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Macbookpro combo digital/headphone out


jimim
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Hello all. This is my first post so just want to say hi first off.

 

Great website BTW. I found it around CES this year and have been checking back and forth since then. This place has some great information and ideas here.

 

So here's my question. I want to start to use my uncompressed music on my macbook pro. instead of cd's anymore. I really was impressed re: the whole mac as a media server with using a itouch or iphone with signal as a controller. I just purchased a Marantz 8002 due to my NAD dying after 7 years so I don't have the money right now for a separate DAC so I want to use the DAC in the Marantz receiver but need to get the digital audio over to it. I see my macbook pro has a combo out but I'm kinda sceptical re: if it's actually outputing digital signals and not analog signals. I also don't like the idea of using a minijack converter to TOS to input into the Marantz.

 

1. Are the files actually going out digital?

2. If they are what kinda quality is going to hit the Marantz for DAC conversion?

3. Would the quality be better if it was straight TOS?

4. Lets talk hypothetical: will TOS output to a DAC quality be just as good if it were output through USB to the DAC?

 

Thanks so much for listening. I can't wait to get his setup.

 

Jimi

 

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Hey Jimi - Thanks for your first post here at Computer Audiophile. A question very similar to your was brought up on this thread http://www.computeraudiophile.com/node/262 . You should check it out. I'll copy s couple posts here.

 

"... Is an external DAC really needed to create a decent system? Will it improve the sound significantly over simply going direct from the computer to the Denon.

 

I suppose you could go from a Mac mini-Toslink out to a Toslink in on your Denon unit because it appears to have a good DAC inside. But toslink is not a very good way to transfer music. I think to get good sound you must have a different external DAC. I would get a USB DAC to go between a Mac Mini and your Denon receiver. Maybe you want to try it without an external DAC to see if the sound is good enough for you. A true high end sounding system needs the external DAC with a USB connection from the Mac Mini. In my opinion..."

 

 

 

"...An outboard Dac is likely to improve the quality of your sound. There are lots of people on this forum who can give you good advice about how to set things up. I know more about the audio part. You have two issues to consider; the interface, SPDIF vs USB, and the comparative quality of the DACS. You would not have to spend a fortune to improve on what is in the Denon, which is not bad but also not great. The good news is you can get everything set up and running using your Denon's DAC, and then experiment with an upgrade. One caveat, and it is an important one. I can't recall if your Denon surround receiver will allow an analog input, which is what the output of an outboard DAC would be, to pass through the receiver unmolested. If it digitizes the analog signal, and it absolutely does if you are using bass management or surround processing on the two channel input, your money on an outboard DAC will be wasted. That beautiful signal from your new DAC will be converted to digital, processed, and then go through the DA conversion process again. Check your manual to see if it is possible to achieve a "purist" throughput and ask yourself if you are willing to not have your sub or surrounds on two channel playback, at least not from the sub output of the receiver. Hope that wasn't too confusing and good luck..."

 

 

Now your questions

 

1. Are the files actually going out digital?

 

Absolutely yes.

 

2. If they are what kinda quality is going to hit the Marantz for DAC conversion?

 

Somewhere in the middle of - analog out from the MacBook and USB out to a USB DAC. This is a wide quality range, but the TOS option lies in the middle of the two. Only you can decide where on the continuum it resides for you.

 

3. Would the quality be better if it was straight TOS?

 

I have long been skeptical of the Mini-TOS adapter and this doesn't scream audiophile if you ask me. One interesting note however is that Benchmark was using both USB and this Mini-TOS at T.H.E. Show in Vegas and they said it sounded the same. Of course their DAC was receiving the digital signal and worked its magic.

 

4. Lets talk hypothetical: will TOS output to a DAC quality be just as good if it were output through USB to the DAC?

 

In my opinion no. USB is the best option. Many manufacturers are now providing USB inputs and would like to actually get rid of the other inputs because of the superior quality of USB. But, as I said above Benchmark says they see no difference between the two using their DAC.

 

Fortunately the Mini-TOS is a good option to get you up and running with a music server. If you end up satisfied with the sound then you are all set. If not, the longer you wait the more options you have for a USB DAC.

 

Let me know if I didn't address your questions or this only raises more questions.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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I use the mini-tos from my macbook to my DL III DAC. It works great. You can get an adapter or a mini-tos to toslink cable. Monster makes a Mini toslink cable as well.

 

 

 

McIntosh C500T&P, MC501s, Sonus Faber Cremona M, Ayre QB-9, Oppo BDP-83 Mac Mini

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Chris,

 

Thanks alot for the reply. Sorry I missed that thread! I'll check it out now. I kinda was on the same road of thinking as you re: the TOS. i just wanted to make sure that the Mac is truely outputting Digital and not some hum dum "digital to analog and they say it's digital, but it really is analog out". Do you follow my weird way of thinking?

 

That is pretty interesting what you are saying about Benchmark at CES. So really the Marantz, if it's DAC's are good should do the trick for now.

 

I guess I'll try this out once I get the Marantz up and going with everything else.

 

I also have to decide how I'm gong to handle my music library now. I want to have everything in Apple's codec but still want to have smaller files for my everyday ipod or iPhone, but at this point drives are getting so large in them that it doesn't matter.

 

Question. If I make a library that is all Apple lossless can I then take those files and rip em on the computer to smaller AAC's for everyday use and just have 2 libraries going?

 

I have been a live long Mac uses, never used windows actually except in college a few times. My college was all Mac at that point and by the time I graduated was pretty much windows then. :( I really like the ideas you have here and how you and others are bringing out Mac's true potential and very cool usability. Lets just hope that we remain a small group so that virus's don't start to find their way to our world!

LOL

 

Jimi

 

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Thanks I was wondering what companies makes them. I haven't really looked yet. All my interconnects in my system are Straightwire Encore II for audio. I don't think they make one so Monster will be an option.

 

 

 

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