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Using MacPro as a server. which sound card?


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I want to use the MacPro (2007, Quad core) as a music server (using iTunes).

I have a EMM Labs DCC2SE DAC which i am presently using in my set up. I want to use the EMM DAC with the Mac Pro. Which sound card do i use for streaming optical out from the Mac?

I have checked out (over the net) the Lynx AES16e and the REM HDSPe RayDAT or the HDSPe AIO. Any other possibility?

I want to use the EMM DAC as the master clock (which i do now).

Will the Lynx or the REM accept an external master clock?

I am going to use the setup as a purely two channel audiophile grade set up.





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Hi Raju - You may be out of luck with this request to use a card in the Mac Pro to output optical. Because the Mac Pro has a built-in optical output there is not a lot of demand for such a device. You'll need a PCIexpress card which limits you to the Lynx AES16e, but that card doesn't output optical.


Are you opposed to using the built-in optical output on the Mac Pro?


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Thanks for the prompt response.


I do not mind the optical out of the mac. But how does the EMM DAC be the master clock? how good is the optical out of the MacPro? My existing set up of a standalone EMM cd transport and the EMM dac is outstanding. i would want at least the same quality from the proposed Mac and EMM dac combo.

How do i get optical out of the Mac? Which cable? EMM DAC has a TOSlink optical input (square type).


Alternatively, is there any other solution in the Apple range which i can use? Is there a possibility of using an external card/device which can allow EMM DAC to be the master clock?


Thank you in advance.







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Thanks Chris. Below is the image of the rear panel of the EMM DAC.

Yes it has AES/EBU inputs. These are ANALOGUE inputs.

It also has:

S/PDIF Coax and TOS inputs

Optical input

DSD inputs (BNC)

Word Clock In and Out (1 pair BNC and 1 pair Optical)

Analogue line inputs (XLR and RCA)


Please see image



if i understand right, then you are suggesting that i use the analouge outputs from the Lynx AES16e? if what i assume is right, then i would not like to take that path. I WANT MY EMM DAC TO DO THE CONVERSION. Cause it up samples to 5.6.. MHz and then converts.. SOUNDS FANTASTIC TOO...




Chris your response is a great help. Thank you again








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Raju. Go to the end posts under the reference audio server topic (on this site). We are having a discussion on all this right now. It's right up your alley!


You wont need digital AES input on your DAC if you use one of Empirical Audio's pacecar's. You also won't have to word clock your DAC..just use the pacecar to word clock the Lynx card. I'm thinking of doing this. I also suggest you visit www.empiricalaudio.com. Fantastic Stuff. AB


New simplified setup: STEREO- Primary listening Area: Cullen Circuits Mod ZP90> Benchmark DAC1>RotelRKB250 Power amp>KEF Q Series. Secondary listening areas: 1/ QNAP 119P II(running MinimServer)>UPnP>Linn Majik DSI>Linn Majik 140's. 2/ (Source awaiting)>Invicta DAC>RotelRKB2100 Power amp>Rega's. Tertiary multiroom areas: Same QNAP>SMB>Sonos>Various. MULTICHANNEL- MacMini>A+(Standalone mode)>Exasound e28 >5.1 analog out>Yamaha Avantage Receiver>Pre-outs>Linn Chakra power amps>Linn Katan front and sides. Linn Trikan Centre. Velodyne SPL1000 Ultra

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Chris, Wappinghigh. thanks a lot.


i spoke to the RME distributors' technical guy in India. He says that the RME HDSPe AIO car CAN USE AN EXTERNAL CLOCK AND ALSO OUTPUTS OPTICAL DATA. Guess that solves my problem vis a vis clocking issue.


BUT how good is this card?? anybody tried it? Cannot find a lynx Distributor in India.


I read the discussion on the reference music servers'. Gives some insight on the issue.


I feel that i should try using the simple optical out from the Mac to start with. Then try using Lynx or RME card. I guess that is the way to learn.


Now that the Large Hadron Collider HAS NOT ENDED our existence, we have time to experiment. Will keep posting the results......


Thanks again.



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Hi Raju - I've actually been discussing your configuration with a friend in the high end industry. We both think the best sound will be from the Lynx card via AES input to your EMM DAC. The Lynx breakout cable has a word clock cable on it as well which would allow you to do what you want.


I've heard the RME cards have jitter in the nanoseconds as opposed to picoseconds from the Lynx card.


Anyway, let us know how it all works out :-)


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  • 2 weeks later...

i tried and listened to the following combo;


1. Optical out of the Mac Book Pro to feed my EMM DAC, and


2. EMM Transport and EMM DAC combo.


I listened to western classical, female vocal and Jazz. My observations are as


The Mac sound was lifeless and subdued. The EMM combo sound was mind blowing in comparison.


Especially the female vocals. Feed form the mac sounded as if the singer was performing in the second basement. very subdued and no life at all.


with the emm combo it felt as i am sitting at the venue.


i am going to try out the lynx aes16 card on the Mac Pro and feed the pcm to the emm dac and see.


will keep posting. thanks







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Raju - been following your quest here. Let us know how the Lynx performs.


FYI, I would not be surprised at all if the clock in my Pace-Car has lower jitter than the clock inside your DAC. I would not be too dead-set on using the word-clock out on the DAC. I have a number of customers with the EMM labs DAC's using them with both my Off-Ramp and my Pace-Car. The Pace-Car can take Toslink in and give you either AES or S/PDIF output. Unfortunately, it cannot sync to the word-clock from the EMM labs DAC. It would sync to the computer stream.


Here is a recent Pace-Car review:



Steve N.

Empirical Audio


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Hi Chris,


I have installed the Lynx AES16e card in the Mac Pro and connected to the EMM DAC thru the 1604 cable. I also installed the Core driver from the CD that came with the card and also the Mixer Appln.

After all that the Mixer application does not recognise the card.

iTunes can output to the card and i can hear thru my external dac and consequently the speakers. When this happens i hear a "jitter" noise every 4-5 seconds?????

preliminary listening indicates that the Lynx sound in abt 90% of the EMM combo..

Any solutions to solve the issue "jitter" noise and Mixer compatibility issue?????


raju patel






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  • 2 months later...

Hi guys!!!!


Back after a long break. Was travelling and recent tragic and barbaric events in Mumbai have taken a toll on every one's sensibilties.


But MUSIC AND MUSIC has helped to come through.

I have been listening to EMM CDSD SE coupled with EMM DCC2SE. GREAT SOUND.


I have also coupled my Mac Pro (with a Lynx AES16 PCe card) to the EMM DCC2SE DAC where the EMM DAC is the master clock to the MacPro Lynx card. SAME GREAT SOUND as seen with the EMM combo.


However without the clocking between the MacPro and the EMM DAC, there was an audible distinct sound every 5 second or so. But with the clocking coupled it is AUDIO NIRVANA.


Have ALSO ordered an APLHA DAC.. will compare and keep posting.....


Music I listen to

Various XRCD's titles, Roger Water's (Amused to Death) Jennifer Warnes (Hunter), TUTTI, Western Classical composition releases of RR, Pentatone etc., Water Lily Acoustics' CD's, Rock and pop album's etc etc.......


One problem that i encounter is outputting 192/24 from iTunes. How do i do it???? Is it a limitation of iTunes? Will any other software help like Logic Express or Logic Pro?


Raju Patel





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Hi Raju - Somehow your post slipped past me! Anyway, it's good to hear you're enjoying the music despite the recent events over there. I've also used external clocking with the Lynx card and it does sound wonderful. 24/192 playback fro iTunes is 100% possible and I do it frequently. The only thing you have to set is the sample rate in Audio Midi Setup then close and open iTunes. Once you do that iTunes will play your 24/192 files bit perfect every time.


Let me know how it goes :=)


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