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Lynx card vs no Lynx card


bottlerocket
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I notice that in the CASH list, a couple configurations rely on the Lynx I/O card and another is based on a Macbook and DAC. What is the value of using the Lynx card? What are the pros and cons of a simple configuration like a Macbook and DAC versus a desktop/tower with Lynx card and a DAC?

 

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Hi bottlerocket - I use the Lynx cards in a couple of my music servers and really like them. One very nice this about these cards is they allow you to select any sample rate 16/44.1, 24/88.2, 24/96, 24/176.4, 24/192 etc... Not may products will do this right now. Plus the Lynx cards have been used in recording and mastering studios for years so they are fully tested and approved by the engineers making the music. The cards have very low jitter and with the AES/EBU output you can connect them to many DACs.

 

With a Macbook and DAC combo you only get 16/44.1 or 24/96 if using the built-in optical output. Nothing in between and nothing over this. External USB DACs are very good but are currently limited to 24/96. Firewire DACs are also available. The Weiss Minerva offers all the sample rates and is an awesome DAC.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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This is a perfect thread to slip in my question about upgrading the sound card when using a mac mini as a server (mine arrives tomorrow). Jonathon at AVI (who has been very helpful) had this to say in response to my question about a mini and the 9.1's

 

" If the Mini is going to be used strictly as a digital media playback center there really is no need for a separate sound card when used with the ADM9.1s."

 

I am trying to maximize my sound quality and still work within my wife's comfort level on cost, so this set up looks good for me. I had assumed I would upgrade the card in the mini, but would like some input from this very generous community that Chris has formed.

 

Kevin

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" If the Mini is going to be used strictly as a digital media playback center there really is no need for a separate sound card when used with the ADM9.1s."

If your are not using it strictly as a digital media playback center you need a separate sound card?

Wonder how all of a sudden the sound card is inadequate when you send a email or so.

 

Beside, as far as I know ADM9.1s accept Toslink only. You won’t find this type of output on top quality sound cards like Lynx or RME. You won’t find them either on the second echelon like ESI [email protected]

 

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This is a perfect thread to slip in my question about upgrading the sound card when using a mac mini as a server (mine arrives tomorrow). Jonathon at AVI (who has been very helpful) had this to say in response to my question about a mini and the 9.1's

 

" If the Mini is going to be used strictly as a digital media playback center there really is no need for a separate sound card when used with the ADM9.1s."

 

I am trying to maximize my sound quality and still work within my wife's comfort level on cost, so this set up looks good for me. I had assumed I would upgrade the card in the mini, but would like some input from this very generous community that Chris has formed.

 

Kevin

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Roseval I don't understand your response. Are you being sarcastic or am I just that ignorant?

 

I have been studying this site, trying to understand it all. I came to the conclusion that the mini would be a good way to go, coupled to a NAS of course, so I ordered one. I did not realize its limitations as to all the various sample rates and lack of upgrading to better sound cards. Mine arrives tomorrow, so I am committed to it now. I am also committed to AIFF, so will muddle along and try to the best I can with my limited budget.

 

Kevin

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My style is a bit staccato, that's all.

Most of all I'm talking tech.

As others pointed out too, a Mini can't accommodate a build in sound card, not slot, no space.

Even if not committed to a Mini, the AMD accepts toslink only, no use to go for a top sound card delivering pristine SPDIF or AES/EBU electrical.

Starting with buying the AVI, you simply made choices limiting your upgrade options to almost zero.

That doesn't mean that the result will be bad, it won't, but your configuration simply won't allow you to do any upgrade other than ebaying the units.

 

Maybe you can make sense out of the advice you got from AVI, I can't.

 

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Kevin, I think that AVI meant that if you only required playback facilities, as opposed to recording facilities as well, then the optical toslink output on the mini connected directly to adm9.1 optical input was entirely satisfactory.

 

If however in the future you wished to experiment with external sound cards or dacs, then the mini does provide a satisfactory array of alternatives such as usb, and firewire, which with an appropriate device will handle up to 24/192 files both record and playback

 

If you are using the mini to play or rip CD's into your library all your files will be 16/44.1 since that is the CD standard, and the mac mini and adm9.1's can easily accomodate or exceed that up to 24/96 without any additions.

 

I found rosevals advice to you to be confusing and innapropriate for you and possibly best ignored at the moment.

 

Kind regards and good luck with your audio proposals. JCBrum.

 

 

 

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I think the limitations of my system are probably ok for now. I am making a permanent move to Costa Rica in a couple months and am trying to get this all worked out before I go, especially ripping my cd collection (about 400) into itunes on the NAS. Import duties are extremely high in CR, so I probably won't be upgrading anything for quite a while. If I ever make enough money to get my dream system, I'd be looking at a pair of Magnepan 3.6R's; a pair of Wright mono blocks with their signature preamp, etc,etc. For now I am trying to get the best bang for my buck and call it good.

 

So, if I understand it, even if I wanted to experiment with an external DAC that could handle some of the higher sample rates from HDTracks etc, I have no way to output a signal out of the mini. I am limited to the AIFF format of my cd's and the AIFF downloads I have purchased? And I assume then, that there are no other tweaks I should consider?

 

Thanks for your input. Kevin

 

Kevin

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Quote Kevin " -So, if I understand it, even if I wanted to experiment with an external DAC that could handle some of the higher sample rates from HDTracks etc, I have no way to output a signal out of the mini. I am limited to the AIFF format of my cd's and the AIFF downloads I have purchased? And I assume then, that there are no other tweaks I should consider?" endquote.

 

No Kevin, thats completely incorrect. You can connect any firewire or usb dac or sound card you like and use any bit-rate or format you choose. Most modern stuff is either firewire or usb connectors, both of which are provided on the MacMini.

 

JCBrum.

 

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Posted by JCBrum... "No Kevin, thats completely incorrect. You can connect any firewire or usb dac or sound card you like and use any bit-rate or format you choose. Most modern stuff is either firewire or usb connectors, both of which are provided on the MacMini."

 

Sorry to jump in but I think maybe that statement needs clarifying a little.

 

The MacMini as it comes from Apple has a (mini) optical digital output that I believe can go up to 24/96 - though this output is prone to high jitter so can be improved upon. You can't upgrade the soundcard internally to the MacMini ... your only options are via Firewire or USB.

 

Most USB devices are limited to 16/44.1 & 16/48 with some allowing 24/44.1 & 24/48. The Benchmark DAC1 does allow 24/96 and there are a few other devices that do 24/96 - the M-Audio Transporter and Bel Canto USB-Link come to mind but I'm sure there are many others.

 

If you want to go all the way up to 24/192 (and 24/176.4) then you will need a Firewire device. Weiss do the DACII and Minerva DACs which have FireWire and are 24/192 capable. Another option is to get a FireWire to Digital output such as the Weiss Vesta - which allows Dual Wire 24/192 which a lot of DACs require - or the RME FireFace 400. These last two devices require an external DAC as well as the interface.

 

If you were to change the MacMini to a desktop machine such as a MacPro or (most) PCs with PCI / PCIe slots then you could use a Lynx card instead of the Vesta or FireFace.

 

I hope this hasn't confused you too much and is designed as information rather than recommendations as I've not got to the point of trialing devices yet. There is of course a wide range of costs from using your MacMini's optical output into a DAC which will cost $0, upto several thousand for the Minerva DAC.

 

Reading back through the thread your question was answered by Chris in the first reply so I hope I'm not treading on his or anyone else's toes. If I was in your position - actually I guess in many ways I am, not moving to Costa Rica though - I would concentrate on ripping your CDs to your NAS, and use the optical out or USB into your DAC, while safe in the knowledge that you CAN add device via firewire later to allow you to experience 24/192 files if you wish to later.

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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Hello Chris,

I've been reading this thread with great interest as I intend to take the plunge and go CA.

I'm thinking of buying a MacMini and connect it to my Jadis DAC (24/192 upgrade end of 2009).

I reckon I can use a Lynx Card. I need: a USB for ExpressCard 34/54 Adapter (19€ virtuavia.eu) and an ExpressCard 34 to PCI Expansion Box (€199 virtuavia.eu or $199.98 cooldrive.stores.yahoo.net).

Add a NAS in Raid 1 and a screen and I'm ready.

Question: is that setup equivalent to directly connecting a Lynx card to a MacPro?

Would it bypass the Mini's 'innards' and would I then get 'full' resolution ie 24/192?

If not, nice try but I might as well forget about the complication or save for a MacPro!

Thanks,

GM

 

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From Roseval's comment:

 

"Starting with buying the AVI, you simply made choices limiting your upgrade options to almost zero.

That doesn't mean that the result will be bad, it won't, but your configuration simply won't allow you to do any upgrade other than ebaying the units."

 

I misinterpreted this to mean I was unable to do anything else with the mini. So what is the piece of hardware that holds a better sound card, that connects to the mini?

 

Kevin

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GM - WOW. You've done some serious homework. Your suggested configuration may work but I'm unwilling to recommend it to you or anyone :~) There are numerous possible issues that many of us likely can't even identify without further investigation. Bandwidth, power, and Lynx configuration issues come to mind first.

 

A Mac pro or a Sonic Studio Amarra/Model 303 firewire to AES/EBU would do the trick.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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Thanks for your... careful reply!

Of course, the only reason I wanted to go the Mini route was cost.

Now, you say: 'A Mac pro or a Sonic Studio Amarra/Model 303 firewire to AES/EBU (...)'

I understand that Amarra is SS's soft which improves on iTunes — at a price!

Do you think Amarra in a Mini + all the connecting hardware I found inc. a Lynx card 'would do the trick'?

I reckon the reason the Lynx card works with a Pro is because it physically plugs inside the machine and thus bypasses the Mac's output limitations and sends a bit-perfect 24/192 signal to an external DAC.

Do you know when Amarra is going to be available to the audiophile masses?

GM

 

Hey, hi-fi is an American invention (1892)! WW: 'I love the sound of you valved voice.'

 

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I hear you. Mac folks have be wanting something in between the mini and the Pro for a l-o-n-g time now. Apple seems to not be focused on that however. Sigh.

 

On another note - there are other ways to get the functionality and quality of the Lynx card. Via firewire.

 

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