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USB vs Optical vs Coaxial (w/ converter) for Mac w/ Grant Fidelity TubeDAC-11

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Hello, I did a search on the forums and am having trouble finding much info. I have the Grant Fidelity tubeDAC-11, and I am wondering what is the best way to hook it up to a 2011 Mac Mini Server or 2008 Macbook Pro laptop?

 

I see a lot of people who have PC's on the forums are using a USB to SPDIF converter, however, all newer Macs that I know of (including airport express) have a built in optical out hidden in the headphone jack.

 

The tubeDAC-11 has USB in, optical in, and coaxial in. I am not sure what is my best option here.

 

Currently I only have a USB cable to test it with, so I wanted to do some research before I invested in anything else.

 

Would a USB to SPDIF converter be pointless since the Mac's have built in optical out?

 

I have to do a run to one of the computers that is about 15-20ft, would that be a problem for optical or usb cables?

 

Thank you in advance. Hope this thread helps others with similar questions too!

post #2 of 7
Thread Starter 

I ordered a cable and im going to do an a/b test, will post my findings. I spoke to a couple people and it seems it would be better to just run an optical cable straight from the mac and forget about any kind of converter.

post #3 of 7
Originally Posted by moonsetflies View Post
it seems it would be better to just run an optical cable straight from the mac and forget about any kind of converter.

 

Congratulations, this is a good decision.

Werner.


Edited by wberghofer - 4/11/12 at 7:01am
post #4 of 7

You didn’t specify your source file preferences, but Grant Fidelity TubeDAC-11 USB is capable of 24 bit/ 96 kHz & SPDIF is 24 bit/ 192 kHz.

 

Airport Express optical out I believe is limited to 16 bit/ 48 kHz (Redbook CD’s are 16/ 44.1)

 

Mac’s optical out capability is debated esp. depending on year & model. Newer Apple product specs indicate 24/ 192, but some say this is misleading & 24/ 96 is maximum capability thru audio optical out:

 

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/content/Trouble-192khz-output-new-Mac-Mini-Benchmark-DAC1-HDR

 

Many USB/ SPDIF converters allow for 24/ 192 maximum capability (as well as potentially reduce jitter better than source components). There is debate on how much improvement is heard over 24/ 96.  I have tracks of both, but have not done a direct comparison (they both sound incredible). Some hear it, some don’t (a lot probably depends on ones own  hearing frequency response limits).

 

I currently run a 15 ft. USB extension cable from iMac to J Kenny MK2 USB/ SPDIF converter then a short RCA cable/ SPDIF coax to TubeDAC-11. Many sources say 3 or 4 meter max for USB cable to avoid drop-outs, but I have had no problem w/ a 5 m USB cable straight from iMac to TubeDAC-11, even streaming Spotify/ MOG material (even moved computer to A/V system, used a 1 m USB cable & noticed no difference sonically or functionality-wise).

 

Others prefer short USB cable & SPDIF coaxial cable with attenuators for longer runs.

 

Generally, optical toslink is not recommended for longer runs.

 

Consensus says locate dedciated music server/ computer close to audio system for best performance.

 

Still though, try out some cheap cables thru Monoprice, Amazon, etc. & see what works best for you.

 

 

post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thanks very much to both of your for your replies. I ordered some cables through monoprice and am looking at some USB to SPDIF converters as well to compare all my options. Currently trying to decide between the Musical Fidelity V-LINK II USB to S/PDIF Converter and the Consonance 24/96 USB to SPDIF converter. I am just trying to eliminate jitter from my system. If you have any input regarding the choice between those two items I would greatly appreciate it! Thanks again for your replies.


Edited by moonsetflies - 4/23/12 at 2:23pm
post #6 of 7

So how's it going? how's the sound compare? Planning to buy the tubedac-11 as well tongue_smile.gif

post #7 of 7

what about the audiophileo 1?

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