Archive for July, 2004

Apple’s Airport Express with AirTunes

Saturday, July 17th, 2004

It Integrates seamlessly with iTunes 4.6 by adding a “speaker output selection pop-up” in the bottom right of the main browser window. It took me a while to find it, but this was by far the hardest part of the installation. Now my output choices are “Computer” and “Home Main Stereo System” (you can choose the name of each Express as it appears in iTunes as well as password protect it). When I add more Airport Expresses later, I’ll have more choices from this pop-up menu to choose from

The Airport Express offers chart-topping sound quality using its digital connection option. Period. Although the Airport Express offers true digital connections to your stereo system, even its analog output sounds much better as compared to an iPod when plugged into the same stereo system.

One other note, the MAC running AirTunes can control the volume the Airport Express passes the stereo its connected to – a real bonus if you need to increase or decrease the stereo’s volume remotely. this is done using the iTune volume slider.

In addition to the usual security options (WEP, WPA, etc), I can also password protect each Express for AirTunes access too (using the included Admin Tool). This will can help limit AirTunes availability in more robust, less private environments other than my home (like businesses, coffee shops, hot spots, etc.). I can envision an Airport Express even working as the source for “on hold” music for business phones systems.

Now what about my older, legacy Airport Extreme Base Station?

I choose to setup WDS using the Airport Express as the main WAP and relocate my older Extreme BS to my second floor home office and set it up as the remote WAP for my home network. I used same network name for both and now have a perfect, full-coverage WiFi network for my entire home (including my rooftop deck and backyard, whcih were previoulsy unattainable locations with my older Airport BS).

Another cool thing is with WDS and multiple Expresses/Base Stations, I can have multiple USB printers available via Rendezvous concurrently. Now I can print to my USB Brother Fax machine and/or my USB Epson 880 without any other computers sharing these USB printer connections and making them available by bridging over wireless or Ethernet.

The Airport Express is small and therefore highly portable and it can save up to five (5) LAN/WAN configurations to help accommodate its portability. If you have one that moves around a lot (it is, after all, the size of an iBook power adapter and can fit in your front pocket), you can save multiple configurations for common destinations like your car, your office, your summer home, your house and your best friends house, etc.)

Because it’s very portable and I am sure that the one I have permanently connected to my home Cable Modem/Home Stereo will not be enough for me.