Streaming audio from iTunes on iMac. Apple TV or Airport express? confused...

So 3 audio systems with traditional amplifier/speakers.

Want to selectively route iTunes audio (using PureMusic if possible) to these systems but they are a good distance from the computer. Looked at Apple TV but only has optical audio out which doesn't work with my amps. Also I read about Airport Express but this seems to want to be a router and setup and network and I already have a router etc... can airport express just sit on the network and give me regular audio out to the amplifiers and if so, is it high quality audio (noticed only has a 3.5mm jack).

Is there a higher end solution to this? Read about Sonos a little etc...


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    Airport Express doesn't have to be configured as a router, but can be set-up in 'client' mode, where its only functions are wireless audio streaming, and if desired, wireless printing. I'm confused about the quality of sound you seek. You say you have no optical 'in' on your amps, but are looking for "a higher end solution".

    Both the AE and the ATV have optical audio 'outs'. (That 3.5mm jack on the Express provides analog, as well as optical digital outputs) The audio quality one gets, using the analog output from the Express, is reasonable, but certainly nowhere near audiophile quality. There are several ways to get better sound quality.

    If you want to keep it wireless, you could use either of those optical outputs from AE or ATV, and then you'd have to get an amp with optical digital inputs, or an outboard DAC, with analog outputs, to connect to the amps you currently have. Both could be costly options.

    If you're willing to go wired, there are some excellent, and relatively inexpensive USB powered DACs on the market that will blow your socks off, and don't require optical inputs on your amps. Some are not much bigger than USB drives, plug into, where else, an available USB port on your computer, and have regular RCA or 3.5mm minijack outputs that connect to your amps. Their secret lies in the asynchronous data transfer protocol they employ, which severely limits 'jitter', the bane of digital audio. Several that come to mind are 'Music Streamers' by HRT, and the 'Dragonfly' by AUDIOQUEST. Happy listening!

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