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Mac mini, airport extream, Moded Squeezebox or dedicated PC?


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Hello All,

 

Congratulations everyone for making this forum a reference with regards to Computer Audio!!

 

I have being focusing mainly at multi-channel systems so far but since I acquired a good pair of speakers and a decent amplifier, I felt in love again for 2ch. I ripped my entire collection of CDs and decided that was a time to create a decent system to play stereo music.

 

I have spent hundreds of hours reading information on the net and chatting with friends on our Brazilian Forum (www.htforum.com) trying to decide which solution is the best. Currently I have a computer in my bedroom with a network cable going to my listening room. I have one external HDD and one other in my bedroom's computer full of ripped CDs. (1.5TB)

 

I want to expend up to USD 1200 (excluding DAC) in a streaming solution. I will likely buy a Musical Fidelity V-DAC. I will buy everything in United States. Hence, I have selected the following configurations.

 

 

1) Airport Extream receiving music from bedroom's computer (wired) connected via USB to DAC

2) Squeezebox receiver receiving music from bedroom's computer (wired) conected via USB to DAC

I plan to mod the squeezebox with an external power supply, WBT nexgen RCA plug, etc

3) Mac mini connected to Bedroom's computer (wired) connected via USB to DAC

I would like to use the mac mini to connect to my 58'' Panasonic to be able to brownse my albuns + use it as a computer to surf on the web

4) dedicated pc with Lynx AES16 + DAC

 

I have then two questions!

a) What would be your choice purelly from an quality point of view?

b) What would be your choince from a interface (user friendly)/quality point of view?

 

Thank you very much

 

Greeting from Brazil

Edu Carvalho

 

Pure Music -> Itunes -> Mac mini -> hiFace -> Berkeley Alpha DAC -> MBL 7006 -> Dynaudio C1[br]www.computeraudio.com.br

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Just a few comments and clarifications for you ...

 

For your options 1 and 2 - AirPort Express or Squeezebox, you'll need to use optical or co-ax cable for connection to the DAC (not USB)

 

You need to consider if you will be wanting to use any form of Higher (than CD) resolution music downloads in the future, if so then the AirPort express will be out as only supports CD Quality. The current squeezebox is also limited to CD Quality though there is a new Squeezebox coming which *may* support up to 24/96.

 

If you go for the MacMini, you may want to use optical rather than USB into the V-DAC as this will allow you 24/96 if you want it later.

 

If using MacMini or Airport Express optical output, budget $50 - $100 for a good mini-toslink to toslink optical cable.

 

A dedicated PC with Lynx AES16 is probably going to be beyond your budget of $1200 USD, however you could go for a PC with ESI [email protected], EMU 1010, ASus Xonar or similar card as an alternative. The problem with "budget" PCs is they tend to be noisy so to spread your budget you'll probably want to look at building yourself with quiet components. Unless you are going for a higher end DAC personally I don't think the Lynx AES16 card will be required for you. For sound quality both will be similar, though the Mac is a little easier to set up for most people.

 

My personal choice, for both quality and interface, would be either MacMini with the V-DAC running iTunes and with iTouch for remote control; or a PC with ESI or EMU card and the V-DAC running Media Monkey, FooBar or J.River.

 

A good budget option for 75-90% of both quality and interface would be to keep your PC in the bedroom run iTunes on it and add an AirPort Express and the iTouch remote control.

 

Eloise

 

 

Eloise

---

...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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Thank you so much Eloise! Quite elucidating!

 

I am inclined to the Mac mini option but I keep you reading several other people saying that a moded squeezebox would sound better than a Mac mini because of it's high jitter issue.

 

Apparently, the squeeze is indeed able to benefit from higher resolution music via firmware update. I have found the following wiki that explaing it http://wiki.slimdevices.com/index.php/Release_Notes

 

Yes, indeed, I want to have the ability to play higher quality music like 24/192. I have listened to some audiophile recorded musics and the quality is superb!

 

I fully agree with noise being a problem specially in critical listening enveriments. I do not consider myself and audiophile person but I am particularly picky with noise! Hence, this systems are out! A noise less dedicated pc is still a bit expensive and will leave that for the furure, unless someone here can help me in digging something up that would be within my budget or at least in the USD 1.5k area.

 

Kind Regards,

Eduardo

 

Pure Music -> Itunes -> Mac mini -> hiFace -> Berkeley Alpha DAC -> MBL 7006 -> Dynaudio C1[br]www.computeraudio.com.br

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In your reply you state:

If using MacMini or Airport Express optical output, budget $50 - $100 for a good mini-toslink to toslink optical cable.

 

As I'm looking to build a system and strongly considering, but knowing little about, Macs - do the MacMini or MacBook have toslink output, they don't list them in the specs.

Thanks.

 

MBP13-128gb ssd using VoiceOver to hear the screen, iTunes, Ayre QB-9, McIntosh mx119 & mc207, Thiel CS2.4

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Hi rayhill - Tes all Macs right mow have optical outputs. It requires a mini toslink to toslink cable or a regular toslink cable with one mini adapter. The analog headphone output port is also a digital output port. Two birds one stone type of thing.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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No real benefit to modding the Squeezy, Edu. Yes, there's lots of stuff about it out in LaLa Land but the money you throw at doing it would be much better spent elsewhere, not to mention the invalidating of warranties!

 

I currently run a Duet and it does its job very well to a reasonably high level of fidelity. If I wanted greater fidelity I would look elsewhere. I'm not sure what the equivalent Brazilian saying will be, but here in the UK we have this - 'You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear'. In other words, if you feel the Squeezy would give you what you want but are unsure of its quality, buy the Transporter!

 

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I just built a pc that I cannot hear at all. spend about $500 for the pc and 675 for the lynx. So it CAN be done.

 

BUT

 

I dont have experience with the mac mini, the squeezebox or airport express so I can not tell you if it a better way. only that it is possible.

 

I will tell you that the mac mini is a heck of alot prettier than my pc.

 

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Eduado,

 

Just a quick point on the resolution capabilities of the Squeezebox family. The reference you found refers to what resampling the Slimserver software will do with high res files before sending them to the Squeezy. In other words, if you have a 24/96 file in your library, Slimserver will have it resampled to 16/44.1 before sending it out.

 

The maximum native resolution (ie - will not be resampled) of the Squeeze family is 24/48 and the Transporter is 24/96. Anything over these maximum resolutions will be resampled prior to sending.

 

Hope this helps.

 

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Thank you very much.

 

I understand you point of hacking/moding things to the extreme. I am not concerned with the warranty since I will not be able to use it in Brazil any way. Nevertheless, it demands quite some work and also you risk damaging the unit or puting money, time and effort and making a step back.

 

It seems that I still have to do some additional research with regards to resolution since I am lacking some basic knowledge on that area. In btw, if some one can just quickly say if I would be able to use mac mini as a source for high resolution 24/192 audio, i would appreciate. Then I will have to figure out which type of DAC would allow me such thing.

 

Cheers

Eduardo

 

 

Pure Music -> Itunes -> Mac mini -> hiFace -> Berkeley Alpha DAC -> MBL 7006 -> Dynaudio C1[br]www.computeraudio.com.br

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I decided to go via the Mac mini route. I know it is not supporting yet 24/192 but I am quite sure it will suport in the near future.

 

The question that arises now is if I should take an firewire DAC or a USB/SPIDF one. For a USD 600 budget, what would you get? Thinking on a V-Dac for the USB/SPDIF version. FOr the Firewire one, saw M-Audio ProFire 610 and RM fireface 400 (both are ugly!)

 

Tks again all for helping!

 

Cheers

 

Pure Music -> Itunes -> Mac mini -> hiFace -> Berkeley Alpha DAC -> MBL 7006 -> Dynaudio C1[br]www.computeraudio.com.br

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Maybe slightly out of your price range, but the Apogee Mini DAC with FireWire would be a good buy for you. Generally it's thought of better than M-Audio or FireFace as a standalone DAC.

 

Eloise

---

...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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Thanks again. I know that this is not the right topic to discuss DACs, but what are your favorite ones with firewire up to USD 1000?

 

Tks

Edu

 

Pure Music -> Itunes -> Mac mini -> hiFace -> Berkeley Alpha DAC -> MBL 7006 -> Dynaudio C1[br]www.computeraudio.com.br

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