The OFFICAL Apple TV thread

I have purchase an Apple TV recently and have looked around the net to find quite a few others have and are trying to integrate this into a decent stereo setup. The purpose of this thread is not to debate the merits of Apple TV but to help users (myself included) find ways of improving sound from their streaming device. I would like to start the discussion myself by asking a few questions:

Has anybody found any third party software which can play iTunes files (WAV, IAFF,) to an Airport express?

If so what do you use?

2. What Toslink do you use on your Apple TV? What is the length?

3. Have you considered or used an after market power cable? If so what were the results?
I put this in another thread, but I guess this is a far more appropriate place..

Toslink cable - Sonicwave glass 1 meter - About $25 from
Improved everything. Biggest difference was sound was less blurry and more focused. Everything sounded sharper, in a good way.

Power cord - Audioquest NRG 1 - 6 ft - $79 from Music Direct
Same results as the Sonicwave cable. Pretty much same extent too. I was skeptical about a power cord on the ATV, so I made sure I could return it. It stayed.

Vibracones - I had them laying around the house, and use them for better ventilation, as the ATV gets hot. It also helps lift the unit up so the cables are easier to get to. Not sure about sound quality, as I've used them since day 1.

iPhone Remote App - Free - Makes navigation far easier than on the TV.

Rega DAC - $1k - By far the best DAC I've heard anywhere near the price.

My ATV and Rega DAC sound so much better than my Apollo did. No going back to CDPs.

Also, just because you digitize your collection doesn't mean you have to get rid of the CDs. I still have mine!
Forgot to say...

I have the ATV with 160 gb internal hard drive. All music is Apple Lossless with error correction.

Haven't heard a difference between WAV, AIFF, and Apple Lossless. Have heard a difference between error correction on and off on some CDs. Probably depends on the CD's condition.

Stored music sounds better than synched.

Just reporting what I hear. Others have disagreed with one or two things. As always, try it for yourself.
used a wireworld glass toslink cable.
wyred 4 sound dac2
sounded decent but with limitations.

replaced atv with mac mini, 4TB of disk, running pure music
all cd's ripped with MAX
nice usb cable using 24/192 driver from wyred 4 sound
going into the wyred 4 sound dac2
night and day difference.
sold my classe cdp-10 since my mac server sounded much better.

i still use an atv and airport express around the house for background music.
I'm glad you posted this topic. I use my ATV2 mostly for streaming radio from my iPad to my system. Occasionally I will stream Apple Lossles files from the iPad as well. It's connected to a Musical Fidelity V-DAC using a 1 meter Monster Interlink LightSpeed 100 I had lying around (from my HT faze). I did not replace the power cord. I have to say it sounds good. Internet radio is quite enjoyable thru the V-DAC. The lossless files sound even better. I'm really happy with the ATV2 and the convenience.

That said, I've wondered if a higher end dac would make much difference or would the law of diminishing returns apply here. I can't see spending $1000 for say, a 2% increase in fidelity. Perhaps we will have to wait for an ATV3 to see if Apple will tweak it for the audiophiles who want more.

The majority of my listening is done thru my Mac Mini, Pure Music, Tranquility dac and there is just no contest.
BTW here's a link to Airfoil which streams to AE:

Works great.
Jmelvin -

Have you tried the Tranquility DAC with the ATV? Going from an old but excellent Theta Cobalt DAC to the new Rega DAC was a very big improvement. The Rega DAC reclocks, whereas the the Theta does not. That probably explains part of the improvement.

In my experience, the Rega DAC at $1k was worth every penny. Not to start a debate about DACs, but I easily preferred my Theta DAC to a V-DAC and a few others in that range when I tried them.
I just installed the new Rega DAC running the optical out from a ATV1 to it. I have a Conrad Johnson MET 1 that has an ambience retrieval setting that derives rear, center and LFE signals from the 2 channel original. A little adjustment on the synthesized channels and it is bliss...sounds so cool I just can't describe it.

And my new amps arrive over the next couple days (three Edge G8+ for the front left, front right and center channels)...once i get all the new components installed I'll post it on the systems page...

Has anybody experimented with better power cord for the Rega DAC?

Happy listening

Very interesting discussions so far.

Another question. Is there a product on the market like Pure Music but built for PC's rather then MAC? What about Pure Music makes the output better from your PC? I have heard first hand the benefits of using Pure Music and I was shocked. I have no idea how or why it sounds better but it added warmth that much was for sure.

Also, if one were to use Airwave wouldn't that destroy the benefits of using Pure Music?
Kbarkamian .. the Tranquility has USB input only. Glad to hear using a more expensive dac than the V-DAC was a significant difference for you. Perhaps that will be an upgrade path I will take in the future.

Lush .. I had a similar experience after installing Pure Music. The sound was warmer, less clinical yet detailed, soundstage was wider, and instruments simply sounded more real. I don't know how they do either but it works. All it took was one listen to convinced me.

I used Airfoil with Pure Music for a short while and found no degradation of sound at all. Quite a nice solution for those who are in need.

Any idea why Pure Music (or any company for that matter) hasn't developed the same type of software for us PC users? Seems strange to me.

Also, if Airfoil and Pure Music worth together then Apple TV users should be rejoicing. I would certainly be using that combo if I had a MAC.
Lush .. I'm not sure either but my understanding is Macs have been used for years by most pro studios, thus mastering software like Amarra and Pure Vinyl (from which Pure Music is derived) has remained in the Mac domain predominately. JRiver Media Center seems to be often mentioned as one of the best for the PC.
I use a 160 gb ATV connected to a V-dac with a 2m Wireworld Supernova 6. 25' HDMI cable connects to my PC screen in the same room. Just using the small apple remote.
It sounds good and is super-convinient. A little more refined and resolving than my Audio Refinement CDP, but not as musically satisfying.
I am also a happy Apple TV user. I have both the new and prior versions. I use the Wireworld Supernova 5 toslink which has glass rather than plastic fibres. I now use just the Apple TV V2 into the Naim Supernait which has a built in DAC. About 2 months after getting the ATV I got a Mac Mini which is used exclusively as a music server with iTunes and Pure Music. As good as the Apple TV is, the mac mini is a clear step up in sound quality. IMHO.

Is the Mac Mini a step up with software like Amarra/Pure Music, or without it?
Both. I first used the mac mini for about a month, on it's own with just iTunes. In my view the mini presents music with a softer more analogue quality than the Apple TV. When I added in Pure Music you get deeper into the music, in other words more revealing. I tried the free 15 day demo and bought it within the week.
I like the Apple TV but the Mac Mini is superior. Have you found the computeraudiphile website? It is a great resource.
Thanks Nieuwen. I've skimmed the computer 'phile site, but haven't dug too deep. Maybe when funds recover and everything else is settled, I'm really enjoying the ATV1 and Rega DAC combo, so there's no sense of urgency to change it. There's always better.
Hello everyone.

Kbarkmian- have you tried the USB connection on your REGA DAC? How is it compared to the rDAC?

I have an apple TV (2nd gen) as everybody knows it only streams data (music) from my library. Do you guys think its still "better" to have HDD i.e. laptop rather than music stream?

Also I would like to add, my system (Home theater)connects the ATV2 to BOSE. It's showing me that the data it recieves is already PCM?-- isn't that already converted from digital signal to analog? SO,,, does it means that the ATV2 has its own DAC??? Sorry if this has been answered before as I was in & out on audio scene (As of August 2010 I have dismantled my 2 channel system)

LUSH- how are you liking the Sim/Dyn combo? I have the same speaker but got the Exposure 2010S as int. amp?
Can you bypass the Apple tv d/a conversion by connecting it to an external high end dac?
Yes you sure can.The Apple TV first generation provides a Toslink digital output .I am not so sure about the second generation although most likely it probably does.
Pos ta pate kato tora? Ehoume kairo na ta poume.
Efhome na einai ola kala.
Jastorg1 -

I have not tried the USB input on the Rega DAC, and have not heard the USB on the rDAC, so no opinions from me. I don't want my computer tied to my system, hence the reason why I went with the Apple TV gen 1.

The only way to find out if a laptop would be better than the AVT2 would be to try it out. No one can tell you what you'll hear, then can only tell you what they hear. If I listened to what people told me I'll hear, everything would sound great and horrible at the same time!

PCM is a digital signal, not analog. I may be wrong, but I think PCM is basically a 2 channel digital signal, whereas DSD is multichannel. Someone will probably rightfully refute that.

As Yioryos was speculating, the ATV 2 has an optical digital output, which bypasses the internal DAC.

Yup it's true I need to try it myself. ANyways, I believe ATV1 has a hard drive so we are different.. ATV2 completely streams audio via wifi or a connected LAN before going to whatever it is that is in your system..
Well actually the Apple TV Generation 2 does not have an internal DAC, since the only way to output audio is via a optical out. An optical out must be fed to a DAC if you wish to make music. :-)
The first generation Apple TV could output both in optical or analogue.
Just some thought.

I have an ATV2 and in the process of ordering a DAC. I'm streaming music from ATV2 through Airport Extreme from Macbook Pro and have two thoughts.
1) Does wifi signal affect sound quality? (for example 802.11a/b/g/n)
2) I'm thinking of replacing the airport extreme with the time capsule which has a built-in hard drive. Can I save my entire itune music to the time capsule so that it is more direct streaming than from the Macbook Pro?
I just purchased an ATV2 and hooked it up to my system. I fed the audio (TOSlink) to my 8 year old Pioneer Elite A/V receiver and the streaming sound of Apple Lossless files is as good as playing the CD's through my Elite 45A universal player (analog out).
One feature I really like on iTunes is Genius. It basically allows you to start with playing one song and when you turn the feature on iTunes picks other songs that go well along with it. It's elaborate 'random' feature but it seems to always work well with what ever tune I start with.

I can't believe how many good tunes I have on CD that just never seemed to get played.
My favorite feature on my ATV (aside from playing my music) is YouTube. There's so many great music perfromances on there. Sound and pic quality varies greatly, but that's not what it's all about. I'll take a poor quality BB King playing the Thrill Is Gone on the Kenny Rogers Show in the 70's any day of the week. Same goes for Cliff Burton (deceased Metallica bassist) playing For Whom The Bell Tolls.
Has the JITTER problem of the Airport Express been banished?
I can't use my AE with my DAC because of jitter problems.
I have two Apple TV's (version 1) and one Airport Express that I use in three different rooms. The two ATV's are connected to DAC's (PS Audio and Proceed) via Wireworld SuperNova 5 glass toslinks while the AE uses analogue out to a pair of Audio Engine self powered speakers. I have about 1700 CD's stored on a 1T hard drive ripped in Apple Lossless. It all sounds very good.

For serious listening, I also use Pure Music in connection with Airfoil and find that it is a big improvement.

My favorite "find" has been broadcasting Pandora to my various sytems using Airfoil. If you spring for the premium edition of Pandora for $36/year, the signal is bumped to 192 KBS. No, it is not audiophile quality, but it sounds good enough for the type of background listening (such as dinner parties) that I primarilty use it for, plus I have discovered lots of new music. My CD purchases have dropped about 90% since I started listening to Pandora. BlueBeat also has some great stuff that I broadcast with Airfoil. KUT FM (University of Texas at Austin) has a program on Saturday nights called "Twine Time" covering blues, R&B and rockabilly that I have listened to for years when I could get the signal down in Texas, and now it is a Saturday night ritual.

I suppose I should spring for a Mac Mini for my main rig, but for now, I am a happy camper
I am using the ATV2 to stream Apple Lossless files into my system. I am using an Audioquest toslink into the excellent Hegel HD10 DAC. Works great with my system. Super high resolution, yet warm and natural.
I am happy with the convenience of the aTV but not as thrilled with sound quality. I have the 1st gen atv hooked up to an NAD M15HD via hdmi. I have listened to music both stored directly on the atv as well as streamed through itunes. It sounds decent but not nearly as good as music stored and played from my ps3. I've thought about adding a mac mini but the simplicity of the atv operating system is very appealing.

Would pure music and airfoil help with the quality in streaming from itunes to the atv? I'm confused about this point.

I also assume the NAD dac supsercedes the atv dac?

I've ripped all cd's using apple losless. CD's, blurays etc sound terrific on my system. It's the noticeable decrease in atv sound quality that has me frustrated. Any help is greatly appreciated.
Your thought about moving into a Mac Mini is right. The simplicity of running a Mac Mini with an iPad is superb and is truly a 21st century music delivery system. You can use the Mini to stream your iTunes library from another computer in your house so you don't even need to rerip your music, just start putting the new music on the Mini. Use Pure Music playback software, at least AAIF to rip and just relax and listen.

The one thing is, if you are streaming from another computer you do not get to use the capabilities of Pure Music. The files have to actually be on the computer that has Pure installed for playback.

PS. A site called Computer Audiophile has a ton of info on this subject.
It seems most recommend ripping cd's with apple losless. Is aaif better?
Apple Lossless (like other lossless) is somewhat zipped wav/aiff, so when you play, program is unzipping and playing at the same time, thus it DOES sound different compared WAV/AIFF. I have compared WAV to APPLE LOSSLESS and WAV was better. I have yet to to do more work, with more songs, to figure out the format to stick with. The pain with a WAV is that no place for metadata like cover art, but AIFF (AIFF is somewhat WAV+Apple+metadata) has that, so I will probably stick with that, if I find no significant changes to the sound compared to wav. No Apple lossless for me...

Also I am not happy with a Apple tv steeo, even fed to hi-end dac Audio note. But my dac has no Toslink, so i had to use battery powered coaxial - toslink converter... right now I am raising funds for the Monarchy Audio DIP and crossing my fingers that this will be it. My Marantz universal player ($1599 in 2003) eats appleTV+2-3k$ AN dac for breakfast...
Wadia recommends ripping CD's as .wav files for maximum audio performance.

I upgraded my toslink connection to Lifatec Silflex glass, and am very pleased. It is amazing the difference, especially in the highs. More shimmer and clarity in the upper registers.
Apple devices won't play WAV. Not sure about Macs, but the iPod/iPad/iPhone, AE or ATV won't play them.
Any scheme or format or compression from which you can reconstruct a bit-accurate copy of the original should be the same......FLAC and ALAC both qualify as to others.
The knowledge at the Apple store is limited for audio junkies.
My question is......Does the digital out of the ATV have its own clock? The AirportExpress is async and has a massive jitter problem. The AE relies on the incoming signal for clock and sometimes will even miss the first half second of a sony while it locks in.

Also, any format from which you can recover a bit-accurate copy of the original should yield good results.

Where did you get your info? I have an iPad, iPod touch and apple tv and all play wav just fine. I also use aiff which is apple speak for fully uncompressed audio I.e wav. And this file format allows for the inclusion of adding cover art.
Coming at this thread late in the game and this will be my first post. I have an A-TV and loved it. I would import all my CDs as AIFFs to my iMac, which is in a different room, and using an Airport Express I'd wirelessly send this to the A-TV. Used a Hannspree 19" monitor and the basic little white Apple remote to control things. I also put in lots of my family pictures and other photography stuff and the A-TV would cycle through these and it was really nice. Great interface. But I wanted to be able to utilize the 24/96 capabilities of my DAC so now I stream music from the iMac and Pure Music to my DAC. As good as the A-TV sounded w/ redbook the new way is producing much better sound but at the expense of convenience.