Simple Wireless Computer Audio Setup

I am getting very frustrated with the seeming lack of a comprehensive strategy for setting up a simple solution for computer audio.

One of my daughters is in college, and I am looking to set her up with a simple way to play digital files from her macbook. She is in a very small studio apt w/ wireless LAN, and there is very limited room for gear. I should add that she is a music major and has always had good stereo gear available to listen to. She knows that she will have to give up a little in terms of performance. Also, we are on a budget because... well, she's in college and it's freakin' expensive!

I have lots of stuff lying around, so this is what I was thinking:
1- wireless from her macbook to an Apple Airport Express
2- Connect Halide DS DAC (a USB-> RCA cable set w/ a DAC in the middle
3- Connect the DS DAC cables to a pair of Quad 12L active speakers

Sounds simple, right? Well, you can't get there from here. The Airport Express only supports output to a printer on USB. I could stick another entry-level DAC in the middle, but by the time you add in cables it gets much more expensive.

Other options might include using the Logitech SB Touch. I use these at home and like 'em but I'm not sure that I want to go there now that they are discontinued. I looked at the Sonos, but it has the same limitation as the AE - no USB out. And I have also looked at wireless DACs, but all the ones that I have found (Cambridge, Nuforce) don't work on WiFi but on bluetooth. Why is this is a good idea?

So I am open to suggestions, if anyone has any.
One simple solution is to get a DAC with optical input rather than the Halide which has only USB.

The Airport Express has optical output so the setup would be MacBook > Airport Express > DAC with optical input > Speakers.

There are lots of DACs with optical input in the price range of the Halide, one good one is the Musical Fidelity V-DAC but there are lots of others. Get a Sonicwave glass optical cable and a Toslink-mini Toslink adapter from Amazon for $30 if you want to top everything off.
If you want a wireless DAC, the Audioengine D2 uses it's own wifi network ($600).
The SB Touch is very easy to setup and use, you could get one while they are still available. The software could be used with other hardware (ipeng app on idevice into digital dock) if the touch dies at some point.
Airport express is easy, but doesn't support hi-res.
If she already has an iphone, you could buy a Pure i20 dock and stream to it using logitech media server/ipeng.
Actually, the sonos setup is great, and you just need a ridge and connect and she can stream all of her itunes library teo the quads. Pluss it is expandable. Only downside is it is limited to 16/44 ouput. Sounds way better than most ce players though.
There are wireless USB adapters and hubs available from Belkin and others. Some of these will work with asynch USB and others will not. I know that the WiRanger works because I have used it, but not made anymore. You can try ebay. These will degrade sound quality, but maybe thats not an issue.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Sfar, thanks for your response. yes, I could add a different DAC. Since the only flat surface on the same side of the room is a dresser, which has to hold a TV and a printer, I was hoping to make a somewhat invisible solution. But I can velcro attach a V-DAC as well as an AE, so thanks again.

Saeyedoc, thanks, but the AudioengineD2 is probably not a good fit. The only place to sit in the room is on a loveseat on the opposite wall from the speakers. The D2 is a 2-piece unit, so she would have to hold the send unit in your lap. I don't understand the necessity of a separate wireless network when there is perfectly good WiFi in the same room? Hires would be nice, but frankly all of her files are Redbook ALE format. I keep thinking about the SB Touch, but she doesn't want to load the Squeezebox/Logitech Media server on her laptop.
It's really no big deal to load LMS on her laptop. The program is small and takes up minimal resources.
Another option would be to use a DLNA solution. Playback is a good, inexpensive DLNA server that runs on OSX. I stream to my Oppo-93, but any DLAN renderer would work. The interface is just too clunky for me to use on a regular basis with a high number of files. DLNA through my Oppo will play some hi-res stuff that Squeezebox won't play, such as 24/192 and multi-channel flac.
Thanks to all for your input and great suggestions.
Well, we went in a little different direction: Mac streaming to Apple AE, toslink to Wadia 151. Speakers are Golden Ear Aon 2. It's a minimalist system but it really sounds great, much better than any other combination we listened to. I wish that it supported Hires files, but that's probably more important to me than to my daughter (it's her system, after all)

We listened to several small passive and active speakers, including the Dynaudio 110A, Gallo A'Divas, Focal Little Bird, Quad 12L (mine), the Glow One and more. After hearing the Golden Ear Aon 2 it was no contest. I had not heard of this company before yesterday but I'm very impressed with the sound. It's not a super small speaker, and the fit and finish are not super high end, but it sure sounds like a big speaker. And as my people say; such a deal! I may buy a pair of Aon 3s for my office.
And a good pair of headphones, music can sound at its best regardless of space
Unfortunately, the Wadia 151 does not have a headphone jack.

She does have a set of good cans that she uses when she practices on her piano (Kawai MP10). But like me, she is not terribly fond of listening to music through headphones.

While I find that many headphones are very accurate and musical, I do not get the same sense of imaging or space that speakers provide. I find that hearing the music all in my head to be fatiguing after more than a few minutes.
Understood, same thing happens to me but if she has a restricted space, is going to be very difficult to get hifi sound from a pair of small monitors. Hope you can find a good solution for her, is difficult to find young people who enjoys hifi we have to support them for sure. I have three sons and none of them apreciate what really good sound is.

She knows good sound... that's the problem! My wife says that I have created a monster. Being a classical voice major, she is very much into good sound and has a very good ear. Fortunately, the small setup described above really does sound quite good. I am very impressed by the Golden Ear Aon 2 speakers and the Wadia 151. I feel that weakest link in the chain is the Apple AE, but she is happy with it's Redbook quality so who am I to complain?
wish I could create a "monster" like yours.

As I recall, it started with a bottle of cheap french wine and a candle on a cold evening...
I forgot the wine..... Maybe thats the reason.....
Did you ever consider the Dynaudio Xeo 3? Besides active they are wireless too.

Yes, I considered the Dynaudio Xeo system. There are two main reasons why we didn't go this way?
1- The Xeo system requires the transmitter to be connected to the source. Since she is streaming from a laptop, this just didn't make sense. We needed the WiFi section to be from source to DAC/amp.
2- Too expensive.

But I have owned Dynaudio speakers in the past, and would happily have used them in this situation if I could have satisfied both of the requirements above.