First Experience w/ Airport Express to HIFI
So I finally took the plunge into PC audio with the purchase of an Airport Express. Not too big of a plunge but I'm still treading lightly here, not quite ready to drop a lot of cash on an untested (by me anyway) system.
I have a mostly Linn setup, with a Waconda Preamp, Klout amp, and Keilidh speakers. I just sold my Karik cd player and picked up a Quad 99-CDP MK2.
The Quad was not my first choice but budgetary reality made it the best choice for me at the time. The quad is unique in that it has 6 digital inputs. I figured I could hook up the satellite box, and my DVD player and have a few left over for whatever came down the pike.
So to cut to the chase here, I plugged my Airport Express into my Quad via a Glass Optical Toslink cable. (bought here on Agon from Captnstarstripe) I am connected to the Airport Express via Ethernet right now (no airport card in my Mac yet) so the digital information is hard wired rather than wireless. The test tracks were ripped in Itunes with error correction on, and in apple losses format. I ripped one CD and then popped it into my Quad, hit play on both and switched back and forth for an hour or so.
My thoughts so far after maybe 1 hour of A/B testing??? Well I really couldn't tell a difference. I thought I could at first but I asked my wife to sit in and do the switching so I didn't know where the source was coming from. Both sounded sweet, rich and full of detail.
Obviously I need to spend some more time with it, and getting it to run wirelessly seems like the next step. If the quality stays the same w/ wireless transmission (and I don't have any reason to think it won't with what I've read about the 8 second buffer in the Airport Express) I think maybe some kind of jitter reduction might be in order between the Airport Express and Quad. I mean it's cool and all that it sounds AS good as my CD player, but from what I've read, PC audio has the potential to sound BETTER than conventional CD playback. I can appreciate the convenience of having all your music at your fingertips, but if it doesn't sound BETTER then I don't think I'm interested. If I can reduce the jitter coming out of the Airport Express, (I'm not saying there is a lot of jitter, I'm just guessing) and hear an audible difference, then maybe it's good-by Quad CD player and hello 'insert name of great DAC.'
I'll add more when I get the chance to audition more music. If anyone has any suggestions for jitter reduction please let me know.