AirPlay - "Best" solution help...



My goal is to build a cost-effective, high-quality, AirPlay-based streaming solution and I seek your help.

(I have chosen AirPlay for MANY reasons and would prefer not to debate its merits, please;-)


My simple needs are only two channel, one room, iOs only, independent system consisting (today) of:


Belles Soloist 1 Integrated amp (possible Aria soon)

Apple TV(Gen3)>TOSLINK>iFi SPDIF iPurifier> Peachtree DACit

Dynaudio Focus 140s (Special 40s in the mix)

MacBook Pro server running Audirvana+.

DH Labs cables


Yes, I know that the DAC needs upgrading. But, this set up sounds pretty good. It’s in the budget.

My room is small (9x13’), in the basement, well insulated with dedicated AC lines. I have had all kinds of systems over the years.


Options to improve the AirPlay/DAC “front end” include:


1.       Get an Apple Airport Express and a better DAC with jitter attenuation

2.       Get a streamer like Bluesound (does AirPlay) and a better DAC

3.       Get a combined streamer/DAC (Cambridge Audio, Auralic, etc.)


My budget peaks at about $1,500 all-in for the time being. Am aware of the jitter issue and of products from Empirical and W4S

My current thinking is to get an AAE (doesn’t upsample like ATV) and a Benchmark DAC2 or a Bluesound Node 2i and a Mytek Liberty.

Welcome all thoughts here.



I love the Airplay ecosystem and completely understand why you would like to use it. My only suggestion would  be to consider hard-wiring the Apple TV to your router and eliminating as much wireless transmission in that music signal path as possible.

If wiring isn't feasible, I strongly suggest avoiding the Airport Express and find a good new or refurbed Airport Extreme and set it to bridge mode from your main wifi router. It could be cabled to the Apple TV or not. 

My recent experience with Apple TV (4) and a set of paired Homepods makes getting good music from Tidal soooo simple... Great TV sound too. 

Good luck. 
I have been using Airplay for 8 years streaming my lossless ripped CDs and currently have 4 systems in different rooms. Two of the systems use an Airport Express (Gen2) and two use Apple TVs (Gen3). I have switched the Airport Expresses and Apple TVs many times but could never hear any differences. They both sound great. 

I was wondering about jitter and really do not know what jitter does to the sound quality so I tried a iFi SPDIF iPurifier. For my systems it did not improve the SQ. In fact the sound became somewhat muddled and not as clear with it so I returned it.

I also auditioned a Bluesound Node2 (not the 2i). Using my external DACs, i could not detect any difference between the Node2 and my Airport Express or Apple TV. Using the internal DAC in the Node2 did not sound as good as my external DACs. I only had a brief audition with the Node2 but I do not think the WiFi in it was as robust as the Airport Express or Apple TV. I did notice some dropouts with the Node2 during my brief audition but I have never had a dropout with an Airport Express or Apple TV over an 8 year period.

The iFi Purifier is more for extremecases, like 30ft cable runs and whatnot. It adds some low frequency noise and distortion due to its power supply and whatnot, but should be low in level. 
Here are some files with varying amounts of “jitter” (and measurements of the “jitter” added for each variation is shown). 
Unless your source and/or DAC just are horrible in regards to jitter and jitter suppression/reduction, you don’t have to worry when music is playing (maybe, just maybe it’d be an issue with single frequency test tones).


Thanks for your comment. I only mentioned the iFi Purifier because the OP has it listed in his setup with his Apple TV and I wanted to describe my experience with it. I only tried it because of all the discussion regarding jitter from an Airport Express and the iFi Purifier was recommended to eliminate jitter. My systems all sound great but I was curious if something (not sure what) could be improved using the Purifier.

  I think that your current plan sounds great.  My only reservation would be using AE, since Apple no longer supports it.  The poster that has not noticed a difference between AE and ATV for AirPlay is very helpful.  Also be aware that with Bluesound it is the 2i version that does AirPlay, and since they have just added that capability they not have all the kinks out of it yet...
Thanks for the input, all.
The iFi iPurifier was a positive addition sitting between ATV3 and a sort of old entry level DAC like the DACit which we had been using in our family room upstairs. I put it in my office system when I sold the Arcam Airplay. The Arcam worked OK, sounded good, but was very rigid in practice.

im sure the Micromega is “killer”. For $4,500, it better be...;-)

i have found that 90-93% satisfaction can be achieved with cost effective solutions. Chasing diminishing sonic returns for the last 7% is a tiresome and expensive exercise that I have long abandoned.

i seek to follow the same solution with streaming.
i was at the local Naim dealer last weekend. I once had a full blown Naim system. Dealer was adamant that you need to spend $7k+ to get the new digital front end done “right”. He’s delusional.

my current lower end system sounds really good. I’m at 85%. 
Just will prob get a new DAC with better jitter attenuation and see what happens.
"im sure the Micromega is “killer”. For $4,500, it better be...;-)"

Yeah, but it's an all in one, so you can sell off the rest of your system.  :)
Sorry, somehow forgot to paste the jitter test tracks:

Each of the 5 tracks have 10 versions of jitter ranging from none added to 35,000 nanoseconds. The jitter is simulated with specific frequencies though, not a 100% identical experience to the jitter your setup may have natively.
Why not use an Allo Digital USBridge into that DAC? You can get rid of the iFi since you’ll be using a USB cable. I’ve got one with an Ayre Codex, Music Reference RM-9, and vintage Carlson OA-52 speakers in my secondary system and it’s superlative.