^Airplay is now free I believe, at least for the US:
Since (as is) it isn't wireless, doesn't carry video, and doesn't have high quality album art, it doesn't do much for me and seemed to lockup my (admittedly ancient) router at odd times, so I stopped using it and find a simple audio connection to my computer or iphone does everything I need, but YMMV.
Although phono preamps do differ very subtly, the main way they differ is in the level of the residual background hiss they put out, but this level is almost always completely swamped (masked) by the much higher level of record surface noise of even a brand new, clean record, so it seems a rather silly thing to be worrying about. Money spent on a higher quality phono section than the one already built-in to the AV7005 would be better spent on:
- a higher quality cartridge with a flatter frequency response than the one you have
- a better turntable, perhaps used, but with a floating, suspended sub-chassis to reduce rumble and feedback distortion [AR, Linn, Thorens]
- newer records in better condition and/or a professional record cleaning machine
or if you are looking for a substantial reduction/elimination of platter wow, flutter, speed error, rumble, surface noise, hum, warp wow, off center spindle hole wow, mechanical noise, inner groove distortion, tracking angle error, and distortion, plus excellent SNR, wide channel separation, accurate frequency response, and much great ease of use, then CDs and a disc player to play them.
Tube devices can work quite well, pretty much just as well as solid state designs if everything is done carefully, but they are a silly thing to purchase in this day and age. Your sources which say otherwise suffer from expectation bias, placebo effect, and have been duped by a pervasive mythology that plagues the audio world and is perpetuated by a large percentage of the "high-end" audio press [which just happens to accept advertising dollars from the vendors of tube designs].
Edited by m. zillch - 1/9/14 at 9:44am