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Difference between intel/amd, g5 quad or dual, mac pro?


Joshua_j

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First post here,

Firstly, thank you for making such a wonderful site (Chris). I have been reading for weeks and following threads. It is really overwhelming at times. I have a few questions/observations:

1. from what I have been seeing, the computer is just a conduit to get the 0's and 1's to the DAC. Is this correct?

2. Has there been a comparison between the actual computers used? ie.. g5 quad versus g5 dual versus mac pro (with intel chipset) versus mac mini? or this this a useless comparison?

3. is there a difference between the amd and intel based chipsets in the applications described here (ie. computer based audio)?

 

I ask the above because I have both pcs and macs at home:

I have both a macbook pro 15" (2009) and a sony vaio tower at home purchased in 2003. My home is hardwired with cat5 cabling throughout.

speakers: Dali Euphonia MS5, CS4, RS3 for 5 channel

pioneer kuros plasma 60 inch

mcintosh c2300 preamp for 2 channel HT bypass all other times

marantz av 8003- for home theater processing

oppo for sacd

ps3 for blu-ray

amps- various old amps- denon poa-s1 for mains (in repair), but running denon poa 6600a for front three now and poa 6600 for rears now. Will be trying Carver silver 7 for mains and other carvers for center and rears.

 

My goal is to get about 2000 cd's that I own onto a music server but have not decided the pathway yet. I do not want to have my plasma on in order to enjoy my music. At this point in my life (a six month old child) my listening has changed and now I do 70% tv movies and 30% listening which I hope to increase once it becomes easier to use!!!

 

 

another question from reading:

1. is there a list of devices that contain non-oversampling DAC's?

 

Again, thank you for the site, and any advice.

Sincerely,

 

Joshua

p.s. I am leaving on a 2 week vacation wednesday, so I won't be responding after that for a bit

 

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Hello,

 

I haven't compared PCs to Macs, but I have compared PC to PC using USB DACs, firewire DACs, and internal sound cards like the Lynx 2B. Different computers do sound different, although I can't say why except to note that it probably has to do with the quality of power supplies and on board switching supplies. I have one computer that I built to be a quiet media server, using high quality parts, and no matter what DAC I drive it has upper midrange glare that is hard to listen to. If I drive the same DACs with a different computer that I built, the upper midrange nasties go away.

 

Since you already have a number of computers, you might just decide on a DAC and then see if you can notice any difference between computers playing back the same rips. When I used a USB DACs, the best performance I had was out of a small headless Fit-PC Slim with a battery supply or a linear power supply. These have extremely clean on-board supplies with no junk coming down the USB ports (as measured by John Swenson, not me).

 

One thing I will say is that, since your house is already wired, you might consider hosting your music library on a computer outside of the listening room, then mounting those drives from a small silent computer in the listening room or streaming with a Squeezecenter / Squeezeslave type of setup. Its nice not to have to hear fans and drives in the listening room. I don't even bother with a keyboard, mouse, or monitor hooked up to my computer in the listening room because I can control music playback with an iPod Touch or a small netbook.

 

I don't understand your question about devices that contain non-oversampling DACs. Are you looking for a list of non-oversampling DACs, or are you looking for something with a built in DAC?

 

Have a nice vacation!

Alan

 

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1. from what I have been seeing, the computer is just a conduit to get the 0's and 1's to the DAC. Is this correct?

 

Yes and no. The computer has to get the 1's and 0's to the DAC without screwing them up. This is harder than it appears and people have heard improvements doing everything from using Solid State Drives to using specialized software ala Amarra/Pure Vinyl.

 

2. Has there been a comparison between the actual computers used? ie.. g5 quad versus g5 dual versus mac pro (with intel chipset) versus mac mini? or this this a useless comparison?

 

Yes, if you dig through the Computer Audiophile Symposium posts they did comparisons there. I think the G5 Dual core 2.0 with SSD was the winner.

 

3. is there a difference between the amd and intel based chipsets in the applications described here (ie. computer based audio)?

 

Given the difference between PowerPC and Intel Macs, I'd say likely but minor like the other differences.

 

 

 

If you don't want to turn on the plasma, look up "headless" music servers or use a laptop with a small screen. The iPod touch or another computer can be used as a remote/screen.

 

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thanks for the quick replies. I was reading about the Transporter and such, but it seems like most people here like other routes and have sent back the transporter and used a Weiss DAC or another DAC. I have an IPHONE so I could easily use that as the pointsource for my music.

 

In terms of the mids sounding harsh or different feeding the same outboard DAC, I take your word for it, but I don't understand how zero's and 1's sound differently. I do understand that the software used to generate the bits does vary greatly.

 

I was reading about NOS (i am hoping that this means non-oversampling) verus OS DACS. I am not sure that I truly understand the difference between them, so I was wondering if there is a list of transports/players or receivers that have NOS DACS or is everything OS nowadays?

Joshua

 

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In terms of the mids sounding harsh or different feeding the same outboard DAC, I take your word for it, but I don't understand how zero's and 1's sound differently. I do understand that the software used to generate the bits does vary greatly.

 

When you hook a computer up to a DAC, unless you are using an optical toslink connection, you are making an electrical connection from the computer to the DAC. Numbers don't travel down the wire, voltages do. If you do a search on the Internet regarding "eye pattern" and DACs, you can see that the electrical line can be clean or dirty.

 

Also, the timing of the voltages are extremely important, and hence all the discussion about jitter.

 

Regarding the Transporter, I was not recommending a specific Logitech device, only suggesting that Squeezeslave might be an option You can run Squeezeslave on the PC in the listening room and Sqeezecenter on the server and stream to the PC just like any other Squeezebox device. The PC then outputs to an external DAC of your choice. There are other applications that are similar and probably better than Squeezeslave, but require Linux to run.

 

Alan

 

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"I was reading about NOS (i am hoping that this means non-oversampling) verus OS DACS. I am not sure that I truly understand the difference between them"

 

Oversampling dacs take the sample rate received at the chip and multiply it by, let's say, 4 if it is a 4 times oversampling dac, so if it receives 44.1, it will go to 192, 88.2 to 384 etc. Upsampling is taking one sample rate and turning it into another, let's say from 44.1 to 192 which is not necessarily a multiple.

 

 

"In terms of the mids sounding harsh or different feeding the same outboard DAC, I take your word for it, but I don't understand how zero's and 1's sound differently. I do understand that the software used to generate the bits does vary greatly."

 

Computer transports are similar to cd transports in terms of their differences in quality and things that can be improved. Everything affects the signal in one way or another, so treating everything reasonably well makes sense.

 

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Again, thank you for the prompt reply on both accounts. On reading further with the guidance of others, it seems as if the power supplies have a greater effect than the actual devices themselves (ie. mac mini vs g5). Also, the compact design seems to impart more crosstalk of noise if i undertand it correctly.

Thank you for the succinct answer! So, both oversampling and upsampling are changing the original recording (I am not saying that this is bad or good, just defining what happens). With all of the DACs and clocks and such, does this automatically happen? Are there ways to not let it happen? Does it have to be changed for every single song?

Thanks

Joshua

 

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I think that this is where things get above my understanding level. I actually read on another thread here about that: http://www.computeraudiophile.com/content/Magic-Words-Power-Mac-G5-versus-Mac-Mini

 

A gentleman named Clay and another gentleman named Paul mentioned these things.... Both of them and you have a much better understanding of this topic than I.

 

I do appreciate your input though.

Joshua

 

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I'm late getting into this thread, but....

 

If the topic is AC power supply, or problems created from the density of the Mac Mini layout, I wouldn't say that the gentleman named Clay has a much better understanding of this topic - but there was postulation that the density could only make things worse, if I remember the thread correctly.

 

I found the G5 to sound more natural (read less digital haze) than the Mini, IN MY ENVIRONMENT. Silverlight has tweaked his Mac Mini to get great sound from it, although he did upgrade the power supply, put in RFI reducing foil, etc. My Mini was stock early 2009 model.

 

With regards to the best sounding G5s, I selected the early 2005 model 2.3 Ghz Dual Processor, as opposed to the later 2005 2.0 Ghz model mentioned above for a couple of reasons, and continue to recommend it.

 

First, a study showed that the 2.3 Ghz was less likely to require service than the other similar models, i.e. all of it's siblings made in the 2005 timeframe. Part of this unreliability is due to the liquid cooling employed in some of the later models. Avoid these at all costs if you're buying a used G5.

 

Secondly, and with more postulation, I believe (without proof) that the likely reason for the earlier models sounding better is that the later models employ more powerful/sophisticated/complex components which increase likelihood of noise in the computer's circuitry. IOW, I'm selecting computers with the same philosophy I prefer in audio computers - simpler is ALWAYS better, IMHO. Einstein had something to say about this as well. :)

 

The 2.3 GHz DP model is the least 'complex' (read capable) model that also allows up to 4 Gb RAM (which I wanted for Amarra). It also allows use of PCI-x cards, rather than PCIe, for those interested in using Lynx cards, and other add-ons should you not subscribe to the "no unnecessary components" model I prescribed above.

 

I also retro-graded (i.e. downgraded to a previous generation) the video card with fabulous success in reducing fan noise, selecting a model with only one VGA output - the Radeon 7000.

 

hope this is helpful,

 

Clay

 

PS, in the credit where credit is due dept., Tim Marutani is responsible for the body of testing/work that points to G5's running Tiger as the best sounding of the Mac platforms.

 

 

 

 

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Clay,

thank you for taking the time to give such a detailed response. :)

In the end I guess that a quad core is overkill and too complex. The liquid cooling system is bad. And extraneous video processors are bad. So in essence you have made a bare bones device just for computer audio.

However, am I correct to think that the G5 as you have it will not run in a double boot up configuration (ie mac for itunes, and windows for the other cd audio extraction prgrams)?

May I ask why you didnt just go with a server and an airport extreme?

Joshua

 

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"So in essence you have made a bare bones device just for computer audio."

 

Not that extreme, but I would if I could. :)

 

The future of computer audio is in very low profile, very specific (to audio) Linux-based devices, IMO. I'm just trying to get a Mac-based computer that's as low profile as practical.

 

My 450 Mhz Apple Cube sound pretty darn good with iTunes!

although VNC server is nearly unusable, performance-wise.

 

I think it would bog down with Amarra running, which is why I don't base a full-on music server on it, but if it could run fanless with a single processor twice as fast, it might sound even better than the G5! Something to ponder... since I don't know that I can't put a faster board in it without requiring a fan, perhaps I should check it out.

 

Re your dual boot question, the G5 does not have Intel chips which I believe are required for the sort of booting you suggest.

Chris would know.

 

"May I ask why you didnt just go with a server and an airport extreme?"

 

Not sure the context of this question. Perhaps I can answer if you're more specific?

 

cheers,

clay

 

 

 

 

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Clay,

I think that I didn't understand your set-up completely before making the last comment. :) Sorry :)

I am leaving on vacation, and will be bringing a lot of reading with me. I don't know what my computer access will be like n the Phillippines....and besides it will be much better to live in the moment while there than in the world of the internet! :) When I return I will be looking through craigslist in Los Angeles as there are a fair number of G5"s listed there....

Joshua

 

 

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