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AirDAC or irDAC


New member
Mar 2, 2010
Im in the process of purchasing an Arcam A19 amp and Kef LS50 speakers The source to run this will be my ipad/iphone using spotify premium mainly. Im looking at the best way to to get the music to the amp and out of the speakers and am leaning towards a DAC either the Arcam AirDAC or irDAC Question is, what will off the best sound, will the airplay option be as good qulaity as a wired connection to the irDAC ? also does anyone have any other suggestions? this is a second room system in my dining room and as such I wont need to connect other sources but I do like the idea of wireless streaming thanks


New member
Dec 10, 2012
Depends how set you are on the Arcam A19 & wireless streaming (in particular, where your router is).

These are the main options I'm aware of;

1. Apple Airport Express using digital optical cable of your choice into a DAC then to your amp.

2. Apple Airport Express into a DAC-equipped amplifier (Marantz PM6005, NAD D3020 / D7050, Cyrus 6DAC / 8DAC, Naim Unitiqute)

3. Your suggestion of Arcam AirDAC into amp

4. An Airplay equipped amp (NAD D7050, Yamaha R-N500 & the just-released Monitor Audio Airstream A100 which includes the feature of direct Airplay, connecting wirelessly without the need for a wifi network)

5. Sonos Connect into wired DAC into amp. This option, unlike those above, use your ithing purely as a controller for your Spotify rather than the streaming source.

6. Spotify Connect equipped products. This is very new and is limited at present to a few AV receivers (from Marantz, Yamaha & Pioneer from memory) but offers streaming again through the AV receiver's LAN connection, using your ithing as a controller only. With Spotify's marketing behind this, there could be a host of products released over the coming year with this feature. However the above-mentioned Yamaha R-N500 is supposed to be getting Spotify Connect as part of an imminent firmware update. Also the trusty Marantz MCR610 has Spotify built-in (albeit not Spotify Connect).

My own experience with Airplaying Spotify is pretty positive. There are very occasional drop-outs (maybe once every couple of weeks) which are usually my router's fault & a quick router re-set solves the issue. Your options may depend on how strong your wifi signal is in your dining room.

My receiver's DAC is supposed to upscale mp3 Airplay streams, and I am pretty impressed with the results. It certainly doesn't set your teeth on edge! I still bother to collect CD's of albums I've played a few times on Spotify for the edge that a digital connection from my CD gives me, but the quality is good enough that my main consideration if I were in your situation would still be the good old fashioned source/amp/speaker balance of sound to your own taste, rather than just going for a product with the biggest list of features.

Having said all that, the Airport Express is possibly the most future-proof should Apple change the Airplay standard somehow in future. The £80 Airport is cheaper to replace than a more expensive product that has it built-in, as I found with my AV receiver; the wired ipad connection only supports older versions than my ipad, so this is no longer an option for me, which is why I continue with Airplay.

Sorry for the waffle, but there are quite a few ways of skinning this particular cat! I hope at least some of it helps!