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Ethernet input DAC


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5 replies to this topic

#1 tealover

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Posted 22 June 2016 - 04:33 AM

I want to connect my desktop with over 1.5 TB of music from one room to another via a TP-Link ethernet to a ethernet input headphone DAC. I'm only interested in listening on headphones avoiding use of a streamer.

 

Is there a DAC that can do this.



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#2 jonuk76

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Posted 22 June 2016 - 12:09 PM

A DAC strictly speaking just takes a digital bitstream and converts it into an analogue audio signal.  What you are asking is a bit more than this, as the device needs to be network aware and able to access the music files in order to play them.  In other words you need a streamer.  However the lines between a DAC and media streamer are getting more blurred.  The Arcam AirDAC can connect to a network, and play music from a NAS or a PC via Apple Airplay or UPNP.  It can be controlled by a smartphone or tablet app.  However, it lacks a headphone socket, which seems a ridiculous omission, but there you go.  

 

I bought a cheap device a while back which I think would do what you want, a QED uPlay Stream, and the sound quality IMO was pretty good.  At the time I got it, it was £30 and I was happy at that price, but the full price is a bit steep I think!!  However it is not without its problems, I found the QED supplied app it uses poor, and it would disappear off the network randomly from time to time (should be less of a problem with a wired ethernet connection).  As it's a UPNP device you can use other software to control it.


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#3 tealover

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Posted 22 June 2016 - 01:34 PM

I use a Audioquest DragonFly USB DAC for headphones cost around £ 120. The sound quality is superb and it's a nifty bit of kit for listening from my computer which is in my study and ,I really want to listen to music in comfort in my lounge

I seem to be barking up the wrong tree

 

From your post it would seem that only way to go is with a streamer.

With The Marantz MCR 511 Melody Stream at richersounds for £ 239 which seams to be the entry level.. Chuck in some budget speakers for around £100 this might give more flexibility. It fits the bill and I might have to settle for this

   

#4 jonuk76

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Posted 22 June 2016 - 04:55 PM

Really, yes a "DAC" with the ability to join a network, and pull music from network shares is essentially a streamer anyway.  The Marantz is pretty highly regarded and seems good value.  Q Accoustic 2020i's from Richer seem nice speakers for around the price you're looking at.

 

I was using the QED streamer slightly differently in that I already had an older hi fi with no streaming capabilities and it did the job for a while.  I ended up replacing the QED with an old Mini PC I had (an Acer Revo) running a custom version of linux (Kodibuntu), which is connected to the hi fi via an Arcam rPAC DAC.  It sounds good and I also use it for streaming video.


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#5 smax013

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Posted 26 June 2016 - 02:20 AM

Sounds like an Apple AirPort Express might do what you want, if I am understanding things correctly. It has an audio port that allows you to stream music (using Apple AirPlay) across the network...generally to computer speakers, but I don't see why it would not work with headphones. Or you could connect the AirPort Express to a receiver (that you might already have) and plug the headphones into the receiver (I essentially do this with an Apple TV connected to my receiver, plus my receiver supports AirPlay by itself, although its network connection is flaky). An Airport Express will cost less than $100 US. Not sure if the sound quality will satisfy you...seems fine to me, but I am definitely FAR from an audiophile.

The only downside is that you would need to use an AirPlay compatible program, which by default means iTunes (which many people hate...I personally don't have problem with it even though Apple has made it harder to use/less intuitive when they added their own streaming service and other features). You can use a program called Airfoil (http://www.rogueamoeba.com/airfoil/windows/) to allow other sources. The advantage of using iTunes is that the Apple Remote program on an iOS device can then control your iTunes playback remotely.

The other potential issue is using it with a non-Apple router. Since I have never done it (my main router is an Apple Airport Extreme), I don't know if there will be any issues. I don't think so. If you connect by ethernet, you should be able to just put the Airport Express into "Bridge Mode" so that it just becomes a new WiFi access point and AirPlay device on your network. Or you should be able to use the "Connect to wireless network" option to connect the Airport Express to your current WiFi network (assuming you have one) and just have the AirPort Express be an AirPlay device.

FWIW, your other "cost effective" option might be just to use Airfoil for Windows and then Airfoil Satellite for iOS or Airfoil Speakers for Android if you have an iOS or Android device. This would allow you to stream your music from the Windows desktop to either an iOS or Android device by way of WiFi that you could then plug in headphones to. It also appears that Airfoil will stream to Bluetooth speakers or headphones, but that becomes iffy if the distance is too great.

#6 smax013

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Posted 26 June 2016 - 02:30 AM

FWIW, I just tried headphones with the AirPort Express and it worked fine. It uses a mini-headphone jack (which also doubles as an optical digital audio connection), so if you might need adapter if your headphones use a standard size headphone jack. Of course, you can also use powered speakers...or connect to a receiver using a mini-headphone to RCA cable or optical digital cable.

Also, when using Airplay through iTunes, you can play the music in both rooms (i.e. the speakers hooked to the computer as well as the speakers hooked to the Airport Express). I use this as a cheap way to provide music throughout the house when compared to something like a Sonos setup. I have a tri-level house (technically quad-level if you count the basement level). I have the computer upstairs, the Airport Express on the mid level and the Apple TV on the lower level. So, I can music pumped to all three levels if I want. And then control the playback with the Apple Remote app on my iPhone.




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