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Airport Express First impressions (Sound Quality).

pwiles1968

New member
Mar 22, 2009
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After a lot of deliberation I decided I wanted to digitize my collection and after even more thought I decided on the Apple route starting with an express and eventually upgrading to a TV, Well I got a NAS and an Express this week, still having a little fun (NOT) setting up the NAS, but had time yesturday for a proper listen to the Express and compare it directly to a CD. I have MY CD Player feeding digitally in to MY AV Amp and I have done the same with the Express.

I assume the iTunes Volume setting are in the Digital domain when applied to the Express so I have the iTunes Volume on MAX so as not to loose data resolution and I am using AMP to control volume, am I incorrect in my assumption?

Initially I was fairly disappointed, it sounded good until I switched to CD (was playing Bonnie Prince Billy Jot and Jubilee in sync and switching between sources) Immediately I much preferred the CD. I wondered if any settings would improve things much so I switched off the track blend and volume levelling in itunes which improved it a little, After a bit of thought I remembered my iTunes library was MP3 high bit rate at 320k but still I decided to pull the CD out and rip it to Apple lossless (The whole collection will be re-ripped to losless anyway so why not start now) 10 minutes later and I was back in the front room. and I must say I am really impressed I could not really perceive a significant difference between the two sources so I must say I am really impressed with it, and the flexibility it gives for browsing and playing audio is fantastic.

I have yet to do a detailed comparison at an optimum listening time and comparing different music types to see if there are any small differences but I am most likely now to be using this as my primary audio source for a while, and if you arer considering going WiFi I would say go for it I have not been disappointed so far.
 

Gozaradio

Well-known member
Jul 16, 2008
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My experience with the AE has been very similar, Paul. At the moment, I have it connected optically to my Denon 2310 playing in Pure Direct Mode and my ALAC library sounds very good.

I'll eventually go down the Sonos or Squeezebox route and get a stereo amp which should improve matters but for the time being, I'm more than happy with the sound quality given the setup.

My only recent issue with the AE is that it's new home doesn't seem to keep a solid wi-fi signal and was regularly losing audio and disconnecting so it's currently connected through wired ethernet (had a spare port on switch in Living Room).
 

DrizztDan

New member
Apr 5, 2010
64
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@ Pwiles

im currently about to do this, get an airport express.

What settings do you have your itunes on? can you give an extract break down.
  • my import settings are on apple lossless.
  • my play back is on the following:crossfade songs - 1 second
  • sound enchancer - high
  • sound check off
  • can you also explain the procedure to link these
  • many thanks
 

pwiles1968

New member
Mar 22, 2009
153
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Sorry Missed this one.

For Settings Firstly under ripping (Import settings) I have Use error correction Ticked it increases rip time but less chance of errors Also rip apple losless.

Under Playback, I have recently turned back on crossfade as I do not think it modifies the output, but Sound Check and Sound Enhancer especially are turned off I want to avoid any manipulation of the audio by the PC (iTunes), I Think it sounds better.

If you are using the SPDIF out of the Express and an external DAC such as an AV Amp than I would also suggest you turn iTunes Volume to Max and use the Amp to make volume changes.

As for linking the Express to iTunes it is simple Once the Express is installed an working using the Airport Utility all you need do is in the iTunes settings under Devices make sure you tick Look For remote speakers connected with AirTunes and you are good to go.

I am so impressed with the Express even used over WiFi I am seriously thinking about an Apple TV but will wait to see if there is a new one announced.
 

JoelSim

New member
Aug 24, 2007
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Lossless and AE isn't quite as full sounding as a CD in my experience. Only 5% in it.
 

pwiles1968

New member
Mar 22, 2009
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JoelSim:

Lossless and AE isn't quite as full sounding as a CD in my experience. Only 5% in it.

What are you using as a DAC
 

DrizztDan

New member
Apr 5, 2010
64
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i cant tell the difference between apple lossless and CD. dmn now have to re-rip my whole CD collection to Lossless!
 

JoelSim

New member
Aug 24, 2007
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pwiles1968:JoelSim:
Lossless and AE isn't quite as full sounding as a CD in my experience. Only 5% in it.

What are you using as a DAC

My CD player. It has a digital in so I use it to stream spotify through occasionally.
 

pwiles1968

New member
Mar 22, 2009
153
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Nice, I am guessing I could find some differences between CD and the Express if I listened hard enough (Not Quite at the level yours is) but I am just enjoying listening to Music I have not heard for a while, which is what the Express was for.
 

Gozaradio

Well-known member
Jul 16, 2008
18
0
18,520
Ditto - It's a great stop-gap for me to free up tunes in the living room until funds allow for Sonos (or something similar).
 

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