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NuForce Air DAC

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

I was going to post this in Computer Audio but as I am kinda ranting about the device I'm doing it here.

You plug the uTX into your computer. It will stream LPCM data (I think) to the wireless Air DAC receiver which with it's RCA output is meant to play with speakers or even headphone's but that would be a bit redundant(with headphone's that is)
The uTX transmitter is sold seperately unless you buy the system for $180 which then includes teh Air DAC receiver and uTX transmitter(which you need)
Next there is also an iTX which is meant for Apple devices.. It will plug into Dock of Apple devices and do the same thing. The iTX transmitter is another $80 and won't be availble yet. The iTX is very small and can be lost(it's wireless too) and the uTX transmitter is angeled and long which can make it prone to bending, hitting, cracking or anything due to normal usage. A complete iTX, uTX, and Air DAC system would cost $260 at the lowest.
My thoughts? :This is for people that dislike Apple. IT's ironic as the devices (computers and mobile devices) NuForce has images of in use with the Air DAC are all Apple made one's.
How is this redundant?: Airplay,Remote, and homesharing. Airplay supports 16bit/44.1KHz Sampling rate. This supports 48KHz but realy, that isn't anything huge. If you already have an Apple device this is also a bad buy. You can stream music from your phone to your computer and vice versa(same accounts) and you can if your computer or Apple devices that support  the medium like Apple TV or Airport devices can stream to Speakers already. And since you would already have that device for another use, the Air DAC seems redundant.
Audiophile: You may then proceed to say this and that and this and that. But with an Apple Express which is $100 you can do the same thing. And wait...the Apple Express has optical out so you can bypass the Express's own Cirrus Logic(already good) DAC inside and use YOUR OWN. Which will then be fed into your speakers. You can even do this with a receiver with a Toslink Cable. And the Airport express is a wireless router, wireless printer sharer, dual band N(not simultaneous)
post #2 of 8

I guess you haven't actually used it.  Air Play and Air DAC can co-exist and they serve different purposes. Take a look at this low cost but super high-end setup in the top 2 floors of a new Sheraton Hotel in Shanghai:

Airplay is used to control background music throughout the entire 2 floors.  Air DAC is used for high quality streaming within a localized configuration. The owner just need to pass an iTX to his guests to play music from their own iPhone/iPad without dealing with any configuration.


I will only go into why you would want to use Air DAC. 


1. Near audiophile level sound quality. It is possible for Air Play to sound good, provided that you send the optical output into a high-end DAC (such as our $1095 DAC-100) with re-clocking and buffer to remove jitters before doing high performance D to A conversion. For a < $200 solution, iTx and uTX with Air DAC is the best sounding streaming system out there in the sub $1000 price range. Take a look at the THD plot on our product page. uTX can be used any music player software. 


2. Easy to use, no latency, no need for WiFi setup, no interference with existing WiFi.  For music enthusiastic and audiophiles, this can be an important requirement in addition to sound quality.  We want to be able to maintain good audio quality while someone at home could be maxing out the WiFi bandwidth watching videos or downloading large files. Air DAC with high quality analog output is easy to integrate into existing home audio system. 


3. Easily stream music from one device to multiple receivers. For example, stream Pandora music from iPad to whole house audio.


4. Some household or business have mixed platform of Mac, Windows, iPhone and Android phones. A USB transmitter for Android phones will be available as soon as USB audio is widely supported. 


There are other scenario where WiFi has to be used, such as the Shanghai Sheraton hotel owner's resident where they want to be able to change the background music with their iPad anywhere they are on 38th and 39th floors. So they use iPad Remote to control the Mac (with iTune home sharing) on the server room. But if they or their guests want to stream music to local audio system (board room, kitchen, etc), they can just use iTX with Air DAC in the room, without having to remember where they are, look up a list (if you use multiple Airport Express for Airplay streaming) on the iPad.  So in such a setup and considering the technical knowledge requirement of the guests, Air DAC is a much easier to use solution. Just pass the iTX to a guest's iPhone or iPad, plug and play. 

post #3 of 8
post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the reply! However I see yours as the Macintosh of the streaming field. Airplay is for home users and regular audiophiles. People in those hotels generally don't need a 24/96 track blaring through top end speakers.


The airplay is for home users really, with a proper setup, it can also have no interference with other wifi networks. All you need is a program(forgot the name) that scans your neighbors(home user) wifi networks and channels and choose one farthest away from theirs. Or even better. Set the airport express to 5GHz mode and not worry at all. Airplay isn't as high end as your setup but it will work. It allows for up to 44.1/16 which many consider good enough if done right! and from there you can again bypass the internal airport express DAC and amp through an optical out. But like you said, there could be latency issues but if done right there won't be much.


For most users really an airplay would be enough of a setup. But I do see the need for more "perfection" and as we are a "niche" market. These of course servce the market. 


Update: Just read the article and I swore the site looked so familiar! Did a check and of course. It was the website that wrote the review that I almost dropped laughing at.


This one.


I'll email them and ask.....if they used an external DAC and amp through the optical connection. The Express is $100 and air DAC is $180 but the express multi taks heavily so let's say an $150 external desktop DAC and amp through optical and compare that.


Can't reach the guy so can't ask but as he didn't say. I will guess no.


Let's try 


Airport Express set at 5GHz (with band selection done to see if anybody nearby uses a similar 5GHz band, and change if needed) with the same track except the Express is hooked up to an $150 desktop amp and DAC combo or seperate units such as Asahi AK4396 or Musiland Monitor O1 for $80 both of which support 24/192(the musiland even higher) and then a self built O2 amplifier with "Elite class op amps" and testing to make sure it doesn't oscialte and all those little things you have to do to make sure the op amp works correctly with the circuitry. (this will cost ~$50) and let's compare.


....but again... I see your point. Yours are more for dedicated business audio setups or a large home setup. The airplay is for the starving audiophile who want's best bang for buck and will put together such a crazy contraption to get speaker audio.


And thanks for the pic of the hotel! Very good example of real world usage of such a device in a business setting. I wasn't thinking about that part of the "business" and only stayed on my regular home user mind set!

Beatutiful hotel.

Edited by bowei006 - 6/26/12 at 8:32pm
post #5 of 8

NUFORCE - You are right - the Apple Airport Express (1st gen) is unlisteneable.  It doesn't matter whether I am pulling AIFF iTunes from my 1st gen Mac Mini or my HP Win 7 or my XP PC's it arrives at the Musical Fidelity Amp and PSB speakers as thin, sibilant, grainy and shrill.  What did I expect from a 75 cent DAC chip.  What did I expect from TOSLINK - time and again revealed to be the worst sounding of 3 choices out there - USB, SPDIF, ToslinK..  Plagued by reflection and rarefaction to the point where industry desperately adapted plastic over glass to tone down the problems it is a techology to avoid - even the transceivers are set up to expect plastic so buying a glass interlink isn't going to fix my problem.  Don't believe me - check with Audioquest, Darko, Lavorgna, 6 Moons and any Brit Hi Fi mag.  They all hear what I hear.  I am moving my 2 AE's to my half deaf brother who says this sounds normal to him, even through his hearing aid.  Connecting a SCHIIT Bifrost to the AE only made matters worse as it wouldn't lock on and excacerbated the jitter.  I would need the SCHIIT Gungnir for this to work.  By the way I have the AE Ethernet hardwired.  I achieved much better results balaning RCA output from the back of an ASUS Xonar Essence ST card to Coax and through the ductwork, rebalaned to RCA and into the back of an amp.  Results were identical to the CD played on a NAD C542 CD player (without the Bifrost - the CD player with the Bifrost is vastly better).  But my next installation (the cottage) has to be wireless.  I will be buying your AirDac and use AIFF files on an ipod Classic as there is no web access where this is going so the portable Classic makes good sense.  As for the house I will wait until I get a new MAC Mini with Audirvana (next winter) then do another product review search.  If I like what I hear with your AirDac, uit will be the solution at home as well.  Thanks for this product, its needed.

post #6 of 8
Sorry for dragging up an old one guys but there's one bit of info I just can't find details of.
When using the Air DAC and the iTX transmitter, where is the volume control?
I'm assuming its via the iPod but that doesn't make sense as the transmitter is connected to the 30pin, surely the volume isn't on the pre-amp/int.amp, thus you can freely pick what you want to listen to and keep the source portable with you but how loud you listen is governed by yet another remote???

Please help?????
post #7 of 8

With the iTX you have to adjust the digital volume on your iDevice player (whatever app you are using at the time)

post #8 of 8
Thanks kindly for the response!
Good to know what's possible, going to have to try one....
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