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What Apple Airport do I need for Streaming Apple Music?

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telemike

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I really couldn’t tell a difference between the two firmware’s that went from airplay 1 and 2
 

cinemakinoeye

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I really couldn’t tell a difference between the two firmware’s that went from airplay 1 and 2
Sonically I could not tell a difference either, however, prior to the Airplay 2 upgrade, I experienced unacceptable dropouts with the Airport Express. After the upgrade to iOS that added Airplay 2 support, along with the latest firmware available for the Airport Express, they became usable. It was a big change: multiple speaker Airplay 2 capability and no more dropouts. I assume the new version of the software is doing better buffering. The improvement was so good I recently purchased two more Airport Express nodes to bring two more rooms into the system. Now I run a total of five Airport Express nodes around the house.
 
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telemike

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With the Lightning camera adapter I was able to get 96K streaming from my iPhone 12 into my Rotel A14's USB-PC input
 

swampfire

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I have an AE Gen 1 and AE Gen 2, both running the latest firmware (7.8.1). This was my experience pairing them my 2 DACs, a Soncoz LA-QXD1 and an AudioEngine D1:

AE1 + Soncoz = unusable, lots of skipping.
AE2 + Soncoz = no skipping, but some nasty high frequency clicks
AE1 + AudioEngine = okay (I didn’t do much critical listening)

All doing AirPlay from my 2018 iPad Pro, with excellent WiFi connections. Disappointing results, for sure.

Tomorrow I’ll try the AE2 with no DAC (use analog out from the AE2). I’ll probably use that for my game room, and stick with my AppleTV 4K for streaming to the stereo / home theater.
 
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telemike

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I have an AE Gen 1 and AE Gen 2, both running the latest firmware (7.8.1). This was my experience pairing them my 2 DACs, a Soncoz LA-QXD1 and an AudioEngine D1:

AE1 + Soncoz = unusable, lots of skipping.
AE2 + Soncoz = no skipping, but some nasty high frequency clicks
AE1 + AudioEngine = okay (I didn’t do much critical listening)

All doing AirPlay from my 2018 iPad Pro, with excellent WiFi connections. Disappointing results, for sure.

Tomorrow I’ll try the AE2 with no DAC (use analog out from the AE2). I’ll probably use that for my game room, and stick with my AppleTV 4K for streaming to the stereo / home theater.

Are you using and HDMI audio extractor with the Apple TV? I was thinking of getting the new Apple TV and an HDMI extractor so I can use Apple music interface on TV and not Airplay music from phone or ipad
 

cinemakinoeye

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I have an AE Gen 1 and AE Gen 2, both running the latest firmware (7.8.1). This was my experience pairing them my 2 DACs, a Soncoz LA-QXD1 and an AudioEngine D1:

AE1 + Soncoz = unusable, lots of skipping.
AE2 + Soncoz = no skipping, but some nasty high frequency clicks
AE1 + AudioEngine = okay (I didn’t do much critical listening)

All doing AirPlay from my 2018 iPad Pro, with excellent WiFi connections. Disappointing results, for sure.

Tomorrow I’ll try the AE2 with no DAC (use analog out from the AE2). I’ll probably use that for my game room, and stick with my AppleTV 4K for streaming to the stereo / home theater.
Looking forward to learning what you experienced.

Looks like the high-frequency clicking can occur with AirPlay 2 and the AIrPort Express Gen 2 via both analog and digital connections, as I’ve heard it on a few recordings listening to the analog output, so it looks like this artifact is being added by the ALAC to AAC conversion. Can anyone elaborate on this? One recording on which I heard this is towards the end of track 5, "Inter Semper et Numquam Lyrics" on Ad Lucem (Anders Jormin, ECM, 2012).

Clearly, for critical listening it’s direct USB to DAC for me, but for background music to multiple AirPort Express Gen 2 nodes around the house, or convenient sourcing from mobile devices, AirPlay 2 has proven stable, reliable, and convenient.
 

swampfire

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Farfelix

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I had been using AirPort Express from day 1 and I have never questioned it really. But recently I started lacking something in my system. I started to think about measurement and when I played some test tones I have discovered the crackling issues. It is not really audible in day to day listening, but if you play a sine wave, there are very clear pops instead of a clear tone. I have tested multiple AEs and all of them did it on AirPlay 2! Using AirPlay 1 does away with it, but the drop outs are really bad in my apartment both on ethernet and 5GHz. Plus you cannot do concurrent audio like calls and videos while listening, so that’s a no go for me.

So I started to compare the sound quality with USB to DAC from Mac and iPad and I was blown away! Radical improvement in my ears. Better soundstage, better dynamics, more detail. Speakers disappearing. All the stuff people say when they talk about great hifi sound!

I have blind tested this with my family. They are not critical listeners, but they would say that USB sounded better in 5 out of 6 songs (exactly the same votes. Ironically the one they didn’t like played in 96kHz from the USB!)

Yesterday the Belkin Soundform Connect arrived. Pairing was pretty flawless through NFC and the iOS Home app. Yes it plays everything as 48kHz, but I cannot tell the difference from USB now. It plays perfectly fine. The box says it supports up to 44.1kHz, so I wonder if there is not something Apple changed in the AirPlay 2 (possibly in conjunction with Lossless?) that makes the iOS upsample the sound to 48kHz? If that would be the case the AE would need to downsample it back to 44.1? I have no way of confirming this, but I don’t know why would the Belkin upsample something to a point outside their stated spec range?

Nevertheless, if you have an AirPort Express with AirPlay 2, try playing some test tones and if they come up garbled, then those 99 bucks for the Belkin dongle will be the best upgrade you can do to your system right now!
 

MgP2804

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I have tested multiple AEs and all of them did it on AirPlay 2! Using AirPlay 1 does away with it, but the drop outs are really bad in my apartment both on ethernet and 5GHz.
You may try AE Gen 1 with Firmware 6.7.1.? Also Shairport-Sync might be an interesting option. + Depends if you require Airplay 2 multiroom.
 

ZolaIII

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Never used Airplay nor I intend to. I did use Dazzer losses and I am using Spotify but seriously considering to stop. However I do use DLNA local streaming with JRiver and it works great after initial quirks to set it up. With extensive DSP section that I use (including; room correction, PEQ, AVS and cetera) even lo end 128~192 kbps MP3's sound better than any streaming service without DSP and it works up to 192 KHz 24 bit without any quirks with my Yamaha. Now thinking of buying a big SSD to put into my old Pentium J laptop and make it a deticated DLNA server.
 
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telemike

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I think I will now be using a RPi4 with Volumio for AirPlay
 

flz

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I had been using AirPort Express from day 1 and I have never questioned it really. But recently I started lacking something in my system. I started to think about measurement and when I played some test tones I have discovered the crackling issues. It is not really audible in day to day listening, but if you play a sine wave, there are very clear pops instead of a clear tone. I have tested multiple AEs and all of them did it on AirPlay 2! Using AirPlay 1 does away with it, but the drop outs are really bad in my apartment both on ethernet and 5GHz. Plus you cannot do concurrent audio like calls and videos while listening, so that’s a no go for me.

So I started to compare the sound quality with USB to DAC from Mac and iPad and I was blown away! Radical improvement in my ears. Better soundstage, better dynamics, more detail. Speakers disappearing. All the stuff people say when they talk about great hifi sound!

I have blind tested this with my family. They are not critical listeners, but they would say that USB sounded better in 5 out of 6 songs (exactly the same votes. Ironically the one they didn’t like played in 96kHz from the USB!)

Yesterday the Belkin Soundform Connect arrived. Pairing was pretty flawless through NFC and the iOS Home app. Yes it plays everything as 48kHz, but I cannot tell the difference from USB now. It plays perfectly fine. The box says it supports up to 44.1kHz, so I wonder if there is not something Apple changed in the AirPlay 2 (possibly in conjunction with Lossless?) that makes the iOS upsample the sound to 48kHz? If that would be the case the AE would need to downsample it back to 44.1? I have no way of confirming this, but I don’t know why would the Belkin upsample something to a point outside their stated spec range?

Nevertheless, if you have an AirPort Express with AirPlay 2, try playing some test tones and if they come up garbled, then those 99 bucks for the Belkin dongle will be the best upgrade you can do to your system right now!
Farfelix, I'm also thinking of getting the Belkin to connect to a DAC via the optical out. For your music playing from the iPad, are you using Apple Music or something else? Because it's my understanding that Apple Music on iOS can't stream lossless over Airplay 2.
 
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telemike

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Farfelix, I'm also thinking of getting the Belkin to connect to a DAC via the optical out. For your music playing from the iPad, are you using Apple Music or something else? Because it's my understanding that Apple Music on iOS can't stream lossless over Airplay 2.
You can stream lossless via Airplay 1 which the olde Airport Express can do. Volumio on a Raspberry Pi is also Airplay 1
 

MgP2804

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Farfelix, I'm also thinking of getting the Belkin to connect to a DAC via the optical out. For your music playing from the iPad, are you using Apple Music or something else? Because it's my understanding that Apple Music on iOS can't stream lossless over Airplay 2.
Belkin has fixed 48kHz Output, what I read. So it is changing the signal. RopieeeXL is donationware and uses Shairport-Sync too next to several other functions like e.g. Roon. Using a Pi you are much more flexible imo. You can add an audio Hat too, if you want too. If you are not with Roon but e.g.Volumio just install that. Like said much more flexible using a Pi with options to fantastic SQ for little money.
 

sfdoddsy

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I've recently moved my Roon server to a different room so it is no longer directly connected to my main prepro. As a result I've done an experiment using an AE1, AE2 and Apple TV connected via optical to see which works best.

As expected, sound quality is identical.

Dropouts and glitches were not. The AE1 was the worst. The Apple TV was better, but occasionally just stopped meaning I had to go into the menu via HDMI to check what the issues were. The AE2 is the best of the bunch but still has occasional hiccups. Usually, however, it just works.

I'm pondering the Miim Mini because it has AC wireless and is bitperfect, but I also think Roon has problems streaming via wifi since I sometimes have dropouts in another room where it is connected directly to the AC router which flies along at 1300MB.
 

sfdoddsy

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I’m aware of the technicalities. But to my ears the sound quality via optical is identical.

The Apple TV upsampling affects my ability to play DTS files, but for two channel I can’t tell the difference.
 

MgP2804

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I’m aware of the technicalities. But to my ears the sound quality via optical is identical.

The Apple TV upsampling affects my ability to play DTS files, but for two channel I can’t tell the difference.
Yes, I need my time and better equipment too to get the differences. But they are there. For casual listening, I do not care and prefer the Airplay 2 multiroom features, etc. Also you can pair Sonos S1 and Sonos S2 environments by using Airplay 2 and to your homepods too at the same time of course. What is pretty cool imo! . For intensive listening however like to use the Airplay 1 endpoints (Shairport-Sync or Airport Express Gen 1 with 7.6.1 firmware) Upsampling from web 128 mp3 streams by using Airplay 1 sounds pretty nice imo. Apple did a good job there imo.
 

NiagaraPete

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I think I will now be using a RPi4 with Volumio for AirPlay
Volumio only supports AirPlay1. Try DietPi with Shairport it supports AirPlay2.
 
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