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Questiona about computer audio integration into main system.

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

I am getting ready to build a Mac Mini based music server to integrate into my main 2 channel audio system.  I plan to use Pure Music to create FLAC files then output to an external DAC, which will then connect to my stereo pre-amp and Woo 22. 

 

I have two questions.

 

1.  Is there any difference in CD drives since I will need to purchase one to get the data onto the Mac Mini?  I appreciate the different quality CD transports in audio, but what about in this case?  Are there different specs for data integrity, etc?  If so, is there a particular drive I should look into.

 

2.  With the Woo 22, I'd like the DAC to have a balanced configuration, or at least balanced outputs.  Which 24/192 or better DACs should I look into. 

 

Thanks,

 

Speed

post #2 of 7

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by speeddeacon View Post

I am getting ready to build a Mac Mini based music server to integrate into my main 2 channel audio system.  I plan to use Pure Music to create FLAC files then output to an external DAC, which will then connect to my stereo pre-amp and Woo 22. 

1.  Is there any difference in CD drives since I will need to purchase one to get the data onto the Mac Mini?  I appreciate the different quality CD transports in audio, but what about in this case?  Are there different specs for data integrity, etc?  If so, is there a particular drive I should look into.

I would "guess" 90% of the CD drives out their are very close to the same, the tech. is 30 years old.

I doubt anyone in 10 years has put any research into improving the CD drive.

Maybe the more expensive and specialized CD drives "might" offer something.

 

Maybe one of those old HD-DVD players might offer something.

They were like $400 brand new and they were designed to read a much denser disk track

So reading an Audio CD is a cake walk for them.

 

 

 


Edited by PurpleAngel - 4/20/12 at 9:24am
post #3 of 7

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by speeddeacon View Post

I am getting ready to build a Mac Mini based music server to integrate into my main 2 channel audio system.  I plan to use Pure Music to create FLAC files then output to an external DAC, which will then connect to my stereo pre-amp and Woo 22. 

 

I have two questions.

 

1.  Is there any difference in CD drives since I will need to purchase one to get the data onto the Mac Mini?  I appreciate the different quality CD transports in audio, but what about in this case?  Are there different specs for data integrity, etc?  If so, is there a particular drive I should look into.

 

2.  With the Woo 22, I'd like the DAC to have a balanced configuration, or at least balanced outputs.  Which 24/192 or better DACs should I look into. 

 

Thanks,

 

Speed

 

I suggest ripping your music with XLD, it's free and has very good error correction. In fact, you get a "report card" with every rip telling you if there were errors and how bad they are. This should let you use any CD drive.

 

What is your budget for the DAC? I'm using a HRT MS Pro Dac which is balanced and will play the high bit rate files.

 

Will your mini be close to the stereo? I think USB is only good for 5 ft.

post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 

I haven't decided the details yet in regards to where the components will be and the budget since I'm just not figuring things out.  I had hoped to use my Apple TV with an optical out in lieu of a Mini, but after speaking with Apple today, it doesn't output 192khz.  Which, I guess is probably no big deal but going the Mac Mini route I can use it purely for a music server and keep all the other computing functions to a minimum.  I can also have the external hard drive connected directly to it rather than via WiFi so it makes more sense anyway.

 

I'll have the Mac Mini next to the DAC with an HDMI to my TV screen and a wireless keyboard.

 

This will be a from the ground up purchase so I'll be purchasing:

 

Mac Mini

External HD for music files/backup

External DAC

Cables

Possible external CD reader (I happen to have an HD DVD player but not sure if it has a digital audio out on it or not).  If so, is there a digital audio to USB converter or adapter because I know it doesn't have USB output?

 

With all of that, I'd like to keep the budget for the DAC in the 2k and under range, but am not really sure where the magical line for diminishing returns will be in all of this.

 

Also, for a redbook CD ripped into FLAC or ALAC, how much space does it typically use.  I'm assuming under 740k since that's all the data on the disc, but I could be wrong.

 

Speed


Edited by speeddeacon - 4/20/12 at 10:28am
post #5 of 7

I was just wondering why can't you rip music to the computer you are using now, then transfer it to the mac mini by USB, or WiFi? That would keep you from buying a CD drive.
 

post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Todd R View Post

I was just wondering why can't you rip music to the computer you are using now, then transfer it to the mac mini by USB, or WiFi? That would keep you from buying a CD drive.
 


Good point, I could do that but it's a question of location and scale. My iMac is in the downstairs office, my CD collection and mac mini will be in my upstairs music room. With over 3000 of them, it will take many hours ver time and I'd rather spend it in the music room, as opposed to the office. I do have an old NEC external CD drive that I'll use if transport quality isn't an issue. I may get an external BluRay drive should I decide to archive video one day too.
Edited by speeddeacon - 4/20/12 at 2:52pm
post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 

What about the sound quality of using Apple TV streaming from my iMac then connecting it, via Toslink  or HDMI, to an external DAC.  I could then avoid the expense of an additional server and be able to afford a better DAC.  I know Apple TV can handle FLAC, ALAC, AIFF and WAV files but I'm not sure at what bitrate through Toslink.  The HDMI  is maxes at the 174 I beleive.  Any thoughts or experience in regard to sound quality?

 

Thanks.

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