New Mac Mini's Internal DAC - diyAudio
Go Back   Home > Forums > Source & Line > PC Based

PC Based Computer music servers, crossovers, and equalization

Please consider donating to help us continue to serve you.

Ads on/off / Custom Title / More PMs / More album space / Advanced printing & mass image saving
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 5th May 2012, 04:23 PM   #1
diyAudio Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Default New Mac Mini's Internal DAC

Hello All,

I am a newbie to this forum and digital audio is relatively new to me.

My question is, the new 2012 Mac Mini appears to have an Internal 24/192 khz DAC, will I need to have an external DAC to decode this, or can I simply just connect this into the RCA input of my ancient ADCOM pre-amp lacking a Toslink and benefit from the new 24/192 internal DAC upgrade, without the need to purchase an external DAC....(is this too naive thinking of me).

FYI I am contemplating re-encoding my music CD's to AIFF files, and I am listening through rather large home made electrostatic speakers ,and DBX crossover and a velodyne sub.

And lastly I am aware that iTunes will need an add-on such as Pure music D, or something of the sort.

All suggestions will be welcomed!

Thanks
Doc
  Reply With Quote
Old 5th May 2012, 05:17 PM   #2
frenzic is offline frenzic  Netherlands
diyAudio Member
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: http://www.last.fm/user/frenzicatlast
Well if it has a line out you can hook it up just fine. Don't be fooled by the numbers though. Implementation is key and mobo sound is in a lousy electrical environment, computer psu is also not ideal. I have yet to hear a dac beat the ancient 16/44.1 TDA1541, a well implemented TDA1543 or even TDA1545 for shear enjoyment, stunning mids and groovy but not loose lows. I have heard some that give better highs but they miss the fundamentals. Mids are very important. You'll need to provide high rez source material too. I think AIFF is an uncompressed format, why don't you go ALAC, the Apple lossless format, which saves a little space and is taggable. I have no clue about I(crap)tunes but I do know you can run bootcamp on macs so you can run Foobar2000 in a windows (xp will do) environment using wasapi or asio for output and be done with it. That will give you enjoyment, guaranteed. Using components which are free it plays anything you can throw at it. And I do mean anything. The interface is completely customizable. If you do use bootcamp, you can also install EAC to get perfect rips from your disks. I wouldn't trust Itunes to be able to do the same.
  Reply With Quote
Old 11th June 2012, 08:43 AM   #3
diyAudio Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: London
I have the mid-2011 Mac Mini and I got much better sound by using Audirvana+ into a USB DAC. I keep my music in iTunes on an external hard disc. I use AIFF - best sound for me. Audirvana has a beta version of Direct Drive you can demo for a couple of weeks - that's what I did. It's not expensive to buy and has a huge and happy following. Have a look on the Computer Audiophile forum. There's also a poll of Mac users there which shows Audirvana+ as the most popular software, followed by Pure Music, which people like but is more expensive to buy.

Last edited by andyjevans; 11th June 2012 at 08:45 AM.
  Reply With Quote
Old 11th June 2012, 09:30 PM   #4
qusp is offline qusp  Australia
diyAudio Member
 
qusp's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Brisbane, Australia
yeah thats a great idea, advise him to run windows when he bought a mac, one presumes because he liked the mac and for what? so he can run a different piece of software that doesnt actually present any advantage over audirvana, puremusic or amarra mini? all when you say you have no clue about itunes yet you call it crap and you use a trendy NOS dac to play hires when it cannot even do close to 16bits? hmm

Doc, I suggest trying the mac analogue output first and see what this new dac is like (cant use the RCA coz there isnt one is there? I have a mid 2011 mini and the line out and optical is on a combo toslink/mini jack) onboard sound on your average win PC IS crap, but while you can do better no question, the macs onboard sound does not suffer to the same degree from craptasticness.

after that see how you go and maybe grab an external dac, but forget toslink, USB is where its at for digital audio these days if you have even a midrange budget. not just any old USB dac as a couple gens ago and cheap ebay dacs of today had usb inputs that were terrible, much worse than spdif, but this has changed 180 degrees and without special hardware to level the playing field, spdif has been left quite a way behind IMO

Last edited by qusp; 11th June 2012 at 09:40 PM.
  Reply With Quote
Old 12th June 2012, 12:40 AM   #5
nowhere is offline nowhere  Israel
diyAudio Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Quote:
Originally Posted by dochungwell View Post
...FYI I am contemplating re-encoding my music CD's to AIFF files...
And why not into anything losslessly compressed, e.g. FLAC, Monke Audiom, WavPack ?
  Reply With Quote
Old 12th June 2012, 06:44 AM   #6
diyAudio Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: London
I have a Mac Mini and I use AIFF, and I think that's a very good idea. The differences between these various formats are not huge but they are just perceptible on good equipment. If you are a critical listener, once you've heard even a fraction better you would not normally want anything less than that. Storage doesn't need to be an issue with an external hard drive - we are talking terrabytes here which by now is fairly routine.

I'm assuming that Doc can hear small differences - electrostatics are very revealing and particularly if he has built them himself he must be serious about his sounds. I don't know how good the new DAC in the Mac Mini is, but on my mid-2011 model an external USB DAC is an order of magnitude better. If the money is there, something like the Buffalo DAC is the current rave.

And the music playing software makes a difference. The three main contenders are Audirvana+ with the latest Direct Drive upgrade, Amarra in various price points and Pure Music. The situation is always fluid with software since upgrades make a difference, but at this point in time I give it to Audirvana+. Pure Music is a close second, but doesn't quite have the low level detail, ambience and timbre of A+. Amarra in its HiFi version is some way behind in subtlety. This is all on the basis of downloading all three demo versions and listening on my Mac Mini. I listen to a lot of classical music, opera, jazz and also music like Steely Dan and Dr John, female vocalists etc. So I'm listening for timbre in orchestral instruments and voices and detail and ambience in complex orchestral passages. I don't know Doc's repertoire, so I don't know his priorities here. The best thing is to download all three demos and do 15 days of comparative listening. But the software does matter.

I'm yet another convert to keeping all my music on my computer now. It's much more convenient to switch between various sources, so my CD collection has now been transferred in AIFf to my external hard disc (plus backup!).

andy

Last edited by andyjevans; 12th June 2012 at 06:49 AM.
  Reply With Quote
Old 12th June 2012, 07:27 AM   #7
frugal-phile(tm)
diyAudio Moderator
 
planet10's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Victoria, BC, NA, Sol III
Blog Entries: 5
The MacMini and any of the software Andy mentions is very good ... look at any of the show reports and this is by far the favourite combo.

If i could afford it, that is what i'd have. I do work part-time and a client gave me a Dual G5 Tower which serves me well. I have a Firewire DAC and use PureVinyl (the version of PureMusic that allows you to suck vinyl in. I store everything in AIFF -- HDs are dirt cheap these days. I've hooked the G5 to the HDTV but use Screen Sharing from my MacBook to control iTunes.

I'd suggest going slow, then you can appreciate every upgrade. A 4mm phone to dual RCAs into your amp.

I doubt the internal DAC is anywhere near as good as a decent external DAC, but even a good budget one us gonna cost as least 50% of the entry for the Mini (mine an Edirol FA66 cost about $300, would have to be considered a budget unit, but does punch well above its price -- being a product targeted at music recording that they probably sell a 1,000 units when the hifi guys would sell one doesn't hurt) , and one can easily spend 10x the cost of the mini. Not because the DAC chip itself doesn't have the potential but because the analog bits after will be cost constrained.

> upgrade your RAM to at least 8 GB
> store your audio files on an external disk (USB if you get a Firewire DAC, Firewire if you get a USB DAC -- Thunderbolt is going to be interesting, but it is still in the gestation phase of the tech)
> pay attention to the set-up guides available (Wavelength & others). Turn off as much unused software as possible
> ignore the guys that say an upmarket digital cable is a waste of money -- i spent a modest amount ($130) on a Firewire cable and it makes the same kind of improvements as PureVinyl (just a bit less magnitude)
> get a solid state drive inside the mini.

dave
__________________
community sites t-linespeakers.org, frugal-horn.com, frugal-phile.com ........ commercial site planet10-HiFi
p10-hifi forum here at diyA
  Reply With Quote
Old 12th June 2012, 08:02 AM   #8
diyAudio Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: London
Hi Dave!

Just checking your list:
> upgrade your RAM to at least 8 GB
Yep - did that and it really helps!

> store your audio files on an external disk (USB if you get a Firewire DAC, Firewire if you get a USB DAC -- Thunderbolt is going to be interesting, but it is still in the gestation phase of the tech)
Yep, did that.

> pay attention to the set-up guides available (Wavelength & others). Turn off as much unused software as possible
Yes - I'm still trying to come to grips with all the options, and there are several. I just did an hour of critical listening between Audirvana+ and Pure Music and in my setup I'm now definite about Audirvana+. I tried all the options I could understand, though not sure about upsamping in Pure Music. I tried with and without but I don't know if this functions with my DAC, which is recognised as offering 44.1 and 48. But yes, there are various options to try.

> ignore the guys that say an upmarket digital cable is a waste of money -- i spent a modest amount ($130) on a Firewire cable and it makes the same kind of improvements as PureVinyl (just a bit less magnitude)
Ah! Must try that then. I just have a cheap old USB cable.

> get a solid state drive inside the mini.
I've thought about that. Do you think you can actually hear a difference in the sound?

andy
  Reply With Quote
Old 12th June 2012, 08:15 AM   #9
frugal-phile(tm)
diyAudio Moderator
 
planet10's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Victoria, BC, NA, Sol III
Blog Entries: 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by andyjevans View Post
I could understand, though not sure about upsamping in Pure Music.
With my budget DAC i have a fixed 192 kHz, so upsampling is required -- my DAC exposed a bug in PM, i was VERY pleased with the personal attention i got while we worked that out. Using HOG mode & memory Play is also a plus.

Quote:
I've thought about that. Do you think you can actually hear a difference in the sound?
I haven't directly experienced it, it seems to be widely accepted that it does. Like many other improvements it likely comes down to the fact that it will perterb the power supply less. In practical terms a SS disk for my laptop is likely more important, i had to replace over half a dozen drives in my PowerBook due to deceleration when hitting the floor after tripping over the power cord -- thank dog for the magsafe plugs in the newer MacBook Pro. It has still hit the floor more than once, fortunately when it was asleep each time.

dave
__________________
community sites t-linespeakers.org, frugal-horn.com, frugal-phile.com ........ commercial site planet10-HiFi
p10-hifi forum here at diyA
  Reply With Quote
Old 12th June 2012, 08:35 AM   #10
diyAudio Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: London
I tried to use Hog mode in PM, but got no sound. Seems my setup doesn't like it, unless I've overlooked something. I have a RAKK DAC mk 1 with a USB input board. I run Lion 10.7.4. Am I missing something here?

Andy
  Reply With Quote

Reply


Hide this!Advertise here!
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
New Mac Mini's Internal DAC dochungwell Digital Line Level 1 5th May 2012 02:17 AM
Mac and DAC HiFiWill Digital Line Level 0 1st January 2012 05:30 PM
Connecting Mac G4 laptop to Theta DSPro GEN III DAC centaurus3200 Digital Line Level 11 20th February 2010 02:25 AM
Mac Mini dual DAC crossover OzMikeH Digital Line Level 2 12th January 2009 10:11 PM
dac internal wiring sparkle Digital Source 16 8th May 2005 10:52 AM


New To Site? Need Help?

All times are GMT. The time now is 04:10 AM.


vBulletin Optimisation provided by vB Optimise (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2014 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
Copyright 1999-2014 diyAudio

Content Relevant URLs by vBSEO 3.3.2