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computer audio newbie...

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hello everyone


my name is Nuno, i'm a 49 year old artist from Portugal, registered today & before posting, went around to make sure a similar post hadn't been written - didn't find any so here goes

for a while i flirted with/read about & recently decided to step into the world of computer audio. my system's basic : 2 X 1TB W.Digital My Book drives ( plus a 2TB unit coming ..) through a Logitech Premium powered USB hub --> 20'' Intel iMac --> Behringer UCA202 USB sound card --> Onkyo Integra A-8067 amp --> B&W 603 S2 bi-wired/Supra 4mm cables. the iMac, W.D. & Behringer are connected to an APC UPS, cables kept to their min. possible lengths, power cords along one side , signal & USB ones on the other - i don't know if it makes a difference but...anything to avoid crossing the Audio Gods !...LOL...

all my music's in AIFF, WAV formats except for a few 320MP3 downloads. on playback, audio & video are handled with no quirks/stops & between hiting play & sound/video starting it takes a few seconds. unplugged back up drives are ''stashed'' away just in case...

it sound's surprisingly good to my ears - way better than when i first used the iMac's headphone out... - & good enough for me to get rid of a Pioneer PD-8800 CD player, a Pioneer PDR-609 CD recorder, a Toshiba DVD player + my Thorens TD 316 MKIII & Sony 3 head K7 player plus a ton - LITERALLY... - of CD's, LP's, K7's & the cabinet i kept them in, a 1000 remotes....you see, my house was built small on purpose & i find it most pleasant to have gained my living room back ! :-) basically i'm happy ! but....


1st - the Behringer ( 16 bit/48.000Hz max..) was bought to ''test the waters'' without spending a lot & as pleased as i am, i'm thinking about buying a Dac ( Cambridge Audio DacMagic ? other within that $$ range?..) connect it to my iMac's mini-Toslink ? USB ? which would be better, any cable suggestions ? from it i would then run RCA audio cables to my amp - very soon to be upgraded by a Roksan Kandy K2..

2nd - what gets best results : a short optical or USB cable to the Dac & longish RCA audio cables to amp (- + or - 7 mts ) or exactly the opposite ?

3rd - i use iTunes & by now i sort of know it inside out ( have looked at Songbird but..) reading so much about it's limitations , can anyone suggest any ''tweaks'' that might improve it's performance ? some plug-in perhaps ?

4th - after reading so much about Amarras, i went to their site & asked for a free demo - can't wait..- is their software THAT good ? because if that's THE way to go , i'll start saving, robbing little old ladies, banks...whatever ! ;-)

one thing that pleases me is how silent my drives & my iMac are - i NEVER heard it's fans, don't know what they sound like - maybe they're broken & imminent meltdown is at hand !!...LOL...

any help would be greatly appreciated, sorry for the length of my post - just trying to get you lot in my shoes so to speak

best wishes from southern Portugal




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1) DACMagic is good choice for the money. Alternatives are Music Fidelity V-DAC, DevilSound, VAlab off eBay, moving up have Apogee Duet, PS Audio DAC III and maybe also worth looking at S/H options but that's another matter. All those I've digested have much written here and elsewhere about them - there recently been a "what $400 DAC for Mac" thread that maybe useful. Worth trying both optical and USB - on te devices you meantioned, most are limited to 16/44.1 and 16/48.


2) Personally I'd go for shorter RCA and longer USB / Optical but around 5m is limit specified for both USB and TOSLink.


3) iTunes is very acceptible. Most obvious thing is to ensure in the Audio Midi pannel that the output is set to same as the files you're playing, i.e. 16/44.1 for CD.


4) I can't comment personally, but Amarra is reported as being "that" good yes. Demo it and see for yourself - even better if a local dealer can let you home demo the fill version.






...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 Eloise

i was just going through some threads, looking for answers to my ''plight'' as i received your post. now that you mention it , i recall being told about the 5m limit for USB...

i also think iTunes sounds good enough but i've read so many going on & on about this, that & the other that....maybe if my system was way more sophisticated but, for the time being, i'll go for the DacMagic & take it from there - my point is DEFINITELY to carelessly listen to my music - mostly while i work away in my atelier right next to my living room.. - & not to start a ''Holy Graal hair splitting'' quest so to speak

thanks for the info



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hi clay


it's exactly because i know how tempting it is to do it, that i want to avoid crossing ''that'' door !...LOL... what am i talking about ? i'm upgrading my amp to a Roksan Kandy K2 amp in a couple of weeks ! but only because my Onkyo Integra is old, tired & begging for mercy so...

but i try to look back to my past as an art student, listening to a boombox - o.k. it was a ''decent'' one but still... & being perfectly happy with it , you know, that ''life's great'' vibe going & all ? :-)




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