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Mac Mini-iTunes or WindowsXP-MediaMonkey


marktrav
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I'm thinking of ditching my current Windows setup for a Mac setup. Advice is welcome....

 

I've currently got a Vista front-end to my highly modified Link III Dac (24/96) and I've been messing about with Media Monkey with the ASIO driver to my audio card. I feed AIFF to my 24/96 card via ASIO via MediaMonkey, and it's some of the best digital I've heard in my system. That includes using my SACD player as a CD transport into the same DAC using the same CD. In other words, if I play the exact same ripped CD through the computer vs. playing the CD through the transport, both using the same DAC, the computer sound is WAY better than the CD transport. (Same SPDIF connection) The current computer uses a Sony BluRay drive as input.

 

If I keep the Windows box, I'm going to downgrade from Vista to Windows XP because I refuse to spend the money for Win7 when I've got a license for XP. I'm downgrading because MS sent out a patch a few months ago that broke my ASIO driver. Seems like everytime I get the system where I want it, I run into something that needs to be patched, which then breaks something else.

 

Anyway, back to our regular programming.....

 

I rip the CDs using iTunes in AIFF with error correction turned on, and I set the audio card to always feed 24/96 signal to the DAC. The DAC always shows 24/96 signal.

 

I control the system using the MediaMonkey iPhone app, because I keep the computer in a closet, locked away from the main room. I feed the signal to my DAC via 1/8" phono at the computer card side into an RG6 72ohm cable that terminates into an RCA jack at the DAC. This is the best sound, and there is a difference over using the same run of Toslink, so I'd prefer to stay with a hardwire solution over an optical solution.

 

So, the requirements are: iPhone remote control, ease of software interface, bit perfect playback to the DAC, and the ability to download and play 24/96 files from various music vendors.

 

I've got the opportunity right now to pick up some Mac hardware fairly cheap (mac mini or a macbook) and I'd like to know if I can get bit perfect wired 24/96 music to my DAC. If the Mac mini can do 24/96 wired, how old is too old for a mac mini? I assume a single core 1.4mhz mac mini is probably too little horsepower? Would the macbook have a better sound card, or are they pretty much identical?

 

I'd much prefer an apple/itunes/iphone solution because that's the easiest and most user friendly from a user experience point of view. However, I'm a hardcore audiophile, and I'll stick with the quirky Windows setup in order to get the best sound.

 

Mark[br]Mac Mini feeding MSB LINK III via Optical TosLink via iTunes[br]VTL 5.5->VTL ST-150->Vienna Acoustics Beethovens

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I use MediaMonkey (but really wanted to get a MAC and was disappointed re: the music software functionality) as the software interface with Itunes was not to my liking - Itunes was less usable, had less functionality, minimal ability to easily view lyrics, etc. (IMO of course).

 

I spent months going through various products and MediaMonkey seemed to be the most functional, reliable, stable and best supported (active Forum, lots of help available, etc.)

 

Folks on CA seem to not too jazzed re:clunky software interfaces but that is large part of the experience. With MM, one can fairly easily replicate the looking at an album cover, lyrics, art, etc - all on on one screen

 

A small netbook with VNC makes a relatively inexpensive, sophisticated remote control that is very functional for Windows.

 

So if your Windows works, what's quirky about it? Why change if something works well?

 

As always, IMO

 

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"I've got the opportunity right now to pick up some Mac hardware fairly cheap (mac mini or a macbook) and I'd like to know if I can get bit perfect wired 24/96 music to my DAC. If the Mac mini can do 24/96 wired, how old is too old for a mac mini? I assume a single core 1.4mhz mac mini is probably too little horsepower? Would the macbook have a better sound card, or are they pretty much identical?"

 

Can you provide specifics on the Mac's you'd be able to purchase AND the inputs that your DAC provides?

Overall, you should be fine with any of the Minis (or Macbooks), and certianly they can do bit perfect 24/96 to non-legacy DACs, BUT, whether you can connect directly to them will depend on whether your DAC has a computer-capable native inputs (i.e. USB, Firewire, or Toslink/optical) that are high quality.

 

Clay

 

 

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Quirky is the breaking of breaking of device drivers in a random manner when MS updates the underlying Vista software. I haven't bothered to try to get ASIO4ALL to work anymore after spending two hours trying to get it to load and play sound after a Vista update clobbered it. Quirky is having to build lists on Media Monkey so I can remotely control it with iMonkey (iPhone).

 

Mark[br]Mac Mini feeding MSB LINK III via Optical TosLink via iTunes[br]VTL 5.5->VTL ST-150->Vienna Acoustics Beethovens

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I took the plunge on a new MacMini. The Link III has optical and RCA TosLink as well as BNC. It doesn't do USB and I don't want it to do USB.

 

The sound is wonderful, and I can control the whole thing using iTunes and Remote. I automated the CD burning process to automatically rip lossless AIFF files and eject the CD once it burns without having to connect it to a monitor. I can sit back, listen to music, and feed it more CDs while I'm listening, and they magically show up on Remote.

 

I'm happy now.

 

A future tweak might be to invest in a firewire box that produces an RCA or BNC digital out.

 

Mark

 

Mark[br]Mac Mini feeding MSB LINK III via Optical TosLink via iTunes[br]VTL 5.5->VTL ST-150->Vienna Acoustics Beethovens

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I downloaded a 24/176.4 khz AIFF file (Minnesota Orchestra, EiJi Oue: Exotic Dances From The Opera) and it plays fine on iTunes over the built in speaker. I haven't played it over the TosLink Optical, yet, so I don't know if it will automatically downsample to the 24/96 TosLink into the DAC or not. The Mac Mini is limited to 24/96 output on it's built in Optical TosLink, but an external firewire or USB device can deliver higher resolutions to a capable DAC.

 

Personally, I'm not up to spending the money right now on a DAC, so I'll live within the confines of my 24/96 DAC.

 

When I play CDs burned in the AIFF format, the DAC shows 24/96 signal lock and the MIDI settings on the Mac's TosLink are set to output 24/96, but I'm sure it's only sending 16 bits worth of information sampled at 44.1khz. In other words, I think it's sending 16/44.1 info (content) through a 24/96 pipe. But I'm not technical enough to know how that actually works.

 

But, to answer your question, yes, I've seen 24/96 AIF files around, and iTunes plays them just fine.

 

Mark[br]Mac Mini feeding MSB LINK III via Optical TosLink via iTunes[br]VTL 5.5->VTL ST-150->Vienna Acoustics Beethovens

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