Mac Mini owners with DACs

Discussion in 'DACs' started by Donal64, Dec 25, 2017.

  1. mythrenegade

    mythrenegade New Member

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    15
    People love to spend money chasing small gains. It’s a hobby and that’s fine. But it sounds like you are pretty happy already. I run my mini into my Denon AVR-3805 via toslink and let the DAC in the Denon do the work. Are there better DACs out there? Sure. Do I notice? No. With my two channel system I noticed the difference between the DAC connecting my ATV to my receiver and my Denon DCD-2560 which sounded vastly better. After replacing the $17 REI with a Modi Multibit my media server (through the ATV) sounds amazing and I’m thrilled.

    For your setup you are using the internal DAC on the mini. A $99 Modi or something similar would be an improvement, but the question is will you notice. On another forum a person bought a cork mat for their turntable after reading all of the marketing hype and their comment was “I hear no difference at all and it was a waste of money.” Other people swear by them.

    Only you can decide. Me? My iTunes collection is awesome. Everything is categorized into genres, many thst i created. Everything has album art, the tags are correct etc, It didn’t get there overnight, but I got it there. I am extremely happy with iTunes as my media server. My library is organized, looks and sounds great, and I have no problem finding what I want to listen to. If you’re is similar, I’d think long and hard before making a change. Know what benefits you will get (solid benefits that you are sure of, not nebulous marketing speak like “it will sound better”) that make the shift worthwhile.

    Joel
     
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  2. derekva

    derekva This ain't no picnic... Subscriber

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    Granted, it's a Macbook Air, not a Mac Mini (although I have one of those as well, so I could do some A/B testing with high resolution audio files), and the headphone jack, while good, was bested by a Meridian Explorer (at least when played through Fostex TH-X00 headphones).

    Now if there was only a frustration-free audio application for MacOS. :(

    -D
     
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  3. Donal64

    Donal64 AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Location:
    Ohio
    Thanks everybody for all the feedback and opinions. I really do appreciate the sharing. Looks like there's gonna be a DAC added to my little system sometime soon. I've been checking some out recently, and right now, I'm leaning kinda heavy towards a Topping D20 or D30.
    I thought the comments and opinions on iTunes, jriver and Audirvana were interesting. I've always used iTunes, and at this point, it's pretty easy for me to get it to do what I want. But then, I'm not real complicated. Really not familiar with jriver and Audirvana. I'll have to check them out.
     
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  4. Dswankey

    Dswankey Super Member

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    Audiovarna? ok I'll have to check that out. Thanks!
     
  5. Danddd

    Danddd AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Audirvana, pulls from your iTunes, so it is semi seamless. Audirvana does take over iTunes and if you wish to use iTunes, the Audirvana app needs to be closed. The improvement in sound is impressive.
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2017
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  6. mythrenegade

    mythrenegade New Member

    Messages:
    15
    How? The app has one job: stream the bits you want to the toslink or the DAC. If it’s adding EQ it’s an effects processor, which is fine, but not the same thing.

    Joel
     
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  7. Danddd

    Danddd AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    It's on the website: https://audirvana.com/

    Plus listening doesn't lie.
     
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  8. mac mini

    mac mini Active Member

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    270
    This is what I see using Audirvana. I use Itunes for all management of song selection. With Audirvana you can use Apples drivers or Izotope 64 Bit. It's all in the manual.
    An equalizer using resistors and caps, or software using 1's and zero's both do the same thing. They retroactively change the audio signal. The trend is going forward is that equalization will be done in the digital domain. I've bought a 5 or 6 preamplifiers over the years, some with tone controls, some without. They all sounded different. I would imagine equalizers also have individual signatures. Use your own ears to make judgements and don't worry about how it was done.
     

    Attached Files:

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  9. louisjames

    louisjames The "real" Louis James Subscriber

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    Audirvana can interface with iTunes but I didn't go that route as Audirvana to my ears has superior sound quality and does an excellent job of optimizing your system for best results. iTunes definitely has it's pluses but if you give Audirvana a try use it standalone and see what that does for you. Here's some links to check out.

    https://audirvana.com/

    https://audirvana.com/forums/
     
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  10. AussieMike

    AussieMike New Member

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    7
    I use a late 2012 Mac Mini which is my primary audio source through my main system. I use an external DAC...purchased on EBay for about $350 AUD. For listening through speakers I wouldn’t consider using the Macs internal DAC. Even for headphones I would c9nsider using something like dragonfly as a minimum. I’m running JRiver with all files as FLAC.These are mainly my ripped CD collection but also include some hi res files. The DAC feeds my Primare Pre 30and then my power amp. There are some pretty good headphone DACS around that can also serve as a DAC in a component system. At the end of the day it all comes down to what you are prepared to spend. Try going to a Hi-Fi dealer and listen using directly from a computer source then through a separate DAC. Use music you are familiar with. You might be surprised. What ever you decide best of luck.
     
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  11. Hipocrates

    Hipocrates Anti-Muppet Subscriber

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    :beerchug:
     
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  12. sabocat

    sabocat AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I have a 2012 mac mini and current audirvana software. I run the headphone out to a Neko DAC. Sounds very good.
     
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  13. fordiebianco

    fordiebianco Member

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    Location:
    United Kingdom
    My workcomputer in my home office is a 2014 MacMini with maxed out ram and a third party 1TB SSD. It feeds an Arcam IrDac II via USB 3, which is hooked up to a Rotel RX-800 and a pair of KEF LS50s set up as nearfield monitors. I couldn't wish for a better setup. It makes work a pleasure and yes, the difference to the Mini's own DAC was huge. If you don't want to spend too much, why not go for the XiangSheng DAC01A ? Not too pricey, but sounds great.
     
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  14. Mr. Blifil

    Mr. Blifil New Member

    Messages:
    28
    My search for a DAC began when my Philips SACD1000 died its famous death, and I switched to a Denon. After much reading online, making special note of the very active SACD/CD player modification business at that time, I came to the conclusion that the limiting factor in playing the little silver discs is not the DAC chips but is the analog output section of most players. Therefore, I wanted a DAC made by people who had deep experience in high quality audio and chose Bryston's BDA with it's discrete component (no IC's) output section. If you find yourself drifting from one DAC to another, poor output sections may be the problem. At the same time, listening at my computer with headphones plugged into the audio out jack, I found the quality iffy and got one of the Dragonfly USB devices and think it is quite good for that kind of listening, though I've never been tempted to ditch the other system. Ergo, I would say that the audio out of a Mac mini server as the source for feeding your main system is two notches away from the sound quality available at a semi-reasonable cost. Bryston has at least two successor products to its first BDA which now crops up on the used market for a grand or less. The one thing to keep in mind is that it's only USB input is 1.1 (one reason for the follow-on products), so if you will be using hi Rez files you will need a USB to S/PDIF converter.
     
  15. PureQuill

    PureQuill AK Member Subscriber

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    Here is my advise buy your DAC from Amazon...Then trust your ears.
    If you hear little to no improvement you can always send it back.
    DAC's are a bit of the black arts and very subjective one persons this is awesome is another's that sounds worse.
    As always rule #1 is trust your ears
    Cheers
    PQ
     
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  16. mjw21a

    mjw21a Super Member

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    Location:
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    I've recently discovered that the Starting Point Systems DAC3 based on the NOS Philips TDA1543 significantly betters more modern chips being far more analog sounding than anything else I've ever heard. Extremely natural and organic with not just a wide though also incredibly deep 3 dimensional soundstage. Seems to be able to bring even the dullest, most over compressed music to life. The DAC is made by a chap over in France and features a reclocker and 2x NiMh batteries for power which charge via USB. This thing betters anything I've heard before it (S.M.S.L SD1955+ Sanskrit, S.M.S.L SD793-II, S.M.S.L M3, S.M.S.L M8, Xiang Shen DAC-01A, Gustard DAC-X12, xDuoo TA-01). I'd suggest having a bit of a Google and reading up on it ;)

    Don't let the specs turn you off. As with so many things in the audio world, the specs don't tell the whole story. Not even close.
     
  17. Seamaster

    Seamaster AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Location:
    Seattle Area
    I am throwing a monkey wrench here, if you rip your CD using 3rd party software (XLD) instead iTunes makes the sound more natural, dynamic, and has less digital glare, great improvement!
     
  18. mythrenegade

    mythrenegade New Member

    Messages:
    15
    If you are ripping to lossless it does not matter what you use, as the exact same bits are hitting the DAC. If you are ripping to a lossy codec, then sure, there can be differences.

    Joel
     
  19. Seamaster

    Seamaster AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Sorry, disagree here, there were large differences that is a similar debate over USB cables
     
  20. mythrenegade

    mythrenegade New Member

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    15
    You disagree. Fine, so... what exactly is the difference then?

    The very definition of lossless compression is that when the compression is uncompressed the resulting bits are exactly the same as what went into the algorithm. If it does not do that, it is not lossless. Period. By the very definition there is absolutely zero difference in the output of both files.

    Joel
     

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