I've searched and read a few posts on this topic, but would appreciate any input you might want to supply. I am using an Apple TV as my streaming music source, reading files from my local PC. Or, it will access cloud copies of my iTunes library through iMatch. I'm outputting to a Beresford Bushmaster MKII TC-7533 DAC and playing through AKG K702 headphones. The folks at Art of Sound .net say that this is grossly inferior to a Squeezbox or other, since it (1) won't play high definition files, and (2) upsamples to 48kHz.
I wanted to see if the hardware would make a noticeable difference, so after considerable farting around with the DLNA server, I got the Sony Blueray Disk Player streaming audio from my PC. I did an A/B comparison in real time between the ATV and the BDP, using Walter Becker's Surf and/or Die (11 Tracks of Whack), 256 Kbps, 44.1Khz, AAC format as the test file. To my untrained ears, I could not distinguish the two streams, at least to no significant difference.
Yes, this was one example of a song played on a lossy format, but I would have thought that if the ATV was affecting the sound quality, I could have heard some difference. Not to mention that the Sony was significantly slow in loading up the files (I suppose an effect of the server software). At this point, I'd like to have an Oppo player, but that's going to have to wait. ATV it will be...
I have experienced the ATV as providing great sound; of course, I may just not be audiophile enough. Your thoughts please?