Jump to content
IGNORED

Music Server expenditure to match current system


BEEMB
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hello,

 

I'm considering upgrading to a mac mini based music server connected to a DAC. I was just wondering how much you think I should spend ...

 

My current digital source is a Rotel RCD-02 which was £380 when I bought it 4 years ago. What sort of DAC would exceed that sound. The fact I could have the mac mini connected to my plasma, browse and play superior quality music appeals hugely.

 

I also own a Clearaudio Emotion record deck - getting somewhere near the quality would be interesting.

 

Regards,

 

 

Matt.

 

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey BEEMB welcome to Computer Audiophile!

 

The question of how much to spend is a common one, but may not matter as much as people think. For you current situation I suggest starting with something simple like the KingRex USB DAC for $190 (USD). But, it also depends on what you want to spend and what features and quality you are looking for. If you want native 24/96 over USB then you're likely looking for a Wavelength, Empirical, or Benchmark product for much more money.

 

I have a feeling once you get going with this setup you'll never look back. Does this help or did I miss the question totally?

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Chris,

 

Many thanks - you've answered the question perfectly. I've been looking around this site, which I've found to be hugely helpful. I'd taken a look at the KingRex DAC - looks like a go-er for me.

 

Thanks for your help Chris.

 

Much appreciated.

 

Regards,

 

Matt.

 

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

Actually - just one last question.

 

There seems to be a slant towards macs on here .. Is there any particular reason other than the user interface being better ?

 

Even using the digital out on my PC - I'm guessing Windows plays with the signal in some way ?

 

 

 

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good question Matt - I was a long time PC user and supported PC networks for years, so I am very familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of the Windows platform. I switched to Mac for many reasons unrelated to audio, but have since found Macs to be exactly what I want for high end audio. I mention all that just so you know I'm not one of those Mac only people.

 

Anyway, on to your question. Yes, the UI is fabulous in OS X as you suggested. For audio reasons I prefer Macs because iTunes has bit perfect output on OS X unlike on Windows. The iTunes interface and library functionality is the best around for ease of use and equivalent to anything else in CD ripping & playback quality. The PC apps out there that allow you to bypass the Windows kmixer are crude if you ask me. I prefer to listen to my music collection, not configure a PC for the correct drive offset, plugins, reg hacks etc...

 

So, iTunes out of the box on OS X is bit perfect. No screwing around. If high end audio is going to move to the next level iTunes will be a major factor, not WMP, Foobar, EAC etc...

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My music library started out on a PC for various reasons, mainly coming from the point of it just happening because that's what I had. After about a year and a half I switched to the Mac for my music, not because it was obviously better but because I was having problems with the PC and needed to have a working music system.

 

Now that I have experience, I know there are some good and solid, if subtle, reasons for using a Mac for your music server. Primary among them is tag quality. Itunes connects to a better database (CDDB) than Windows does. Especially with classical music, your chances of getting accurate data are much higher.

 

Another issue is library organization. Itunes does this very well. When you make a change, to a song title or album title, Itunes sorts everything out. Windows Media Player just leaves empty folders all over the place.

 

Backiing up is easier to manage, also. If you keep a backup of your system on an external drive, you can boot from it if your main disk fails. Windows makes this harder.

 

Currently I use a Mac Powerbook with an offboard hard disk and a Benchmark DAC. I'm quite happy with the sound quality, and feel no need for upgrades.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are a few caveats that I mentioned in the SGB's Music Server thread that I will put in a different way here.

 

You may find that you will have an impedance mismatch between the analog outputs of the UD-01 and the inputs of your preamplifier or receiver. I was able to correct this problem by running the UD-01 directly to my power amplifier, thus bypassing the circuitry in my preamp. If you use a receiver and yours is the kind that has the little bridging attachments for biamplification, then you can bypass the preamplifier section connecting this DAC directly to the amplifier inputs.

 

I would characterize the sound as being very analog-like in the best ways, with very good frequency bandwidth and clarity. It lacks just a little in dynamics and spatial quality when compared to my $3000 CD player and custom-modified preamplifier, but it, most assuredly, is a bargain. I am especially pleased with the UD-01 connected directly to my Advent AV570 powered speakers -- which, of course, provide their own amplification.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

I really appreciate the responses.

 

I've bought a mac mini, external hard drive (matching the mac) and have the KingRex DAC on order per the recommendations.

 

I've begun ripping CD's in accordance to various posts on this site. Using I-Tune I've selected AIFF and have error check enabled.

 

Is this actually performing a bit perfect transfer though ? I have EAC on my PC which I understand is bit perfect.

 

I like using iTunes as it manages your files so well.

 

One last question ... I'm not familiar with security on the mac .. I've currently not installed any virus checking software or firewalls. I'm guessing the OS has a built in firewall ... any good shareware recommendations form anyone ? (bit off topic, I know)

 

Regards,

 

Matt.

 

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Matt - It's great to see your well on your way to a great listening experience.

 

iTunes is bit perfect on a Mac.

 

Ripping with error correction enabled is all you need. In my opinion the only thing EAC does is offer you feedback to ensure the files are perfect and provides the ability to change drive offset. Not worth it in my book.

 

Don't even think about anti virus on a Mac. It is not needed. There is a built in firewall. I don't know anyone who actually uses a third party firewall on OS X.

 

Macs really are simpler than most people believe.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

Thanks Chris.

 

Well, the DAC is on order - just waiting for it to turn up.

 

Hoping for a pretty decent jump in audio quality from the using just the macs audio out.

 

Pretty sure Im going to be smiling !!

 

 

Matt.

 

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

 

My KingRex UD-01 finally arrived this morning and whilst its only been running for three hours or so Im delighted to report that I'm happy with it.

 

It's a definate improvement over using the Mac's audio outs but of more importance is the comparison to my CD player, the Rotel RCD-02 which cost me £380 a few years ago.

 

Well, it's a very close run thing. Infact, flicking between the two playing at the same time it's quite difficult to tell them apart.

However, the RCD-02 is known for it's quite forward sound and you do notice that the Mac-UD-01 combo is easier to listen to with electronic music in particular benefitting from a slightly warmer more laid back sound. And on tracks that I know well I can pick out certain details that I'd never really noticed before.

 

All in all a good purchase.

 

My question to you - will the sound quality improve further still over time ? Do DACs need to be run in ?

 

Matt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Most manufacturers say their DACs do need to be run for many hours before they hit the sweet spot. Gordon says his Brick takes many hours of regular use. not constantly left on "usage." Others say you can run them in by leaving them on and music running through them. I'm not sure about this specific DAC though.

 

Great to hear you like the purchase and thanks for updating us!

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share



×
×
  • Create New...