Is it worth buying a network streamer, or is using an airport express to Rega DAC controlled with ipad just as good?
Or are there ways of improving my set up to save buying dedicated streamer?
Rega RP3,Rega Brio r, Rega Dac, Rega ear headphone amp, B&W 685 speakers, apple airport express-toslink.
various quality cable What HiFi awards.
Depends on which streamer really.
I looked at that combo a while back, and was very impressed by it.
You can often improve but that costs money.
I'm a big fan of the AEX - and think you can't really beat it at £80. That said, I'm sure the Naim and Cyrus streamers are very nice, for 20x that.
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Excuse my ignorance, but can someone explain to me how the AEx works as a streamer? I know it's Airplay compatible and has an optical out, so presumably you could easily do Airplay in to a DAC, but how does it work as a full-on streamer?
Can it work with a NAS? With a PC - or only through iTunes? Does it push or pull?
I'm totally new to the idea of an AEx as a streamer, and just wondered what the basics were, what it could do, and how it might better an ATV in this regard?
Any mac/pm/ithingy will stream to an airport express. From iTunes you choose the airport express (which you can name anything you like, useful if you have multiple ones) as the output source.
If you have your iTunes library on a nas then you can use that, but the mac still needs to be on. You can control the mac from the iPhone etc using the apple remote app so the music doesn't have to be on the phone.
Most users find it works really well and is very simple. The output is bit perfect, so the quality can be excellent with a good dac.
The AEX can't do anything higher the cd quality (no hi res files), and is limited to file formats compatible with iTunes (no flac), otherwise it's pretty amazing for the price.
As said above, you may get better but you will pay considerably more for it.
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Some NAS boxes have built in 'iTunes servers', if you have a iDevice you can access this and push the audio to the AEX, or like you said with a PC or NAS on.
Another awesome little feature with a iDevice and OSX Mountain Lion you can send the entire device audio to the AEX with syncing so you can watch iPlayer or Youtube or Spotify on your Mac/iPhone/iPad and send the audio wirelessly to the Airport Express.
If you want to try hi-rez, the Express isn't in the game, likewise for multi-zone stuff. For CD standard rips, an Express and DAC would be competitive unless partnered with much higher-spec gear.
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I would perhaps consider the ATV over the AEX, purely for more features.
The dedicated streamer being the better option is a bit of a fallacy, differences may exist, but they are rather small in real terms. You simply do not need to spend lots to acheive great sound and you already have a good DAC in the Rega.
The AEX when combined with a Mac or i device would become a streamer, as it is the latter devices that do the media playing, the AEX converting the resulting digital file to analogue for your amp, or sending the digital signal on to an additional DAC.
Mac mini > AVI ADM9Ts
The only time I would ever suggest a AE or an ATV is if you want to add streaming ability to old hifi kit.
Even then, I would probably suggest biting the bullet, and binning the old kit and treating yourself to a new hifi with builtin streaming - preferably dlna
See it as an excuse to upgrade.
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Hit harsh considering DNLA's implementation is junk 9times out of 10 and having transcodes in the process just muddles up with any potential gain, at least airplay is slick and does the job, not noticed any audio issues with AirPlay and my naim kit... Just saying !
Maybe try this: QA100--Full Digital Stereo Amplifier. QA100 has a High quality sampling clock reform circuits that is able to reform the digital signal from Airport Express. I knew a guy in my neigbour bought 2 QA100 for 2 rooms with Airport Express. And if you want more improvement, feeding the Airport Express with a high quality power supply would be always a good idea. More over, you can even take the I2S signal out of Airport Express.
But please keep in mind, Airport Express only supports bit-perfect for 16/44.1 format music. If all your musics are 16/44.1 format, Airport Express would be a very cheap and great streamer for sure.
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