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Playmaker VS Airport Express

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hadr
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hadr posted on Sun, Aug 4 2013 3:59 PM

Hello everyone,

I have a pair of BeoLab 6000 and I would like to be able to stream music over WiFi to the speakers. I know that the "B&O" way would be to get a Playmaker and indeed I wouldn't think twice about it... IF it had a better design. But in its current form, I can't say that the Playmaker is something that I would proudly display on my home and I don't really care for DLNA connectivity since I only use AirPlay anyway. So why spend close to five times more for something that will remain hidden anyway?

My only "concern" is about sound quality since I read somewhere that (the newer versions of) Airport Express use a low-quality DAC and thus that Playmaker has a significantly improved performance over AE (if you use the analog connection). Since I have no way to test both, I would like to hear your opinion on the matter. Playmaker is not that expensive (in B&O terms at least) but why not save if possible?

Thanks in advance for your help and insights!

PS: I don't really care about the ability to control the speakers with a Beo4/5 either, just the sound quality

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Millemissen
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I changed my AirPortExpress to a Playmaker to get rid of the DAC, that I needed on the APE to get a decent sound from it.

But that wasn't the only reason, so maybe it is not enough for you to choose the Playmaker.

As always my advice would be to test it in your combination at home!

N.B. With the Playmaker you can use the PowerLink connections as they are - and you can daisy-chain from one 6000 to the other.

MM

There is a tv - and there is a BV.

Puncher
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I don't think there is any doubt that the sound quality from the Playmaker is superior to the Airport Express. If that's your only criteria then the Playmaker is the obvious choice however I would also search the forums and ask other owners about the reliability of the Airplay connection. I have read that some people mention dropouts etc. I'm not an owner and so can't comment on the frequency of occurrence or whether it would be often enough to be a nuisance in use.

Ban boring signatures!

Raeuber
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I would test both at home with BL 6000. Although DAC in Playmaker is better than in AE, I doubt you will hear the difference quite clear with BL 6000 (with BL 5 I wouldn't doubt).

Greetings

Räuber
hadr
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hadr replied on Sun, Aug 4 2013 7:03 PM

It is difficult to test both since I don't own an Airport Express. I'm sure my B&O dealer would not object to me testing it on my setup, but i'm not sure they would be as understanding in the Apple store.

It seems like I will be going towards the Playmaker (playing it safe). Thanks for all the prompt suggestions/opinions!

Raeuber
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You can order an Airport Express at Amazon and send it back if you don't like it.
BeoHut
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I would prefer the Playmaker. Not only for the better DAC but also for the volume-control.

This is very important, otherwise you could damage your speakers. Just be carefull with an AEE without volume-control. The Playmaker can act as a perfect pre-amplifier.

Edit: with the Playmaker you can add an extra source via the line-in sockets.
PLom
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PLom replied on Sun, Aug 4 2013 8:19 PM

I changed an Airport Express out for the Playmaker, and there is a significant change in the quality of the sound. Significantly better with the Playmaker. I use it with a BeoSound 2300 and Penta MkIII speakers, I think you will have no problems hearing the difference even with the BeoLab 6000s. I agree, the looks and quality of the build of the Playmaker is not of the usual B&O standard, but you can hide the Playmaker in a cabinet. I've had no problems with dropouts of Airplay.

Cheers,   -Peter

Flere
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Flere replied on Sun, Aug 4 2013 9:47 PM
I have a PM wired to a TimeCapsule. So the PM does not do wifi itself, thats taken care of by the TC.

No drop outs.

Excellent sound.

The PM is connected to a pair of BL9.

-F

- Flere

smile and enjoy the moment

moxxey
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moxxey replied on Sun, Aug 4 2013 10:52 PM

Flere:
I have a PM wired to a TimeCapsule. So the PM does not do wifi itself, thats taken care of by the TC.

No drop outs.

Sadly I get long and annoying dropouts all the time from my Playmaker. It's quite poor over wifi. And, yes, I have a Time Capsule. The three AE's in my home never have any dropouts and are all further from the router. 

But....the sound quality is superb. Far exceeds that of the AE. The difference is audibly obvious on the first play.

My advice would be to get a PM, but consider using a powerline connector, with ethernet, rather than wifi.

BeoHut
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BeoHut replied on Sun, Aug 4 2013 11:11 PM
moxxey:

My advice would be to get a PM, but consider using a powerline connector, with ethernet, rather than wifi.

+1

Fully agree with moxxey! A wired item is so much more reliable than a wireless connection.

Go for a (wired) Playmaker.
BeoBoy68
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An esthetic Playmaker will be launch next year. Have personally a PM, actually I am satisfied from the sound. Cross my fingers concerning the WiFi ! It works good.
hadr
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hadr replied on Mon, Aug 5 2013 9:43 AM

Do you mean a better-designed PM? How valid is this information and when is it expected? Because then maybe it would be worth to "settle" for an AEE for now and get the next PM when it comes out (if it is a reasonable amount of time).

Cheers!

moxxey
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moxxey replied on Mon, Aug 5 2013 10:38 AM

Harry Adraktas-Rentis:

Do you mean a better-designed PM? How valid is this information and when is it expected? Because then maybe it would be worth to "settle" for an AEE for now and get the next PM when it comes out (if it is a reasonable amount of time).

Bear in mind that the new PM's (so-called 'MKII') on-sale now, are not compatible with FLAC. Maybe this will be re-addressed with the forthcoming major PM refresh?

One advantage of an AE is that it can extend your wifi network and also ethernet through ports for connecting to other devices. I found this handy for connecting to my BV11, for example. Powerline adapters do the same thing though.

Andrew
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The DAC in the AE is cheap and not very good, a cheap upgrade is to use the Digital Output from the AE and feed this into an external DAC, I did this and the sound quality went up massively - everything was clear with superb bass and midrange etc - practically breathed new life into my Penta II's and sounds much better now than the BS3000 (which is now redundant). This is a good option I'd say if you have an audio master or some way of controlling the volume and gives you felxibility in upgrading the DAC in the future which playmaker perhaps doesn't. I now have AE plugged into a Beolink Converter and speakers into the TV, you can access all of this via link rooms too. If you have an AE I would recommend trying the MUSE Mini HiFI DIR 9001 - uses 4 x TDA 1543 Philips chips - at £40 odd on ebay/amazon it is well worth the outlay. Anyway, that's just my experience. It connects via the optical output on the AE (which is in the line out socket, you just need a 3.5mm optical plug/converter)

On the flip side Playmaker offers more faciliaties if you don't have an audio master or connecting to a link system.

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