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Airport Express... looking for feedback

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

So in my never ending desire to de-clutter my night stand music station, and leave the macbook streaming on my computer desk.  I think the airport express will pretty much do what I need.

Can someone sanity-check me on a few bullet points?


-How is the AX in terms of reliability?  How often do you guys have to reboot or re-sync the bit stream with your controlling computer?


-My files are CD audio straight from the macbook ROM drive, MP3 and apple lossless and 16-Bit is as high as they go (I think).  My Entech DAC is only 20-Bit.  So a 16-Bit capable wifi device (like the AX) between the macbook and Entech DAC will be sufficient... right?


-I store my music library on external drives.  Some drives formatted for iOS and others formatted for Windows.  I can just plug an iOS formatted drives straight into the Express USB port and stream the data from there right?.... or do I need to still plug the external drive into the macbook USB?


-Along those lines if I plug a windows formatted drive into the Express, it will behave like a MAC and read only access the files?  Correct?


For what I am doing in the above setup.  Is there any reason to invest $100 in the latest version AX?  I have seen the older gen AX units for as low as $20-30 used, and would rather go that route if possible.


Any other greneral comments you guys/gals have?  I tried google searching reviews and stuff and got lost in all the reviews... when I am more specifically targeting the device as a music streaming component.  I don't think I will ever hook this up to a printer, scanner...etc.


thanks in advance!!

Edited by kramer5150 - 3/19/13 at 2:06pm
post #2 of 11

Afaik you can't plug a drive directly into an airport express, you can with an AirPort Extreme. I use three airport express stations plus one AirPort Extreme and in the last 12 months I haven't had to reset any of them. I use them to extend my network and also the express stations all have powered speakers connected to them to act as airplay devices. All work very well, interestingly the one stand alone airplay product that I have - the Zeppelin Air needs reset constantly. 

post #3 of 11
iOS formatted drive
Hehe, that sounds funny. You mean HFS+ Mac formatted drive?

The Airport Express is not a media server, you still need a computer running iTunes to access and play the audio files on it. Also, I might recommend plugging them into the computer directly, so as to reduce any unnecessary wireless bandwidth reduction by streaming data from your drive in both directions. As for NTFS formatted Windows drives, Mac OS can read such drives but can't write to them, so I'm not sure how this work work in practice for your needs.

I used to use (and still have) an old AX. It was not the most reliable, connectivity wise. I'm guessing the newer ones are better.

EDIT: GSArider might be write about HDDs only working on an Airport Extreme, that's what I use. Never tried it with the Express back then.
Edited by teofilrocks - 3/19/13 at 2:44pm
post #4 of 11

In my experience, you'll have the HDs attached to your computer.  As GSARider says, the Airport Extreme allows for HD attachment, but Airport Express does not.  At least not the older version that I use.


Maybe just getting an iPod or similar music player would work?  Of course this is unlikely to cover your entire collection... but doing a fresh sync before bedtime might do the trick.

post #5 of 11

My dad had 2 airport expresses and both had jitter issues out of the optical output. This is a known issue on the Apple support forums. I had him return them and buy Apple TV's as their optical out does not have this issue.

post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 

ok thanks for the feedback... I wasn't aware of jitter issues.  I think I can get by with plugging the drives into the macbook... thats not a deal breaker.

post #7 of 11
Originally Posted by jpierson View Post

My dad had 2 airport expresses and both had jitter issues out of the optical output. This is a known issue on the Apple support forums. I had him return them and buy Apple TV's as their optical out does not have this issue.


Unfortunately the Apple TV's optical out is locked at 48 kHz, so it's not really suitable for high quality audio.


I've had jitter issues with my Airport Express too (the current model)... it's the only source I have that causes the "buy better source" light on the Gungnir to light up, and with some DACs it produces occasional popping noises from failure to maintain lock. But if you can get it to work and your DAC has pretty good jitter rejection, it's very convenient.

post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 

Ugh... OK were dropping like flies here.  I thought I had a workable, affordable solution.


Backup plan is to just run an optical cable across the room, from nightstand to PC desk.

post #9 of 11

Can't say I've had any jitter issues, I'm happy with the sound quality. If it is in the same room, cable would be cheaper in any case.

post #10 of 11
How far can you reliably run an optical audio cable?
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 

thats a good question...  I probably only need ~15 feet

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