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The USB ports in Macs are so bad that Mac Pro with the PCIe express USB card is the only choice.

Levono T400 2.93Ghz T9800 128GB SSD --> Own player programmed against event style WASAPI driver / Mac Pro 2008 8 core 20GB with Sonnet Tango USB FireWire --> Own player programmed against the lowest level HAL / iPhone 5s --> Own player programmed against the HAL -->Cardas Clear Serial Buss (USB) 3m --> Wavelength WaveLink HS 24/192 USB to SPDIF converter --> Audioquest VDM-1 1m --> Densen B-410XS (Cardas Golden Reference Power 1.5m) --> Cardas Neutral Reference interconnect 1m --> Densen B-110 Plus (Cardas Golden Reference Power 1.5m) --> Cardas Neutral Reference speaker 3m --> Dynaudio Contour 1.1

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This is from http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f6-dac-digital-analog-conversion/apple-thunderbolt-better-audio-guaranteed-19227/:

 

"I have iMac 21, 2013, Audirvana Plus, Weiss INT202, Devialet 170 with USB input (XMOS chip and more ..), Apogee DA16X Firewire, Apple Thunderbolt/Firewire Adapter, Belkin Thunderbolt Dock.

Weiss INT202 with external power supply and Devialet are simultaneously connected with Belkin TB dock, Devialet sounds via USB better than Weiss INT202 to Devialet via AES, when I connect Devialet directly with iMac via USB, Weiss INT202 via AES is clearly better."

 

My experience:

 

Mac Pro 2008 8 core 4GB memory (currently I have 20GB memory , which improves sound quality) with Sonnet Tango USB FireWire has been much better than:

 

 

Mac Pro 2008 8 core 4GB with existing USB ports

Macbook Air late 2011 with 8GB memory with the existing USB ports

Macbook Air late 2012 with 8GB memory with the existing USB ports

 

So, I am looking for the thunderbolt solution that would fix the issue with the new Mac Pro (2014) and other Macs

Levono T400 2.93Ghz T9800 128GB SSD --> Own player programmed against event style WASAPI driver / Mac Pro 2008 8 core 20GB with Sonnet Tango USB FireWire --> Own player programmed against the lowest level HAL / iPhone 5s --> Own player programmed against the HAL -->Cardas Clear Serial Buss (USB) 3m --> Wavelength WaveLink HS 24/192 USB to SPDIF converter --> Audioquest VDM-1 1m --> Densen B-410XS (Cardas Golden Reference Power 1.5m) --> Cardas Neutral Reference interconnect 1m --> Densen B-110 Plus (Cardas Golden Reference Power 1.5m) --> Cardas Neutral Reference speaker 3m --> Dynaudio Contour 1.1

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Mac Pro 2008 8 core 4GB memory (currently I have 20GB memory , which improves sound quality) with Sonnet Tango USB FireWire has been much better than:

 

 

Mac Pro 2008 8 core 4GB with existing USB ports

Macbook Air late 2011 with 8GB memory with the existing USB ports

Macbook Air late 2012 with 8GB memory with the existing USB ports

 

So, I am looking for the thunderbolt solution that would fix the issue with the new Mac Pro (2014) and other Macs

 

Having compared a lot of Macs (mostly all booted from the same slimmed and optimized Mavericks on SD card with A+), I personally think you are barking up the wrong tree. A 2010/11/12 Mac mini, with external linear PS (preferably with external storage via Ethernet and booted with SD card so internal HD can be unmounted) will trounce any Mac laptop or iMac.

Now, I am not saying I would not like the ability to have a more optimized for audio USB port, but I think the massive amount of extra electrical "noise" with the big machines would make it an undesirable SQ trade off. If you have the money, do yourself a favor and pick up any slim mini, tweak it just a little, and put it up against your other machines. If you don't like it, they are easy to resell.

 

Separately, while I know Tunderbolt has a lot of flexibility to offer, I don't think it offers any advantage for audio. It is just a massive muxing of multiple interfaces, just leading back to the PCIe bus controller. So for storage, why not just go straight to the SATA bus? Same for FW, Ethernet, USB. It is just more layers (s/w and h/w). And I bet that if someone hears any SQ benefit with TB it would be due to possible power and ground isolation. And you know, most hub chips (certainly USB ones) are in fact regenerating/clocking the entire signal.

 

I admit that some of the above is speculation, but a lot of it (machine comparisons in a very good system) are based on extensive first-hand experience. YMMV

 

--Alex C.

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I have personally been using a Mac Pro Quad for over 3 years and it can deliver a very high level of music sophistication.

I sold my mini because every problem that came along is a bigger problem with the mini. I have 11 TB of storage now and run 16MB of memory...really over kill for a music stream....even with Pure Music or A+....which i use most of the time.

The Pro never works up a sweat and when upgrades in software come along I have had ZERO issues....either from Apple or PM/A+. i will say that I have the luxury of using this Pro as a dedicated unit with many of the base programs deleted.

It is beyond me why one would spend 5-15 thousand dollars for a server.

MacPro 24 GB/8TB / A+ and Pure Music / LAMPIZATOR B7 as Dac and Pre w/volume control / Regen /Intona USB Iso/curious USB / Emotive Audio Sira / PASS Aleph P / D-Sonic M3 600 mono's / MIT / Shunyata Alpha HC, Alpha Digital, Alpha Analogue, Weizhi PR-6 / Exact Power XP15a-4 balanced power distributor / FOCAL Maestro UTOPIA III's in red/black

 

"In life's final analysis, one's relationship with his Maker is all that really matters."

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Thanks both Superdad and cpvnii. Yesterday, I got new Mac Pro 2014, but... ... Happily, the sound quality is as good as with Mac Pro 2008, so no need for Thunderbolt solution then. The power cable was PS Audio AC 12 connected to PS Audio Powerplant. I am using my own player.

Levono T400 2.93Ghz T9800 128GB SSD --> Own player programmed against event style WASAPI driver / Mac Pro 2008 8 core 20GB with Sonnet Tango USB FireWire --> Own player programmed against the lowest level HAL / iPhone 5s --> Own player programmed against the HAL -->Cardas Clear Serial Buss (USB) 3m --> Wavelength WaveLink HS 24/192 USB to SPDIF converter --> Audioquest VDM-1 1m --> Densen B-410XS (Cardas Golden Reference Power 1.5m) --> Cardas Neutral Reference interconnect 1m --> Densen B-110 Plus (Cardas Golden Reference Power 1.5m) --> Cardas Neutral Reference speaker 3m --> Dynaudio Contour 1.1

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Yesterday, I got new Mac Pro 2014, but...

 

Now THAT black beauty is is a machine I would love to get my hands on for a comparison. But I'd be hoping it would sound bad so I could then use it on my desk instead!

 

I hope you enjoy your new toy. Is the fan system really quiet? That machine could run Miska's HQPlayer with SRC to DSD512 and not even break a sweat!

 

No chance of running it on a linear power supply though…

 

Cheers,

AJC

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The fan system of the Mac Pro is really really quiet. Only way you can here the air flowing is to put your ear close to the top of the computer.

Levono T400 2.93Ghz T9800 128GB SSD --> Own player programmed against event style WASAPI driver / Mac Pro 2008 8 core 20GB with Sonnet Tango USB FireWire --> Own player programmed against the lowest level HAL / iPhone 5s --> Own player programmed against the HAL -->Cardas Clear Serial Buss (USB) 3m --> Wavelength WaveLink HS 24/192 USB to SPDIF converter --> Audioquest VDM-1 1m --> Densen B-410XS (Cardas Golden Reference Power 1.5m) --> Cardas Neutral Reference interconnect 1m --> Densen B-110 Plus (Cardas Golden Reference Power 1.5m) --> Cardas Neutral Reference speaker 3m --> Dynaudio Contour 1.1

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jkortela: Very happy for you. You will pleased with your music making machine. When all the guys on some of the other forums/threads complain about their mini's apparent problems in changing , upgrading or reloading software you may now simply "turn it up" and smile. Another feature I like is that with Audirvana+ I have total control over everything as far as playback is concerned with the PRO.

Congrats.

MacPro 24 GB/8TB / A+ and Pure Music / LAMPIZATOR B7 as Dac and Pre w/volume control / Regen /Intona USB Iso/curious USB / Emotive Audio Sira / PASS Aleph P / D-Sonic M3 600 mono's / MIT / Shunyata Alpha HC, Alpha Digital, Alpha Analogue, Weizhi PR-6 / Exact Power XP15a-4 balanced power distributor / FOCAL Maestro UTOPIA III's in red/black

 

"In life's final analysis, one's relationship with his Maker is all that really matters."

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The fan system of the Mac Pro is really really quiet. Only way you can here the air flowing is to put your ear close to the top of the computer.

 

Or if you toss a bunch of coffee beans into the top. Bet it would grind them up nicely. The smell of ground coffee AND burning silicon! What could be better? ;)

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When all the guys on some of the other forums/threads complain about their mini's apparent problems in changing , upgrading or reloading software you may now simply "turn it up" and smile. Another feature I like is that with Audirvana+ I have total control over everything as far as playback is concerned with the PRO.

 

I have nothing against Mac Pro's -- I use one at work (early 2009), and I'll probably get one of the new ones before too long (although I'm not too fond of the absence of slots and bays inside the case). For audio playback I think it's a bit of overkill, but hey, who am I to judge?

 

What I don't get, though, is the bit about the "mini's apparent problems in changing, upgrading or reloading software." I'm also not too clear on this: "Another feature I like is that with Audirvana+ I have total control over everything as far as playback is concerned with the PRO." Can you explain a little about what's different between a Pro and a mini in terms of installing software or using Audirvana+?

 

--David

Listening Room: Mac mini (Roon Core) > iMac (HQP) > exaSound PlayPoint (as NAA) > exaSound e32 > W4S STP-SE > Benchmark AHB2 > Wilson Sophia Series 2 (Details)

Office: Mac Pro >  AudioQuest DragonFly Red > JBL LSR305

Mobile: iPhone 6S > AudioQuest DragonFly Black > JH Audio JH5

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I have tested these too...

 

Cardas Clear AES/EBU + Berkeley Audio Design Alpha USB + Cardas Clear Serial Buss (USB)

 

which improve the sound quality

Levono T400 2.93Ghz T9800 128GB SSD --> Own player programmed against event style WASAPI driver / Mac Pro 2008 8 core 20GB with Sonnet Tango USB FireWire --> Own player programmed against the lowest level HAL / iPhone 5s --> Own player programmed against the HAL -->Cardas Clear Serial Buss (USB) 3m --> Wavelength WaveLink HS 24/192 USB to SPDIF converter --> Audioquest VDM-1 1m --> Densen B-410XS (Cardas Golden Reference Power 1.5m) --> Cardas Neutral Reference interconnect 1m --> Densen B-110 Plus (Cardas Golden Reference Power 1.5m) --> Cardas Neutral Reference speaker 3m --> Dynaudio Contour 1.1

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  • 2 months later...

I'm using now a 2008 Mac Pro, with SSD system drive, a separate drive for the music, 16G, stock USB ports with Audirvana into a Berkeley USB and Berkeley Ref DAC. Would you expect, even with the isolation of the Berkeley USB, that there are gains to be had changing to the Sonnet USBs? Would the new Mac Pro be better or the same?

Audio Alchemy DMP-1 / Roon / Berkeley Alpha RS 2 / Constellation Monos / TAD R1s

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I have personally been using a Mac Pro Quad for over 3 years and it can deliver a very high level of music sophistication.

I sold my mini because every problem that came along is a bigger problem with the mini. I have 11 TB of storage now and run 16MB of memory...really over kill for a music stream....even with Pure Music or A+....which i use most of the time.

The Pro never works up a sweat and when upgrades in software come along I have had ZERO issues....either from Apple or PM/A+. i will say that I have the luxury of using this Pro as a dedicated unit with many of the base programs deleted.

It is beyond me why one would spend 5-15 thousand dollars for a server.

 

It's beyond me why someone would dedicate an expensive, general purpose computer like the Pro to a single task when you can build a dedicated server for considerably less. The Mini does everything I need and I can share the monitor with my BDP-105D - horses for courses.

Just one more headphone and I know I can kick this nasty little habit !

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I have nothing against Mac Pro's -- I use one at work (early 2009), and I'll probably get one of the new ones before too long (although I'm not too fond of the absence of slots and bays inside the case). For audio playback I think it's a bit of overkill, but hey, who am I to judge?

 

What I don't get, though, is the bit about the "mini's apparent problems in changing, upgrading or reloading software." I'm also not too clear on this: "Another feature I like is that with Audirvana+ I have total control over everything as far as playback is concerned with the PRO." Can you explain a little about what's different between a Pro and a mini in terms of installing software or using Audirvana+?

 

--David

I would appreciate clarification/explanation of those points also.

"If you fly a flag of hate you are no kin to me"

Ry Cooder

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  • 3 weeks later...
Now THAT black beauty is is a machine I would love to get my hands on for a comparison. But I'd be hoping it would sound bad so I could then use it on my desk instead!

 

I hope you enjoy your new toy. Is the fan system really quiet? That machine could run Miska's HQPlayer with SRC to DSD512 and not even break a sweat!

 

No chance of running it on a linear power supply though…

 

Cheers,

AJC

 

I guess you haven't seen this:

 

Core Audio Technology | Mac Pro Media Server

 

Not an endorsement, but shows it's possible. I just ordered the new Quad Core and an extra 8GB from OWC, so I'll be running with 20GB. I'll let you know how it sounds stock.

 

Best,

 

Jerry

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I guess you haven't seen this:

 

Core Audio Technology | Mac Pro Media Server

 

Not an endorsement, but shows it's possible. I just ordered the new Quad Core and an extra 8GB from OWC, so I'll be running with 20GB. I'll let you know how it sounds stock.

 

Best,

 

Jerry

 

What, you mean you are not going to pop $19K for their oil-cooled Aquarium Music Server? ;)

 

But thanks for pointing out that someone has had the guts to tear apart and mod the new Mac pro. The stock SMPS in the new Mac Pro is 12.1V/37.2 amps(!). And it is cooled by the same fan as the rest of the machine. Pretty neat engineering.

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Got the new Mac Pro yesterday and installed the extra 8Gb RAM. It is dedicated to music, so only the bare necessities are installed. Some observations, if I may. I was using a Mac Mini (mid-2010 model) with 4Gb RAM and an SSD. I also use an OWC firewire SSD for my music. I am using a Playback Designs MPD-5 Dac with the UBX interface. My USB cable is a Light Harmonic Lightspeed. I typically use A+ 1,5,10 in iTunes integrated mode.

 

The Mini started acting up and burned out a few months back so I switched to using my mid-2012 Retina Macbook Pro with 8GB. At first, I felt the MBP sounded better, but I soon realized -- particularly after playing some LPs -- that I was missing something. For one, the highs seemed rolled off. Also, there was an electronic gauze that seemed to permeate everything. In a way it was soothing, but ultimately not accurate.

 

The Mac Pro is VERY different sounding Right off the bat, the volume level is roughly 3dB higher than with the MBP. I verified this with a meter I keep at my side while listening. I didm't know that was possible. Sonically, the highs are way more extended, the soundstage is much wider and the gauze is gone. Individual instruments are well separated and clearly identifiable. Without trying to sound like another high-end review, let me just say that I am very happy with my purchase.

 

Some will say it is overkill, or that a well setup Mini will trounce it. As they say, YMMV.

 

Jerry

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Without trying to sound like another high-end review, let me just say that I am very happy with my purchase.

 

That's great Jerry. Hope you enjoy your new machine. Plus it has got to be the coolest looking computer on the planet!

 

Are you still using the FireWire drive for your music? Bet it would sound better from the internal drive. I'm also curious if the C.A.D. optimization script will work on your machine. Since you are dedicating it to music playback, dropping 50-60 processes and 100+ active threads will likely make a similar SQ difference as it does for us lowly mini folk.

 

Maybe now is the time for you to try out HQ Player. You certainly have the horsepower to run Miska's best Poly-sinc filters.

 

Cheers,

 

Alex C.

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Thank you Alex for the helpful hints. I really enjoy reading about your work on power supplies and such.

 

I got the base, bare bones model with a 256Gb internal flash drive. So my music won't fit. I think A+ loads songs directly to RAM from the FW drive. I just downloaded the CAD script and will give it a try. I run the MP headless and can use ethernet instead of wifi. I am also curious about HQ Player, though it may not be as user-friendly as A+.

 

Best,

 

Jerry

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