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Old 11th April 2011, 12:32 PM   #1
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Default Signal source advice for mac computer

Hello.

I want to buy and assemble Buffalo DAC kit but wonder how to get good SPDIF output from a Mac computer. I hope I can ask this question here.

I have MacPro and it has only TOSLINK. My friend said that jitter of MacPro soundcard is 4-5 ns and for good sound I need not more then 1 ns and 200-300 ps ideally. Is there are good and not expensive solutions for MacPro to get such output? Or I will need to buy expensive sound card just for SPDIF output?
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Old 11th April 2011, 02:21 PM   #2
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I'm using Toslink on macbook pro with BII and sound is outstanding. I'm using the Decibel player with Hog mode and sound is much improved over standard OSX audio.
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Old 11th April 2011, 08:19 PM   #3
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It's nice to hear!

So far, I've discovered that Airport Express TOSLINK out sounds better then MacBookPro & MacPro optical interfaces according two reviewers.
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Old 11th April 2011, 09:46 PM   #4
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Airport Express may sound better because it is streaming directly from the player and not going through CoreAudio. At a hardware level I'd be surprised if there was much of a difference in the Toslink configuration. I would venture to guess that the Airport Express would sound very very close to the MacbookPro and MacPro with a player that used Hog mode (captures the device directly and doesn't use CoreAudio services).
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Old 12th April 2011, 12:25 AM   #5
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Default well...

best performance will probably be had by getting a really good usb-spdif converter, or waiting for Twisted Pear's forthcoming async USB-I2S converter.
I am using a Wavelength Audio Wavelink to convert from USB-SPDIF, this is not a cheap solution, but as you mention, optical out from a Mac has jitter in the nS range. I am getting superb sound with uncompressed aiff files and using Pure Music as the playback software, I have found the toslink output of the mac to offer pretty poor performance. I would be very surprised that the AE offers better performance (different, yes) than direct output from the computer. Unless you are playing compressed files already-the AE compresses to apple lossless (on the fly) for transmission, and then decompresses the files (also on the fly) for SPDIF output. Most people who listen have found avoiding as much signal processing by the computer as possible to sound better.
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Old 13th April 2011, 08:35 AM   #6
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Thank you for your input!
Hope to see Twisted Pear's async USB-I2S soon.
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