AirPort Express Base Station with 802.11n
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Audiophile question: AirPort Express:Should I out directly to my preamp or send it through a 24 bit DAC?
If I did a AB comparison between a CD and the DAC converter in the AirPort Express would it be very close in sound quality or would it benefit to output through the optical audio minijack in the AirPort Express into a 24 bit/96 KHz DAC such as the Spitfire 24 Bit DAC by Audiophile Products.com? Would there be a noticeable difference?
- Asked by Neal K from Shoreview
2 Answers from the Community
I have used Airport Express (AE) in three configurations:
- AE with mini plug to RCA (OK)
- AE with mini-optical to Receiver Optical (Great)
- AE with mini-optical to DAC then DAC to Receiver using RCA connectors (Superb)
The trick is to try to avoid the DA converter in the Apple Express by delivering the digital signal to either a quality external DAC or to a reciever with a quality DAC. The assumption is that the downstream DACs are better quality than what's in the Apple Express. (Also a mini plug to RCA is probably not the best connection)
I now have a McIntosh 6500 integrated amp without an optical-in. My only option was the external DAC. It sounds superb using Apple Lossless (using error correction when ripping CDs). However, I also have a higher end Onkyo theater system and use the optical-in and it sounds great too. If mini-plug-to-RCA is a "3", the other two options have the potential to be 8, 9's or 10's (depending on the DACs).
- Answered by Scott G from Winchester
I believe the AE DOES truncate or otherwise convert incoming 24/96 to 16/44.1. I am NOT certain of the 16 bit limit, tho, because my Cambridge 840C only reports "<=20/44.1" so I think it is certainly <24 bits. It could be 20, I suppose ...
The 840C reports "<=24/96" when it is hooked up directly to my iMac's digital output via TOSLINK cable (also used to hook up the AE's digital output).
Hard to say if you would notice a difference ... if your system is highly resolving, maybe!
- Answered by Rick Y from Stockton