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Maybe moving from Mac


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Hi guys,

 

I'm not very techie and for years I've used Macs for work as a photographer and also as a music player. I've used a mini mainly but also, more recently, a MBP and I've been happy with these. As retirement looms and money is tight I'm considering moving away from the mac ( maybe to a windows PC ) but IIRC the macs were very good for sound output and when I first got into it, they scored higher than PCs unless you added various bits and pieces.

 

Is the Mac still a better source without adding anything or can I get just as good sound quality straight from a less expensive windows machine?

 

If so any recommendations?

 

Thanks

 

B

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it will cost $$ to buy another Windows machine, but you already own the Mac

 

do you want to spend a tiny bit more for better SQ or what?

 

if the former just add an ext. DAC on to the mac and keep it - dunno if an iFi would sound better or not

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it will cost $$ to buy another Windows machine, but you already own the Mac

 

do you want to spend a tiny bit more for better SQ or what?

 

if the former just add an ext. DAC on to the mac and keep it - dunno if an iFi would sound better or not

Eventually the Mac will need replacing, and at that point a regular PC might be cheaper. In fact, perfectly competent PCs can be had for much less than the price of a Mac. In the end, it comes down to what you need from a computer, and the cheapest ones might not deliver, but with PCs there's more choice and thus a better chance of finding a good fit without paying for features you don't require.

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I am techie all my career. I use both platforms and while I am biased to the PC side for whatever professional or personal reason I will say this:

 

Mac is much more stable and annoyance free from a problem proneness perspective. For the non-techie, Mac provides an "almost" zero effort problem and anti-malware campaign ownership experience. If you go PC be prepared to constantly deal with Windows updates and do not forget to add the cost of an anti virus problem to your cost analysis. BTW, I put my mom on Ubuntu Linux and she has been happier than ever and no problems. When she was on Windows, constant calls to me for help.

 

Secondly, the Mac hardware is venerable and apple does a fantastic job of sourcing components that last for a long time so stick an SSD in your Mac and it is good for another 3 years.

 

PC has the momentum and adoption in the business world but for personal use, especially audio, Mac is a great choice so no need to make the switch to PC just because you retired, just ride that Mac out for as long as you can.

 

Just for the record, I have a MBP for my audio but for business I have a Microsoft Surface Book Pro. I love both but Mac for music PC for work and I do not intend to make this a Mac vs. PC thread. I am OS and hardware agnostic and use best of breed for task at hand.

RIG:  MB Pro - Benchmark DAC3 L | Benchmark AHB2 | Paradigm Sig S6 Cables:   Van Damme XLR Canare 4S11 Biwire Lifatec optical Wireworld and IsoTek power

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Hi guys. I haven't been very clear. I'm plugging my mac into an external DAC ( on a Hegel 160 to be precise ) but I thought the jitter from PCs was much higher than from a mac mini and this would necessitate the use of an intermediate box of tricks to help with this or something. Maybe I'm wrong.

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Hi guys,

 

I'm not very techie and for years I've used Macs for work as a photographer and also as a music player. I've used a mini mainly but also, more recently, a MBP and I've been happy with these. As retirement looms and money is tight I'm considering moving away from the mac ( maybe to a windows PC ) but IIRC the macs were very good for sound output and when I first got into it, they scored higher than PCs unless you added various bits and pieces.

 

Is the Mac still a better source without adding anything or can I get just as good sound quality straight from a less expensive windows machine?

 

If so any recommendations?

 

Thanks

 

B

As you have stated that you are happy with the sound you are getting with your Mac connected to your external DAC and since money is tight, my recommendation would be for you to stay put. As they say, if it ain't broke...

 

Perhaps the biggest reason to stay put is that this segment of audio (music servers) is rapidly evolving, more rapidly than any other segment of audio and by this time next year and again the year after, you will likely find much better options for less.

 

As far as SQ differences between "off the shelf" Mac OS and "off the shelf" Windows, my experience is that they're both pretty good platforms today and both give you good options as far as music playback software. Gordin Rankin has been quoted as saying that Windows 8 generates 12% more hard errors than OSX but I'm not sure if this applies to Windows 10 which is considerably better than Windows 8.

 

If you decide you want to get serious about optimizing your OS, this can lead to a very nice bump in SQ and this can be done with Mac OS but I believe there is much greater potential to optimize Windows 10 and so I would give Windows the edge if ultimate SQ is your goal. The advantage of staying with the Mac hardware that you already own is that it is capable of running either OS and even running both OS's using separate partitions. Linux is an option also but much harder for the "non techie" audiophile to implement and fine tune.

 

As a better value alternative, instead of looking for a wholesale hardware platform change, consider adding to your existing hardware a network attached adapter (NAA) like the Sonore microRendu or SOtM sMS-200 (provided that you have a USB DAC). Your money will go a lot further with either of these devices.

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I agree with keeping the Macmini longer and trying to improve the jitter between Macmini and DAC.

 

Assuming your DAC can accept USB and SPDif inputs, Macmini can probably send both digital signals to your DAC. You can try to use a jitter removal/signal reconditioning device like iFi SPDif iPurifier. It goes between Macmini SPDif out and DAC SPDif (Coax/Optical) in (if available). It helped my Win10 PC to improve the on-board optical out.

 

Having said that most of my previous audio quality issues had something to do with speaker/sub placement, room modes, gains, sitting positions. Just my 2c.

 

PS. For audio only, down the track, you can try Google Chromecast Audio with SPDif iPurifier. It may surprise you!

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Is the Mac still a better source without adding anything or can I get just as good sound quality straight from a less expensive windows machine?

 

If use bit-perfect (binary identical transfer audio data from file to DAC) mode there is no difference for any operation system.

AuI ConverteR 48x44 - HD audio converter/optimizer for DAC of high resolution files

ISO, DSF, DFF (1-bit/D64/128/256/512/1024), wav, flac, aiff, alac,  safe CD ripper to PCM/DSF,

Seamless Album Conversion, AIFF, WAV, FLAC, DSF metadata editor, Mac & Windows
Offline conversion save energy and nature

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If you are outputting to the Hegel, there is no reason to switch. PC and Mac should be about the same. The only thing you could do is buy one of the ethernet>USB devices described above, which almost certainly will give you an uptick in SQ.

 

The other is to buy one of the many USB cleanup devices on the market to insert between your MAC and the Hegel. They range in price from about $50 to about $500 and have varying degrees of success in cleaning up your USB signal. Lots of discussion and comparison elsewhere on the thread.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: RPi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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Hi guys,

 

I'm not very techie and for years I've used Macs for work as a photographer and also as a music player. I've used a mini mainly but also, more recently, a MBP and I've been happy with these. As retirement looms and money is tight I'm considering moving away from the mac ( maybe to a windows PC ) but IIRC the macs were very good for sound output and when I first got into it, they scored higher than PCs unless you added various bits and pieces.

 

Is the Mac still a better source without adding anything or can I get just as good sound quality straight from a less expensive windows machine?

 

If so any recommendations?

 

Thanks

 

B

I suggest you ask yourself if you want to use other music playback devices around your home, and how much music you have.

 

I have 35,000 songs/files and want to enjoy them on 4 different devices of varying levels. So, using a NUC speciality, single purpose mini-computer like the microRendu and a NAS drive works best for me.

 

If you do not have a big collection of music, AND, you really enjoy your music playback software, are you using Roon, Audiovirna, Pure Music?

 

If you really like your software on your MacBook, one of the best & cheapest things to do is to get a PSAUdio Lan-Rover/Startech isochronous USB extender and locate your computer off to another room. This will get you a significant increase in SQ by taking away a switching PSU, eliminating the noise of the USB bus on the computer, and providing isolation by converting the USB signal to TCP/IP, then converting it back to USB on the Audio rack.

 

I used to have a macMini, it wasn't junk, - but I am enjoying a HUGE increase in SQ, and I got rid of that PITA computer.

 

Cheers,

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+1 on the mini with audirvana. 30-day trial so it won't cost a thing if you don't like it. I was running the same setup for a few years before buying a server.

Aurender A10..Oppo UDP 203..Classe' SSP-800..SimAudio Titan MCH Amp..Dali Euphonia MS4s/CS4/Phantom IW..JL Audio F112..Silnote Poseidon Signature XLR.. Pure Note Alluvion speaker cables..Shunyata Research Ztron Alpha HC/Lessloss DFPC PCs..Symposium Svelte Shelf Plus..Billy Bags rack.

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The reality is that the underlying hardware for Apples, Windows and Linux are the same: Intel or AMD based CPUs with Intel, nVidia or AMD GPUs with motherboards from ASUS, MSI, Gigabyte (aka Foxxconn) and chipsets from Qualcomm, Broadcom and the like.

So, on the same hardware platform any perceived sound difference really would be down to software. And I would argue that if the software gives you differences in sound that really would be because of OS/software optimisation (or lack there of) by the user.

Solutions like Audiophile Optimizer, JPlay and the custom Linux OS-es like Daphile and whatelse have shown that you can optimize things to get great results. Also, the audio companies use Windows (Naim Audio, SOtM) and Linux (Lumin, Brison, SOtM) as their platforms to power their streamers, so there must be something right for that price. (No, these companies cannot use Apple. Apple does not release its OS to run on anything other than Apple equipment. But Apple is effectively BSD Unix with a very good graphical user interface on top, so it would be able to achieve similar results as Linux on streamers from the above brands.)

So, buy the OS you like for the budget you can afford.

Synology DS214+ with MinimServer --> Ethernet --> Sonore mRendu / SOtM SMS-200 --> Chord Hugo --> Chord interconnects --> Naim NAP 200--> Chord speaker cable --> Focal Aria 948

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Apple uses higher quality hardware than most Windows pc manfs. You can get a quality custom pc built or buy a 'server quality" pc.

 

I grep that it is useful to drop down into the Eunuchs layer on Apple machines.

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Apple uses higher quality hardware than most Windows pc manfs. You can get a quality custom pc built or buy a 'server quality" pc.

 

I grep that it is useful to drop down into the Eunuchs layer on Apple machines.

That is debatable. You can build a PC with the exact same components as an Apple. Where Apple differs is in the quality of its non-computing components: the housing and the quality of the screen. But do you really need a great IPS screen in your laptop for playing back sound? So, get the Dell or HP with the same CPU, same chipsets, same GPU, same switches, but with the cheaper case, cheaper screen and cheaper keyboard.

Synology DS214+ with MinimServer --> Ethernet --> Sonore mRendu / SOtM SMS-200 --> Chord Hugo --> Chord interconnects --> Naim NAP 200--> Chord speaker cable --> Focal Aria 948

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Apple's hardware is better than most pcs. Simply look at the failure rates.

 

But like I said "'you can get a quality custom pc built or buy a 'server quality" pc" to address the quality issues. Of course, then you are pretty close in cost to the Apple stuff.

 

NB - a quality system board is also needed.

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I have 4 devices at home, 2009 iMac, 2011 Mac Mini, i5 Asus laptop and i5 Sony laptop.

Music from the Asus is totally not possible while the Sony is good, but what I am doing is to keep the Mac's alive.

I just put maximum ram in them. I have just upgraded the mac mini and put an ssd in it.

IME mac's are just way more reliable.

Having said the above, IMO it depends on which software you use for playing the music, I like Audirvana on the mac mini, but on Windows Jriver is excellent.

As you have said your funds are tight - I am the same so I have invested in a usb to spdif converter which has cleaned up the sound a bit. There are further benefits with upgrades in usb cables and cleanup devices like the Regen.

IMO if you thinking of upgrading a computer to play music - forget it, just buy a microrendu or a SOtM sMS 200 and a powersupply.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I always liked my Mac better for music playback over my Windows setup but with the lastest JRiver the gap has been getting smaller for me. That said when I recently tried Linux Mint with MDP my jaw hit the floor. Running on Yoga 910 and am still shocked. Thinking about building a pc specifically as a Linux Music Server with a fan-less case and high end usb card and external battery powered power supply. Will be interesting to compare that to the laptop with the exact same software. Hopefully its any better! :-)

 

George

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On ‎2‎/‎22‎/‎2017 at 2:52 PM, Ralf11 said:

Apple uses higher quality hardware than most Windows pc manfs. You can get a quality custom pc built or buy a 'server quality" pc.

 

I grep that it is useful to drop down into the Eunuchs layer on Apple machines.

 

Not true. Most MACS are just mass produced just like regular Windows PC's and not the newest tech for the Mac either. They just charge more.

 

I have worked on both. 

Current:  JRiver 26 on Win 10 PC (AMD Ryzen 5 2600 with 32 GB RAM) or Daphile on an I5-2500K with 16 GB RAM

DAC - TEAC UD-501 DAC 

Pre-amp - Audio Research SP-16

Amplification - PS Audio S300 - Kenwood L-07M's - Pioneer M-22

Speakers: Royd Doublets - Wharfedale Linton Heritage - KEF LS50 - ELAC unifi UB5's - Linn Tukans - others......

Cables:Tara Labs and DiMarzio Interconnects and Homebrew speaker cables

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