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Clarification re: Optical Output on MacBook and Mac Mini


faberryman
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I have seen conflicting information and am looking for definitive answers to the following questions:

 

1. Will the optical output on the MacBook/Mac Mini output 24-bit/88.2kHz?

 

2. Will the optical output on the MacBook/Mac Mini output 24-bit/176.4kHz?

 

3. Are there any USB DACs that support 24-bit/176kHz.

 

Thanks in advance.

 

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1. Will the optical output on the MacBook/Mac Mini output 24-bit/88.2kHz?

 

This is a tough one. The newest Macs may support 88.2. My Mac Pro does not do 88.2, but my MacBook Pro 13" with SD slot may support 88.2 I say may because it's displaying 88.2 as an option at the moment, but not digital out because it appears to default to headphone optical output. I may need to connect my Alpha DAC via optical.

 

2. Will the optical output on the MacBook/Mac Mini output 24-bit/176.4kHz?

No

 

3. Are there any USB DACs that support 24-bit/176kHz.

None support it natively. Some may support it with additional device drivers and software like this EMU 0404

 

http://www.emu.com/products/product.asp?product=15185&nav=technicalSpecifications

 

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I don't think this is restricted to the latest unibody Macs, though. I have been outputting 88.2 from my mini to my soundcard for a while.

I can't go to 176.4 - while both Audio MIDI Setup and my soundcard can be configured for this, I'm not getting sound at that higher rate.

 

The 88.2 works nicely, however. I will check my unibody MacBook Pro at the higher rate and report back if that should work.

 

Don\'t sample, listen!

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Both my Mac Mini and various MacBooks will output 24/88, but I recall some discussion from the Benchmark folks suggesting that you should use the 24 bit setting but match the sample rate to that of the source....currently changing the sample rate in iTunes involves closing it, altering the rate in Audio Midi setup and opening it again...I dont know if Snow Leopard will provide automatic sample rate switching. Until recently it wasnt an issue for me as all of my music came from ripped CDs but now that I've discovered hi-rez downloads I may have to revisit this.

 

Roon NUC I3 w 2500 albums, microRendu to Liberty DAC, Pass DIY Amp class amp, Klipsch RP600 or to Schiit Freya + Gumby MB, Sanders ESL amps and speakers, Mjolnir KGST and Stax L700

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