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Mac mini, yosemite and Cambridge Audio Dac Magic (original version)


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This afternoon I connected my brand new Mac Mini (late 2014 model) running Yosemite to my (quite old) Cambridge Audio Dac Magic.

I found that in the midi output settings, the mac recognised the Dac Magic, but would not output anything higher than 16 bit with 44.1 kHz.

 

Is this usual or is my Dac Magic just too old? I would like to output high definition music files, minimum 24 bit at 96khz. Do I need a new DAC to do this?

Digital system:  NAS (216 play), CAT. 6 cable to Marantz NA6005 network music player. Optical connection to Cambridge Audio DacMagic. Graham Slee Novo headphone amp with Grado Sr80i headphones, and Cambridge Audio 540 amp. Monitor Audio Bronze B2 speakers.

 

Analogue: Rega RP1, Cambridge Audio Phono stage, amp and speakers as above.

 

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As far as I can gather, your older DacMagic's USB input is limited to 16/44.1, but its optical input supports up to 24/96 so try connecting the mini to DAC that way. The mini's headphone socket takes a mini-TOSLINK plug.

 

By the way, that's not "midi output settings" you're looking at. It has nothing to do with MIDI. You're dealing with audio output settings in the Audio Devices window of the Audio [and] MIDI Setup utility.

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Thank you! I appreciate the good news, so all I need is the toslink adaptor. I am in your debt, thank you!

Digital system:  NAS (216 play), CAT. 6 cable to Marantz NA6005 network music player. Optical connection to Cambridge Audio DacMagic. Graham Slee Novo headphone amp with Grado Sr80i headphones, and Cambridge Audio 540 amp. Monitor Audio Bronze B2 speakers.

 

Analogue: Rega RP1, Cambridge Audio Phono stage, amp and speakers as above.

 

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As far as I can gather, your older DacMagic's USB input is limited to 16/44.1, but its optical input supports up to 24/96 so try connecting the mini to DAC that way. The mini's headphone socket takes a mini-TOSLINK plug.

 

By the way, that's not "midi output settings" you're looking at. It has nothing to do with MIDI. You're dealing with audio output settings in the Audio Devices window of the Audio [and] MIDI Setup utility.

 

recommend getting an usb/spidif converter for even better performance and avoid any jitter issues with optical out of mac mini

Both these comments are good advice. I would perhaps suggest though that a new DAC with async USB might be more cost effective than getting a USB-SPDIF converter.

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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Taking your advice, the two ifi Dac units look nice. There are 2, and I can't tell the difference. One is much more expensive though. Is it the nano or the micro you are suggesting?

Digital system:  NAS (216 play), CAT. 6 cable to Marantz NA6005 network music player. Optical connection to Cambridge Audio DacMagic. Graham Slee Novo headphone amp with Grado Sr80i headphones, and Cambridge Audio 540 amp. Monitor Audio Bronze B2 speakers.

 

Analogue: Rega RP1, Cambridge Audio Phono stage, amp and speakers as above.

 

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Hello, so after some research I have further questions, if any one could answer I would be very grateful.

 

I am asking about the iDSD DAC devices. I see both Nano and Micro are portable devices with a rechargeable battery, is there a desktop version without the battery? if not, is it suitable to use either one permanently connected to a Mac Mini computer?

 

 

What happens when the battery reaches the end of its lifecycle, is it replaceable or will the device operate correctly over USB power?

 

 

Are the devices USB3 compatible?

 

 

Are the devices compatable with OS X 10.10.2 Yosemite?

 

 

Are all the features available over USB 3 (my current DAC connects vis USB but is restricted to 16 bit 44.1khz when connected this way).

 

 

Is the only difference between the 2 devices the ability to decode Octa DSD?

 

Many questions, I know but I need to be sure of the device prior to purchase.

 

thank you.

Digital system:  NAS (216 play), CAT. 6 cable to Marantz NA6005 network music player. Optical connection to Cambridge Audio DacMagic. Graham Slee Novo headphone amp with Grado Sr80i headphones, and Cambridge Audio 540 amp. Monitor Audio Bronze B2 speakers.

 

Analogue: Rega RP1, Cambridge Audio Phono stage, amp and speakers as above.

 

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I think others who may not have heard the DacMagic may be selling it short. 3+ years ago that thing was considered a giant killer. It's weakness was the USB input so I would do as suggested and buy a nice USB to SPDIF converter. That Guster (on ebay) for about $150 is all the rage right now but there are others for less money which will do fine too. I would seriously doubt that anything in the $150-$250 price range made today will beat a Guster/DacMagic.

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Yes, indeed I have not yet given up on my Cambridge Audio DAC Magic. I will get the right cable and give it a go. However I need a second Dac to bring the listening facility in to another room, direct from the Mac instead of streaming to an Apple TV.

So I would be adding to my system, and thought I may as well add DSD facility at the same time.

Digital system:  NAS (216 play), CAT. 6 cable to Marantz NA6005 network music player. Optical connection to Cambridge Audio DacMagic. Graham Slee Novo headphone amp with Grado Sr80i headphones, and Cambridge Audio 540 amp. Monitor Audio Bronze B2 speakers.

 

Analogue: Rega RP1, Cambridge Audio Phono stage, amp and speakers as above.

 

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Well, I had a nice reply from ifi.com as follows;

 

Thank you for your kind enquiry.

 

> I am asking about your iDSD DAC devices. I see both Nano and Micro are portable devices with a rechargeable battery, do you have a desktop version without the battery?

 

 

  • Yes. We have the micro iDAC which is strictly desktop based, however we are now upgrading the iDAC to the iDAC2 which will have more features such as the burr brown chip, SPDIF out and 3 filters. It is also a complete redesign of the iDAC. This will be launched at the end of April-May therefore for this reason you may want to wait.

>if not, is it suitable to use either one permanently connected to a Mac Mini computer?

 

 

  • Yes. It is also suitable to use either the iDSD micro or nano.
  • The iDSD nano can run strictly on the USB line or battery. The iDSD micro can also do the same but if required it will use it's own battery to provide extra power.

>What happens when the battery reaches the end of its lifecycle, is it replaceable or will the device operate correctly over USB power?

 

 

  • The iDSD nano battery can be replaced easily by a customer, however the iDSD micro will have to be serviced at a local iFi centre.
  • Each battery will last around 4 years+ and we will offer customers the service to replace when at the end of life cycle.

>Are the devices USB3 compatible?

 

 

  • The iDSD nano and micro are both USB 3.0 compatible.
  • The iDAC is not and is only USB 2 compatible.
  • The iDAC 2 will be USB compatible.

>Are the devices comparable with OS X 10.10.2 Yosemite?

 

 

  • After Yosemite upgrades, there have been a lot of reported compatibility problems with audio devices (across a wide range of manufacturers). Therefore you would need to try this in case this is the same for you.
  • However we do have a lot of customers running our devices with Yosemite Mac's

 

>Are all the features available over USB 3 (my current DAC connects vis USB but is restricted to 16 bit 44.1khz when connected this way.

 

 

  • Yes. The iDSD nano and micro can send over 24bit / 192khz and DSD 512 (micro) / DSD 256 (nano).

>Is the only difference between the 2 devices the ability to decode Octa DSD?

 

 

  • No. There are too many differences to list, but in short the iDSD micro has a lot more options and is more dedicated to the output section / headphones. More bang for your buck.
  • The iDSD nano has less features.
  • We would like to refer you back to our website for more information.
  • iDSD nano: nano – iDSD
  • iDSD micro: micro – iDSD

Hope this helps. If you have any further questions then please don't hesitate to ask.

 

I am very encouraged by this reply, nice to see they have advised they will have a new product out soon and have been upfront about it. Too many companies would just sell you the current line of product and not tell you that there is a new one coming soon.

Well done ifi, when I buy a new DAC, I know where to go!

 

Digital system:  NAS (216 play), CAT. 6 cable to Marantz NA6005 network music player. Optical connection to Cambridge Audio DacMagic. Graham Slee Novo headphone amp with Grado Sr80i headphones, and Cambridge Audio 540 amp. Monitor Audio Bronze B2 speakers.

 

Analogue: Rega RP1, Cambridge Audio Phono stage, amp and speakers as above.

 

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