It goes – Ethernet > Airtunes > SPDIF > DAC
Got the two Airport Express Base Stations working on the network with Airtunes & iTunes. I bought an older 802.11b/g one for wired usage and an 802.11n one for wireless audio in the kitchen. I had to do hard resets on both of them before they’d show up on the Airport Utility. I turned off wireless on the b/g one and told it to use Airtunes via ethernet. The newer 802.11n Express joins our existing Time Capsule 802.11n network. Optical SPDIF out from the wired b/g Express goes into the E-MU 0404 DAC, unbalanced RCA analog line into the old Denon amplifier. Works well. Pretty light, open and clear DAC on the high end. These old Bose speakers were never much for bass anyhow, and we don’t like to annoy the building.
Apparently Hulu’s content providers (which I believe includes FOX & NBC) decided to pull their support for Boxee. Now if you haven’t been following Boxee, they are one of the few companies actually making inroads into “set-top conversion” software, allowing people with computers to get the TV shows they want legally from their computers onto actual television screens. It’s sad really, that this should be an issue. Almost every show we watch online (legally, usually via the networks’ streaming sites) usually only has one commercial. So if you’re watching an hour of television at NBC.com and you’re hoping for a variety of commercials you’ll be disappointed, you’ll simply get the same commercial over and over again. How is it they can’t figure this out? I distinctly remember watching a Verizon LG Chocolate phone commercial approximately 30 times (with the Feist song as soundtrack) as multiple episodes of a show simply had the same commercial.
Anyhow, at some point I’m going to try and put together a small low power HTPC that can record and playback at least a 720p stream. Most of the Intel Atom motherboards simply have abysmal video performance and NVIDIA is supposed going to release something soon (and possibly a new Mac Mini). XMBC or Boxee, or even XP Media Center would work as far as a front end. My requirements are pretty minimal, I’d like to have a Firefly MT-DAAPD server running for music (transcoding .flac to .wav for iTunes/Airtunes) and possibly a second instance of it running for the rest of the mp3/aac/m4a’s. I’d probably record shows via the SiliconDust HDHomeRun, which would give two tuners for playback/recording. Mostly the challenge has been finding something that is close to silent and fanless (especially as the Atom could be fanless) but it really hasn’t been optimized for HTPC applications yet. OSX86 (search “Hackintosh”) with Boxee and Elgato EyeTV could potentially be an option as well. MythTV could work too. Who knows? Right now I’m pretty happy with the Airtunes and Firefly setup.