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HiFi Quality Audio Streaming - and not bust your bank account
on 3 February 2018
Apple’s AirPort Express (AE) is a miracle of engineering that gives you access to a huge world of HiFi quality streamed audio. It links via a TOSLINK optical cable or 3.5mm jack plug to phono lead that plug into you stereo amplifier. That includes any amp you may have bought decades ago - as long as it has phono input or optical input you are good to go. The easiest setup for audio streaming is to link the AE to your existing WiFi - this is done using Apple’s AirPort Utility, set to join an existing home network, using a PC or handheld device. I used an iPad, just make sure the AE and your player device use the same WiFi frequency 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz - the later is the best option if you have a 5 GHz service. When you setup the AE there is an option to name it - I called mine HiFi - crazy name I know. The AE somehow accesses you network passwords and security mode e.g. WPA and logs itself in, without the need to key in a long string of cryptic letters and numbers, fantastic. The AE is then ready to rock using AirPlay - this step proved a puzzle as the setup booklet is a tad out of date depending on what iOS you are using - trial and frustration proved a winner - I eventually tapped the music icon on my iPad and lo and behold found my AE named HiFi (see photo). I tried various different audio streaming services and eventually chose a high bit rate service - the choice is yours. I now have wireless access to the AE via iPad, iPhone and PC. You can stream or play all your music files - on the PC this is done using iTunes or if you want to stream from your PC you may need an additional spot of software - I used a background app TuneBlade to connect to the AirPort Express.
If you have several stereo systems or active speakers dotted around your place more AE’s can be linked in - I believe there’s no upper limit - just go mad and play the same music to all of them or use separate mobiles to play different songs.
The same AE can also be used to plug in a printer to share over the network - print from any mobile device - yeah the AirPort Express is just fantastic (Mod. yes you’ve already said that).