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hineni

Good Airplay dongle with analog audio out?

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Now that the Airport Express is defunct, are there any recommended replacements from third parties? I’d like analog audio output and ideally enough power to plug in headphones. Thanks for any pointers!

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17 hours ago, hineni said:

Now that the Airport Express is defunct, are there any recommended replacements from third parties? I’d like analog audio output and ideally enough power to plug in headphones. Thanks for any pointers!

 

Defunct, yet updated to support AirPlay 2 - oh the irony!

 

Does the replacement also have to support AirPlay 2?

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6 hours ago, Cebolla said:

 

Defunct, yet updated to support AirPlay 2 - oh the irony!

 

Does the replacement also have to support AirPlay 2?

 

No, it just needs an analog audio output, ideally. 

 

I’ve been plugging my headphones into an AE, giving me Airplay access to my entire iTunes library. It works really well and sounds great. 

 

I’d like another for another room. 

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If you are happy with the AE why not pick one up on ebay?

 

Decent A1264 models are going for less than $25. Careful reading of ads and feedback is needed of course.

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Shareport via my uRendu SonicOrbiter app switcher is phenomenally good when streaming from Idagio and Primephonic and even Spotify Premium.

 

I've also had very good results with W4S Remedy Reclocker connected to an AE A1264 via toslink.

 

The AE by itself, is pretty poor SQ and I'm intrigued by your mod. That mod with the Remedy might turn the AE into a world class device. I don't think my wife would let me do it though, she really likes the AE.😀

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I use the AEx with Remedy powered by Uptone LPS-1. Coax is Oyaide silver and have also used entry level Transparent Audio coax Gen 5. My system easily holds its own against others $$$$$ more expensive. Sure it can be beat here and there but the overall SQ and value easily keeps up. Put another way, the diminishing returns curve gets extremely vertical ($ y axis, SQ on x axis) beyond where I’ve found he AEx+Remedy and Uptone as a digital path into my DAC. 

 

Of course I enjoy this hobby as a hobby so of course I’m about to spend some of my kid’s future college fund on a new $500-1000 coax cable, or/and a streamer like the Aries by Auralic (because I want good s/w and don’t want Roon). And heck the new Elac subwoofers sound good on paper, so why not that too? 

 

But, AirPlay... I think the reclocking and power enhancements are the keys to my Airplay SQ success. Truly would love to hear other opinions though, even if contrary to my experience. 

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I’m now running the optical out to a Topping D3 DAC/amp, and it sounds really nice. 

 

I agree Apple dropped the ball on Airplay. As much as I’m wallowing in their ecosystem, they can tick me off with their reluctance to serve ME and MY needs ;)  Airplay could have been a standard and common wireless protocol if they’d licensed it cheap or free and developed it for multichannel and hi res. 

 

Looks like Ike my best bet is to stock up on used and refurbished AEs. 

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BTW, the discontinued Arcam AirDAC with AirPlay can be readily found on the used market.  Not as inexpensive as an AE, and I have never heard one myself. 

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Since I've posted in a couple places here at CA about how pleased I've been with the SQ of my Airport Express digital setup, I think it responsible to report that I've stumbled across something affordably *better.* And, this something right under my nose–a modest surprise given how good I've found my system to be.

 

Because my Yggy A2 DAC has both BNC and coax S/PDIF inputs, I plugged in my CD player (Rotel RCD-951, circa 2002?) so it would operate as a transport for the DAC's RCA coax input. The DAC's BNC coax input remained fed by the main digital signal: iTunes to AEx, optically out to a W4S Remedy/LPS-1 combo, then Oyaide silver coax. Voila! A/B testing at the toggle of an input button.

 

* Better = more dynamic, more tonally "full bodied", more emotionally exciting, and more subjectively better because these are the elements that matter to the ear despite the "lesser" signal having, I dunno, at least 85% or even the equal of the "better" signal's technical merits (resolution, PRaT). Yeah, it was the CD, of course. I could easily live with the difference, the "lesser" sound, but boy the CD sounds...better. Sigh. (FWIW, those Schiit guys have been saying this about CDs and S/PDIF for a while now.) The difference is only pronounced when A/B-ing. Otherwise I can still be happy with, and focus on what is working well with iTunes. And a lot is working well! The AEx signal path is still solid as ever. There's just...better.

 

So to bridge this delta, this dynamics gap, I also tested two Transparent coax cables (Performance and Premium RCA coax, $100 and $950 respectively) vs my Oyaide silver BNC coax ($280-ish) this way. The Premium Transparent won. Again "better," but boy at what cost. It's not just a cable, it's a component unto itself as I've said elsewhere. The $100 entry-level Performance version held its own and was a matter of taste vs the Oyaide (meaning it is a "great cable for $100"). 

 

Without getting into the future of digital streaming, it seems the path of least resistance (not least expenditure!) is to boost the SQ of my AEx path by replacing my LPS-1 with a 1.2 (given the strong reports of others), and maybe ponying up for the Transparent cable.

 

I've been triangulating the desired sound of my system this way for years, so I'm posting here in case it helps someone else thinking about the same things, someone resisting the bleeding edge of NUCs and AL and expensive servers! Apple's iTunes/Airport Express is a viable choice when enhanced with a "minimal" investment in reclocking. Take it further with power and cables.

 

Good luck!

 

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W4S Remedy. It also upsamples to 96kHz (anathema to some). I lived with this vs. a microRendu for a while and ultimately sold the mRendu in part because I didn't like Logitech MS and in part because I felt the coax sounded better by a hair. In retrospect I think the DAC at the time (AGD DAC-19 10th Ann.) was not strong enough via USB as compared to its coax inputs.

 

Anyway:

https://wyred4sound.com/products/digital-converters/clearance/remedy-reclocker

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18 hours ago, feelingears said:

Without getting into the future of digital streaming, it seems the path of least resistance (not least expenditure!) is to boost the SQ of my AEx path by replacing my LPS-1 with a 1.2 (given the strong reports of others), and maybe ponying up for the Transparent cable.

 

Well given how much you enjoy your Airport Express units, and that you already have an original UltraCap LPS-1 and are thinking about the LPS-1.2 for your Remedy S/PDIF reclocker, let me share this again:

Unlike the 5/7/9/12V LPS-1.2, the original LPS-1 has 3.3V as its lowest output setting.  When I modded my workshop AE to accept an external 3.3V supply (see above: https://www.computeraudiophile.com/forums/topic/54724-good-airplay-dongle-with-analog-audio-out/?do=findComment&comment=896800), it really enhanced it as a DAC (even my assistant noticed it; she commented on the bass and the ease).

I have no idea what that would do for it's Toslink output, but it might be something fun to consider, and a reason to hold onto you LPS-1 even if you do get the LPS-1.2. B|

 

Cheers,

--Alex C.

 

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Thank you @Superdad—in fact the LPS-1 was destined for powering an Uptone USB thingy in my office system...😉

 

But, now you’ve given me something to foist upon my tube amp-rebuilding friend! Very interesting. I was wondering if power was holding things back on the AEx somehow. And related to the future, I wish there weren’t so many digital connection/protocols/DDCs to futz with. At least I have bases covered with your USB and upcoming Ethernet thingy. 

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