Apple Airport Express as Internet Audio Streaming Receiver

Thanks for your kind words. I still have an Airport Express although I'm not currently using it. I still think what I said in the original posts are fair statements as to the audio quality from Redbook CD quality 44.1/16 material when paired with a Benchmark DAC3 DAC.

But you have to remember that my original post is more than five years old and I had not yet heard Tidal MQA, much less Qobuz. IF you want access to these services, you would have to abandon the Airport Express as your streamer. Here are my recommendations for possibilities in more-or-less plug and play streamers which are MQA and Hi-Res compatible, from cheap to fairly expensive:

The Logitech Squeezebox Touch mentioned in the original post is Tidal MQA compatible and also appears capable of streaming from Qobuz. While this unit was long ago discontinued by the manufacturer, used units are readily available on eBay, for example, for $150 or less. With the free aftermarket Enhanced Digital Output software installed, connection possibilities to your DAC include Toslink, digital coax, and USB. The original remote works fine, but the iPeng controller software for iOS devices is even better.

For about $600 you can get the BlueSound Node which has a fine GUI and control software, will stream all the major services including MQA and Qobuz, is Roon Ready, has AirPlay, and includes a decent DAC which fully unfolds MQA streams.

For about $2,400 you can get the Lumin U2 Mini which runs via the Lumin App and has a variety of digital output connections, including AES/EBU. I find the Lumin App to give me the best sound quality from streaming sources. You could pair the Lumin with a Benchmark DAC3B (the cheapest version without any headphone amp or volume control) and use the Lumin's Leedh processed volume control to control system volume, negating any need for a preamp. The Lumin App's GUI and metadata are not as fine as Roon's but the Lumin App's GUI is fine enough and I find the Lumin App to consistently sound enough better that I haven't used my Roon Nucleus+ set-up in many months now. In my own current system I use the way-more-expensive-yet Lumin X1 and its Leedh-processed volume control to directly drive my Sanders Magtech amps and Sanders 10e speakers without a preamp.

By the way, things haven't changed in the past five years as to Sirius/XM radio and a few other non-free streaming services such as Jazz Radio. If you want to stream those through your home audio system, AirPlay from an iOS device is the way to go. Those few services are not available "natively" on even the fanciest/priciest dedicated audio streamers.
Thank you again sir. I have saved your comments in my notes file which is reserved only for the most useful advice I receive!!

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