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Macbook DAC advise for first time buyer

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Hi all,

I have tried searching but I just don't know what I am looking for so sorry if it's been covered a hundred times already.

Since finding this site early this year I am enjoying my first headphone setup which consists of 4G iMod/ALO mini - RCA/GS-1/HD-650/Stefan Audioarts cable. I am 100% perfectly happy with the sound even though I know there are better iMods out there now. I have just ordered my first Mac as Leopard tempted me to make the jump and now I want to use the Mac with the spare input on my GS-1 for headphone use.

What would be the best thing for me to buy to get at least a good as sound from the MAC in my setup as I do with the iMod? I don't think I require anything portable or anything with a built in amp as it's only going to be used with my GS-1.

post #2 of 6

This current topic might start you in the right direction.
post #3 of 6
I'm very pleased with my iBasso D1 (www.ibasso.com). You can hook it up to your MacBook with the supplied USB cable, or with a miniTOS cable (since your MacBook has a built-in optical digital out). Check out this thread:
The headphones in the photograph should look familiar to you. Your iMod will work great with it, as well.

In this setting, use the iBasso D1 as a DAC

With a USB or optical digital input, the AUX in jack of the iBasso becomes a line out you can connect to your GS-1:
MacBook > Optical/USB connection > iBasso as DAC > 3.5 mm miniplug to RCA cable > GS-1
post #4 of 6
One more thing to consider is the Micro DAC from Headroom:
post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the advise. I'll place an order for the new D1 when it's out next month.
post #6 of 6
The D1 DAC is indeed quite good, and with opamp rolling the internal amp catches up with the DAC. At that point the whole thing sounds world class, beating most other portable amps (or at least being taylored according to your tastes if not others). Even Skylab agrees that opamp rolling done by mraroyo has moved the stock D1 up an order of magnitude.

You don't have to wait for the new D1 with better opamps (maybe will be called a D2?) when you can order one now and be at the head of the line for shipping, and then add $40 in opamps from elsewhere when it arrives.

Here is my most recent review involving the D1, when using it as a control in a review of a nice but inexpensive USB DAC vs analog cable from the macbook. Both DAC improved the sound, but the D1 even more so: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/showthread.php?t=267725

My original review of the D1 from 9/1/207 had the D1's stock internal amp sounding better than external amps that were plugged in. Now I believe that is because I did NOT have a good enough interconnect cable to overcome the advantages of the D1's superior internal interconnect. I also didn't always pick the best headphone/earphone for synergy with the individual amps.

Having heard the vast improvement of line out docks when going from a $10 cable to $30-50, then to $150, I now know just how important a good cable is when pluggng an amp into the source or to a DAC. I am looking to save up for a Moon Audio or ALO interconnect now.

Below is a link to that early review, where even stock the D1 has an excellent DAC (certainly the stock DAC is better than the stock amp). See http://www.head-fi.org/forums/showpo...postcount=1054

Again, it just gets better with new opamps. I have tried the AD8656 in the DAC, and will soon be testing an AD6234 and AD756 in the DAC as well. I like the OPA2111 the most in the LR amp and haven't tried others yet (like my AD746 and AD6241-HV). I like the AD8397 in the buffers and haven't tried others yet, but I do have 2 other sets of buffers to try that I am told are superior (LM4562 and LME49720).
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