Monday, June 1, 2015

Test - Streaming audio via Apple Airport Express

Was intrigue by such facilities when I visited the local AV show last year.

The vendors at the AV show were using a streaming service to demonstrate their wares - amplifiers and speakers. They would ask the listeners for preferences and initiate the demonstrations via a mini IPad.

Researching the above I decided to give streaming a go using an older model Apple Airport Express as we have an IPad in the house. This is because the small-sized 802.11n Airport Express are now reasonably priced. 

There are many free (but degraded) streaming service available. I settled on Spotify as my kids were already using it.

The following items will be required to make it work:-
- An Apple product (Android app to access Airport Express is not free)
- An Apple Airport Express (or alternative)
- Audio cable with 3.5mm mini-jack with L/R RCA outputs. or. optical cable with mini TOS to TOS connectors
- USB cable for printer connectivity (optional) to enable wireless printing
- Ethernet cable to enable the Airport Express to function as wireless router, bridge or repeater (optional)
- Register to choice of online streaming service or use playlist on your Apple device

Physical connectivity is straight forward. Connectivity setup requires a bit more work. Please refer to manual or online tutorials for the connectivity setup.

Once setup, I can control the volume and songs to be played from the iPad. There was a 1-2second delay between issuing the command on the iPad and hearing the results from the amplifier.

Quality from the free streaming service was reasonable with some adverts in-between material every once in a while. We did experience buffering time-outs when the iPad was not accessing the wifi via AC-protocol. My wifi setup comprise of a ASUS RT-AC56S connected to a Huawei fibre modem (with fibre cable into the apt).

Overall the free streaming service was a good and convenient way to hear new material before committing to buy the CD ... Yes I still prefer the quality from CD after testing MP3 at high bitrates (320 and above) against the original CD.

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