Best path for PC audio into the big rig..

Hi all,

I need help. I've got the urge to incorporate a bunch of ripped audio tracks on my PC into the main stereo system.

All the gear, PC and home audio are in the same room, the 'office'. the listening area is in an adjacent room... with just speakers.

I want to sit in the living room and via a wireless notebook, access those numerous tracks. I've two desktops. One wireless, one wired. both networked... and a fair to middlin' system.

Waht do I need, and how should I proceed. I use itunes on both desktops... and naturally, I can't use a Mac... not that I don't want to. Just can't due to accessibility reasons... nor any other device with a small screen for interface. It'll have to be a notebook for my purposes.

I'd also prefer not to have to use Microsofts "remote access" feature to get at the files, as that would mean another PC needs be online.

Audio quality is also pretty high on the list... my system is resolving, open, a notch past the warm side of neutral with very good extension at both ends, and spooky good in the midrange, especially with Vocals. If some sacrifice needs be made for the sake of conveinence, i'd rather it not be the musicality or hrmonics... and I've not terribly deep pockets.

Can do? ...or can't do...???

Thanks much.
I have the Slim Devices SB III and Apples AIrport Express (which would require the type of interface you desire... my preference as well)

Check the above link, it will work with PC as well as MAC, and do just what you want.

You will need a mini toslink to toslink cable, the ony one I know if is in the Monster kit, though I am sure others exist. This puts it all in your hands fo ~$200.

BTW You will have to set the AE up as a client of your current network.... this is the one device Apple didn't do a great job packaging.
There are several ways to skin this cat.

Wired USB from computer to USB DAC
Wired USB from computer to USB/spdif converter to DAC
Wireless with Airport express to optical input of DAC
Belkin keeps threatening to release a wireless USB but keeps delaying it. If they do you can Wireless to Belkin to USB DAC.

There are systems like Slimserver also but I prefer a more open ended approach.

A system like mine will get you there for around $1,000

check these out

Audio Asylum


Emprical Audio


Altmann sounds a bit like a madman on his website but his DAC sounds great.
Thanks folks... though perhaps I wasn't too clear. I 'have' to use a wireless PC notebook, FOR TWO REASONS... So I CAN ACTUALLY SEE WHAT i'M DOING WHILE ACCESSING TRACKS. Slimdevices, and clock radio sized visual interfaces simply won't do it for me.

Secondly, for ease of operation... I skip about, if given the chance, when I listen to music as I do have a variety of tastes and would REALLY enjoy being able to pick which ever track the mood moves me to pick routinely.

To clarify, are you saying that along with the notebook, I'll need a NAS drive, and a USB DAC? ...AND THE DAC needs be plugged into the NAS drive? ...and that's it?

I'll look into the "Airport gizmo" and the other links provided. I do appreciate them all.

Has anyone found certain advantages in NOT using lossless file formats when loading files onto a drive? ...or should strickly lossless be used, regardless? I have found some advantages with certain genres and periods of music, in burning them to CD... though of course not yet in playing unburned files on the more resolving main system, naturally.

The ONLY advantage of using lossless formats is saving hard drive space. Given the price of storage space, I elected to use AIFF for everything and then keep another user for MP3's should I use my iPods.

I hadn't looked at your system until now, so using an Airprt Express will require some sort of D/A conversion as well.
Thanks for the links ... especially the Altmann one. yep. He's out there... but entertaining for sure. Very Eeenteresting.


My concern remains that I am plotting this correctly in that the only hardaware I will require adding is:
PC wireless notebook
NAS drive
...various ICs.
You don't have to have an NAS drive, even USB 1.1 is fast enough to do the job, but a big NAS drive with RAID 5 is a simple way to have some backup. Otherwise redundant external USB drives will be fine. Just make sure you get ones that are well ventilated with fans like the Western Digital ones. Easier still is mount some drives in your desktop cases and just use those.

With iTunes you can turn on the share feature and have the hard drives connected to desktops and the wireless notebook can share those files directly via iTunes.

Unless Belkin finally releases their wireless USB interface, if you use a USB dac it will have to be wired to the laptop, not the drives. Wireless print servers won't work. You also have limits on USB cable length unless you use a USB optical repeater.

I don't know about the realibility of the AE units, but bear in mind they've sold millions of them so you have to figure some crapped out. Even if they did only last 2 years they only cost about $100 in the first place. They also have a built in DAC (not a great one) so that would get you started until you find the DAC you want, but it will have to have a toslink input or you will need a optical to spdif converter.

Apple claims they are accessible Won't that work for you? The reason I ask is that many Apple notebooks are very quiet whereas many PC notebooks have fans that are loud enough to be distracting.

You can also use their Front row software which will make it very easy to navigate through iTunes.
Ive had two AE since they first hit the market and both work fine, I have had to reset one twice, unsure why but it's easy enough not to worry about it, and as Herman says, they're $100.
Herman Man. thanks a bunch.

If you live on an island, your world is quite small. 100% of the trained professionals who provide the training of Higher functionality accessibility software have yet to mention the features of the Mac that you just provided me. I do however think the privately developed softwares such as JAWS (screen reader only.. no mouse or monitor required) & Xoom Text 9.0 (screen reader adn magnifyer.. and my personal choice, though I have and use both), will provide much greater a level of functionality... I assume the accessibility features described in your link are similar in nature to those in Windows. I'll look into the Mac gear now... pardon the pun.

I'd love to have a Mac. their monitors that i've seen are super. their costs are not however. My ego says I need a Mac... my wallet says otherwise... till now.

In any event... using a notebook/lap top (whomever the maker is), needs be "entirely" a wireless act. Purely. the other junk I can string together... not much of an issue there.

...and the thought of going with an AP does make sense and would allow more time to decide on the right DAC.

given the info I've been humg up on lately... the BC DAC3 and now the Altmann seems the front runners... I'd not wish to go beyond their price tags for that matter either... and would also like to be able to slip my sony CDP into the DAC too... later on.

thanks much.

one thing puzzels me however... the notion of a 'quiet machine'. If all is outboard.. and in this instance, it is, then what would be the matter how noisy a notbook or lap top is? the internal workings of the wireless computer couldn't possibly be an issue.
what would be the matter how noisy a notebook or laptop is?

I guess misunderstood your intentions. I thought you wanted to sit at the listening position with a wireless laptop and choose songs. If that's the case then you want a totally quiet laptop. If that's not the case then please explain how the laptop fits in with what you want.
yep... you got it. At the LP with a wireless NB/LT and picking songs... with all the junk in another room... 'cept the speakers of course.

hence... why should noise from a wirelss source be a problem?

Only things I see as possible noise introduction units are the NAS drive... and the AP/DAC ... that's not correct? thinking is that the signal path originates with the NAS drive, then into the AP/DAC. No?
I think we're talking about 2 differnt kinds of noise. I'm talking about the noise from the fan in the laptop, not electrical noise.

WHHHHHHHHHHHHHIIIIIIIRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR that you don't want interfering with the music. Many laptops do have rather noisy fans. The Apples I'm talking about do not have fans at all. You certainly don't need an Apple to play iTunes so if that is all you are after then maybe you can find a Windows laptop that doesn't have a fan.
Fan noise. Geesh. How dumb of me to overlook that.. never even crossed my mind. Thanks. I'll bear that in mind while shopping around for one.
Macs are no longer more expensive than their PC counterparts. Check out the refurbished Macs offered on the website. Mac laptops equipped with Airport Express wireless modems and Bluetooth are offered at 13%-28% discounts, and they are backed with full Apple warranties.

Check it out.

Thanks Tvad

Soon as I can get around to actually using one first... 'IF' I can use one that is... I sure will. I hope I can. A screen reader is a big plus and near necessity for me. For only short periods can I just visualize text without things going south on me.... but we'll see. (PTP)
BTW... has anyone tried "modded" AIR PORT extremes? ...or for that matter, USB DACs? was it worth it overall?
IMO, modding an Airport Extreme is a waste of money considering that all computers and computer accessories are essentially commodity items...outdated in a matter of months.
Follow the Empirical link above for modified USB DACS and Airport Express.
thanks Tvad
I sort of have that impression. with 2K being the lay out for a DAC & modded Air Port, plus the notebook... it means some considered thinking needs be done. Past efforts haven't been terrible in getting audio to a sound system from the PC. Not great, but not really bad either. those were simply with an upscale sound card, PC, wireless keyboard and a video monitor. Quite dynamic yet uninvolving mostly.

I think I'll keep my focus on improving my system and incorporate a less costly solution using a more affordably priced NOS tubed DAC for the PC output... just to see if the gain is worthwhile. Something using 6DJ8/6922/7308... I've a fairly decent supply of those laying about... which I probably should sell and just get a DAC altogether.
I don't believe computer audio is a bad idea, or that the cost of stock components is out of line with the rest of the hobby. Unless you're using "mad money", I just don't think it's wise to spend funds to mod computer components...especially an Apple Airport. Modding a DAC makes more sense as it's a more versatile component.
Me too.

that is/was fueling the whole DAC getting train of thought.
Taking another path, one not restricted to PC/USB solely, many other doors open.

Provided I somehow add a SPDIF/TOS out of the PC via a sound card of some sort or the other, lots of DACs fit the apparent bill, for that use and for other uses too.

Without going to expensive ($500 - $1000), can anyone recommend via personal experience, a worthy DAC that still embodies life of the recording in its presentation??

it must have support available stateside, so maybe some offshore choices are out... and my list gets shorter then and now is filled only with BC... Monarchy #24, and Benchmark. As these are all still in business, a used piece isn't a problem for me.

thanks again...
How about the Lite Audio DAC 60?

Also, although my $499 Paradisea DAC comes from Taiwan, it was shipped via EMS Global Express for $35, and it arrived in less than five business days from the time I paid for it. I suspect service, if required, would be fast and fairly inexpensive.

Like you, on my short list are the Monarchy & Benchmark. The 3rd that I am considering (in this price range) is PS Audio's new Digital Link III.

Though there is not a lot of "buzz" out there on this piece, it looks very interesting.

I know what you mean. I've looked at a lot of spots and cant' find anything of note on the PS entry. Apart fromn the fact PS and one other source says it's "warm sounding". Huh. How warm? ..and Comparied to what?

The ones listed here are higher than they should be considering... With only a $100 difference from no warranty to warranty... and the option for return... it's an easy choice which way to go there... for me anyway.

the Monarchy unit seems a good notion... but only the 24. The previous ones, 22 & 33 are not 24/96 DACs. Monarchy though, did say that they recommended their DIP to add to the mix. So to complete that path the price for new is $1300 + shipping (appox)

That being said, I did make some inquiries to buy a couple listed Mon DACs, but either was too slow or never got any responses. and with a new Mon I'm giving up the XLR connection to the preamp... and have to do two boxes and more ICs... which for me would not be a good thing.

Stello? I've since given up almost entirely there. try to find a Stello dealer carrying current inventory.. stateside. Good Luck. None of those listed as dealers at the April Music site either now carry the line, or will even return calls. Neither does april Music. I've tried several times to contact them directly. Nada. zilch. If stello is that hard to buy... how hard is it to get it fixed if something goes awry? Or just need info at some point? If that isn't a concern I don't know what is.

At this point I'm inclined to either get a very good deal on a DAC, or simply wait for more info... and funds so as to go with perhaps the BC3, which, on papre fills the bill. Audibly? there too I can't say now but hope some press from owners of more than just BC is forthcoming..

For to take a chance and then have to resell if not a good fit, the item needs some degree of popularity... and easily obtainable support. IMHO

OK.... The decision is made. MSB link III w/Modright mods, a PC, network card and outboard pwr sup is my choice for a PC + ? DAC. Just gotta wait on it to arrive.