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Audiophile Laptop Setup- Budget - Page 2

post #16 of 27
I have a macbook and an Aria. You want a DAC that accepts toslink. The Aria's DAC doesn't.
post #17 of 27
How does the AudioFire2 dillon157 is looking at compare with the E-MU 0404 USB or something from M-Audio? Will it matter that the AudioFire2 is powered over the FireWire bus?
post #18 of 27
Thread Starter 
Entropy:
I was considering the AudioFire for a while and it is certainly still an option, I'm just wondering if it would be the best option. Have you used it before?


Jeff:
I take it then that you don't use your Corda Aria with your Macbook....? What do you use it with then? Also, what's wrong with connecting the Corday Aria to the Macbook via USB? Are there any particular products that you can recommend that use toslink? Needless to say, I want to get the best for my money but I feel restricted by the fact that I'm using a Mac. Regardless, it is good to see that there are so many other mac users out there.

Thanks
post #19 of 27
dillon157 I am following your thread as I would like to pick up a USB or FireWire sound card. Sorry I haven’t tried the AudioFire.

I guess the question is how well do external sound cards compare to an external DAC.
post #20 of 27
Well, the Macbook Pro has a great Optical Digital output, so you're already half way there as far as a good laptop setup goes. Get yourself a Zhaolu D2 DAC and get the discrete headamp upgrade. You should be able to get all of that for under $400. Plug your AKG K240s into the headphone amp in the front and your Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 in the back. Done!

And... if you ever feel like upgrading the headphone amp, you already have an awesome source, so keep the Zhalou, plug in a nicer headphone amp and enjoy your music even more.
post #21 of 27
Thread Starter 
Entropy,

I'm not exactly too sure... I've been trying to answer that question myself for quite sometime. At this point I'm starting to think it's more of a matter of opinion but I'm not completely sure. I'm pretty new to all of this, just trying to learn.

Can anyone answer his question?
post #22 of 27
Thread Starter 
Thanks, cmirza. Very straight forward advice. One question, does the Zhaolu DAC connect via firewire, usb, or mini toslink?
post #23 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by dillon157
Entropy:
Jeff:
I take it then that you don't use your Corda Aria with your Macbook....? What do you use it with then? Also, what's wrong with connecting the Corday Aria to the Macbook via USB? Are there any particular products that you can recommend that use toslink? Needless to say, I want to get the best for my money but I feel restricted by the fact that I'm using a Mac. Regardless, it is good to see that there are so many other mac users out there.

Thanks
I assumed from the title of your post that you are concerned with getting the best possible sound out of your Mac.
1) The built in toslink in the Mac pro is generally considered to be superior to usb/firewire in getting audio out. Search the forum for others' opinions.
2) Since you can already get bit perfect digital out of your mac pro, it makes no sense to me to spend money on a redundant and very possibly inferior quality data stream. Spend your money on a DAC that accepts toslink.

I have not compared enough DACs to be comfortable making a strong recommendation. I will say that I am happy with my Zhaolu 2.0 and my microdac.

One possibility: You could get a used microdac for about $250 and pair it up with an inexpensive amp, staying within your budget. In my view, you are better off spending more of your funds on the source (DAC) and less on the amp. Then again, I am not famiiar with the characteristics of your headphones.

Edit: cmirza's Zhaolu suggestion seems reasonable as long as the discrete amp upgrade pairs up well with your AKGs. His suggestion runs $275 at the American importer. You could always post a question about amp synergy with the AKG240s in the amp forum.

Not to beat this into the ground, I can't think of a sound [sic ] reason for you to spend $ on getting audio data out of your computer when you already have an optical output. If I am mistaken, I would love to learn why. If I'm not, forgetaboutit.
post #24 of 27
Thread Starter 
I didn't mean to disagree with your recommendations on a DAC that uses toslink. To be completely honest, I had never even heard of toslink until I read your post. I'm new at all of this so there would be no reason what so ever for me to question your opinions, you've had great advice. Furthermore, you aren't the only person who has recommended using toslink instead of usb or firewire. Simply put, I just didn't know what it was so while I was in the process of doing some research I was trying to ask you why it was better. I apologize for any kind of misunderstanding.

Now, there have been a lot of people who have recommended the Zhaolu D2 and it looks pretty promising.
post #25 of 27
Well at the risk of starting a fight with the purists over something else, I'll say that in my experience Firewire devices are great. Firewire is an asynchronous bus with error correction so there's no such thing as data getting screwed up in transmission. It's clocked on the card so there's no concern about sync until then.

As for how they compare to DACs, well it depends. I mean they ARE a DAC, among other things. Basically all an Audiofire 2 is is 1 stereo ADC, 1 stereo DAC and a firewire bridge. Now is a dedicated DAC unit better? Well you'd hope for equal money that it would be, but I'm amazed at how bad the electronics inside some DACs can be. They seem to be a "boutique" kind of device and as such they jack the price.

In my experience the sound output of Echo cards is very high quality. I've not heard any of the DACs listed, so I can't offer an accurate comparison.
post #26 of 27
Thread Starter 
Thanks, Sycraft. At this point I'm really considering the Zhaolu D2 although it doesnt seem very accessible (it's hard to find sites that offer its sale). Can anyone help me out with any sites where I can purchase the Zhaolu besides iFi ?
post #27 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by dillon157
Thanks, Sycraft. At this point I'm really considering the Zhaolu D2 although it doesnt seem very accessible (it's hard to find sites that offer its sale). Can anyone help me out with any sites where I can purchase the Zhaolu besides iFi ?
There is a lot to read about the Zhaolu: whether to buy domestically, versions (1.3, 2.0, 2.5), DIY mods, 3rd party mods, configurations, etc. I recommend that you get yourself a cup of coffee and do a search on "zhaolu" in the source forum. The search function is your friend.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dillon157
I didn't mean to disagree with your recommendations on a DAC that uses toslink. To be completely honest, I had never even heard of toslink until I read your post. I'm new at all of this so there would be no reason what so ever for me to question your opinions, you've had great advice. Furthermore, you aren't the only person who has recommended using toslink instead of usb or firewire. Simply put, I just didn't know what it was so while I was in the process of doing some research I was trying to ask you why it was better. I apologize for any kind of misunderstanding.
No sweat. I was/am not annoyed and I did not intend to come across as such. We are both on the same team, Team Best Sound For The Money.
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