Jump to content
IGNORED

My new 2014 Mac mini is a real veil-lifter, soundstage opener and all-around puncher beyond its pricepoint


wgscott

Recommended Posts

I predict that the Mac mini form factor will stay exactly the same for 2014/2015, and that this fall's refresh will just bring Haswell and slightly better graphics, along with maybe Thunderbolt2, and possibly the dropping of the FireWire port. Factory SSD options will also expand.

 

I doubt that the entry level price of $599 will drop, though that would be welcome.

I am guessing that this fall will be the last update of the mini in its current guise. It may then coast to its end of life for a few years as Apple transitions the HTPC buyer/ entry desktop buyer into an entirely new architecture/miniature form factor that could be based on their own processor. Might be sort of an AppleTV on steroids.

 

All this is not to say I wouldn't LOVE to see a powerful awesome mini Mac Pro (1 or 2 Xenons, 64GB RAM, 4K graphics, etc.). I just don't believe Apple is thinking in that direction these days. And I refuse to buy or recommend iMacs as a good monitor always outlives the computer's useful life cycle. It made me sick to have to cart my departed farther-in-law's G5 iMac to the recycling center when the power supply failed.

Link to comment
It sounds so rounded and analoggy

 

[ATTACH=CONFIG]14686[/ATTACH]

 

You do know this isn't April 1, don't you?

 

I haven't tried my Mac Maxi against my NAD M50 music server, but I suppose I could hook up the old Alpha USB to it and give it a whirl... I have to wonder if someone doesn't make a Thunderbolt to AES/EBU interface by now that would work nicely... haven't found one yet...

Link to comment
I have to wonder if someone doesn't make a Thunderbolt to AES/EBU interface by now that would work nicely... haven't found one yet...

 

Why would you want that? Thunderbolt is a muxing of PCIe and DisplayPort. Until someone writes direct audio drivers for either DisplayPort (yuck) or HDMI (the other available audio route of TB), then any Thunderbolt-to-something else audio adapter is just going to be using and translating the USB port protocols. Nothing to be gained there except more processing and s/w layers.

 

(I'll leave aside the fact that I'm not a fan of reintroducing S/PDIF...) Now, if we start to see more clever implementations and availability/adoption of ASIO-like drivers for OS X, then we could hope for someone to produce a PCIe>I2S board--and yeah, I guess it could come out of the Thunderbolt port since the days of Apple giving us computers with real slots are over.

 

Just my random Saturday $0.02.

Link to comment
Why would you want that? Thunderbolt is a muxing of PCIe and DisplayPort. Until someone writes direct audio drivers for either DisplayPort (yuck) or HDMI (the other available audio route of TB), then any Thunderbolt-to-something else audio adapter is just going to be using and translating the USB port protocols. Nothing to be gained there except more processing and s/w layers.

 

(I'll leave aside the fact that I'm not a fan of reintroducing S/PDIF...) Now, if we start to see more clever implementations and availability/adoption of ASIO-like drivers for OS X, then we could hope for someone to produce a PCIe>I2S board--and yeah, I guess it could come out of the Thunderbolt port since the days of Apple giving us computers with real slots are over.

 

Just my random Saturday $0.02.

 

Just historically, ASIO drivers came into existence for Windows because Windows did not provide a built in audio system that could produce professional recording results. Macs did, as did Linux and other Unix implementations.

 

The Mac "integer mode" and "direct" processing came about as a result of Audiophiles wanting to make things better. Which, it did. Just keeps getting better and better in fact! :)

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

Link to comment

 

Now, if we start to see more clever implementations and availability/adoption of ASIO-like drivers for OS X, then we could hope for someone to produce a PCIe>I2S board

 

Looks like a few have tried the board:

 

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f6-dac-digital-analog-conversion/end-de-universal-serial-bus-industry-standard-cables-connectors-and-communications-protocols-between-computers-and-electronic-devices-discussion-i2s-bridge-20285/

Link to comment

 

Hi Tranz:

 

Yes, I have been aware of the Pink Faun board for a while. Trouble is, not only is I2S is not the sort of signal you want to run more than a few inches, but Pink Faun negates its potential advantage by not accepting external clock input FROM the DAC. It is not really their fault as very few DACs accept I2S AND output their master clock. But that is the only way to get all its benefits without reintroducing a ton of jitter.

(Not to mention that their board is for Windows only.)

 

In the end, a properly done Ethernet solution is going to be the way to separate the player from the DAC. (Yes, I am sure everyone here can jump in a mention existing Ethernet schemes and components. But very few of those are what I have in mind. It is so hard to have both open systems AND not have limitations of both s/w and h/w protocols.)

 

Anyway, any more speculation about forthcoming Macs? Does anyone think we will see new machines at Apple's October event?

 

Ciao,

ALEX

Link to comment
Just historically, ASIO drivers came into existence for Windows because Windows did not provide a built in audio system that could produce professional recording results. Macs did, as did Linux and other Unix implementations.

 

The Mac "integer mode" and "direct" processing came about as a result of Audiophiles wanting to make things better. Which, it did. Just keeps getting better and better in fact! :)

 

Hi Paul,

 

Well and of course the Mac used to have supported ASIO for all sorts of music production gear until OS X with Core Audio came along (there are even some obscure sources for ASIO under OS X now--but only for some older recording equipment; Demo ASIO driver for USB audio soundcards).

 

I would dearly love to see someone write OS X ASIO drivers for the popular XMOS async-USB chips, and for Audirvana to work with those. HQ Player already supports ASIO under OS X, but at present only exaSound has hardware/drivers to support that.

Link to comment
Hi Paul,

 

Well and of course the Mac used to have supported ASIO for all sorts of music production gear until OS X with Core Audio came along (there are even some obscure sources for ASIO under OS X now--but only for some older recording equipment; Demo ASIO driver for USB audio soundcards).

 

I would dearly love to see someone write OS X ASIO drivers for the popular XMOS async-USB chips, and for Audirvana to work with those. HQ Player already supports ASIO under OS X, but at present only exaSound has hardware/drivers to support that.

 

Well yes, since core audio provides acceptable recording capability with out it. :)

 

Have you looked at Cubase? I believe it comes with an ASIO driver for Mavericks now. At least, so I have been told - not tried it personally.

 

Point is, I am not convinced there is any audible listening benefit to ASIO on MacOS. Come to think of it, I am not sure ASIO really has any audible benefits over WASPI on Windows either. DSD processing is what makes ASIO desirable for me, since I am not recording.

 

Though in this case, I would not be at all sad to be proven wrong either.

 

Paul

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

Link to comment
Why would you want that? Thunderbolt is a muxing of PCIe and DisplayPort. Until someone writes direct audio drivers for either DisplayPort (yuck) or HDMI (the other available audio route of TB), then any Thunderbolt-to-something else audio adapter is just going to be using and translating the USB port protocols. Nothing to be gained there except more processing and s/w layers.

 

(I'll leave aside the fact that I'm not a fan of reintroducing S/PDIF...) Now, if we start to see more clever implementations and availability/adoption of ASIO-like drivers for OS X, then we could hope for someone to produce a PCIe>I2S board--and yeah, I guess it could come out of the Thunderbolt port since the days of Apple giving us computers with real slots are over.

 

Just my random Saturday $0.02.

 

I would have thought you'd be looking for the ability to optically isolate.

Custom room treatments for headphone users.

Link to comment
I would have thought you'd be looking for the ability to optically isolate.

 

Galvanic isolation IS important, but it can be difficult to do properly with some interfaces without causing more problems. And optical isolators can be especially problematic as well. John Swenson has explained to me a couple of times the issues and challenges associated with existing opto-isolator devices, but I have the memory of a goldfish for the details (he explains in detail so many things to me, but I only remember the details of the methods that hold promise; my brain discards most everything else once I realize it is not a beneficial path.) There are some much better alternative devices for isolation.

But perhaps you were just thinking about an optical distance interconnecting method to replace USB cables. Of course the transceivers at both ends have to be able to perform (and that's one of the big problems with TosLink).

Link to comment
Well yes, since core audio provides acceptable recording capability with out it. :)

 

Have you looked at Cubase? I believe it comes with an ASIO driver for Mavericks now. At least, so I have been told - not tried it personally.

 

Point is, I am not convinced there is any audible listening benefit to ASIO on MacOS. Come to think of it, I am not sure ASIO really has any audible benefits over WASPI on Windows either. DSD processing is what makes ASIO desirable for me, since I am not recording.

 

Though in this case, I would not be at all sad to be proven wrong either.

 

Paul

 

Hi Paul,

 

Now I'm really convinced about ASIO on MacOS, after exaSound DACs & Decibel music player implementing this. But not only on DSD playback, but PCM also.

 

JRiver Mac is trying to implement it on this day also. My hope is that Damien's Audirvana Plus go down this path also.

 

On DSD allows native DSD playback (no more DoP).

 

On PCM, soundstage (depth, wide & height improves a lot) and it's a champ on frequency extreme also.

 

Now, I have serious doubts regarding Mac Core Audio, even if A+ is a champ improving it, as system scripts, music source, etc. are...!

 

Roch

 

PS/ Under Windows it could be another history, but I don't have any experiences.

Link to comment

 

Now I'm really convinced about ASIO on MacOS, after exaSound DACs & Decibel music player implementing this. But not only on DSD playback, but PCM also.

 

JRiver Mac is trying to implement it on this day also. My hope is that Damien's Audirvana Plus go down this path also.

 

On DSD allows native DSD playback (no more DoP).

 

On PCM, soundstage (depth, wide & height improves a lot) and it's a champ on frequency extreme also.

 

Now, I have serious doubts regarding Mac Core Audio, even if A+ is a champ improving it, as system scripts, music source, etc. are...!

 

Roch:

 

I assume that your reporting is based on first-hand listening with your own exaSound DAC? If so, then what player are you using with the exaSound ASIO drivers? (Only two choices on Mac right now: Decibel and HQ Player)

 

With PCM material (not converted to DSD), have you done a direct comparison between CoreAudio and exa's ASIO (to the same DAC of course)? I know that HQ Player allows choice of audio backend (between CoreAudio, ASIO, and Network Audio Adapter), but I am not sure how Decibel works or if it supports Integer mode when using Core Audio.

 

I think the above comparisons are important.

 

Unfortunately, ASIO support is both a hardware and software thing. So even it Damien adds support for it, at present it only the exaSound DACs will take advantage of that. I would like to sponsor development of ASIO drivers that could be implemented by all designers who are using an XMOS chip as their USB front-end, but am still looking into what that will take. A firm like Thesycon is really who should do this (they provide/license the XMOS drivers for Windows to XMOS OEM clients).

Link to comment
Roch:

 

I assume that your reporting is based on first-hand listening with your own exaSound DAC? If so, then what player are you using with the exaSound ASIO drivers? (Only two choices on Mac right now: Decibel and HQ Player)

 

With PCM material (not converted to DSD), have you done a direct comparison between CoreAudio and exa's ASIO (to the same DAC of course)? I know that HQ Player allows choice of audio backend (between CoreAudio, ASIO, and Network Audio Adapter), but I am not sure how Decibel works or if it supports Integer mode when using Core Audio.

 

I think the above comparisons are important.

 

Unfortunately, ASIO support is both a hardware and software thing. So even it Damien adds support for it, at present it only the exaSound DACs will take advantage of that. I would like to sponsor development of ASIO drivers that could be implemented by all designers who are using an XMOS chip as their USB front-end, but am still looking into what that will take. A firm like Thesycon is really who should do this (they provide/license the XMOS drivers for Windows to XMOS OEM clients).

 

Hi Alex,

 

Of course my reporting is based on first-hand listening with the DAC (DACs) I have, if not what could be the sense?. exaSound e22 DAC is listed n my system on CA since a long time. Decibel is also listed. I didn't try HQ Player, but is on the first place on my "to do list".

 

I hate to make comparisons because they are from my own music and ears/brain systems, then taste dependent.

 

The 'pure' PCM I tested are from common, but well recorded 16/44 music and also some hi res. The bad recorded one could be a non sense to use for comparisons, because there is no way to 'repair' it. The only thing I can tell you is, exaSound DACs are so good than you don't need integer mode to get an excellent SQ (compared to DACs that benefits from integer mode), but ASIO gets the SQ to a higher and better noise free level. And not, exaSound under Core Audio is not integer mode capable. exaSound is not based on XMOS USB chipsets, but in a proprietary one.

 

Let's see what JRiver way is. And, if JRiver can, Damien also. Regarding DACs manufacturers is an small company, what about the others?

 

ASIO on exaSound is from Steinberg Media Technologies GmbH and it is open to developers...!

 

Roch

 

PS/ ASIO runs on integer mode on exaSound-Decibel Mac.

Link to comment
Hi Alex,

Of course my reporting is based on first-hand listening with the DAC (DACs) I have, if not what could be the sense?. exaSound e22 DAC is listed n my system on CA since a long time. Decibel is also listed. I didn't try HQ Player, but is on the first place on my "to do list".

 

I hope you did not take any offense Roch. I did assume that you were basing it on the use with your exaSound e22.

Oh wow, you MUST try HQ Player! It is wonderful. Use one of the Poly-sinc filters (my favorite is Poly-sinc-short) as most of the rest are nothing special. And with ASIO support you might be in heaven.

 

 

...but ASIO gets the SQ to a higher and better noise free level.

 

So if you are saying you listened to the same tracks with e22 via Core Audio and then ASIO… I am jealous now!

 

 

exaSound is not based on XMOS USB chipsets, but in a proprietary one.

 

That I knew, but it does not mean it should not be able to support Integer Mode, though I guess with ASIO it does not matter. Oh, wait, I just saw your P.S. about that.

 

 

ASIO on exaSound is from Steinberg Media Technologies GmbH and it is open to developers...!

 

Yes, I knew that Steinberg is originator of ASIO, but my understanding is that ASIO for OS X did not come directly from Steinberg, and besides, there is code to be written specific to each device interface. I mentioned XMOS because I am wishing someone will do ASIO for all XMOS and then it will be easy for USB>I2S board designers to support ASIO. There is a firm in Germany, Ploytech GmbH, that has this year offered OS X ASIO drivers, but they are for a bunch of mostly obsolete USB sound cards for home project recording studio use.

Link to comment
I hope you did not take any offense Roch. I did assume that you were basing it on the use with your exaSound e22.

Oh wow, you MUST try HQ Player! It is wonderful. Use one of the Poly-sinc filters (my favorite is Poly-sinc-short) as most of the rest are nothing special. And with ASIO support you might be in heaven.

 

 

 

 

So if you are saying you listened to the same tracks with e22 via Core Audio and then ASIO… I am jealous now!

 

 

 

 

That I knew, but it does not mean it should not be able to support Integer Mode, though I guess with ASIO it does not matter. Oh, wait, I just saw your P.S. about that.

 

 

 

 

Yes, I knew that Steinberg is originator of ASIO, but my understanding is that ASIO for OS X did not come directly from Steinberg, and besides, there is code to be written specific to each device interface. I mentioned XMOS because I am wishing someone will do ASIO for all XMOS and then it will be easy for USB>I2S board designers to support ASIO. There is a firm in Germany, Ploytech GmbH, that has this year offered OS X ASIO drivers, but they are for a bunch of mostly obsolete USB sound cards for home project recording studio use.

 

No offense at all Alex, but there are so many people talking against Mac & DSD, with no knowledge about both that I have to sate this.

 

exaSound ASIO.jpg

 

Roch

Link to comment
Thanks for the screenshot Roch. I'm still not convinced that Steinberg did the development work for exaSound. The logo and acknowledgment may just be a copyright/trademark requirement.

Yes, that exact wording appears to be a requirement of Steinberg's royalty-free license of the ASIO trademark and SDK. The 2005 version of the license purportedly is here:

http://read.pudn.com/downloads119/sourcecode/multimedia/audio/506331/ASIOSDK2/Steinberg%20ASIO%20Licensing%20Agreement.pdf

HQPlayer (on 3.8 GHz 8-core i7 iMac 2020) > NAA (on 2012 Mac Mini i7) > RME ADI-2 v2 > Benchmark AHB-2 > Thiel 3.7

Link to comment
Yes, that exact wording appears to be a requirement of Steinberg's royalty-free license of the ASIO trademark and SDK. The 2005 version of the license purportedly is here:

http://read.pudn.com/downloads119/sourcecode/multimedia/audio/506331/ASIOSDK2/Steinberg%20ASIO%20Licensing%20Agreement.pdf

 

That's helpful Bob, thanks. Now if only I could find the development tools needed for creation of ASIO drivers on OS X. Might be time for me to send out a few inquiry e-mails, starting with both Steinberg and Ploytech, the latter being the only other firm I have seen offer OS X ASIO hardware drivers. And I wonder what it would take to convince Thesycon (who already are the primary supplier of Windows XMOS drivers) to look at OS X.

Link to comment
Now if only I could find the development tools needed for creation of ASIO drivers on OS X.

To access the ASIO SDK, go to the Steinberg website, click the Developers link, and register (for free) as a developer.

HQPlayer (on 3.8 GHz 8-core i7 iMac 2020) > NAA (on 2012 Mac Mini i7) > RME ADI-2 v2 > Benchmark AHB-2 > Thiel 3.7

Link to comment

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


×
×
  • Create New...