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tadd 26th October 2011 12:50 PM

Macmini-Toslink-Dac Magic ... harsh sound
Hi all,
I have got a sound server composed by a mac mini (audirvana to read music files) and a dac magic, connected both by a short toslink cable; the analog out is connected to a Bellini pre by semi balanced DIY cables (tasker microphonic cable).
Comparing the sound server performances with my cd reader (cec cd3300r) I hear an harsh sound with sound server.
Could I have improvements using a USB-SPDIF converter (like M2TECH Hiface) or changing something else?
Thanks and sorry for my bad english.


zigzagflux 26th October 2011 04:01 PM

With no expertise in computer audio and little to no understanding with audio formats, I have had poor results with MANY different macs running iTunes to the optical output. Other sources have been able to output optical spdif with no issues. At this point, my best solution was to go USB to coax spdif. I purchased the minidsp converter, which also comes with I2S output for the future.

kevinr 26th October 2011 04:54 PM

Folks say you can get greatly improved sound via their iTunes library on their Mini with the $33 Decibel software by S. Booth available from his site or at
You need at least Snow Leopard to run it though

qusp 26th October 2011 10:10 PM

yeah nothing wrong with the mini as source, my 2011 model is a great little music server

SoNic_real_one 26th October 2011 11:22 PM

...except the fact that probably he is playing a lossy compressed format.

qusp 27th October 2011 12:57 AM

what is a semi-balanced cable? on that note what is a balanced cable? a cable isn't balanced or single ended it just is what it is.

tadd 27th October 2011 08:10 AM

Hi all,
a semi-balanced cable, as commonly named, is a cable grounded only on one side plugs.
I'm playing hi res files, usually 24/96 flacs.
The installed OS is leopard, the cpu is a 1.66 MHz intel dual core, the RAM amounts to 2GB.
The music files reader (audirvana New OSX Opensource audiophile player : Audirvana | Computer Audiophile) seems to be on better ones group, I'll try the one proposed.
Thanks all :)

SoNic_real_one 27th October 2011 10:29 AM

From what I know, Dac Magic is fine piece of equipment, with any kind of flac files and any input - you can try it for comparation with a regular DVD player spdif output.
The only unkown is the software player in yoru Mac - it sould not process at all the signal past the actual decoding.

marce 27th October 2011 11:47 AM

Err isn't balanced to do with the signal, so your signal is still single ended not balanced or semi balanced (though you could argue that if you take away the inverted half of a balanced signal (single ended) you end up with a semi balanced signal):)

qusp 27th October 2011 05:09 PM

thats what i said, i work in the cable business and I've never seen a semi-balanced cable, besides i would call something grounded only on one end a mistake

I know what you mean, its a dodgy way to hook up balanced gear to single ended inputs, but its not anything more than single ended using a cable with an XLR connector on one side

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