I have pretty good quality ceiling speakers on the first floor of my house and a pretty decent receiver. For a long time I used AirPort Expresses to stream music from the iPhone to the receiver. This has finally become unreliable and it’s time to move to current gear
What I want to be able to do:
Stream Apple Music, pandora or anything else to the receiver using air play. Nothing more. Nothing less. No built in Alexa or anything like that
I’d prefer to spend less than $150-$200 if possible, but (reasonable) is not a large constraint.
I want high quality streaming.
Receiver has analog and optical inputs
WiFi is fine, Ethernet is available
I prefer to buy from B&H or Crutchfield but not required. I prefer not to buy from Amazon
Phone to stream from are iPhone 11 and 15.
There are a ton of devices that appear to meet my needs but audio is not my strong suit.
Sample from Amazon: WiiM Mini AirPlay2 Wireless Audio Streamer, Multiroom Stereo, Preamplifier, Works with Alexa and Siri Voice Assistants, Stream Hi-Res Audio from Spotify, Amazon Music and More https://a.co/d/aNdc4Mf
Any suggestions what might be the best direction for me to go?
I did some web browsing and the Belkin SOUNDFORM CONNECT AirPlay 2 Audio Receiver sounds like a possibility. It is available from B&H, and is currently on sale for $79. (List price appears to be $99). It does have an optical input, and people who bought it describe it as a replacement for the AirPort Express.
Read the reviews, though. 10% of the buyers at B&H didn’t like it, mostly because of setup issues or Belkin quality control. Several complaints about Belkin customer service, too. Amazon sells it too (so you can check out the review there, too.) Crutchfield also sells it, but is out of stock.
If it doesn’t work for you, B&H has a fairly good return policy (especially around Christmas holiday time.)
Hope this helps. I haven’t tried anything similar since my receiver has AirPlay 2 built in. Good luck!
My home theater receiver (an Onkyo TR-NR646) has a built-in Airplay audio receiver. It can connect to my LAN via Ethernet or Wi-Fi and shows up as an Airplay receiver. I’ve occasionally used it to stream audio from my iPod, although I prefer to use an analog line-in connection.
I assume you have no desire to replace your receiver if it’s working, but if not, this may be something to consider. Also, if your existing receiver is reasonably recent, you should check whether it might have this capability.
If you have (or want to get) an Apple TV device, it can be used as an Airplay receiver. It will play audio to its connected TV or receiver.
Thanks for the research. I’d looked at the belkin one before. It’s the same price as the sample I listed above.
Here is where my ignorance comes in. The belkin’s specs rate it at max 16bit, 44.1kHz. The one I linked to goes to 24bit,192kHz. I tried to read up on the what is adequate for my use, but like many audio issues, the answers were all over the board.
Apple Music goes to 24/192, I think.
I’m going to be playing background and music loud enough to sing along to. Not hosting any raves.
Is 16/44.1 good enough for my intended use? Would a higher bit rate be like buying Monster cables (“the electrons move faster with our cables”)
One thing to keep in mind is that the last two generations of AppleTV only has an HDMI output. So you will need an audio extractor box to pull off an optical or analog signal for your receiver. The extractor boxes are inexpensive but add an additional layer of complexity to the system.
I’ve found Airport Express works fine with Ethernet over Powerline adapters, even when their WiFi is less than reliable. JUST BE SURE TO DISABLE THE WIFI before installing the Ethernet adapter. (Learned that the hard way…)
I would say yes, even though audiophiles would say no.
16/44 is the data format use by CDs. If you are playing lossy-compressed media (MP3, AAC, many Internet streaming services), then that will be more than sufficient, because the original sources were probably in 16/44 format before they were compressed, and lossy-compression reduces fidelity. (Good quality compression won’t reduce it by much, but there is always some loss.)
24-bit and higher sampling rates (96, 192 or 384K) are very useful for people editing and mixing music, because digital processing always results in some losses. When you edit at these higher rates, the losses end up in the bits that get discarded when you perform your final downsample to 16/44 (e.g. for burning to CD).
But for simply playing your existing recordings, I doubt you’ll be able to hear the difference. And even if your ears are good enough to hear it, your equipment probably can’t reproduce those differences unless you have very high end equipment (especially the amplifier and speakers).
All this having been said, I know there is some commercial music sold at higher bit rates and they often sound better than their CD equivalents, but when you look a bit more closely, you inevitably find that these are not simple high-bit-rate samples from the original stereo master recording. They are always different mixes from the original multi-track recordings, so you are hearing the fact that it’s a different mix (and was probably made by an engineer who has more skill than whoever made the mass-market CD mix).
Thanks for that reminder. Yes, it will be an issue if your receiver doesn’t have HDMI input. Or you can look for an older model Apple TV that has optical audio output. Although some of the older models can’t stream very much these days, they should still work great as an AirPlay receiver. A quick eBay search shows people selling used 3rd gen AppleTV units for $20-35.
I have the mentioned Belkin product. I’m also one of those who gave it a middling review online. It actually works fine, but only if you use the optical connection. If that’s your plan, it certainly works well for me. (The line-out plugs are seriously dampened.)
Thanks to everyone who responded. Here’s where I have landed for now:
I found an old appletv in a box that that’s optical out. Then I realized I was wrong and the receiver doesn’t have optical in.
I tried using and AirPort Express but it never would set up. Kept going back to flashing yellow. I declared it dead. But I found another one and the same box as the old Apple TV. It set up fine but without Ethernet connection. I plugged in the Ethernet and all my WiFi went offline. Deemery mentions this but I didn’t understand the implications at the time.
Eve announced a media server with airplay 2 and every kind of connection you can imagine. It doesn’t seem to be avail yet to purchase. I don’t expect the AirPort Express to last or be reliable so I’ll check reviews on this new box later.
I’m not worrying about the whole mHz and bit rate situation since my speakers are in the ceiling and I want background music.
Happy New Year. I’ve been using Logitech Bluetooth Receiver hooked into the inputs of whatever amp or receiver I’m using for my home system. It has worked flawlessly and receives from your Mac. I think it is about $39. Logitech Bluetooth Audio Receiver for Wireless Streaming