from the ATV... yesterday, I ordered a Stage 3 modified PS Audio DL 3 from Rick Cullen (after he & I had an email exchange). My fingers are crossed, and I hope to have the modded DL 3 sometime next week. If the ATV sound quality doesn't end up being up to snuff, I'll keep it for video use & buy a Squeezebox, I think. Too bad all of my music is in ALAC, which SB doesn't support (it transcodes it on the fly, I think)...
I'll need the dac either way. If it isn't a substantial improvement I'll go to the mac mini using the usb out. I went atv vs. mini for the nice interface and simplicity. Plus, my universal remote controls the atv nicely using the macro to turn on all the relevent componants and switching the inputs etc. The usb out on the mac mini might be better ultimately but would require a keyboard and mouse. More hands on then I want to be. I have heard the atv works really well with a high quality dac. Please post your results.
Gentlemen, As I've said I'm a new comer to this so I'm not yet able to offer any specific advise or feedback except: Check out the PC Audio forum of Audiogon. There are people posting to that forum who are along way down the road that we have just set foot on. An in particular there are quite a few posts on how ATVs can be used in high end systems.