Interfacing Computer Music to D/A Converter ?

I'm really unfamiliar with this territory, perhaps someone can shed some light. Or links for more info.

Say i have a laptop computer and i store songs in my laptop either i-tunes or aiff files or applelossless.

I have a Benchmark dac 1. How do i interface the two in such that my laptop becomes the transport / source which can feed the songs to the Benchmark which in turn plays music to my hi fi system ?

Is using my laptop a better transport that say a dedicated cd player like marantz or pioneer dvd player ?

tks for info. highly appreciated.
You have to make a choice: Wireless using Wi-Fi or USB cable. USB cable can give you better performance, and 24/96 capability. The only Wi-Fi box that has 24/96 is the Transporter. A good upsampler like SRC on a PC can bring amazing results, more like analog.

Airport Express only has Toslink output in stock form, so I would not recommend this. Toslink is the highest jitter interface. A modded version of AE is a different story. With AE you must use only iTunes player with either PC or MAC, so you have to like iTunes. Upsampling to 24/96 on MAC is not so great like on a PC.

The Squeezebox is quite popular as a transport, but also needs mods to sound good IMO. It will only do 16/44.1 and requires Slim Server as a player interface.

The possibility of eliminating the S/PDIF interface is another big advantage of computer driven audio. I2S interfaces are available to the Benchmark DAC-1 using USB interface to the computer. Using I2S can raise the quality of computer playback above that achievable using a transport.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
I use the built-in wireless capability of a Mac to send from iTunes directly to an Airport Express base station, then via glass Toslink from the Airport Express to a Benchmark DAC-1. Files are in Apple Lossless format. It's extremely convenient and the sound quality is indistinguishable to me from CD's played on a transport going to the same Benchmark DAC.

For the total cost of about $140 for the Airport Express and a good glass Toslink cable it's a cheap experiment at the worst.
USB DACS can be purchased for less than 30.00 Alot Depends on what happens next, or what you really want to do. I sell the Dared MP-5 Tube Dac Amp. Its a all in one piece using the burr brown 2702 DAC. The total system is around 370.00 Actually USB direct to a DAC is a great way to go as there is no jitter that you might experience with S/PDIF outputs. It depends on how much of a audiophile you are and how efficient your speakers are, as the more efficient the more they allow you to hear the flaws in equipment.
As pointed out, you do not need to spend a ton of cash on a good (USB) DAC, especially if cosmetic issues are not that important. Along with the usual suspects, offering some choices in the $1000+ categories (Wavelength, Empirical, Apogee, Hagerman, and others), there's also a large contingent of both DIY and Low-Tech designs coming out of China, based on excellent NOS chips, and sound design. Tvad recently pointed me to one he's been trying with great results, made by MHTDLab, and reviewed here on Enjoy the Music. These sell on eBay regularly, the USB version of the Constantine, using the TDA1545A chip, as does the Paradisea tube-buffered version Tvad has. The USB Constantine is $399. There is also another USB DAC he sells based on the TDA1543 chip called the Dialogue II that is $299. This is the same chip used in the NOS AudioMirror DAC that has garnered some outstanding real-world comments both here and on other sites. The board for that DAC is also outsourced from China, and is available as a full on reproduction of the AudioMirror design as the DAC-AH which can be purchased for under $200 direct from China (not a USB DAC though). On the MHTDLabs units, Grant told me he got his in three days from Taiwan, superbly packed and without a hitch. The guy's abundant 100% positive eBay feedback suggests this is the norm. Grant seems to like his alot - perhaps you can contact him if it interests you to pursue further, or he can chime in here. If you are a DIY guy you can get kits to build a dimilar DAC for much cheaper. I won't go there as I doubt that's what the poster is looking for.

I am Curious about adding the USB interface to a Audiomirror / Dac-ah ? is there a way to get it modded to add the usb direct, even if you have to eliminate the toslink or coax digital board ?