Apple Airport Express Equivalents?

Posted by: Gavin B on 04 September 2018

I use an AAE with my Muso Qb in the kitchen, and it works very well in providing a stable network connection. Iím just about to move my desktop pc to an upstairs room and need to provide a similar WiFi-to-wired connection. I could get other AAE - there are still some available new for around £150. This prompts me to wonder what other products exist to do this role. What do you recommend?

Posted on: 04 September 2018 by Richard Dane

You can buy older wireless n AEs online from  the usual places for around £15-20 each.  Otherwise a s/h Airport Extreme for around £50.

Posted on: 04 September 2018 by Frank Yang

I would suggest Google Wifi or a similar mesh wifi system. Personally I think the mesh wifi system is a much better technology than the aging Apple AE solution.

Posted on: 05 September 2018 by Gavin B

Hi Frank. Just to be clear - I don't want to extend my wifi - I want to be able to put a LAN cable into my PC for it to connect to the network. The AAE does this well; it connects to the wifi, and then the PC connects to it by a cable. Does the Google device work like this?

Posted on: 05 September 2018 by ChrisSU

If you really canít use a wired Ethernet connection, this new generation of consumer Mesh WiFi devices is probably worth a look. There are quite a few from Linksys, Netgear and other networking hardware brands, as well as versions from Google, BT etc. 

I would expect better wireless performance from 2 or 3 of these than you woukd get from putting unwired Airport Express around the house. What none of them have, as far as Iím aware, is an optical out like the AE. 

Posted on: 05 September 2018 by ChrisSU

Gavin, just seen your last post, most Mesh WiFi devices have 1 or 2 LAN ports, so yes, you can run a laptop from that. 

Posted on: 05 September 2018 by Loki

If you don't need the on-board dac of the express, then go for the Extreme which is much more capbale. The later 'tall' versions are particulalry good, ( I use two tall, one flat and an express, the latter for wifi to analogue duties) although I haven't seen them on the Apple website for a while.

If you're investing in a new wifi system, then mesh is the way to go, or BiFrost.

Posted on: 05 September 2018 by Blackmorec

The TP-Link RE650 Wi-fi range extender would work fine for this. Install the connector next to the AAE and set up the connection. Move the extender to your PC room, check signal strength and if OK (LED lit) connect an ethernet cable from the extender to the PC. Job done. 

You can either download the TP app Tether to your phone or iPad or go into your PC internet browser and open the TPLink configuration site (listed in the instructions)  to further customise the connection to and operation of the RE650. Maybe change SSID name, password, 2.4GHz and 5GHz band set up, access controls, excluded devices etc. Etc. 

Posted on: 05 September 2018 by Harry

If you are connecting it to Ethernet to provide a wireless access point, do you have any old routers knocking about? Every time my ISP gives me a new router, I keep the old ones. When reset (instructions for a particular router will be Googleable), they can be configured as repeaters. I've got three of them doing repeater work now.

Posted on: 05 September 2018 by Frank Yang

Remember that all WiFi repeaters have some speed loss, but some are much worse than others, this can cost the repeater up to 50% of its bandwidth because it works by receiving wireless signal and rebroadcasting it.

Posted on: 05 September 2018 by Harry

Worth a try if it doesn't cost anything.

Happily for me, our recycled repeaters haven't showed down any of our MuSos or QBs. Luck of the draw, I suppose.

Posted on: 05 September 2018 by Gavin B

Harry/Frank - I think your suggestions are still the wrong way round..I want it to pick up the WiFi signal and allow me to run an Ethernet cable from it to the pc.

Posted on: 05 September 2018 by Frank Yang

Gavin, I think someone here already gives you an answer, so you are all set if you want to use the mesh wifi, because all mesh wifi devices have an ethernet port, you just simply connect your PC network card to the device by an ethernet cable. Same thing with a Wifi repeater or an AE.

Posted on: 05 September 2018 by ChrisSU

Something to bear in mind with a Mesh solution is that you canít just buy one such device and use it to extend your existing network. That means getting rid of the AE, wiring a Mesh device to your router, and adding one or two more around the house to provide complete wireless coverage, along with whatever Ethernet ports these devices have, which is usually one or two. 

At least, that is my understanding of them based on a bit of research, as Iíve been looking for possibly ways to replace my own Airport network. There are quite a few different brands available, and no doubt they all vary a bit. 

Posted on: 05 September 2018 by Harry
Gavin B posted:

Harry/Frank - I think your suggestions are still the wrong way round..I want it to pick up the WiFi signal and allow me to run an Ethernet cable from it to the pc.

Ah right. Sorry. 

I used to use a Buffalo wireless bridge for that. It was a lot cheaper than an Airport. 

No idea what is out there now. Sorry for the duff info from me.

Posted on: 05 September 2018 by Iver van de Zand

Ubiquiti has a large set of available products to bridge wifi over various Access Points ending up in an AP that can be wired-connected to for example a switch that has your hifi system

Posted on: 05 September 2018 by Alley Cat
Loki posted:

If you don't need the on-board dac of the express, then go for the Extreme which is much more capbale. The later 'tall' versions are particulalry good, ( I use two tall, one flat and an express, the latter for wifi to analogue duties) although I haven't seen them on the Apple website for a while.

If you're investing in a new wifi system, then mesh is the way to go, or BiFrost.

Apple disbanded their Airport team last year and discontinued the Airport range a few months ago.

One thing about the Extreme, I don't think it allows connecting to wi-fi and extending the network over it's ethernet ports as the Express could which seems important for the OP.

Posted on: 05 September 2018 by ChrisSU
Alley Cat posted:
One thing about the Extreme, I don't think it allows connecting to wi-fi and extending the network over it's ethernet ports as the Express could which seems important for the OP.
 

I'm pretty sure it can do this, if you set it to Extend (as opposed to Create) a wireless network in Airport Utility. I admit I've never actually tried it, as I only have one Extreme and a couple of Express, but I reckon it would work.

Posted on: 05 September 2018 by Frank Yang
ChrisSU posted:
Alley Cat posted:
One thing about the Extreme, I don't think it allows connecting to wi-fi and extending the network over it's ethernet ports as the Express could which seems important for the OP.
 

I'm pretty sure it can do this, if you set it to Extend (as opposed to Create) a wireless network in Airport Utility. I admit I've never actually tried it, as I only have one Extreme and a couple of Express, but I reckon it would work.

Yes, the Airport Extreme can be used as a wifi extender without  physically connected to a cable, it just works exactly like an Airport Express, except that it is more expensive for the same job.

Posted on: 05 September 2018 by Alley Cat
Frank Yang posted:
ChrisSU posted:
Alley Cat posted:
One thing about the Extreme, I don't think it allows connecting to wi-fi and extending the network over it's ethernet ports as the Express could which seems important for the OP.
 

I'm pretty sure it can do this, if you set it to Extend (as opposed to Create) a wireless network in Airport Utility. I admit I've never actually tried it, as I only have one Extreme and a couple of Express, but I reckon it would work.

Yes, the Airport Extreme can be used as a wifi extender without  physically connected to a cable, it just works exactly like an Airport Express, except that it is more expensive for the same job.

I'm quite happy to be wrong on this, I just have a nagging feeling someone in another forum could not do this and it was assumed to be not possible.

Posted on: 05 September 2018 by Simon-in-Suffolk

Extenders can work but they are notoriously inefficient... and your Wifi throughput on the extended segment will be poorer than it it otherwise would be.

The best way is to use multiple wired cooperating Wi-fi access points. Vendors like BT, Ubiquiti and Google as well as others provide these.. 

All these options can offer wireless access point connectivity either acting similar to a mesh or an actual mesh. Again wireless only access points in a mesh will have lesser throughput, but where you have severeal overlapping wired access points interacting with wireless meshed access point performance can be optimised.

So in summary best use wired overlapping access points. If not possible try and at least two wired access points with a wireless access point that can see both... kind of like the points of an equilateral triangle. Google, BT, Ubiquiti, Linksys etc all offer upto date solutions using modern standards for this. The Apple access point products are relatively old and use ageing technology and implementations .. and I am not just talking Wifi access standards... but because of this you pick up them up very cheap used... but you want in my opinion something more upto date that will work more effectively and efficiently. 

I use Ubiquiti, and I know Phil at Naim has used Ubiquiti for certain Naim installations.

Posted on: 06 September 2018 by Blackmorec
Simon-in-Suffolk posted:

Extenders can work but they are notoriously inefficient... and your Wifi throughput on the extended segment will be poorer than it it otherwise would be.

Assuming the AAE has dual band, all you need to do is connect your TPLInk extender to the AAEís 5GHz band as host, then using Tether or TPLink via browser, set the RE650 as follows:  2.4GHz wi-fi off and ethernet connected PC as the only allowed client. As long as the connection (Wi-Fi signal strength) between AAE and RE650 is OK, your PC will have exclusive access, so no conflicts or bandwidth issues, other than those coming from the ISPís stream. 

Posted on: 06 September 2018 by Gavin B

Hi Folks

I've now got another AE as per Richard's earlier post. I'm sorry for the confusion - I'm not sure of the right terminology for what I'm looking for (although it sounds like wifi bridge might be it!).

Harry's suggestion of the Buffalo bridge would have worked, but they don't seem to be sold anymore.

I'm sure Ubiquiti would have such a product, but that's perhaps more appropriate if I was re-doing my entire wifi network (maybe at some point!).

My confusion with all these products is that I don't want to extend my wifi network - as I'm aware this can (used to?) impact on performance. I don't believe my current AE is set up to do this (I hope!) - it certainly doesn't create it's own wifi network.

Thanks

Gavin 

Posted on: 06 September 2018 by ChrisSU

Gavin, hopefully another Express will work OK for you, but be aware that the more you add, the more your network can be slowed down, so if you get problems, you may need to rethink. 

Posted on: 06 September 2018 by ChrisG

Hi

I hope that I'm not hijacking the thread but the topic seemed quite relevant to my situation.

I currently use a Vigor 130 ADSL2/2/VDSL2 modem with an Apple Time Capsule as my router (with an Apple AE to extend the wifi coverage) on standard broadband, I want to move to a faster fibre service, probably BT or perhaps Vodaphone. The Time Capsule and Vigor combination have been pretty solid for these past 8 years or so apart from several early failures of the previous Vigor 120 model.  Iím a little concerned that the TC is a vintage product now and Apple do not offer a replacement.

Question if I change to BT Infinity is their home hub a good product and reliable or am I better staying with a separate modem/router arrangement from Draytek or similar? 

Presumably the new technology should be an improvement on the Apple TC? 

Any comments would be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks

Chris

 

Posted on: 06 September 2018 by ChrisSU
ChrisG posted:

Hi

I hope that I'm not hijacking the thread but the topic seemed quite relevant to my situation.

I currently use a Vigor 130 ADSL2/2/VDSL2 modem with an Apple Time Capsule as my router (with an Apple AE to extend the wifi coverage) on standard broadband, I want to move to a faster fibre service, probably BT or perhaps Vodaphone. The Time Capsule and Vigor combination have been pretty solid for these past 8 years or so apart from several early failures of the previous Vigor 120 model.  Iím a little concerned that the TC is a vintage product now and Apple do not offer a replacement.

Question if I change to BT Infinity is their home hub a good product and reliable or am I better staying with a separate modem/router arrangement from Draytek or similar? 

Presumably the new technology should be an improvement on the Apple TC? 

Any comments would be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks

Chris

 

As discussed earlier in this thread, the answer might depend on how your network is connected. If your Apple devices have a wired connection to your router, you may be OK. If the Express is only connected wirelessly to the Extreme, the limitations of doing this may become more evident if it can't keep up with a fast internet service.

My approach has always been to use my own LAN hardware, so that even if my ISP supply a router that's a pile of junk, at least my own network will function more or less independently of it. Having used Apple Airport devices for a long time now, I will replace them sooner or later, maybe with Ubiquiti Unifi WAPs. These require an Ethernet connection, so if you can't manage that, one of the Mesh setups mentioned above would probably be worth considering.