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MAC vs PC -> DAC (Digital to Analog Conversion)


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MAC vs PC -> DAC Digital to Analog Conversion

 

I note that most people are using a PC for Digital to analog conversion & music playing. Can anyone tell what the advantage is over a highly superior MAC OSX system. I am not up to date on this, but do know that PC was never of any use for audio-visual use as compared to a MAC, (aside from the complex and illogical configuration issues and problems) as far back as the AMIGA.

 

 

 

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The reasons people choose Windows PC over Mac OS X...


    cheep hardware
    easy expansion
    virtually infinite choice of software combinations
    infinitely customisable
    lots of tweaks possible to get best sound

 

The reasons people choose Mac OS X over Windows PC


    more expensive but average useful life of Apple hardware tends to be longer
    limited expansion, but you know the hardware works
    software you need is available and well written, often supplied
    easy to use as customisation is limited
    good sound without wading through tons of tweaks / experimentation (i.e. what is best sounding ASIO or WASAPI or KS?)

 

There's lots of other reasons for both ... but these tend to be the most definitive... A lot is down to personal preference.

 

Eloise

 

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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He,

 

considering your tone, you should go the Apple way.

 

Anyway, Eloise has forgotten an important one for me :

Windows will switch sample rate automatically when out-of-the-box mac os won't (and you will have to pay (again) for that).

 

Elp

 

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I actually gave this a lot of thought!

 

If we are lucky enough, our systems are going to contain products we regard as statement, once in a lifetime purchases - speakers, amp(s) to drive them, cables to connect them etc. We are, however, driving these beloved items with personal computers - which these days are, almost, disposable items!

 

Now, I'm writing this on my iPad, which cost me £500 and is definitely not disposable - but I do not expect it to last me much more than a couple of years. Computer technology has driven forward at a tremendous pace over the last 30 years and there is always some new technology, some new gadget, to tempt us. That's how the industry survives, by constantly tempting us with the next latest, greatest, thing.

 

So, if I want to take advantage of 'Quantum LightFire HyperSpeed' wireless sound cards, when they turn up, I need to able to have a system I can bolt one on to. So for me it came down to buying the lifestyle statement computer and maybe having to stand still - technologically speaking - for a while, or go for flexibility, cheapness and less of a financial hit to stay with the game.

 

It wasn't easy! There's a lot to be said for the simplicity offered by buying an Apple computer. But I could buy two of my current servers for the price of one Mini.

 

The one thing I never considered at all, of course, is the 'superior sound quality' one gets from an Apple computer. Because that's just rubbish. Old wives tales, Internet gossip, call it what you like but it's still rubbish. Apple computers are not better for audio. There is a case for arguing that they are, by and large, better built than your average PC and are likely to be more reliable in day to day use due largely to the locked down hardware and certified software platform. But there is absolutely nothing inherent to an Apple computer that is magically going to make it sound better!

 

And it could equally be because Apple computers generally look lovely and PC's generally look like disposable commodity items!

 

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Elp, allow me ...

 

Windows will switch sample rate automatically

 

Which is of no use at all, once you want bit perfect output.

If *I* am overlooking something, I'm sure you (anyone) will let me know.

 

And FWIW, since I have the best playback for realistic sound reproduction (I leave out further superlatives), which operates on Windows only, the answer should be "Windows".

But skip it if you think I can't be trusted. No problem.

 

Peter

 

Lush^3-e      Lush^2      Blaxius^2      Ethernet^2     HDMI^2     XLR^2

XXHighEnd (developer)

Phasure NOS1 24/768 Async USB DAC (manufacturer)

Phasure Mach III Audio PC with Linear PSU (manufacturer)

Orelino & Orelo MKII Speakers (designer/supplier)

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"Anyway, Eloise has forgotten an important one for me :

Windows will switch sample rate automatically when out-of-the-box mac os won't (and you will have to pay (again) for that)."

Well if your hardware, software and drivers will all play game and you get the number of samples in the buffer correct and you don't get clicking noises (all are problems people have reported having - not just made up!). It's hardly "out of the box" IMO.

 

As I say, swings and roundabouts.

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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@Peter

Not sure what you mean.

That does not collide with bit-perfectness, right ?

I've tested this ok with the nice feature of the weiss int202.

 

@Eloise

I wouldn't let others discourage you.

That works out-of-box with Windows7 at home for several digital interfaces and dacs.

Now that you speak about it, I did have difficulties with firewire interruptions at first. But that never led to clicking/buffer/whatever issues. And the computer is really a poor lad (as far as cpu is concerned), so that should really not be an issue on any recent one.

 

I was even surprised when my netbook stopped (out of fuel) playing music, and music simply restarted (where it stopped) when I plugged it to the wall (fuel plug :D).

 

Anyway, I'd rather we don't start the Apple/PC war when obviously you don't play much with windows (as far as music serving is concerned) and I don't with mac os.

 

Elp

 

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>> Windows will switch sample rate automatically

Which is of no use at all, once you want bit perfect output.

If *I* am overlooking something, I'm sure you (anyone) will let me know.

Now I'm confused - surely you want Windows to switch the sample rate it outputs to match the sample rate of the file to keep the file bit-perfect (i.e. not re-sampled).

 

And FWIW, since I have the best playback for realistic sound reproduction (I leave out further superlatives), which operates on Windows only, the answer should be "Windows".

Ha ha ha!!

 

Eloise

 

PS. Anyway, I'd rather we don't start the Apple/PC war when obviously you don't play much with windows (as far as music serving is concerned) and I don't with mac os.

You're right ... well I have been playing with Foobar but need to get it connected to the main system really ... but generally both can give good results but both have limitations.

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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mediapress... "Mac will also resample AIFF file from a CD to mp4- so do not import into iTunes unless you need this."

 

iTunes will import a CD in whatever format you tell it to. I guess you mean that default in iTunes is to import as AAC?

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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Hi Elp,

 

Not sure what you mean.

That does not collide with bit-perfectness, right ?

I've tested this ok with the nice feature of the weiss int202.

 

This is not a straight "statement" of mine as such, but I think it can be reasoned out that as soon as you leave it to Windows to switch sample rates, you are subject to the Audio Engine in there, and that NEVER is bit perfect ... under no condition.

 

To clarify better (hopefully), look at it the other way around :

 

Use WASAPI Exclusive Mode (guaranteed bit perfect), and notice that Windows is doing nothing here. So, sample rates may switch allright, but now it is because *I* (the developer of the playback software) do it. If I do nothing, nothing will happen when the material changes (for sample rate etc.), and you'll have the chipmunks around. Or Elvis for that matter.

 

But maybe I overlook something ?

Peter

 

 

PS: But ... regarding the above, what were the "Weiss conditions" here ?

 

Lush^3-e      Lush^2      Blaxius^2      Ethernet^2     HDMI^2     XLR^2

XXHighEnd (developer)

Phasure NOS1 24/768 Async USB DAC (manufacturer)

Phasure Mach III Audio PC with Linear PSU (manufacturer)

Orelino & Orelo MKII Speakers (designer/supplier)

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for some people is familiarization. Though my first personal computer was a Franklin, an Apple clone, I've owned many DOS and Windows PCs continuously from the the very beginning of personal computers.

 

Despite Macs being easy to use, there have been several times when I have been frustrated by trying to do something on my MacBook Pro that I know very well how to do on any Windows PC.

 

Perhaps for a computer novice the Mac has the edge. But even for the newbie, you're likely to know many more folks that can help with Windows computers than Macs.

 

On a practical note, both Windows and Macs are better than Linux, unless you're really a computer expert.

 

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I really do not see that much of a difference either way. I run Mac, because I prefer it as an OS, not just as a music server. The player software seems to be key. Itunes is a decent catalog system, and I am rather enjoying using it with Pure Music. My only real complaint is that I cannot use Peter's XX Highend on my mac. I hope he ports it, but I'll not hold my breath.

 

Forrest:

Win10 i9 9900KS/GTX1060 HQPlayer4>Win10 NAA

DSD>Pavel's DSC2.6>Bent Audio TAP>

Parasound JC1>"Naked" Quad ESL63/Tannoy PS350B subs<100Hz

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He Peter,

 

Use WASAPI Exclusive Mode (guaranteed bit perfect), and notice that Windows is doing nothing here. So, sample rates may switch allright, but now it is because *I* (the developer of the playback software) do it. If I do nothing, nothing will happen when the material changes (for sample rate etc.), and you'll have the chipmunks around. Or Elvis for that matter.

 

Ok, I never took a look at those APIs, so I guess you are correct here, being a developer of a playback software :D

 

How does that work for KS and ASIO ?

 

I thought at some point Windows would let you bypass its mixer/kernel but still make good use of initialization services, such as sample rate setting (as far as architecture is concerned, this does not have to be in the mixer/kernel).

 

PS: But ... regarding the above, what were the "Weiss conditions" here ?

JR MC15, Wasapi exclusive, no dsp option at all.

Nothing set in the Int202 drivers (apart from overall latency).

You then just need to play those test files, and look (with angst) at the BT check led. If it swings, then you win ;D

Tried both 24bits and 16bits files with expected results.

 

 

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JR MC15, Wasapi exclusive, no dsp option at all.

 

Which is why it works (bit perfectly). So, the OS is not involved here, and my explanation from before applies.

 

How does that work for KS and ASIO ?

 

100% the same.

 

Actually it is easy to see;

Vista/W7 don't allow 88.2 and 176.4 as a choice to resample to. Still you will be able to play that (bit perfectly) through either WASAPI, KS or ASIO.

 

Besides (a little twist here now) ...

Vista/W7 (W2008) will never switch sample rates as such, because there's always one output sample rate only : the one you denoted (mind you, for Shared Use this time). So, the only thing what happens is that your 16/44.1 file will be converted to your denoted e.g. 24/192, and when a 24/96 comes along, now *that* will be converted to 24/192. So, the output sample rate doesn't switch at all ... the conversion changes though ...

 

Regards again,

Peter

 

 

 

 

Lush^3-e      Lush^2      Blaxius^2      Ethernet^2     HDMI^2     XLR^2

XXHighEnd (developer)

Phasure NOS1 24/768 Async USB DAC (manufacturer)

Phasure Mach III Audio PC with Linear PSU (manufacturer)

Orelino & Orelo MKII Speakers (designer/supplier)

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Right Peter,

 

ok, this proves that I need to rephrase what I stated above.

 

Windows will not switch sample rate automatically, but will let the application does it, provided it uses one of the asio/ks/wasapi (exclusive) modes, which are required for bit-perfectness anyway.

 

Now, all 'serious' audiophile players (from XXHE/MC15 to MM, through Foorbar) will support this, some of those being even free.

 

Well this might just be the case for mac os applications too, since Amarra is able to do so (but not iTunes, correct me if I'm wrong).

 

I'll just stand by the price argument then, but that is unfair otherwise asking not to promote the MAC/PC war (I am just human) :)

Then one good argument for a mac book : the touchpad just trounces any (pale) copy from the pc world.

 

For those wanting XXHE on a mac, I would suggest installing w7 in dual-boot. Looks like a good idea to me.

 

Elp

 

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I have been playing with both a Asus Ul30A with a 128Gb SSD running J River and a new MBP with a 64Gb SSD running +/- Amarra/Pure Music.

For abit of fun I dl-ed and tried Peter's XX high End again last night after a break for a year or so (Hi Peter!).

 

Both Win7 and Mac OSX were running in 64x.

 

I have to say that there really isn't much in it to my ears. The SSD levels the playing field as does copious quantities of Ram.

 

I use the Asus for work and bought the MBP as a music server and for it's fw capacity.

 

Funnily enough I liked the stock iTunes in OSX 64 just fine. Amarra was an improvement in some ways. Pure Music in others. Depended on what I was listening to. J River reminded me alot of Amarra. Perhaps not as analogue but close. XX High End is for the devotees's still.

 

Really OS/hardware comes down to personal preference. I know the Asus is 1/2 the price of a MBP. Mac is shiner and sleeker and better quality.

 

Ultimately (when Office for Mac 2010 is released) I'll move completely over to Mac. Until then... happy to play with each.

 

As an ex Linux user I agree life is too short to be a code geek. Although MPD on a low latency 64x kernel is a special animal.

 

Cheers

A

 

 

 

 

 

Best Wishes

Andrew

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As Elp says, iTunes does not track the output sample rate to the sample rate of the track being played. This has been stated by Apple as being a feature not a bug (applications shouldn't change the sample rate as it could affect other applications). Right or wrong - well for true Audiophiles using a DAC it's probably wrong, but for the general population it's the right thing to do.

 

Amarra (and Pure Music) on the other hand do change the sample rate in Audio MIDI as different tracks are played. What they don't do (unlike WASAPI and Kernel Streaming and ASIO in Windows) is bypass any of the OS's audio subsystem (Core Audio in Mac OS X).

 

Eloise

 

PS. to Andrew S. - It's going to be Microsoft Office for the Mac 2011.

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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you are most comfortable with. Both OS do a good job if implemented corectly. Personaly I prefere W7.

The choice should rater bee firewire or USB. Firewire is far superior to USB, but there is DAC's around now that can do as good a job in regards to SQ, asynchronous DAC's like Weiss,Wyred4Sound or even HRT Music Streamer. Seeing that FW is a "dying" protocol for consumer market, I would choose a OS I am comfortable with an playback software acordingly. Then I would invest in a good async. USB DAC.

 

 

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You wrote:

 

>Amarra (and Pure Music) on the other hand do change the sample rate

>in Audio MIDI as different tracks are played. What they don't do (unlike

>WASAPI and Kernel Streaming and ASIO in Windows) is bypass any of

>the OS's audio subsystem (Core Audio in Mac OS X).

 

Hi Eloise,

 

Actually, Amarra bypasses the majority of Core Audio, relying instead on SSE, a virtual audio engine, what a programmer would call an audio framework. SSE highjacks the audio processing, from disk reads all the way to delivering the audio bit stream to the DAC’s port. SSE is used in all Sonic Studio software, both the entire Amarra family and pro lines.

 

Regards,

______________________________________________

O.A. Masciarotte - http://www.othermunday.com

______________________________________________

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Peter,

 

First off you should not be selling your product on this forum. That is not the place.

 

~~~~~

 

Out of the box neither Windows Vista/7 or MAX OSX will automatically switch sample rates. Actually they are very much similar in the way the Audio Stack works.

 

There are free programs on both sides that allow for sample rate change on the fly.

 

While neither are bit perfect out of the box they both give the capabilities to do so.

 

~~~~~

 

Presently in my opinion, Windows is at least a few years behind MAC in audio development. MAC has several things including the move to 64 bit floating point (to allow for 32bit native DACS and ADCS to work bit true) and also Class 2 USB etc... etc...

 

MAC USB and Firewire base drivers seem to be better than Windows. Therefore the results from testing even with boot camp MACs (i.e. same hardware switching from OSX to say Vista/7) that the empirical data (pun intended) would point towards the MAC.

 

~~~~~

 

Otherwise I would agree with Eloise on the differences.

 

Thanks

Gordon

 

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I don't know the technical details of Amarra and SSE (I assume this is SonicStudio's Sound Engine or something?) ... but it seams to me that it doesn't bypass much of Core Audio - at the end of the day you can mix Amarra's playback with other sounds produced in other applications. Yes Core Audio features playback functionality which is not used, but neither does Foobar or J.River rely on Microsoft supplied playback functionality.

 

It doesn't (as far as I can tell) "deliver the bit stream to the DAC's port" it delivers it to Core Audio's mixer. Otherwise when playing different sample rates why does it need to adjust the values in Audio MIDI, why can you play (and mix in) other audio - just increase the volume (that Amarra has set to zero) in iTunes if you want an example!

 

As I say, I'm approaching this from observing the behaviour, not as a coder. But this is what I observe. I can't find a link, but I believe that Jon from SonicStudio actually commented that Amarra doesn't bypass Core Audio - searching with google gives me these quotes though...

Amarra is designed to work with any Macintosh Core Audio Interface from SonicStudio's website.

Amarra automatically switches CoreAudio's sample rate to match that of the file selected from Stereophile's blog.

 

Is the confusion (that I am experiencing here) due to the fact that the term Core Audio actually refers to a number of layers and processes?

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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You said:

I don't know the technical details of Amarra and SSE (I assume this is SonicStudio's Sound Engine or something?)

 

Hey Eloise,

 

Correct, an alternative audio framework.

 

…but it seams to me that it doesn't bypass much of Core Audio - at the end of the day you can mix Amarra's playback with other sounds produced in other applications…

 

Sorry but, it does. See below…

 

It doesn't (as far as I can tell) "deliver the bit stream to the DAC's port" it delivers it to Core Audio's mixer. Otherwise when playing different sample rates why does it need to adjust the values in Audio MIDI, why can you play (and mix in) other audio - just increase the volume (that Amarra has set to zero) in iTunes if you want an example!

 

SSE doesn’t disable Core Audio; any Core Audio processes continue to work in parallel. SSE writes to the HAL or Hardware Abstraction Layer, the same (end of the chain) API that Core Audio writes to. It adjusts the DAC setting, which results in a change displayed in Audio MIDI Setup.

 

As I say, I'm approaching this from observing the behaviour, not as a coder. But this is what I observe. I can't find a link, but I believe that Jon from SonicStudio actually commented that Amarra doesn't bypass Core Audio - searching with google gives me these quotes though...

Amarra is designed to work with any Macintosh Core Audio Interface from SonicStudio's website.

Amarra automatically switches CoreAudio's sample rate to match that of the file selected from Stereophile's blog.

 

Amarra and SSE can’t bypass all of Core Audio, otherwise the data stream would never arrive at the DAC.

 

Is the confusion (that I am experiencing here) due to the fact that the term Core Audio actually refers to a number of layers and processes?

 

Among other things, yes. Core Audio is a “framework” which is an appropriate label. It’s contains several software subsystems that handle specific functions. The aforementioned HAL is one of them.

 

SSE does all the “heavy lifting” right up to delivering the music to the hardware. That heavy lifting includes file I/O, data format conversion like fixed-to-floats, and any user requested processing like EQ and re-dithering. It then writes to the HAL, bypassing even the Core Audio mixer.

 

I hope my rant makes this semi-esoteric schtuff a bit more understandable…

 

Regards,

______________________________________________

O.A. Masciarotte - http://www.othermunday.com

______________________________________________

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I haven't seen any polls, but my informal sense was that at least half of the folks here use macs (as music servers -- pretty much everyone here uses external digital to analogue converters), and that mac minis in particular were quite popular.

 

 

OS X as you probably know is unix-based, and therefore you can compile and run pretty much anything from (eg) linux, as well as all the standard OS X software.

 

OS X uses Apple's CoreAudio framework. (See their website for an explanation of this.) One of the features/problems with that, depending upon your point of view, is that individual applications aren't allowed to switch the systemwide sampling rate, to prevent one from messing up another. This means you either have to use an application that breaks the rules (Play.app can do this, and is free), or you have to switch the sample rate yourself.

 

Applications like Songbird use their own audio framework, I think, and therefore aren't restricted.

 

I don't have very much experience with Windows, and none with it as an AV platform, but I would be surprised if it is any better in any significant way.

 

 

 

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