Jump to content
IGNORED

New to Computer Audiophile


Recommended Posts

Looking to get into computer audio. right now have a Elan house system with cd's burned into server

have a separate high end system for listening. looking to take Macbook and use itunes through music system

B&W 800

McIntosh 501 mono amps

McIntosh pre amp

logitech slimserver

sony cd/dvd player

 

How can I better use the macbook to my system / do I need an external storage device like (theacus)

 

 

Any ideas???

 

Jay

Link to comment

Hi Jay and thanks for stopping by. Welcome to CA.

 

There are a few ways to get there but the most direct route is likely to go from the Macbook into a DAC via USB. Then output the DAC into the preamp. You can start out to test by just taking the headphone output and splitting it into two RCAs to get it going quickly.

 

You probably already know about the general settings for iTunes.

 

Somebody else will have to chime in on the role of the slimserver here.

 

External storage to me is a function of two criteria. How much risk you can accept in terms of drive failure and how much space you need. Several folks here do not compress music, myself included so we have various type of external storage. I use a Drobo, but some of the smarter computer folks here have other solutions.

 

Some of these music repositories are direct connected locally and some handled remote wireless to remove the server noise from the listening area.

 

There are a couple choices for remote control of iTunes.

 

Snoop the forums here and you can read tons of stuff about people doing what you are interested in and some of the trials and tribulations. There is a good bit of info on low to high end DACs.

 

Holler when you have questions - hopefully you will find everyone here helpful and easy to talk to. I ask some of the stupidest questions imaginable (not to imply that you will), so have no fear!

 

BTW - nice gear you got there Jay

 

Link to comment

Thanks for the feedback BTW

 

Looking to rip DVD concerts in macbook and rip better redbook CD's lossless to macbook also.

checking out a new audio research DAC today with USB. looking to run slimserver and cd/dvd player into dac

 

Just looking for best way to use Macbook and Itunes for everything else.

 

Jay

Link to comment

For iTunes, error correction on, most of the other stuff off! AIFF is most popular iTunes format here I think. FLAC for higher res. I'm not trying to speak for others, these are just my general observations.

 

For FLAC you will need another player.

 

Here's more info on iTunes settings from an expert. http://www.usbdacs.com/Macintosh/Macintosh.html.

 

You can get going and when the MacBook is full move to external storage. There are posts here or on the net about how to do that. One way is to consolidate your library to the new drive and essentially point iTunes at that library. You can get more complex and have multiple libraries in different resolutions.

 

You will probably need another ripper for DVDs. Many folks rip audio only. Snoop around here and you will find suggestions on the favorite rippers for Mac.

 

Chris will likely chime in at some point and you can talk to him about remote controls. He's on top of the quickly changing world of remote control for iTunes music. I think Signal is currently popular, but plz confirm that.

 

Cheers

 

 

 

Link to comment

Best way to get 2 stereo sound from Macbook is via USB out to DAC? Ripping only audio from concert DVD's.

CinemaPro 1 software for that. Should I get an external storage device now and set everything up on that and how would I connect everything for best sound?

 

Jay

Link to comment

Hey Hey Jay - Welcome to the site. Thanks for innertuber for chiming in and sharing his knowledge and experience. He is one of many around here that have much to offer. If you aren't getting the answers you want just ask the question in a little different way :-) If I can't help you I have contacts that can, so you've come to the right place.

 

OK, I have some good suggestions for you, but I am short on time at this exact moment. I'll jump back on a little later today and we'll get you to where you want to be.

 

I'm a huge B&W fan having owned a pair of Nautilus 802 speakers. I'm also a current McIntosh user, so we have much in common.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

Link to comment

There is some debate about USB versus digital/optical output. USB is just easy on MacBook. All you really need is a bit perfect copy from the original source and you want bit perfect output. I think you can find analysis out there that says any format can be fine. I feel fat, dumb and happy using USB.

 

There are many DACs to choose from. I personally will probably upgrade to the Benchmark USB Pre or Wavelength Proton (due out soon). If you budget allows there are some other fine alternatives. Likewise cheaper too. Rick and Chris here have more actual experience with various models, so if you have specific questions fire away.

 

If you have the cash, I would say yes to the storage now only because your laptop will probably fill fast. The general objective, I would say, is to have remote storage away from the listening room with remote control in the the listening area. This is accomplished generally by using an airport extreme base with USB connected storage, the Macbook receives wireless signal and outputs to the preamp. Many people send that signal thru a DAC on the way to the preamp for a multitude of reasons. Remopte control can be Signal via an iPhone or a iTouch.

 

Some people use firewire or optical. I think you can get there however you want as long as things aren't screwing with the data. iTunes and MacBook happen to work pretty well together.

 

Regarding the external storage issue, I would not rush into buying that instantly unless you know exactly what you want. Read about Drobo just to see how these things work unless you are well versed. I'm not suggesting Drobo, just suggesting you learn about mirrored data storage in case things fail. Don't want to have to re-rip a ton of music. Mark and Chris round here know a lot of alternatives. I'm lazy and use Drobo.

 

One thing I would suggest, is be careful that whatever you do does not requre reformatting at some point to change the quantity of storage. Drobo might have this issue if you don't start with 4tb right off the bat. Some people prefer to have the music storage in the listening room and go for near silent operation.

 

If you are in a rush, I'd grab a Benchmark DAC, unless you can go above ~$1,300. That will get you going on ripped redbook cd's in iTunes using AIFF. Then take a bit of time to make a good decision on storage. If you have a little time talk with Rick and Chris here about DAC alternatives.

 

Edit - Here's a little more -

 

Your MacBook sits next to your pre-amp with USB out to a DAC, or headphone out split to pre-amp

DAC is RCA out left and right into your preamp

Airport Extreme Base station is sitting in a backroom with USB connected external storage

Airport Extreme creates a local wireless network, preferably connected to internet

MacBook connects to the same wireless network

iTunes "points" at a library of music you create on the external storage in the backroom

Rips goto and playback is "sourced" from that backroom, but iTunes on the MacBook manages it

(You can have a second library on the MacBook)

(You can tell iTunes to actually use multiple librarys at once I think, but I just got over my head)

You can control the music from the MacBook keyboard, your Macbook remote, or using a variety of other apps/devices.

 

If you go with Drobo, you might want to use their wireless device rather than Airport. Otherwise the Drobo dashboard won't work and their service techs will whine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Link to comment

Nice set recommendation Innertuber

 

I just ordered a ARC dac-7. I would use the macbook out to the dac.

Would the airport express base station be connected to a storage like Thecus n2100?

What would the sound quality be like, because of the wireless portion to the macbook vs a straight hookup from storage to macbook to DAC . maybe I'm stupid.

 

Jay

Link to comment

Hi Jay - It took me a while to get back on the site. I just made a rather expensive trip to the Apple store :-|

 

Anyway, did you actually get to listen to the ARC DAC7? Or, did you order it knowing it would be a very fine DAC? I am waiting to hear that one and I expect CA member rom661 / Rick will have some details for us very soon as well.

 

Instead of recreate the wheel by answering your original post, lets just get on with your most recent questions and then we can start chatting about where you want to take your system and what exactly you want to do. We'll get you there one way or another. It looks like innertuber has provided some great advice as well.

 

The Thecus units all have built-in network cards so they do connect directly to an Airport Extreme, but they will also connect to any network hub, switch, or router. Other storage options without a network card like the Drobo can connect to the Airport Extreme via USB. There is no sound quality difference between direct connected storage or wireless storage. You computer just sees it as another hard drive and pulls the data/music off of it. But, this should not be confused with a wireless DAC such as the Airport Express. The Express has major jitter issues and lacks high resolution capability, thus you may not care for the effects to your sound. The thing to think about here is where the wireless sits in your chain of components. If the wireless is before the music is processed by your software player like iTunes then there is no effect on sound quality. If the wireless is after your music playing software then wireless can have a major effect on the sound quality. Wireless disk is good, wireless DACs can be bad.

 

This may bring up more questions related to disk so let me know and I'll be happy to help you until everything is clear for you. What else is on your mind for your system or what do you want to know more about?

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

Link to comment

 

Thanks for the feedback Chris.

 

Here my thought. I have the whole house wired cat 5. My basement is the main hub and my Hi-Fi room. The cd/dvd player and squeezebox will run into dac-7. The macbook will also run into dac-7 via USB. My question is where should I keep the Thecus? I can leave it upstairs (again I don't want to loose any sound quality) and would I connect it through my network or wireless? I can keep it in the basement and how would I connect it( what to what??). Maybe you can show me and I will order the Thecus. Longterm, Im going to download lots of Itunes, HD tracks, and other HD sites and run it through DAC.

 

Jay

Link to comment

Hi Jay - You are very lucky to have your whole house wired with CAT5. You can place the Thecus anywhere in your house as long as you can reach a CAT5 jack. I would go the wired route if I were you. You won't lose any sound quality no matter where you place the Thecus as long as you have the bandwidth. CAT5 will allow enough bandwidth easily. Then you would connect to the Thecus from your MacBook either wirelessly or via CAT5 connected to a main hub/router etc...

 

Does this provide the details you are looking for? Let me know and we'll continue the discussion until all is good :-)

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

Link to comment

Chris,

 

Would u go with the n2100? there are so many NAS storage devices.

Anyone else want to chip in?

 

Just want to clarify Chris. I would leave the NAS device in another room and connect it to my

cat 5 jack and control it from my Macbook in the basement. Macbook would run directly into dac-7 via USB.

Is the n2100 itunes and mac friendly??

 

 

 

Jay

Link to comment

Hey Jay - There are a ton of NAS devices out there, your are right about that. The n2100 is geared for audio/video systems and should be a very nice addition to your system. Price/performance/features are all there with this unit in my opinion. I went for the 5200B Pro, but that may be more than what you need right now. I have a QNAP box coming in for review so I can't offer an informed opinion on them yet. I'm sure Netgear NAS boxes are good, but I have not had good luck with their devices or tech support. I've used about ten of their devices and wouldn't buy one now if I had a choice. Just my experience.

 

Yes, you would connect the NAS device via CAT5, which I am guessing goes to your main hub, switch or router that your other CAT5 connected devices go to. Your MacBook will connect to it using Safari to configure any part of it you want. To use the disk your Macbook will connect to it and mount the drive on the desktop. iTunes will not know the difference between a NAS drive or your local hard drive.

 

You MacBook will connect directly to the DAC7 via USB or optical. The n2100 is iTunes and Mac friendly. The cool thing about NAS drives is that operating systems rarely matter because you connect via TCP/IP and almost all of them support many file protocols. AFP, Apple File Protocol, is how you will want to connect to the n2100. It may sound more technical than it really is. I will certainly help if you have any problems. Don't worry there is a good community of people at all skill levels around here that are in your shoes or have been in your shoes and we all pitch in to work out the kinks when someone needs help.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...

Chris,

 

Just received Theacus 750GB. Going to hookup Mac like listed above. ARC dac will be out in a few months, I'm going to run cd/dvd and squeezebox to that. In the meantime, what DAC can u recommend?

I was thinking benchmark usb. Any thoughts for just Macbook computer hookup w/ theacus??

 

Anybody else have suggestions??

 

Jay

Link to comment

Hey Jay - Nice to see the Thecus arrived. You may want to read my just published review of the Weiss Minerva DAC before you take deliver of the ARC unit. I was blown away by the sound of this thing.

 

Speaking of the squeezebox, I just got a modded duet in for review from Bolder Cable. I can't wait to compare it to the standard duet and write up a full review.

 

If you are looking for a temporary DAC before your ARC arrives I suggest the PS Audio DLIII. It is a little cheaper than the DAC1 and is quite the performer. You may be able to find a used one around as well.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

Link to comment

Chris,

 

Looking to get cullen mod PS DLIII mod for just computer use. will use ARC for other items.

 

Does macbook have any issues with USB on DLIII and general connectivity??? I understand that benchmark works smooth with Mac. Is UBS connection the best or can I use firewire to PS??

 

Jay

Link to comment

Hey jay - The Cullen Mod is a great step to improve the DLIII. I haven't heard anything bad about it yet.

 

As far as MacBook and DLIII via USB connectivity goes, I had a great experience with this combination. I have heard a little about possible issues, but I don't think this is anything out of the ordinary. If you browse the Internet long enough you'll find someone with issues for every product.

 

The Benchmark is also a good choice, but offers a vastly different feature set. If you only need a DAC the DLIII is a great way to go. If you need a few more features then the DAC1 would be the better choice.

 

Neither of these DACs have FireWire inputs, so I do suggest USB. They also have other SPDIF inputs that sound great. I recommend trying each interface and coming to a sound quality conclusion on your own. Everyone's system is different :-)

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...

 

 

reading about benchmark reviews give the impression the ease of use with Mac vs others like PS audio DAC.

Just need it for computer only. Do I need to reconfigure anything with PS dac?? Benchmark seems easier by all

the comments I've read.

 

Anybody have any thoughts????

 

Jay

Link to comment

I own both and I am 100% positive ease of use is the exact same. No drivers are required for either DAC and any configuration you need to do on one DAC would be the same as the other DAC. For example changing the resolution output in Audio Midi Setup is the same for both DACs.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

Link to comment

Chris,

 

Do you recommend the Kimber USB or the imperical audio cables that use coax/spdif (ouch!! $980)

Also, I'm not very mac savy for audio. So for downloading from different HD sites, what format should I use for my macbook and do I need to reconfigure anything for playback???

then

 

Thanks for the great advise

 

Jay

Link to comment

Hey Jay - I do recommend the Kimber USB cable. This is a very hot topic for audiophiles and skeptics alike. I suggest you do your own listening and make up your mind for yourself. Personally I really like the Kimber USB cable and I've listened to a few USB cables to come to this conclusion.

 

I prefer AIFF downloads if available. HDtracks.com offers them and they import right into iTunes on a Mac perfectly. Sites like Linn Records offer FLAC which can easily be converted using the Max application to AIFF. WAV downloads can also be converted to AIFF with Max. Do you have any specific sites or formats in question?

 

The only "reconfiguration" you need to do is set the resolution to equal your music. For example if you only play 16/44.1 music then set Audio Midi to 16/44.1 and forget it. If you switch between different resolutions then you'll likely want to change the resolution to equal the music playing. You do need to close iTunes and reopen it for the application to use the new resolution setting.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

Link to comment

Chris,

 

As far as Itunes, all the downloads are 16/44.1 correct? All of my itunes are purchases. I ripped a few CD's, but nothing of high quality. Most of my downloads will be from HDracks and ripping of DVD audio. I'm setting up the theacus and mac today. Just want to know hot to set up for Itunes purchased playback vs high res playback. Yes, not to mac audio savy.

 

Thx

 

Jay

Link to comment

Yeah, all the iTunes stuff is 16/44.1 with a bit rate of either 128 or 256. Your ripped CDs should have a bit rate of 1411 if they are uncompressed WAV or AIFF. There isn't anything to select differently in iTunes for high v. low resolution tracks. Audio Midi Setup is where you want to change the resolution to match your music.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

Link to comment

Chris,

 

Wonder if you can help me. I connected the thecus to my mac airport express router.

I installed the program and it doesn't recognize the device which is upstairs.

 

Any thoughts. waiting for Thecus support to open.

 

Jay

Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


×
×
  • Create New...