Airport Extreme to DAC

I'm awaiting a new Ayre QB-9 USB this will be my first delve into digital music serving. I've read many threads and done the google searches etc. I'm leaning towards using a Mac mini to serve the DAC. I have a Mac desktop upstairs with my iTunes and media player already on it. I will also play around with Hi-Rez in the future. I use a airport extreme right now with wi-fi and a 1 TB hard drive. Airport extreme has a USB port on the back that is used for a printer. Could I set that Airport Extreme up in my rack and run the DAC using my iPad or iphone to controll the playlists?
The USB port on the Airport Extreme is for printer or external hard drive support only, there's no audio output from it so you won't be able to do what you're describing.

The Airport Express has digital optical audio output but your DAC doesn't have optical input so that's not a solution, either.

What Sfar said, but you could use a Mac Mini in the rack and if you wish run it without a monitor or keyboard once you get it set up. You can control it from another computer, iPad, iPhone, etc. You can store your music files on a drive to the extreme or the one upstairs and the Mini can access them wirelessly. Of course you could hook the drive directly to the mini but drives do make a bit of noise.

Google "headless mac mini" and you will get a ton of info.

I run mine with a monitor and keyboard that sit on the opposite side of the room from my rack. I use a 50' HDMI cable with booster for the monitor and a sting of 15 foot powered USB extenders for the keyboard.

Get Pure Music or Amarra too.

Apple TV has no output to feed the Ayre.

Good luck, have fun.
Once you get the Ayre set up, you won't need or have remote access to any controls for the QB-9 specifically, as it autosenses and adapts to the output bitrate (as well as displays it). If you are planning to use 24/192, select your media software to allow use of the proprietary ASIO driver provided by Ayre and Wavelength Audio, as well documented on their websites.

Herman and SFar have it right on. This must be set up on your computer as a media server and requires a USB 2.0 port directly to the DAC. (..and length, quality of the USB cable matters). The media server can then be controlled remotely in a number of ways, including iPad.

For the last bit of resolution at high bitrates, Charles Hanson recommends wired (e.g.ethernet) connections for data links and minimizing use of wireless in the near environment to reduce emi/rfi. However, the latter is IMO a tradeoff vs. the huge convenience of iPad as a controller.

BTW, you're in for an incredible experience with this DAC.
Thanks to everyone for the info. One last question..... New Mac Mini with Lion ( iMac upstairs has Lion ) or older one off of eBay with snow leopard and slot for loading CD's , money not really an issue. I'm also thinking I can get away with the brand new 599.00 version
2.3GHz dual-core Intel Core i5
2GB memory
500GB hard drive1
Intel HD Graphics 3000
OS X Lion - Mini will only be used in my rack as a music server.

Most people advocate an SSD drive and maximum memory of the newest versions. Older Minis were limited to I think 3 GB but newer ones go to 8. You can order it that way from Apple but it is cheaper to get the extra stuff elsewhere and install it yourself.

I would get the cheapest one and upgrade it myself. Or watch the website and wait for a refurb to come up.

Regarding which mini, not sure that it really matters. I've seen folk that say the older ones (with the drive and Snow Leopard) can be better for audio, but don't recall why or really believe it. If I were starting from scratch, might also consider a Mach 2 Mini conversion. (Google mach2music). They do stripped down and modified Minis for music servers. No experience, but look intriguing. Ultimately, a big premium for stuff you could do yourself, (but it's a pile of stuff I likely won't be bothered to pull off myself....)

I use a FireWire 800 drive on the mini in the rack with all of the lossless and high def rips on it. Took a while to find one that worked there -- ie, quiet enough to have in the rack -- but ended up with the Oyen Digital Datatale PAIR portable RAID. It's configured as a 1tb redundant RAID and it's wonderful (dead silent, damn sexy tech). Also keep a 2tb minimax under the airport extreme (in another room, the drive was way too loud to keep with the system) for backup purposes. Takes about 35 hours to backup 1/2tb to the wireless drive, which is fine, but also convinced me that streaming lossless/high def for playback might not be ideal. It will work in a pinch, but can be a little glitchy and far less than ideal. (Actually have three iTunes libraries in the house, on three separate computers, two of which are lossey AAC only. Each can see and stream from any of the others wirelessly (2 Mac, one PC), which is convenient for playlists and casual listening, but wouldn't use anything other than the hardwired drive and lossless material when I care what I'm listening to.).

Finally, before you spring for a fidgety (and pricey) PITA like PM or Amarra, check out bitperfect. There's a long thread on it over at Computer Audiophile. $5, automatic bitrate switching for highdef material, and a seamless overlay for iTunes. For years, I refused to spend hundreds, or thousands, on a clunky, overwrought iTunes proxy, when all I wanted was simple, transparent functionality, automatic format switching, and some dedicated device hogging for optimum playback. Apparently, the author felt the same way, and wrote it. Worth a consider. Hope you enjoy the Ayre as much as I do. Cheers.
Thanks Mezmo - I have done alot of research and decided on a used 2009 model mini with a 128GB SSD drive ( no moving parts in my rack ). I concluded that it should be better because of the solid state drive and the detached power supply. I snagged it for a total shipped price of 550.00 and the Crucial M4 128GB costs 209.00 just buy itself. I will get into a oyen digital 2 or 3 TB external HD later on. I'm awaiting my mini and USB cable which should be here early next week. In the meantime I paid 24.95 to put my iTunes collection on apples new IMatch service which transfers my whole library ( of 16,000 songs ) apple doesn't care how you got your songs weather you got them by loading your own CD's or from napster or sucking iPod HD's with iRip or touch copy. I Match puts them into Lossless format and gives album art and allows using " iCloud " to sync the whole library. I should be able to access my whole library and control my stereo from my iPhone or iPad . With this reply to this thread that everyone has help me think and come up with what I hope is a great set up, I hope everyone starts thinking. One last thing. I will dabble in HD Tracks and other Hi Rez venues also.. Happy New Year !!!

you sure about that iMatch lossless thing?

I think it converts everything to 256K AAC compressed format.

I am not totally sure yet. Still downloading all my songs over 20 hours now so I'm kinda thinking there's something higher than ACC going on. Here is a link

Don't forget to google iMatch also.

I glanced at the article and it incorrectly says

Macs can natively support up to 24/96, played through iTunes or other software. However, without a couple settings tweaks, audio files with resolution higher than 16-bit/44.1kHz will automatically be downsampled to that resolution.

They can support higher resolutions if your hardware can.
The However is correct. Unless you use software that automatically adjusts the resolution (like Pure Music) iTunes does convert everything to whatever you have Audio/Midi set to.

Sounds like a swell start, but I would be wary about the imatch bits. Sounds, and I am sure is, quite convenient -- but it looks like it will feed you back less than CD quality of everything. To quote their materials, "Even better, all the music iTunes matches plays back from iCloud at 256-Kbps AAC DRM-free quality — even if your original copy was of lower quality." This is less than CD quality, and of course, "even better", it will feed you back that quality "even if your original was of HIGHER quality" as well....

So, if you've got tons of stuff of lesser sample quality, this could be a nice upgrade to that software. But for anything CD quality or better, relying on the icloud will be a significant downgrade. Has it's place, sure, but be sure to keep a local copy in the highest quality available. With the likes of the Ayre, you'll definitely come to appreciate (and demand) the difference.
Again I want to thank everyone for the input and enlightenment. I finally got all my gear together. Cables and monitor adapters were a pain in the butt. I had to drive to the apple store just to see what I'm doing during set-up. Buying a used Mac mini, the connector to monitor was the wrong one. Got up and running it took some time to set up. I'm checking out songbird and fidelia to use as my player for HD Tracks. Songbird is free, fidelia has a 15 day demo then 20 bucks. I'm sorta liking fidelia but too soon to know for sure. To avoid rambling, I will make one last comment to future readers of this thread... Research, Forums, Blogs, are all others opinions.... These are tools to help and give you food for thought. To get it right ( whatever right is ).. Do the Work

Don't know about those two programs but get one that adjusts playback rates on the fly. Some, like iTunes, are stuck at whatever Audio Midi was set to when they started. So if AM was set to 16/44.1 when iTunes starts it will down sample a 24/96 file to that rate. If you then set it to 24/96 iTunes will still down sample but AM will then up sample. To get it right you have to restart iTunes.

Programs like Pure Music take care of it in the background.