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iMac digital output - Page 2

post #16 of 36
Definitely sort the source first! The DAC question is tricky: trial and error reveals that each DAC is optimised for USB, coax or optical performance. We auditioned the DacMagic last week against my favourite cheap USB DAC - the (KingRex UD-01) - and the KingRex stomped all over it via USB. Native 24 bit audio via optical sounded great on the Cambridge - but only true 3072kbps files did the trick, and they're still in very short supply.

The cable question arises, too: there's a vast gap in price between bog standard USB cables and specialised audiophile versions . . . for a budget system, therefore, the bottleneck may the cable not the port. Whereas you can get a great optical cable (like the VdH Optocoupler) for sensible money.

On a tight budget, I don't think you can beat a good USB-optimised 16-bit DAC like the UD-01. If you're spending more, then optical + hardware upsampling (or, even better, true 24/96 source files) is the future, no question.
post #17 of 36
Thread Starter 
Thank you for all your inputs I'm seriously tempted to save up for the Cambridge, as it seems to be an elegant all-round solution. I'm also keeping my eye out for second hand stuff on ebay; I'm currently watching a Meridian 203, an Audiolab 8000DAC, and a Linn Numerik Dac, all of which I imagine will go for more than my budget, but how do you think these would compare with the Cambridge?
For a budget option, I'm also considering the SuperPro Dac707 USB. One thing I'm anxious about is how this switches between inputs; if I have my imac plugged in via USB (or optical...) and then my cd player via coax, will there be some messy results?

Thanks
post #18 of 36
Thread Starter 
Does anyone know about the input switching on the DAC707 I mentioned above? Super Pro DAC707
thanks
post #19 of 36
not to hijack but does the Mac optical out provide "untouched" audio, meaning on the same level as going out through usb, and avoiding the built in soundcard?
post #20 of 36
Yes, it should be bit perfect.
Dave
post #21 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by myinitialsaredac View Post
At 192 VBR I think you would find more improvements if you re-ripped all of your collection into ALAC (lossless format).
That's debatable. I personally cannot tell the difference between AAC 192 and Apple Lossless.

Quote:
Aha! I already have an airport express which I'm using at the moment. It's doing the job OK but it cuts out too often for my liking, and I want to be able to play things other than from itunes through my hifi
Try changing the channel of the express to reduce interference from microwaves and cordless phones This software allows the Express to output any audio from a mac.
post #22 of 36
double post
post #23 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by leveller1642 View Post
That's debatable. I personally cannot tell the difference between AAC 192 and Apple Lossless.



Try changing the channel of the express to reduce interference from microwaves and cordless phones This software allows the Express to output any audio from a mac.
If can afford to store the extremely large ALAC files do it, because in the long run it will pay off, unless you plan on keeping a huge collection of your CD's on hand for easy ripping.
post #24 of 36
Thread Starter 
I definitely can't afford to store large lossless files. I have too much music, and it won't fit on my ipod, or my hard drive for that matter!
I just want to be able to make the most of what I've got, and I'm sure that adding a DAC will still yield a noticeable improvement even with relatively low bitrate files. Am I wrong?
post #25 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by illy2k View Post
not to hijack but does the Mac optical out provide "untouched" audio, meaning on the same level as going out through usb, and avoiding the built in soundcard?
Yes, the optical out can be bit-perfect.
Of course requiring that the playback software (ex. iTunes) don't "touch" the audio stream.
post #26 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by leveller1642 View Post
That's debatable. I personally cannot tell the difference between AAC 192 and Apple Lossless.
There are only two explanations for this: either your system or your ears aren't capable of resolving the difference. Played through my HK Soundsticks, 192kbps MP3s actually sound a bit livelier and more dynamic than uncompressed files, but the same files played through the Linn/Quad system downstairs exposes a world of difference between them: the MP3s become transparently nasty.

So think long-term: one day you will own a system that can tell them apart - then you'll bitterly regret compromising/compressing your favourite tunes!
post #27 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by illy2k View Post
If can afford to store the extremely large ALAC files do it, because in the long run it will pay off, unless you plan on keeping a huge collection of your CD's on hand for easy ripping.
Amen to that. In 18 months time, storage equivalent to a lifetime's collection of uncompressed music will be so cheap that we'll be able to forget MP3s ever existed.
post #28 of 36
Thread Starter 
I've started re-encoding the music that's most important to me at 320k, I can't stretch to ALAC though
I still haven't taken the plunge with a DAC, are there any more opinions out there about a ~£100 DAC from the far east vs. a second hand Arcam Black Box or Cambridge Dacmagic or the like? (can be picked up for around a hundred on the bay)

Thanks again!
post #29 of 36
cambridge audios DACmagic is very highly rated and is said to provide excellent quality for the money.
post #30 of 36
If you're looking at long mini-optical to Toslink cables, try here. They claim a low signal degradation over longer distances. This matters as I understand if the receiving device doesn't buffer the data, which I gather most don't.

Also, if your Airport Express is dropping out, try using it with ethernet, not wireless.
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