Now that I have my Mac Mini set up to deliver my whole iTunes library to my listening room through Airtunes with Sony PSP remote control, I needed to rewire my hi-fi components. The goal: deliver the digital Airtunes signal through the best DAC in the path and passing the analog signal cleanly through to my loudspeakers. I have no budget, so I must only use components I already own.
I also wanted to test how much I could combat the compressed audio feed’s nasties in the analog realm. My weapons: Taddeo Digital Antidote II and Rogue Audio Magnum 99 Preamp. One of these components won the battle and the other almost lost the whole war.
Airport Express DAC: Stereophile has taught us that the Airport Express’s internal DAC is to be avoided in a hi-fi set up. To successfully use an Airport Express in your signal path you must use its digital optical output feeding an external DAC. The Airport Express outputs a digital signal through the same mini jack port as analog. I just needed this mini-jack to optical adapter from Parts Express.
Digital Optical cable: My optical cable collection is the most neglected cable category in my home theater set up. I’ve read many articles and books (like Audio/Video Cable Installer’s Pocket Guide) lauding the optical cable. Digital coax is universally considered a superior connection–jitter reduction (or least amount of addition), and more stable connectors. So the best optical cable I have is not from a !33t boutique manufacturer but from Best Buy’s favorite: Monster Cable. I’m sure its price surpassed its quality.
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