I’ve always wondered if it is possible to have 5.1 audio through my Airport Express. So is it? Yes it is. How? Once you know it, it’s deceptively simple: you need three things:
- 5.1 audio source
- 5.1 audio capable cable (e.g. optic fibre)
- iTunes (or something else that can output to AirTunes/AirPlay)
I used http://www.diatonis.com/surround_sound_music.html or http://www.kellyindustries.com/sounds.html for the 5.1 audio sources (WAV files, iTunes wouldn’t play the .ac3 files). I borrowed an optic cable (thanks Michele!) with a TOSLINK plug on one side (goes into the receiver) and a Mini-TOSLINK plug on the other side (goes into the Airport Express). The important thing is to put the volume of iTunes to 100%.
If the volume of iTunes is not set to a 100%, the receiver will not detect that your source is DTS or DD5.1 (whatever your source is), and will output noise. I guess this is because DTS and DD5.1 should be passed through the receiver unchanged (volume control is done at the very last). I think iTunes doesn’t handle this gracefully (in my opinion it should output it unchanged no matter what the volume control is set to).
Anyway it does work, so enjoy!