I have to agree it misses the sweet spot regarding features for me, I'm hoping to move in this direction soon and future proofing hardware will help make my decision.
Software wise an interface similar to the sonos devices
will have a bearing on the ease of use, having not used the airdac I can only hope it is as slick. From the report it looks as though most of it is up to scratch apart from the display of album art.
Having owned AirDAC for a few weeks now, and having decided in favour of it with Pioneer N-50 as an alternative, I think one of the strengths of it is the simplicity: the fact that it does not have a remote (all inputs are automatically selected by the predefined priority order of the devices plugged/streaming into it and nothing more) or volume control (while some sort might make some sense). It's just a transparent high quality device in my setup.
It has actually made my stereo / TV setup simpler: I just pass the output of my Samsung plasma for all video related stuff via Toslink and stream music via UPnP (mostly) and AirPlay (sometimes).
I found a perfect friend for my AirDAC, and that is a Synology NAS. They have iPhone/iPad/Android/Web apps to manage your music library and stream it either via UPnP (preferred as it supports 24/96) or AirPlay. It works amazingly well and I can have album art, lyrics, playlists and everything else you might want from the music streaming app. As an added benefit, I am no longer dependant from the iDevice battery life as streaming is actually done from the Synology device to the AirDAC. An amazing teamwork I should say.
I find audio quality pleasing, however I have upgraded from my Energy C500s to Focal Electras almost at the same time so it's hard for me to compare AirDAC to any other source. I don't hear much difference from the iPhone but it is supposed to have a good quality DAC as well. I feel like now the bottleneck is my Marantz PM7001 amp and planning to try a tube amp in my setup.
My only remarks are:
- volume control over UPnP does not work for some 24/96 FLAC files
- gapless playback isn't supported for some files (no big deal)