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Mac, DAC and CD transport


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I'm a bit new to all this... I'm planning on getting a really good DAC and while most of the music will be fed from a Mac with an external HDD, I'd like to also have a CD player as part of the setup. But rather than a standalone player, it strikes me as smart to go with a plain CD transport and also run that through the DAC. A DAC can be connected to two sources, no?

 

If you think that makes sense, I have the following questions...

 

1. Any recommendations as to a decent transport?

 

2. What kind of interconnect does a transport typically require? I'm assuing USB or SPIF Toslink for the Mac.

 

Your input is much appreciated!

 

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What is your price range for a transport?

 

Yes, a Dac can be connected to two different sources, depending on the Dac. Many allow USB and SPDIF coax & optical (Toslink).

 

Transports vary, but output will usually include SPDIF coax, which is usually preferable over optical. (No USB, that's a computer standard.) Not sure what you mean by "..for the Mac", since a transport would be connected to your Dac and not your Mac.

 

Rascal

 

A: Mac Mini => Peachtree Nova => LFD Integrated Zero Mk.III => Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 | Musical Fidelity X-CAN V-8 => AKG K 701

B: Airport Express = > Benchmark DAC1 => Rega Brio-R => B&W DM 601 S2

C: Airport Express => AudioEngine A2

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Rascal:

 

Re "...for the Mac". I actually said "...from a Mac". And what I meant was that I will be sourcing music mostly via a Mac. In addition, I'd like a CD transport that would ALSO connect to the DAC.

 

In other words, I'd like music sourced from music files as well as CDs and I'd like both these sources to be fed through the same DAC. The Mac would connect to the DAC for the music files and the CD transport would connect for CDs.

 

As for price range. I don't really know. At what price point do they start? Not super high-end but something decent.

 

I am assuming that a regular CD player in the $2-4,000 range would cost a fair bit less without a DAC. Perhaps that's not the case?

 

 

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...get a CD player that has a USB input

 

I'd avoid that.

 

I've heard/heard of too many products that slap on a poorly-implemented USB input. So I'd be wary of such a player. And then you have to live with the CD player's Dac. If going that route, I'd look for a CDP w/ SPDIF input & then use a USB/SPDIF converter.

 

If playing through your music server is your priority, get a good DAC & a decent CDP that has SPDIF out. This is a more flexible solution. You can listen to CD's either through the CDP or the DAC (can be interesting to compare). If your CDP goes to crap, you can still listen to your music server.

 

Rascal

 

A: Mac Mini => Peachtree Nova => LFD Integrated Zero Mk.III => Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 | Musical Fidelity X-CAN V-8 => AKG K 701

B: Airport Express = > Benchmark DAC1 => Rega Brio-R => B&W DM 601 S2

C: Airport Express => AudioEngine A2

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Brovig, I understand what you're asking. Your statement "I'm assuing USB or SPIF Toslink for the Mac" threw me a bit, since the transport doesn't interact with the computer.

 

I am assuming that a regular CD player in the $2-4,000 range would cost a fair bit less without a DAC.

 

Not necessarily true, but it's hard to compare apples-to-apples, since you can't just go and order a CDP without the Dac & get a discount. Most of the CD transports I've seen are made for high-end playback and are often more expensive than an excellent CDP.

 

If you're looking at the $2-4k range, I'd look at PS Audio's Perfect Wave transport. Mate it with the Perfect Wave DAC. For about $6k you'll have a great DAC & a great CD player.

 

But I think this is overkill if CD's will be a secondary source. Personally I think you'll tire of the CDP once you get used to the convenience of a good music server. So I'd save your bucks & go with a decent CDP w/ digital out, preferably second hand. I went this route with a Music Hall 25.2. Cost about $375. You can always upgrade later if you find you still like playing those shiny discs.

 

Rascal

 

 

A: Mac Mini => Peachtree Nova => LFD Integrated Zero Mk.III => Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 | Musical Fidelity X-CAN V-8 => AKG K 701

B: Airport Express = > Benchmark DAC1 => Rega Brio-R => B&W DM 601 S2

C: Airport Express => AudioEngine A2

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I am using a Benchmark DAC1 connected via standard digital to an ancient Theta Basic transport which one can find on audiogon for a few hundred bucks and which works very well indeed (aside from lacking a remote for the one I bought)

 

I have found you an argument; I am not obliged to find you any understanding – Samuel Johnson

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i have a mid-fi CD player hooked up to my DAC but find that i very rarely use it. Its nice to have the option if for some reason the server is inaccessible, but once you've ripped your CD collection you may find you aren't using it very much. I agree with daRascal's suggestion. Don't spend a lot on a transport that you may find you hardly ever use once you get used to the convenience of a music server.

 

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