Apple Airport Express Very Cool Product

Just wanted to share my experience with this product. I have become a big fan of my iPod and using iTunes and just received my Airport express and it is awesome! Setup was not exactly as easy as you would think but I finally figured it out. The Sound Quality is similair to the iPod but the mult-room and flexibility of this is worth the sacrafice! Anyway, if you are using itunes check it out..

I too have recently installed the Airport Express and have 2 of the units (1 for my cable modem and usb printer, and 1 for my stereo using an optical cable directly input to the digital in on my Cary 306-200 CD player) and I have a powerbook g4 using itunes. I can't recommend it highly enough as a really cool way to attach a music server without a bunch of hassle. Sound quality is WAY better than mid-fi and, while noticably inferior to a cd played on my player, I enjoy it for casual listening and messing around and the quality far outpaces my ipod.

I HIGHLY recommend this product and, as the kid states, once setup it is super easy.
I understand it can send a digital signal. Is this true?? If so has anyone tried it with it running through a DAC to your system with your CD's encoded @ 44.1kHz???

If it works OK, and doesn't eat up all the bandwith of the wireless router, I will likely be putting one into my system. Otherwise, the iPod is for vacations and traveling in the car sometimes, CD's will be kept for home use.
I have one too and my G4 Cube and airport base station sends music to it from iTunes. I often stream to the express and then into the Ht system. Great music before a show starts!
I went to buy one from Comp USA, only to find out they didn't have the necessary cables....

So I ordered it from MacMall, should be here by the end of the week, with cables, I'll play with the one and decide how many I want...

FWIW I can't wait for it to come!

Hopefully my amps and sub will be back from recall Saturday and I can spend the day setting up the system and listeni
Well, i got mine today setup today, and as you said, not as staraight forward as typical Apple stuff, especially as I use a D-Link router....fortunately I have an Apple store nearby for support....

Well, I've set it up and streamed some AIFF files so far I don't notyice any inturruption in the rest of the wireless network.... If it pans out, and I suspect it wil, I'll add another for the living room, and re-code all my CD's as AIFF or possibly Apple lossless compression and use an external HD as a digital music server!!!! Fun Fun, Fun!!!

I can't wait to play with it somemore, and also can't wait for Apple to allow you to stream to several at once, and ideally with different feeds! They will really be cool then!!!!
Kenny, Are you running digital out of the Airport Express into a DAC, as you asked about earlier? If so, how do you like the results?
Right now you can't run digital out of the Airport Express and into a
DAC. But Gordon Rankin is on the problem and wants to solve it. He's
been in touch with Apple but Apple's first task is to design something so
that you can control iTunes from your stereo.

I am running mine via the toslink cable...from the $39 cable pack you need to buy ;( directly to the digital in on a receiver in my bedroom, and it works well, I've not done any critiacl listening to really establish HOW good it is, but from what I gather, it is giving a digital feed, so I don't see why you couldn't use it directly to a DAC as well, sincce this is basically what I'm doing with it, only using the DAC in the receiver.

I hope they get the software to the point that I can run several with different feeds, or at least feed something to multiple units simultaneously.
I'm running the optical feed into my MF Trivista CD/SACD player/DAC and using Apple Loseless importing, I can't tell a difference between iTunes music played over the Airport Express and the original CD (tentative finding, more listening sessions needed). I'm wondering if the miniplug-to-optical cable in the stereo kit for the AE would also work with the iPod. Anyone try this?
ive read on the ipodlounge that they miniplug/optical cable doesnt work with the ipod. though I bet apple includes that feature in the 5th gen ipod and possibly the 2nd gen ipod mini (im buying one as soon as the feature is added) they have included this minijack and digital connector on there new imac so i bet youll be seeing it on everything apple in the future.

sound quality when using the optical is very good but the only grip that I have is itunes doesnt do gapless play so there is a 1-2 second gap between each song also if you listen with headpones you can hear a small pop in between each song. both are probably easily fixed in the next version of itunes though and from what ive read on the itunes forum on apples website it seems to be a pretty popular requested feature for true gapless play.
Does anyone know the digital output capability of Airport Express. My Sony DVD Player puts out (24bit/96kHz) through its toslink cable. What is the rated digital output bitrate and frequency range of AX?
The optical digital output can be modified to be a S/PDIF coax output fairly easily. Same modification that I do on the M-Audio Transit to change from toslink to coax.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
If you go to this site:
you can listen to these stations through I tunes and the url's appear in you library
Is this modification necessary to go from Airport Express via iTunes to an external DAC connected to my stereo system?
you don't need to modify ANYTHING - i bought one, bought a miniToslink to Toslink adaptor, plugged the cable into my musical fidelity trivista, and started playing both streaming audio and music off my computer via AIFF (uncompressed) just fine... sounds great too.
Airport Express Install Wizard is not opening when I load the CD and I can't locate it anywhere. I can't configure the base station because all the menus are greyed out.

anybody have any ideas why?

Thanks all

"Is this modification necessary to go from Airport Express via iTunes to an external DAC connected to my stereo system?"

If you want S/PDIF coaxial (the lowest jitter option) to go to your high-quality DAC, then yes is the answer.
Would the Airport Express be a better digital connection to my DAC than using an M-Audio Transit? Anybody have the two and done a comparison?
transit = GARBAGE. POS wants to upsample everything to 48k

the express setup is:

Macintosh HD : Applications : Utilities
But the airport express outputs to toslink. Isn't toslink inferior to other cabling methods?

Now if airport express had USB out for external DAC processing, then. . . wow!!! But then how to USB in DAC's transfer the digital USB signal for DA processing? Is another digital to digital conversion needed like what happens in the waveterminal?
Transit does not upsample to 48 kHz. I can program Transit to do 44.1 or 24/96 and it passes iTunes, MP3 and AC3. It uses a custom driver that bypasses Windows Kmixer.

Transit is probably not the best solution for iMac. I have heard that the drivers are not realy optimized for iMac. A modified Edirol with coax S/PDIF out is probably the ticket. It uses standard drivers - you dont need to install any.

The Airport express would probably make a good adapter if the wireless network solution was buffered well and isochronous. I'm not convinced based on what I have read.
Yes, Toslink is inferior. That's why I mod all of these converters to have a coax S/PDIF output, with a short cable attached.

If the Airport Express output wired USB, then you would still need a USB to S/PDIF wired converter. The main advantage of the AE is to eliminate the USB cable and have music throughout the house.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
I recently installed Airport Express with about 4 hours of hard work and frustration, finally doig a hard reset of the device and starting over. Also there is a newer version of Airport software that works better than the supplied CD. Now the only problem is that it drops out a lot streaming radio stations, which is the main thing I use it for. Any suggestions?
Hey..I already posted this below, but not sure if folks will read some of the older here goes again, my appologies if this is bad forum behavior:

Hey all,

Newbie bear with me.

I'm currently sending musci from my older G3 PowerBook laptop to the Airport Express unit, and than out of the AX unit via mini-optical to toslink into my HT receiver (Onkyo 502).

This sounds pretty good at this point in time, but I'm interested in how I could improve the sounds.

After looking at products like the Waveterminal, it seems that I have to power that unit via USB. Since the whole point of this (for me) is to be wireless, that's not an option as I don't want to run a USB cable from my laptop to the Waveterminal device.

Can any of you guys recommend an entry level solution that would be able to take the toslink optical output from the AX and convert to digital coaxial, and also hopefully allow me to improve the final sounds quality coming out of my Onkyo 502?

As a further fyi - for speakers (not that it really matters) I'm using a 5.1 system with Polk 35/25RTi for the front and back, a Mission center and a HSU sub.
Thanks for any help!

Here's the same response -- look at the following thread. I think it addresses this issue thoroughly.
Here are the guts of the AirPort Express. I have started modding it:

My net take-away from that thread than is pretty much:

" It means if you have a good toslink receiver that this is a good system to use, without modification."

Sounds like another component converting the toslink to coaxial won't add much.


Actually, converting the toslink to coax eliminates a few components at both ends, reducing the jitter....