Best interconnect for Apple Express to Naim 202

As well as playing ripped CD's through my HDX, I want to stream my Apple music from my phone through my main Naim system as well. My amp is the 202 - any recommendations as to what will give the best quality ? From the apple website I got this information: In order of quality (lowest first)
Aiport Express Analogue AAC
Airport Express Analogue AIFF
Aiirport Express Digital AAC
Airport Express Digital AIFF
Burned CD AAC
Burned CD AIFF
Original CD

As far as I can tell the 202 will only take analogue - is this correct or can I get digital somehow ? And if not would something like the AudioQuest Evergreen be a suitable analogue interconnect 3.5mm - 2 RCA 1mm ?  

many thanks for your help

Steve 

Original Post

You can use a 3.5mm mini-jack to 5 pin DIN cable into a spare input on your preamp. I use a Flashback one which is well made but not too expensive. You would get higher quality sound by using an optical cable from the AE into an external DAC, but unfortunately the HDX does not have a suitable input for this.

steveaxe posted:

As well as playing ripped CD's through my HDX, I want to stream my Apple music from my phone through my main Naim system as well. My amp is the 202 - any recommendations as to what will give the best quality ? From the apple website I got this information: In order of quality (lowest first)
Aiport Express Analogue AAC
Airport Express Analogue AIFF
Aiirport Express Digital AAC
Airport Express Digital AIFF
Burned CD AAC
Burned CD AIFF
Original CD

As far as I can tell the 202 will only take analogue - is this correct or can I get digital somehow ? And if not would something like the AudioQuest Evergreen be a suitable analogue interconnect 3.5mm - 2 RCA 1mm ?  

many thanks for your help

Steve 

Doesn't the HDX have an optical input?

ChrisSU posted:

You can use a 3.5mm mini-jack to 5 pin DIN cable into a spare input on your preamp. I use a Flashback one which is well made but not too expensive. You would get higher quality sound by using an optical cable from the AE into an external DAC, but unfortunately the HDX does not have a suitable input for this.

Thanks Chris. Is this what you mean from the flashback website - and is this better than the evergreen solution ? 

3.5mm Jack Plug - 5 Pin DIN Plug Premiere Cable 

Yes, that's the one. I believe Chord, and maybe also Naim used to make a similar cable too, but almost certainly at a much higher price unless you can pick up a used one. Using an Airport Express like this is a great convenience feature for playing from an iPhone or a computer, but it's not going to give you top notch sound quality, so I don't personally think it's worth spending more cash on an exotic cable.

steveaxe posted:

And if so, do I need interconnects as well or does the Mojo come with them - and if not would you recommend some please ? 

The mojo doesn't come with an interconnect.

I use a performance flashback 3.5mm/5 pin din. It's very good, better than the mogami and kimber cables I tried.

Note. If you look at the flashback website, nowwhere does it recommend using premier with Naim. Performance is recommended for Naim. “Performance cable is a favourite amongst our customers who are Naim users.”

We use an iChord cable mini-to-DIN from a couple of years ago and it is great.   Much more than adequate for streaming music from the phone to the Airport Express to our pre-amp.   My wife loves Pandora and she uses it every day to stream her favorites at our house..

 

This one was on eBay.

 

steveaxe posted:

I am OK with spending that - the question is I only stream Apple music to the AE as all my other music is on the NAS - so the files are all compressed. Therefore will the more expensive cable still make a big difference on compressed files ? 

steveaxe posted:

And if so, do I need interconnects as well or does the Mojo come with them - and if not would you recommend some please ? 

Sorry finding language hard

great help everyone - and an education for me. As I see it, I need to trade off sound quality & a cable connection to my iPhone (Mojo) for the convenience of streaming with an AE ? Or can I combine the two i.e. connect the AE through the Mojo to my 202 pre-amp & get the best of both worlds ?

If not, and I go with the streaming option, the Chord on eBay or performance flashback interconnects are the best, with no-one recommending any of the AudioQuest options  ?

Thanks again everyone !

If you go for the analogue cable I wouldn't agonise too much over it. It's performance will be limited by the abilities of the DAC in the Airport Express, so a fancy cable seems a bot of a waste to me.

If you add a DAC such as the Mojo (and there are lots and lots of alternatives available at any price you want) then you will want an optical digital cable instead of the one mentioned above to run it from the AE. This should sound much better.

Yes, that's right. The only output on the Mojo is a 3.5mm jack because it's intended primarily for headphone use, whereas other DACs have different outputs, typically RCA, if intended for use in a HiFi system. 

The Mojo has a 3V fixed output option for use when playing into a preamp. This is rather high for a Naim NAC, which would probably be happier with a lower level input, but others who have used this combination will be able to advise you better on this than I could. @analogmusic might be someone to comment, as I believe he has this setup??

Indeed I use this setup.

The recent Chord DACs like Mojo, Hugo, Hugo 2, Hugo TT and Dave, have volume controls, but these are digital, there is no preamplifier or analog volume control and hence no signal loss.

And these digital volume controls are integrated into the FGPA of the DAC, and hence it is not required to run Chord Mojo into full line out (3v), I run mine way below that, and it sounds fine to me.

Other Hugo users do the same, they run their at the "turquoise" color of the volume.

No issues at all with this Chord Mojo DAC, and I don't miss my Hugo at all since I sold it.

 

steveaxe posted:

sorry to what is probably an obvious question, so would the set-up look like this: iPhone streams to AE, AE connects  via optical digital cable to Mojo, and Mojo connects to the pre-amp via a 3.5mm jack to 5 pin din ?  

Yes, that does work, I use an Apple TV optical out into Chord Mojo with 3.5m into DIN cable to NAC 202.

I do like a lot the Ichord cable mentioned by skip on that website, I'd grab it while available as these are the last few stocks remaining, Chord doesn't make them anymore.

steveaxe posted:

 any final recommendations on the optical cable interconnect from the AE to the Mojo ? 

Officially, optical cables are only able to support up to 24/96 audio, so if you have a high-res collection, that might be an issue for you. However, some people have reported that 24/192 will play OK through better quality cables. Some optical cables are made from plastic (POF) rather than glass fibre, and I suspect that a well terminated glass fibre optic cable would have a better chance of success with 24/192. Mine is a Flashback fibre optic one, I've only tried it with 16/44, but if I get the chance, I might try it with a couple of high-res files out of curiosity.

James, you are right, the AE is 16/44 max. I think it automatically downsamples higher rate files to that. We're probably drifting off topic a bit here, as the OP originally asked if this setup would work with Apple Music, which is below 16/44, so this issue might not be a deal breaker??

ChrisSU posted:

James, you are right, the AE is 16/44 max. I think it automatically downsamples higher rate files to that. We're probably drifting off topic a bit here, as the OP originally asked if this setup would work with Apple Music, which is below 16/44, so this issue might not be a deal breaker??

I've lost track of the original OP's question Chris. My point was not to go overboard on the optical cable given the AE source and its limitations. I'm sure the AE with the Mojo should make quite a decent solution 

I have gone for the AudioQuest Cinnamon Mini toslink to toslink. Thanks to all of you for your help and knowledge - hugely appreciated. 

I will now have the AE through AudioQuest Cinnamon optical through Chord Mojo through iChord. Can't wait to hear it - will let you know ! 

Steve, FWIW, I abandoned Sonos Connect because I didn't like the sound of it through my NAim DAC.  I actually liked the Airport Express better.  Many will disagree.

Any of Naim's ND players will upgrade your system nicely, if you ever feel the need.  They will give you iPad/Pod/Phone control of your Naim amp, too, if that appeals to you.

For now, you are in a very good place to stay for a while.  Enjoy.

Also, being an Apple guy, I think AIFF works best for me -- sounds as good to me as WAV, and works better across different apps, includung iTunes.

Nick

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