Apple Lossless Wirelessly

I've been experimenting with serving music stored on my iMac G4 in the study to iTunes running on a laptop (experimenting with a Dell, but eventually will get an iBook to handle this function) in the living room to an Airport Express that is cabled to my living room stereo system. I've been moving the music from iMac to laptop to Airport Express over my 802.11b wireless network.

So far, I've found that my 802.11b network can't adequately handle sending song files in Apple Lossless format from my iMac to iTunes on my laptop. There are breaks in the playback, especially when there is other traffic over the wireless connection. If the AL song files are on the laptop, there is no problem.

Since convenience is a big reason for this setup, I'd like to stick with a laptop as the control center and stay wireless if possible. I figure my two alternatives are: (1) upgrading my wireless network to 802.11g, and (2) buying Apple Remote Desktop so I can run iTunes on my iMac, where the song files are, while controlling it from the laptop.

Any comments on these options (and am I right about being able to use ARD this way)? Thanks!
One alternative option to Apple remote desktop is timpukto pro:
I think they do have a 30 trial. We tried to use in in a Univeristy/Research invironment, where it was to slow for our purposes. For you it might do the job though. Certainly worth trying for 30 days.

Otherwise upgrading to 802.11g should make the file transfer much faster and better.
I have been using "airtunes" from my imac directly to my stereo via airport express. the results have been surprisingly good sound wise (which was my biggest fear) but unpredictable in terms of signal drop. I am not sure what is causing the interference/ drop but I suspect it is my imac processor at times...maybe just someone picking up the cordless phone in our building. I have not had the problem you have of having to control my library remotely. I would suggest that you first make sure that the problem lies in the server - client transfer and not in the airtunes signal try controlling airtunes via the imac for a few days. if the problem persists, then it is aitunes' problem and go to the apple site for an article on overcoming audio-drop while using airport express ( I havent had much success yet but others have--see discussion forums on apple's site). if the problem is solved then your best bet and in some ways may be to connect ibook to external harddrive while serving itunes which is what I ended up doing (hardwired to stereo ie no airtunes)
hope this helps
Dimitri, when the AL song file is on the laptop with iTunes, there is no problem streaming the output wirelessly to AX, so the server-laptop connection is the problem. I have a feeling I may end up with a hard drive connected to my laptop, even though it's not ideal in terms of convenience in the living room situation.

Restock, thanks for mentioning Timbukto. It led me to try out open source (free) VCN remote control software. On Mac OSX, a remote client can't use the server independently from someone who might be sitting at the server trying to use the machine--the two would "fight," so I realized that was not going to work.

Maybe 802.11g is the answer. I'd have to include in the cost a new wireless adapter card for a third computer that doesn't need the speed boost, because apparently mixing old "b" devices with newer "g" devices drags the throughput of the whole network down toward "b" level.

It ain't simple. There's music in there, somewhere.
Before you jump to 802.11g, check to see if you're using a heavily trafficked channel. In my area there are a number of folks using wireless, and all are on channel 11, which is the default for many devices. I switched my access point from channel 11 to 5 and my wireless device connections became much more reliable. I don't know if crowded channels are a problem in your area, but itÂ’s easy enough to try switching and see if things improve.
Here's a link to a troubleshooting page from Apple: AirTunes audio stream drops or cuts out.

Hope it helps!
One option is to attach a 11g airport etreme station to the third computer by LAN port and have that be the main base station. this would make the whole network 11g. or merely upgrade the 3rd computer. However apple states that 11b is the standard for airtunes and their literature suggests trouble shooting by switching all components to 11b. also some users have found that using additional base stations interferes with airport express rather than augmenting the network as advertised. You should however be able to tell if the upgrade would change anything by temporarily switching to 11g and turning off any 11b devices in the network. the channel switch has helped my situation for a day or so now. good luck
Dimitri, where are you getting that AirTunes is 'b' ? According to apple...

"AirPort Express uses the 802.11g wireless standard. Accessing the wireless network requires an AirPort or AirPort Extreme enabled computer or Wi-Fi-certified 802.11b or 802.11g computer. Achieving data rates of 54 Mbps requires that all users have an AirPort Extreme or Wi-Fi-certified 802.11g enabled computer and connect to an AirPort Express Base Station. If a user of a Wi-Fi-certified 802.11b product joins the network, that user will get up to 11 Mbps and AirPort Extreme and Wi-Fi-certified 802.11g users will get less than 54 Mbps. Actual speed will vary based on range, connection rate, site conditions, size of network, and other factors."

- so based on that, I'd suggest he upgrades his network in general to 'g' - better range, speed, etc... my roommate has a 'b' PCI card on his Dell and it certainly gave a small performance hit to our network :(
With respect to changing channels on your base stn, you might want to consider that the channel designations are 5 MHz apart, and the bandwidth of the transmission is more like 25 MHz. So, the standard US channels for WiFi in the 2 GHz band are 1, 6, and 11. If you go to 5, you are still going to pick up some problems from users on ch 1.

You might also look into 802.11a. 11g still runs in the very heavily congested 2 GHz band, and there are a total of 3 channels available. There are something like 37 in the 5 GHz band where 11a operates, and not as many other devices (e.g., bluetooth, microwaves). The wall penetration may not be as good, however.
I've been grappling with interference on my 802.11b/g network; it's been a problem for a while, but Airtunes exposes problems in a very obvious manner. After fiddling with all sorts of parameters, I've found for best results I've switched off 802.11b and only use 802.11g. Airtunes seems to be running fairly faultlessly now.

I live fairly near a major microwave transmitter, and I wonder if that explains my problems with 802.11b.

I'd be interested to know how devices decide whether to use B or G. If mine had stuck with G, I don't think I'd have had a problem.
Anyone use an AirPort Express with a PC?

If so, how did you get it to work?
Have used with Mac and PC. You could try this roundabout way. Use Airport Admin Utility to do the setup, if Airport Express Assistant is not doing the job for you. Connect the Airport Express by ethernet cable to your DSL or cable modem or router (don't have to connect to stereo at this point). Configure the AE to be a base station, i.e., to "Create a wireless network," not "join existing network." After that, disconnect the AE, connect it with stereo, and go wireless. Start up Airport Admin Utility again. Your PC should recognize the AE; this time configure AE to "join an existing network".

Does this help?
Go the AirPort Express working now. Even with Toslink, the iTunes sound is not shabby at all. Sounds a tad hollow and focus could be a bit better, but very dynamic and extended. I will be comparing it to my modded USB->S/PDIF coax Transit doing iTunes.
Audioengr, how did you mod the transit? I've heard of people effectively wiring a coax connector in lieu of the LED (or whatever the light source is), but I gather the "real" way of doing it involves some 5V transformer or something? Any pointers for those who have some competence with a soldering iron?
It is a bit technical. You need to be able to match the impedance to 75 ohms, and this does not just mean inserting a 75 ohm resistor. I have developed special equipment for this. I improve the power delivery to all the active parts, improve the PLL filtering, replace the regulators and I even replace the clock with a Superclock that I have modded. Then I attach a permanent short S/PDIF cable to it and tune the circuit precisely to match this cable. This way, there is no variable of a S/PDIF cable of unknown impedance and characteristics. The result is a S/PDIF waveform that is textbook perfect with sub-nanosecond risetimes and perfect symmetry. It turned-out so good that I have just started offering it as a product

I'm hoping that the same thing will happen with the AirPort Express. If I could just get that darned case off it!!

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
I did a series of blind A/B tests with my wife and I agree with her findings, ordered from best to worst:

1) Foobar___24/96___________USB Off-Ramp (modified Transit)
2) iTunes___Apple lossless_____USB Off-Ramp
3) iTunes___Apple lossless_____Unmodified AirPort Express
4) iTunes___Apple compressed__USB Off-Ramp
5) Foobar___16/44.1__________USB Off-Ramp
6) iTunes___Apple compressed__Unmodified AirPort Express

From this I learned a few things, namely:

1) Airport Express will likely benefit from mods that add a S/PDIF coaxial output
2) Apple lossless is still not quite as good as 24/96 .wav uncompressed, but very close

I could listen to either 24/96 .wav or Apple Lossless. They are both excellent