Another skipping APE here. Tried it in a couple of DACs and neither work. Very dissapointed. Looks like I'll have to return it and source an older unit. Hope that works better.
It's a real shame this doesn't work as otherwise it does most of what the Sonos Connect does at a fraction of the cost (provided you have an iphone/padtouch etc) so would be an ideal device to use with a decent HiFi DAC if it wasn't for this issue. Haven't been able to find any comment or support from apple on this either.
Too Late to see this discussion, i have the same problem
here is my situation~
A 2010 iMac as music source w/ iTunes 11, using Time Capsule 2011 2TB as my WiFi AP
and the 2011 new AirPort Express expended TC's WiFi
When I use iMac, and optical output to my DAC (TEAC UD-H01), all works fine
But When I use AirPlay through my AE, and optical output to my DAC
the stuttering problem appears~
AirPlay through my AE, and directly analog output to my headphone, it all works fine again
I've ordered a used APE version 1 from eBay and will see if that works any better. Issue is, as others have said, very likely jitter on the SPDIF output (where the frequency of the output data/clock is not sufficiently fixed and tends to vary up and down slightly).
I used to work with a digital audio chipset design company and we saw this type of problem fairly often. If I still worked there I'd be curious to put the APE version 2 on an analyser and see what it achieves. Either way, the upshot is that the frequency of the output stream jitters/wanders from the ideal to the point where the PLL at the other end cannot maintain lock and the link drops out. Very poor design and a bit of a surprise as most companies worked out how to avoid this years ago. I can only guess that the SPDIF feature was considered a low priority so decision was made to keep it cheap and compromise the quality a bit.
Downside is that I can't see how this could be fixed with a firmware upgrade since the problem (at least in my experience) is always a hardware one.
I am using the latest generation Aex connected vio toslink to a CA dacmagic. I wish i had researched into this horrible jitter issue of this device prior to purchase. Besides the very occasional stutter it really prevents me from enjoying my music. I am back to listening cd's and use the aex for background music. Even then the jitter makes quality bothersome at times. I will replace the device the moment there's an alternative, but at the moment there isn't really. Can't understand why the jitter in the newer generation had to be worse than the previous. Not acceptable...
Just a further moan about the performance of the Aex. I posted a couple of weeks ago saying I had tweeked the settings on my CD/DAC but I still get the occasional drop out as the DAC cannot maintain lock on the jittery signal from the Aex. It's clear that this is not a piece of 'audiophile' kit and only retains a place in my set up because I am not aware of any alternative. Is there anything else out there? Is the performance of the Apple TV for streaming music any better? I know using the ATV for just streaming music is not making the most use of its functionality but I need a straightforward capability to deliver a wireless digital signal from my MacBook Pro to my cd/DAC. Surely not too much to ask.
Steve & Minch60,
I had the same issues with the new AE and a Musical Fideity DAC. I changed it for an Apple TV and it works perfectly. The only drawbacks is you have to initially set it up connected to a TV and you need a different toslink cable (full toslink both ends, no mini-toslink to toslink), but other than that it does perform the job perfectly. And I would (subjectively) say that the sound is better than with the old AEs.
This has been very interesting to read as I have had the exact opposite experience - terrible static (clipping) with the optical out from the Apple TV - both ATv2 and ATv3.
I set up an ATv 2 and ATv3 (x2), using optical out to my DAC (Marantz SACD8004) which has the Cirrus DAC and have experienced tremendous clipping with this set up.
My DAC clearly dislayed 48khz signal from the ATv - I confirmed in my manual that the DAC can process a PCM 48khz signal.
I further tested this and hooked up an external CD player to my DAC through Toslink and it played perfectly - displayed 44.1 khz.
Went a step further and hooked up my Computer to the DAC via USB cable and got great sound - no static.
Clearly, the DAC is working properly and I was using a brand new Audioquest Toslink - the issue is with the optical out on the ATv.
I went online to look up "Apple TV optical out static" and sure enough, there were several reports of the same issue, with people using many diferent DAC applications.
I even tried streaming ALAC as well as high quality AAC and MP3 - made no difference.
I was seriously considering going the AEx route until I reviewed it online, only to observe the same "puck" design as the ATv - and I thought, bet it has the same opotical out as on the ATv? Seems as if it does.
Not sure if you are also aware of the article published by "Stereophile" on the jitter issues identified on the AEx for the optical out?
Needless to say, I returned the ATvs, very disapponited, as this is a great solution to managing your music library digitally.
Lastly, I did submit a report to ATv engineers and I sent a letter to both HT Magazine and Sound & Vision mag to inquire whether they are aware of the optical out issue, as both magazines recomend using these products as streamers.
Hope that this helps.
As for myself the stuttering of the 2nd gen Aex was not the biggest issue. This only happens very occasionally over here.
I was however left very dissatisfied with the sound quality. Naively, I expected the device to deliver very similar sound as the digital out of my budget Marantz CD-player, both fed into my CA Dacmagic. After reading the good reviews, I really believed that. I had not heard about jitter yet. The Aex appeared to be the perfect solution. I would rip all my CD's to my PC HD and move all of the CD's to a cupboard upstairs, out of the living room. My ipad would become my remote.
From the moment I started to actually listen all the CD's ripped to ALAC and even AIFF, I quite quickly started to look for clues why everything sounded so lifeless, why the soundstage had flattened, why there was shrillness I had not heard before. Surely I was doing something wrong. But whatever I did, the device kept on underperforming. I had not yet truly enjoyed music coming out of it yet. I started playing CD's for enjoyment again. I use the convenience of itunes for background music and occasional listening, but even then I get irritated once in a while.
It is with the proper searches in google I started to bump into reviews like the one in stereophile and started to understand the consequences of jitter. Also my sony blu-ray player ***** out all the life from the music. Jitter of a cheap digital clock again?
The bottom line is : indeed, the Aex is not an audiophile grade device and probable the excess jitter is guilty. What can you expect from this price? Audiophile grade material? Probable not, but from what I've read (not heard), the logitech squeezebox had considerably lower jitter so for this price, it is possible. But that device only had to focus on music and not the printer-support, routing capability, ...
Just a pitty this alternative is not available anymore or at least not supported any longer.
At the moment I am looking to replace my Aex as soon as a similarly price alternative is available, and I am happy i did not sell my Marantz CD-player yet.
I've lived with the 'inconvenience' of having to insert CD's for many years, I can do it a little longer
Thank you for sharing your experience and thoughts.
I forgot to note that the above scenario applied to a small stereo set up.
The interesting thing is that in my HT set up, the ATv plays perfectly when I use the HDMI out instead of Optical out through my AV receiver which has Burr-Brown DACs. Streaming from Airplay via computer or iPad both provide very good sound in the HT setting.
For my stereo setting (which is where I would like the solution) I have resolved to using the usb cable from the computer to the Marantz DAC. I ripped a CD with Apple lossless and ABd with the CD and could hear no difference. This works using the iPad as the remote for the computer........ and as you say, if all else fails, I'll just get up and change the CD
@PuckHawg - Yes, I saw Peachtree's fabulous advert recommednding use of the ATv with their products. I sincerely hope that they have had good results, because I have tried 3 different ATvs and all have failed. I have scoured the internet for reports of the ATv optical out issue and the first one I noted was reported all the way back in 2008 .....and I suspect that most people have not tried using the Atv purely as a music streamer. Now that they are, the issue is coming to the fore.
PuckHawg - have you tried the ATv optical out, and if so, what has your result been like? Thanks for sharing your results.
I thought I had contributed to this thread but apparently I wrote into a different one my similar experiences. This one is now more active so --
I have two DACs running optical in from 2 AEXs using AirPlay to stream music from a Mac Pro. One is wired, the other is not, though that doesn't matter or change anything in my experience.
The DAC-2 from Wyred4Sound cannot hold the signal from the new square AEX. The signal drops intermittently, just as everyone is saying. That company told me that their SABRE DAC cannot tolerate wide swings in jitter. They at the time had only tested it with the previous AEX (plug directly into the wall). When I swapped back the former AEX with the Wyred 4Sound I was good to go.
My other DAC is a Bryston BDA-1 and that one has no problem running smoothly from a new AEX.
I have also experimented with a Schiit Gungnir DAC and that too has great problems with music coming from the new square AEX. The previous AEX again works just fine.