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Which way to jump ... Apple or Windows


JohnMak
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Hi Forummers,

I have put the old music PC Jukebox from my bar into my wife's coffee shop having got her agreement that I can buy a new system for myself, heh heh heh heh.

 

I've got quite fond of the convenience of HDD based music using the "TouchTone" touch screen system but now that I can start completely afresh I would like to get feedback from more experienced users on tow aspects of PC Music. (I know Touch Tone doesn't work with Apple OS)

 

1. Should I go Apple or Windows. (Apple simplicity and the Apple Airport thingy seems intriguing)

and a harder question ....

 

2. I wouldn't mind simplifying my system. I currently have NAIM SBL speakers, NAIM 250.2 power amp and NAIM 122x Preamp with HiCap power supply. It takes up a lot of real estate.

 

I have read that the AVi 9.1 Active speaker system with sub comes complete with internal amps and its own DAC so nothing else is needed but the computer. It sound an attractive prospect BUT ..... do they really sound as good as some of the internet posts say?

I'm aware that the AVi speakers are controversial (perhaps more the owner than the speakers) but if they really do produce good sound, then the combination with Apple may make an excellent yet simple and tidy set up.

 

I'm living and working in Vietnam so have no opportunity for auditioning stuff. I have to have friends hand carry from Singapore where the AVi 9.1's are available. But it does make buying a bit of a gamble. I wouldn't sell the Naim gear until I got the Active speakers up and running.

 

Any info from experienced users greatly appreciated.

 

Best regards,

 

 

 

 

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JohnMak,

 

I currently use a PC setup with some AVI ADM9.1's. A Mac is certainly the simplest route to take though you'll be needing a PC or a windows install if you wish to enjoy HD movie playback in the form of BluRay which is superior to the limited bit rate downloads available from the likes of iTunes.

 

As for the speakers; I think the single biggest thing I've learnt over the past year or so is the price differential between hifi and pro audio products. I spent a good hour or so just the other day listening to various monitors in a local pro audio store, stunned at the prices (so cheap) when compared to hifi speakers. KRK Rockits and Yamaha impressed. More control, more precision and far cleaner bass for your money.

 

My AVI ADM's are, in my opinion, excellent. I shan't look back. They're honest and present the music exactly as it is. The neutral sound is not to everybodies taste of course but you can't beat their honesty.

I'd suggest you consider the sub too if you're listening in a large room and have enough cash to spare.

 

My brother sold off his ProAc hifi speakers after hearing my ADMs. However, he chose a pair of Mackie HR624's instead. Whilst you'll need a decent soundcard (recommend an external firewire audio interface)in order to use these at their best) it could still be a cheaoer option. They also sound great and offer better bass response though I prefer the mid/hi sound of my ADM's.

 

Matt.

 

HTPC: AMD Athlon 4850e, 4GB, Vista, BD/HD-DVD into -> ADM9.1

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Use windows Vista or XP with ASIO. My XP laptop kicks the crap out out Mac Book and Mac Pro Books!

 

Powerbook G4 15 inch Aluminum, \"Fidela,\" M2tech EVO (BNC)with RF attenuator,dedicated PSU, Stereovox XV Ultra (BNC) Audio Note Dac Kit 2.1 Level B Signature Upgraded to 12AU7 tubes, ARC SP-16L Tube preamp , VAC PA100/100 Tube Amp), Vintage Tubes, Furutech ETP-80, (Alon 2 Mk2, (upgraded tweeters, Usher Woofers), Pangea Power cords, Omega Micro Active Planar PC. Signal Cable Silver Resolution ICs.

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Liz, are your eyes brown? (sorry, I couldn't resist the temptation with your unequivocal statement there..)

 

JohnMak - I own both PC's and Macs. They both sound great when properly set up. The thing that is most important to me is the lack of the (eternal) fiddling with the setup that is inherent to PC's. Macs are simple and easy to use for the most part. PC's aren't. I don't find that there is a sonic difference between them - once again, when each is properly set up. If you can spend a few more ducats, I'd recommend a Mac.

 

Active speakers are just more likely to get you 'there' than passives for less money. So you are on the right track with that aspect of the equation. The only thing about actives that bothers me is that if the internal electronics goes south on them, you don't have speakers anymore. That isn't a problem with passive speakers. The advice about using a sub with actives is also good advice. Most actives won't blow you out of the room without a sub. That may or may not be important to you - it is QUITE important to me - .

 

Matt - video is just not that important to me. I didn't see JohnMak asking about that in the original post, but yours could be important input to him. Though I don't think that you are up-to-date on this. I don't have any problems playing back 1080 0r 720 hi res from files on the Mac - I don't have any experience with the copyrighted material though. Blue Ray isn't in my vocabulary right now. I am not really an 'early adopter', when your are talking about video, I am quite content to let nature take it's course there, even if that means it will take 10 more years before I can watch Sponge Bob in hi res on an open source system. Music is QUITE differently represented on my list of important things though. JohnMak take note of that. It could be important to you. There are lots of details involved with video that we don't cover here at CA.

 

-markr

 

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Question 1: Both Windows and Macs can be used to create a great music source. Mac using iTunes is a more turnkey solution to great audio, a windows solution may be able to give better results at the ultimate high end; but will need more setting up and, arguably not as user friendly interface (iTunes in Mac vs Foobar on PC). YMMV and this is only an opinion. Mac hardware may be more expensive on paper but the output on a standard MacMini is likely to be better than off a standard PC motherboard.

 

Question 2: Active ADM9.1 vs Naim kit. My personal opinion is that the Naim kit will ultimately give you better SQ. Add a DAC to your setup - depending on how much you are prepared to spend, starting from Cambridge Audio DacMagic working up through Benchmark and Lavry and upwards to Weiss DAC2 and Bryston (to name a few). My opinion is this will sound better than the ADM9.1 however as you've said the Naim kit does take up a lot of space. Only you can decide what you prefer. Another option if you like the sound of the naim would be to replace your current Naim setup with the Nain Supernait an integrated with built in DAC - 1 box instead of 3 - and keep your SBL speakers.

 

Best wishes

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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Markr - Your comments re video make sense, but I was just pointing out a valid Apple limitation. HD video downloads are currently no match for blu ray or HD DVD.

 

Lizard King - must have been something wrong with you Mac. I've had both and there is little or no difference between the two so your statement is incorrect and vastly exaggerated. The fact you're using ASIO with Vista is also questionable as some believe it adds it's own signature. (I don't for the record)

 

Naim vs AVI; I would have disagree with this too since my brother sold his Naim - ProAc setup and rightfully chose to move over to monitors. This after comparing his Naim setup with my AVI's - he made the move within just a couple of weeks of hearing them. Naim kit sounds great but is often vastly underpowered.

 

Just my thoughts.

 

I'd recommend that people conduct their own listening - preferably try to borrow some speakers for a couple of weeks from a good store and hear for yourself.

 

We all have our own opinions though so - ...

 

Matt.

 

HTPC: AMD Athlon 4850e, 4GB, Vista, BD/HD-DVD into -> ADM9.1

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Having fiddled with both, the Mac with iTunes will give you a simpler path forward.

 

You'll want a DAC and I'd recommend a wired connection to your stereo. Using Airport Express is convenient, but the sound is not as exciting in my experience.

 

I'd suggest you take it in steps. Get your computer, HDD and backup HDD, DAC and try everything out with the system you're already familiar with.

 

No one can say if you'll like what you'll get over your current Naim system other than yourself of course. See if you can go listen to some active monitors at a pro shop just to get a feel if that's your cup of tea. Take some music that you love. These will have some strengths and weaknesses and you'll just have to see if it sums up to music in the way you want. But anyway, take it step by step would be my advice.

 

 

 

2013 MacBook Pro Retina -> {Pure Music | Audirvana} -> {Dragonfly Red v.1} -> AKG K-702 or Sennheiser HD650 headphones.

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I did indeed sell my Naim / Proac setup after comparison with the AVI of my brother (Beemb). It should be noted however that my Naim was the entry level Nait 5, so I'd imagine that the equipment mentioned above would be a step up on this.

 

I am certainly a fan of the pro-audio side now though. You do get so much more for your money. Still planning to test the Mackies against the ADMs in the same room, running from the same equipment, with the same music (when I can be bothered to take it all to Beemb's), so I'll reserve judgment until then. It is very clear to me though that you do become used to the sound of your own system and so it instantly has an advantage to your own ears, as something that sounds different, sounds wrong...........Much listening needed.

 

iTunes / Media Monkey, PC, Presonus Firebox --> Mackie HR624 mkII Active Monitors, M&K VX7 mkII

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Advantages with Mac:

 

1) no kmixer of audio stack to avoid with hi-res devices like Fireface 400

2) upsampler is superior to SRC that runs on Foobar 0.9.x on Windows

3) easy integration of remote-control with iPod Touch or Iphone

4) Mini already has eSata port for external raid array

5) iTunes is an excellent user interface

 

Advantages of PC:

 

1) more player choices

2) a bit cheaper

3) When using XP and Foobar, auto-selects device

4) XP and Foobar 0.8.3 has good SRC upsampler

 

Disdvantages of PC:

 

1) must use XP to get ease of use and stellar results

2) different hardware platforms behave differently - some better than others, Dell is an example

3) must bypass audio stack/kmixer

 

 

Steve N.

Empirical Audio

 

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Out of interest, how do you control the volume with your Mackies? Do they have their own volume or do you have to rely on a volume in the DAC or computer? If they hve internal volume, is it remote controlable? Also how do you cope with multiple sources? Pro monitors are also generally designed for close quarters listening in recording booths or long throw for live music. Live music systems in my experience are not of the highest quality so I assume the pro gear is recording studio equipment - are you listening in small room or do they cope with living room situations?

 

Also if you start getting to top end studios, the coin is flipped and equipment more though of as domestic is used - Abbey Road use B&W 800D with Classe amplification - and the technology of the lower end is closely related. Without putting down studio equipment, domesic equipment is often more expensive due to factors such as convinience facilities (remote controls, etc) and build asthetics. Weiss DAC2 and Minerva comparison is an obvious example. Of course for many people such things are not important but for others convinience and ease of use for others is vital.

 

Sorry questions that have little to do with sound quality, more about convinience and I hope I'm not coming accross as beligerent in by questions - I've actually never experienced much in the way of studio equipment in domestic settings. Anyway some random thoughts in connection with Naim (or other "domestic" equipment) vs studio gear

 

Thanks 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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4) I don't think there is an eSATA port on MacMini iirc only wayfor eSATA on Mac is PCIe card on MacPro or ExpressCard on MacBookPro.

 

The MacMini does have Firewire 800 and USB2.0 for connecting drives and DAC etc.

 

Sorry if I'm wrong

 

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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Hi Audio_Elf. My system is far from convenient ! I output from my pc via firewire to a Presonus Firebox to do the D/A conversion. This also includes a pre-amp, and it is this I use for volume control. My equipment is right next to my listening position. I have no remote control other than ipod touch, but using this for volume would of course degrade sound quality. As far as other sources go I have just one more analogue source input via the rear line in sockets which are automatically switched on when the pc is off or the firewire cable unplugged....................... It meets my needs, but of course I'd rather the speakers themselves had a remote multi input preamp.

 

I use them in my living room which is not particularly large and they are about 2.2 metres from my head when in my listening position. It'll be interesting to see how they perform in Beemb's far larger listening room, where they will also be a bit further away.

 

I had heard that B&W were used in high end studios, but in terms of pro gear I'm sure there are a lot of good studios out there using the larger mid / long field speaker systems from Dynaudio, Klein + Hummel etc . I'm sure that both highend hifi and pro systems sound good - the big difference will be the price. Think those B&Ws are approx £13k. Some Dynaudio Air 25s are about half that...........including the amps, as they are active. The B&Ws are passive I believe (correct me if I'm wrong), so I know what I'd put my money on when it comes to sound quality........

 

iTunes / Media Monkey, PC, Presonus Firebox --> Mackie HR624 mkII Active Monitors, M&K VX7 mkII

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Martin,

Actually hadn't thought of your volume control - it is a little inconveient but your pre sonus box is right next to you. < I guess you still have move your arm though ;-) ... >

 

Steve,

"you must use XP to get stellar results" .. not true. Vista and WASAPI is preferred by a good number of users. Each to their own of course; check out the HA forums for further reading and I did post a response from an ex Microsoft employee along these lines (few months ago).

 

JohnMak,

All platforms can output 1's and 0's unaltered. Go for a Mac for simplicity, a PC if you need it for something not supported by a Mac. There's also an argument for not worrying too much about the K-Mixer. Under certain circumstances is will not resample your 1's and 0's and output exactly what it's being fed.

With a Mac of course you could always run Windows too anyway.

 

 

HTPC: AMD Athlon 4850e, 4GB, Vista, BD/HD-DVD into -> ADM9.1

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Audio_ELF,

 

re studios using domestic orientated speakers. - Yeah, I can see why, especially the more neutral sounding stuff. Check out some of those Adam monitors though, their top stuff. Wow. Wish I could go listen.

 

I'm just speaking from experience. I've listened to quite a lot at hifi at shows and in hifi stores. I've been impressed but never as impressed as when I end up in a pro audio store. The value for money seems astonishing some times.

 

I often can't get my head around why some hifi nuts spend £1,000's on equipment that, at the end of the day, is replaying back, for example, a voice that was recorded on a £100 microphone.

 

M.

 

HTPC: AMD Athlon 4850e, 4GB, Vista, BD/HD-DVD into -> ADM9.1

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Thinking again on what I posted I guess the fact that at the High End studios use B&W 801D / 800D and Classe poweramps reinforce the crossover between studio and domestic playback so actually reinforce the idea of using a pair of studio monitors for your front end, and if you want the convinience facitues add a domestic preamp in between - a setup that I've seen recommended with ATC powered monitors in domestic situations.

 

I will admit my music system (at RRP though I've bought most of it S/H) cost well over £5,000 so I'm one of those audiophiles / hifi nuts you can't get your head round but at the end of the day it brings me great joy.

 

Anyway as always it's great to debate the merits of systems in a friendly environment. I hope I'm open enough to invite allcommers into my mind and sphere of influence.

 

Of course none of this has helped the original poster. Naim vs ADM9.1 - well it depends on circumstances and your ears. Both are very good in different environments. Does £1000 of active monitor beat £4-5000 (think I have values about right) of high quality passive amplified system? It's a question you (the OP) should only decide for yourself - yes Naim kit has quite good resale value but you'll still loose on your orginal purchase. The ADM9.1 are neater solution, but the Naim maybe more versatile. If at all possible you need to demo and choose what you prefer, rather than relying on opinions of others.

 

Best wishes

Eloise

 

PS - with all this talk it's made me remember something I've read (maybe on this forum) ... "I'd rather listen to well recorded on a pair of iPod supplied headphone than on the worlds best HiFi system". With that I couldn't agree more and (in my opinion) anyone who disagrees has no business commenting on HiFi. Any hifi is a tool to listen to great music on - it's not something you listen to. The music is all important whether you use an iPod and Trust speakers or ADM9.1s or a Naim reference system.

 

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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If you have to ask, go with Apple. The simplicity and ease of use is well suited for novices. I can tell you my Windows music server is sonically superior to my Mac music server, but you wouldn't get the best of either in a coffee shop and you would have to hear them in a side by side comparison to discern the difference.

 

Powered speakers would definitely simplify your setup. I run my $200 AudioEngine 2 speakers 24/7 to continuously play my entire digital music library in a never ending loop. The larger AudioEngine 5 speakers would probably serve you well in case you want something less expensive and don't want to gamble. But IMO the AVi 9.1 is not much of a gamble.

 

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I currently own Naim gear and have heard the AVIs. Going to the AVI after Naim may sound dry as it is more accurate. Naim can sound wonderful but some of that comes from the way they tune the system, so it's a little coloured. You would also need a substantial Naim system to match the dynamics of the AVI.

 

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Heck what do I know....

 

I have shipped a ton of USB dacs in more than 5 years. I would say 95% start with PC's and from that I would say 90% convert to MAC's because they sound better.

 

But your best bet is make sure what ever your going to buy is what is suggested by the hardware vendor. Well... maybe... some of these companies don't even use MAC's because they don't know how or don't spend the money.

 

I know both really well and agree the mac always sounds better.

 

Thanks

Gordon

 

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So all in all no straight answer. Some believe Mac, some believe PC ... Having had both I say no audible difference but Mac easier to use.

 

Steve - WASAPI, having exclusive access to the audio card should provide a bit perfect audio path. Drivers and soundcard of course still have an affect, but ASIO and WASAPI simply bypass the Windows cack (or not cack as the case can be). Refer to the comments made by the software engineer.

 

 

 

HTPC: AMD Athlon 4850e, 4GB, Vista, BD/HD-DVD into -> ADM9.1

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Not so fast, there are differences including audible differences. But first, without a doubt Mac computers are easier to use. By not trying to be all things to all people, hardware and software choices for Mac computers may be limited, but what there is generally works and works well. With the advent of Intel Macs that can run both Microsoft Windows and Mac OS you can often get the best of both worlds.

 

I believe most of us agree that there can be audible differences due to hardware. Whether we talk about cables, interface, jitter, RF, EMI, DAC chips, hard drives, power, video, etc., there is no end to the effects that hardware has on SQ.

 

Many of us I have found that software, including bit perfect software, can produce audible differences in sound. Again, whether we talk about media players, drivers, OS bloat, etc., the differences are there and they are real.

 

I hope anything to the contrary is not just another rant that “all amps sound the same” or that “all CD players sound the same”. But if you can’t hear any audible differences, just enjoy what you have and don’t sweat it.

 

My experience to date does not put iTunes, which is almost universally used on Macs, ahead of the pecking order of player software. Hopefully Amarra is sonically head and shoulders better than iTunes. Also I do not know any folks who have tweaked and modded their Mac computers such that DIYers typically have done on their Windows computers. Probably some of the most computer audio fanatics out there might be those involved with cMP/cPlay or Empirical Audio which is no slouch when it comes to hardware designs and mods to minimize jitter.

 

But again, if you don't know and have to ask the question and especially if your a newbie or someone who gets easily lost or frustrated with computers, go with Mac.

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

"Easier" often leads to less choices, and iTunes is a deal-breaker for me, so I use Windows and J. River. I honestly feel the software differences are overexagerated especially in light of the fact that if someone is told use a Mac because it's "easier" you're sticking them with something like iTunes. Why not let people do some work and set up a system that is flexible. When faced with flexability, scalability, and usability...I will choose the system with 1-3% less fidelity EVERY time. Windows has issues yes, but it's not hard at all to do bit perfect, I even stream multiple unique audio streams to multiple Airports...on an iTunes free Windows machine. I also sync to my iPhone on this machine and can stream uncompressed audio over WAN to DAC at 24/96.

 

Not trying to rant but to say one is better than the other with such a lack of deep examination of needs and criteria is highly illogical. I guess I have a beef with iTunes because I feel it really limits what people can and should be doing with their collections. In this sense Windows/J. River gives people the freedom (create share custom meta-data) they should have to manage and listen to their music. Windows has always been pegged as the monopolistic corportation, but iTunes is such a lockdown from the usability perspective that Apple is no different from MS (although they seem to be coming around).

 

hifitubes

 

DIGITAL: Windows 7 x64 JRMC19 >Adnaco S3B fiber over USB (battery power)> Auralic Vega > Tortuga LDR custom LPSU > Zu Union Cubes + Deep Hemp Sub

 

ANALOG: PTP Audio Solid 9 > Audiomods Series V > Audio Technica Art-7 MC > Allnic H1201 > Tortuga LDR > Zu Union Cubes + Deep Hemp Sub

 

ACCESSORIES: PlatterSpeed, BlackCat cables, Antipodes Cables, Huffman Cables, Feickert Protracter, OMA Graphite mat, JRemote

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