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Changed macs now have pops/snaps under usb audio - I don't understand the problem...


Chilledspode

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I did some searches here but couldn't seem to hone in on my particular issue.

I had a 2013 mac mini i7 256GB SSD 8Gb ram using iTunes feeding my NAD M51 via usb and everything was fine - ElCapitan and current version of Itunes.

I needed more access to the hot rod mini (it was the main home/family computer) so I bought an older 2009 mac mini Core2Duo and put a 256Gb SSD in it and it has 8Gb ram and swapped out the i7 mini for the older 2009 model.

That change to the older mini produced continuous pops/clicks/etc using usb audio out - it was unlistenable.

Tried putting a AC powered usb 2 hub between the mini and and the NAD M51 and it made some improvement but not enough to be acceptable. I have tried all the usb ports on the mini and they all produce terrible outputs.

Tried bringing my 2012 MBAir into the system to provide the usb audio source and discovered the left side usb port is awful but the right side was pretty good and only produces an occasional pop/snap and I could live with this, but I want to fix the issue with the mini, but I don't understand what the real problem is and how I should go about fixing it.

Do I need a 'magic box' to cleanup the usb signal?

Should I be going from usb to some other format?

etc...

If this issue has been discussed, could someone please point me to where and I'll gladly read up on it - thank you for your time.

Mark

CalDigit VR2 4Tb <2009 mac mini OSX 10.11>iTunes 12.3>usb>NAD M51>MIT T2 >NAD M3>MIT T2> JBL 4344 with modern networks (all fed from dedicated 10/3 teck cable straight from the panel)

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Mark, did you try different cables?

 

I had a nicely built (I think Belkin) cable that worked fine for data but I had nothing but problems when using it for audio. I'm not sure of the issue, but I believe the tolerance on usb port dimensions is not the best. So I had the feeling that poor fit was the issue. Just a thought.

2013 MacBook Pro Retina -> {Pure Music | Audirvana} -> {Dragonfly Red v.1} -> AKG K-702 or Sennheiser HD650 headphones.

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Mark, did you try different cables?

 

I had a nicely built (I think Belkin) cable that worked fine for data but I had nothing but problems when using it for audio. I'm not sure of the issue, but I believe the tolerance on usb port dimensions is not the best. So I had the feeling that poor fit was the issue. Just a thought.

 

I thought about that but since the issue showed up when I changed out the mac mini and nothing else physically, I figured the cables should be ok. Upon reflection, I upgraded to ElCaptitan when I changed machines so I changed two things at once - I know better, duh.

 

Do you have a recommendation for long usb cables (30ft or so) ?

Cheers

Mark

CalDigit VR2 4Tb <2009 mac mini OSX 10.11>iTunes 12.3>usb>NAD M51>MIT T2 >NAD M3>MIT T2> JBL 4344 with modern networks (all fed from dedicated 10/3 teck cable straight from the panel)

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Do you have a recommendation for long usb cables (30ft or so) ?

 

30 ft is way beyond the recommended 15 ft max length for usb, and for audio purposes it is likely less than that. If you are actually using a 30 ft usb cable, that is likely the source of your issues.

Main System: Mac mini (Audirvana+, MMK, JS-2) -> ISO Regen (LPS-1) -> Icron 2201 (Rex LPS-1.2) -> ISO Regen (LPS-1.2) -> Ayre QB-9 Twenty -> Headamp GS-X Mk2 -> Classe CT-M600 -> KEF Reference 201/2

 

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El Capitan may still have some USB issues, especially on older Macs. I don't think I would want to run it on a Core Two Duo. I would first try going back to Yosemite, Mavericks, or even Snow Leopard on the 2009 Mini.

 

A long USB cable is a bad choice. If you need a long hardwired connection, there are some options. You could go with a Corning USB/optical cable. I never tried one myself, but they were the rage on this forum for about three weeks.

 

Or, you could get a short USB cable, a USB-S/PDIF converter, and a good 75Ω coax cable. Some of the S/PDIF converters have AES/EBU plugs which use a balanced cable, which is even better than USB on a NAD M51.

 

Musical Fidelity V LINK192 USB SPDIF Conv | eBay

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It is a 'boosted/powered' usb cable built for long runs and it was working fine with the previous mac mini.

Based on this, I do not think the problem is the usb cable.

 

I am using something similar to this one:

 

USB Extension Cable Active Extension for repeating USB cables and signals

 

Cheers

CalDigit VR2 4Tb <2009 mac mini OSX 10.11>iTunes 12.3>usb>NAD M51>MIT T2 >NAD M3>MIT T2> JBL 4344 with modern networks (all fed from dedicated 10/3 teck cable straight from the panel)

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wwmfan - I appreciate the USB was a bad call but it got me started in computer audio and with the original i7 mac w/Yosemite, worked quite well - now not so much :-)

I have always counted on improving my cabling at some point and now the need is upon me.

Thank you for the link - I don't know much about AES/EBU cable limitations - could I run a short usb to the converter and a 25-30ft AES/EBU to the M51?

If not what would you consider to be a good approach to reaching 30ft from the mac to the M51?

Cheers

Mark

CalDigit VR2 4Tb <2009 mac mini OSX 10.11>iTunes 12.3>usb>NAD M51>MIT T2 >NAD M3>MIT T2> JBL 4344 with modern networks (all fed from dedicated 10/3 teck cable straight from the panel)

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Ok - did a bit of quick research and long aes/ebu cables are not going to be an issue.

I live in a small remote town in northern Canada and am going to have to order the aes/ebu canle in - any recommended suppliers?

Cheers

Mark

nb: I will try to revert back to Yosemite and see what happens...

CalDigit VR2 4Tb <2009 mac mini OSX 10.11>iTunes 12.3>usb>NAD M51>MIT T2 >NAD M3>MIT T2> JBL 4344 with modern networks (all fed from dedicated 10/3 teck cable straight from the panel)

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It is a 'boosted/powered' usb cable built for long runs and it was working fine with the previous mac mini.

Based on this, I do not think the problem is the usb cable.

 

I am using something similar to this one:

 

USB Extension Cable Active Extension for repeating USB cables and signals

 

Cheers

 

I agree that it likely isn't contributing to your issue. Though if I were in your situation, I would temporarily move the the mini closer to the DAC and connect with a short usb cable to confirm it. Especially as your extension cable appears to use USB power from your mini to operate.

 

I have a long distance between DAC and computer myself and use an Icron Ranger.

Main System: Mac mini (Audirvana+, MMK, JS-2) -> ISO Regen (LPS-1) -> Icron 2201 (Rex LPS-1.2) -> ISO Regen (LPS-1.2) -> Ayre QB-9 Twenty -> Headamp GS-X Mk2 -> Classe CT-M600 -> KEF Reference 201/2

 

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Tone deaf - fair comment on shortening the usb run to see what happens - just not sure how I am going to actually pull that off ... :-) Neither the mini nor the M51 are easily moved to shorten the distance.

Let me ponder that for a bit

Cheers

CalDigit VR2 4Tb <2009 mac mini OSX 10.11>iTunes 12.3>usb>NAD M51>MIT T2 >NAD M3>MIT T2> JBL 4344 with modern networks (all fed from dedicated 10/3 teck cable straight from the panel)

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wwmfan - I appreciate the USB was a bad call but it got me started in computer audio and with the original i7 mac w/Yosemite, worked quite well - now not so much :-)

I have always counted on improving my cabling at some point and now the need is upon me.

Thank you for the link - I don't know much about AES/EBU cable limitations - could I run a short usb to the converter and a 25-30ft AES/EBU to the M51?

If not what would you consider to be a good approach to reaching 30ft from the mac to the M51?

Cheers

Mark

 

USB is not a bad call for the NAD M51! Mine sounds fantastic, especially with the addition of the UpTone REGEN. But, I would not use a USB cable longer than 2 meters.

 

Yes, balanced cables are designed for long runs. That's what stage performers use to connect their mikes to soundboards at the back of the house at a concert.

 

Unfortunately, that MF V-LINK 192 is discontinued. I used to own one. If you want to go that route, try to find a used one, like the one on eBay that I mentioned, or check Audiogon. There are also new, excellent, but more expensive USB-S/PDIF converters on the market.

 

You should also look into the Corning USB/optical cable which is very long. Some members here have them. Ask around here.

 

I still say your problem is probably trying to run El Capitan on an old Core Two Duo machine. Why do you need to do that? I still run Snow Leopard and/or Mavericks on all four of my Macs.

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wwmfan - thanks for the information, I am a total noob at computer audio stuff.

El Capitan - I am running a simple iTunes environment using home sharing with 3 macs, 4 ipads and home sharing gets clunky between different osx editions. Having said that, based on your initial reply I did some internet searches for ELC/usb and clearly this newest OS has a history of usb related issues - I didn't do my homework, I trusted Apple and I got what I deserved. :-)

 

Thanks for vote of confidence on usb to the M51 as my early reading suggested this was a good approach. I can see spending a lot of money on going the aes/ebu + convertor route but am intrigued by the corning cable which appears to be a usb > optical>usb cable - will the M51 interpret that as a usb source? I ask because I prefer the 192 oversampled sound of usb sources to the 44.1 sampled digital coax source material and don't want to lose the oversampling of usb option.

Cheers

Mark

CalDigit VR2 4Tb <2009 mac mini OSX 10.11>iTunes 12.3>usb>NAD M51>MIT T2 >NAD M3>MIT T2> JBL 4344 with modern networks (all fed from dedicated 10/3 teck cable straight from the panel)

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I did some searches here but couldn't seem to hone in on my particular issue.

I had a 2013 mac mini i7 256GB SSD 8Gb ram using iTunes feeding my NAD M51 via usb and everything was fine - ElCapitan and current version of Itunes.

I needed more access to the hot rod mini (it was the main home/family computer) so I bought an older 2009 mac mini Core2Duo and put a 256Gb SSD in it and it has 8Gb ram and swapped out the i7 mini for the older 2009 model.

That change to the older mini produced continuous pops/clicks/etc using usb audio out - it was unlistenable.

Tried putting a AC powered usb 2 hub between the mini and and the NAD M51 and it made some improvement but not enough to be acceptable. I have tried all the usb ports on the mini and they all produce terrible outputs.

Tried bringing my 2012 MBAir into the system to provide the usb audio source and discovered the left side usb port is awful but the right side was pretty good and only produces an occasional pop/snap and I could live with this, but I want to fix the issue with the mini, but I don't understand what the real problem is and how I should go about fixing it.

Do I need a 'magic box' to cleanup the usb signal?

Should I be going from usb to some other format?

etc...

If this issue has been discussed, could someone please point me to where and I'll gladly read up on it - thank you for your time.

Mark

 

 

Has it occurred to you that the older Mac might be defective?

George

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Hi George,

Nicely done :-)

I suppose that is possible.

I have been operating under the assumption that since the usb outputs function perfectly fine for everything other than for hifi audio to my dac that I am facing something more subtle than a defective machine.

I am coming to believe that wwmfan has it right in his speculation that El Capitan is a big part of my new issue.

This is great site and I appreciate the time and effort people have given to help me understand what might be happening

Thank you all

Mark

CalDigit VR2 4Tb <2009 mac mini OSX 10.11>iTunes 12.3>usb>NAD M51>MIT T2 >NAD M3>MIT T2> JBL 4344 with modern networks (all fed from dedicated 10/3 teck cable straight from the panel)

Link to comment
I thought about that but since the issue showed up when I changed out the mac mini and nothing else physically, I figured the cables should be ok. Upon reflection, I upgraded to ElCaptitan when I changed machines so I changed two things at once - I know better, duh.

 

Do you have a recommendation for long usb cables (30ft or so) ?

Cheers

Mark

 

Well a bit of a long shot. But note, the physical dimensions of the usb port on one computer may not be the same as on another. So cable is "fine" but may be more snug in some sockets compared to others. I think that was my problem, in any case.

2013 MacBook Pro Retina -> {Pure Music | Audirvana} -> {Dragonfly Red v.1} -> AKG K-702 or Sennheiser HD650 headphones.

Link to comment
Hi George,

Nicely done :-)

I suppose that is possible.

I have been operating under the assumption that since the usb outputs function perfectly fine for everything other than for hifi audio to my dac that I am facing something more subtle than a defective machine.

I am coming to believe that wwmfan has it right in his speculation that El Capitan is a big part of my new issue.

This is great site and I appreciate the time and effort people have given to help me understand what might be happening

Thank you all

Mark

 

 

Such noise wouldn't necessarily interfere with non-audio USB application.

George

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am intrigued by the corning cable which appears to be a usb > optical>usb cable - will the M51 interpret that as a usb source? I ask because I prefer the 192 oversampled sound of usb sources to the 44.1 sampled digital coax source material and don't want to lose the oversampling of usb option.

Cheers

Mark

 

The Corning cable has USB connectivity at both ends with some sort of USB to optical conversion circuitry. I don't know much about it, but it was the rage around here for awhile. It might require adding a female USB A-to-male USB B adaptor to connect to the DAC.

Here's a lengthy thread about it on this forum:

 

 

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f6-dac-digital-analog-conversion/corning-optical-universal-serial-bus-industry-standard-cables-connectors-and-communications-protocols-between-computers-and-electronic-devices-cable-experiences-23437/

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The Corning cable has USB connectivity at both ends with some sort of USB to optical conversion circuitry. I don't know much about it, but it was the rage around here for awhile. It might require adding a female USB A-to-male USB B adaptor to connect to the DAC.

Here's a lengthy thread about it on this forum:

 

 

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f6-dac-digital-analog-conversion/corning-optical-universal-serial-bus-industry-standard-cables-connectors-and-communications-protocols-between-computers-and-electronic-devices-cable-experiences-23437/

 

i think I misspoke regarding the adapter needed for the Corning cable. It appears to have a USB male A on one end and a USB A female on the other end, so you would need the USB A male-to-USB B male adapter like the one that comes with the REGEN, or any reasonably short standard USB A to USB B cable:

 

USB-A-Male-To-USB-B-Male-Adapter-3507-1.jpg

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