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Different OSX versions, different sound quality? Older is much better?


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On 11/24/2014 at 3:59 AM, Kuja said:



Does the lack of answers mean that you upgraded your OS to 1.8.5 and higher, but did not hear any difference?

I finally tried 10.8.2 Mountain Lion on my 2011 Mac Mini.  There was a definite improvement in the SQ, much as you previously described.  "more open and spatial, with more air and natural reverb/decay. 3D stage is much better, and the high frequencies are extended and clean."


It seems to me you can more clearly hear the beginning and ending of a note.  The difference in instrument character and interplay is more clearly defined. The whole musical experience is far more enjoyable. I have rebooted to other OS versions and they all sound pretty much the same, with this notable exception for 10.8.2. I want to thank you for noticing this difference and posting about it. 


Finding a copy of 10.8.2 proved to be difficult for me.  I finally found a place to Download 10.8.0 and then used the Apple update software available from their website to upgrade to 10.8.2.  If there is a place to download 10.8.2, please let everyone know.  Apple only posts the final release of Mountain Lion and that is apparently 10.8.5, which sound no better or worse than any other OS.


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Wanted to personally thank KUJA for bringing to my attention the musical quality of Mac OS 10.8.2.  It has solved a big mystery for me.  Almost 7 years ago I was at a friends home listening to his hifi. He had just bought a new MacBook Pro. This was his first foray into using a computer instead of a CD player as a front end. We got his machine setup and listened for awhile. I thought it sounded really great, better than how I recall my MacBook sounding.


My laptop was older and used an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, while his used a newer i5 processor. I brought my MacBook along for this outing so I decided to connect my laptop in place of his. Just as I suspected, his laptop sounded more natural and musical, while mine sounded artificial and edgy. Of course we were using the same playback software and music files for comparison. I also made note of the fact that I was still running Snow Leopard (10.6) and his machine was running the latest Mac OS at the time, Mountain Lion (10.8). I did not notice the exact version on his machine but decided that might be the difference.


The musical improvement was so remarkable that when I returned home, I promptly went to Apple‘s website where I bought and downloaded a copy of Mac OS 10.8.  Sadly, it did not give me the improvement I'd heard at my friends home. After this experiment failed to give results, I suspected it might be the newer processor that was making the improvements. I was ready for a new machine, so I went out and purchased a new MacBook Pro just like my friend's, only to be disappointed again. I didn’t know what to make of it. My friend and I had switched back and forth several times between computers during our visit and both of us were certain of the difference in musical sound quality.


A few days after this experience, my friend was on a trip to Alaska and lost his new computer in a hunting lodge fire. He and his companions were fortunate to escape with their lives.  Well this event left me no means to investigate further. I just decided it was a fluke incident and there was no way to figure it out. 


Now skip forward to a few months ago. I was reading this forum where KUJA claimed that Mac OS 10.8.2 or 10.8.3 sound better than other operating systems. He also said that even 10.8.5, sounds inferior.  This caught my attention, so I did some research and found that when Apple released Mac OS 10.8.0, they released a series of minor updates very quickly. Some were within weeks of the initial release.  Perhaps this could account for why there was a discrepancy between what I heard at my friends home and when I downloaded the OS and bought the new Macbook computer.  I know for a fact that the download was 10.8.5 because I still have the installer archived on an old external drive. The computer may have been running 10.8.5 as well, but I no longer have it. Usually these updates are minor bug fixes so you don't expect them to make any major difference, especially not in sound quality.


I wanted to verify what KUJA claimed but Apple does not make 10.8.0 available for download any longer. They only let you download the full install for 10.8.5 or the updates of 10.8.2, 10.8.3 and 10.8.4. Seems I recall this situation existed back 7 years ago and prevented me from trying earlier versions.  Well I finally managed to find a copy of 10.8.0 this week. I installed it on my 2012 Mac Mini and then performed the update to 10.8.2. It sounds great and reminds me of what I heard almost 7 years ago. We were not imagining things and KUJA is absolutely correct!


What Apple did in these updates I have no idea. A software guru might be able to dig into the bowels of the beast and figure out what they screwed up. All I know is this; if you are not listening to 10.8.2 or 10.8.3, then you missing out on some musical enjoyment.  Thanks so much KUJA for posting this information. It solved a long standing mystery for me and is providing hours of good music coming from my system.  

Perhaps there are other MAC OS versions that also sound good.  



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4 hours ago, AudioDoctor said:

I have used every mac OS from Sierra to Catalina and not once have I said to myself, that OS sounded better than the others...


What made a difference was the playback software, moving to network playback versus direct connection to a DAC via USB, and using an optical network player versus a copper Ethernet connected player.


Currently, I am using Linux on a CAPS machine running Roon and HQPlayer and I think it sounds even better than Mac OS did.

All playback software and HiFi hardware connections were the same in my comparisons of yesteryear and today.  I presently have a multi partitioned drive where I can boot any version of OS 10.8.  It is clear that 10.8.2 and 10.8.3 are superior sounding to 10.8.4 and 10.8.5.* All other hardware and playback software remains static, so unless someone is going to claim that drive partitions can impart a sonic character, then I don't see any random elements that could bias the evaluation.


Without the experience of 7 years ago that I already described, I might have dismissed any assertions about the Superiority of 10.8.2 or 10.8.3, just as you have. (Although I probably would have kept that opinion to myself)  Don't knock it until you've tried it and every OS from Sierra to Catalina, is not trying it.


*10.8.4 and 10.8.5 remind me of all the other versions of the Mac OS that I've had installed on my machines through the years.  Of course I do not claim to have heard every single iteration of every Mac OS release.


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