Music from PC / Phone to RCA in amplifire

dommaku2

Member
Aug 11, 2022
2
0
20
Hi
I got MacBook Air 2020 (M1) it only has mini jack 3.5 mm but no optical output.
How can I get best sound quality out?. At the moment I use mini jack to RCA and it seems not ideal

I research internet and found:
1. usb/spdif converters like: LiNKFOR USB Audio Adapter HiFi USB DAC Audio Converter External Stereo Sound Card USB to Coaxial Optical 3.5mm Jack Converter
the problem is this piece of electronic has very bad reviews on amazon

2.I also have seen £30 Sound Blaster external sound cards (USB to mini jack) but I wonder if this is a good option at all?
3. I know I can get £300-600 network streamer but I got no money :/so looking for around £100 alternative.
4. I read Bluetooth devices can pass music from my phone / Mac to amplifier but I heard blutooth is poor quality so why pay £150 for good gear that is underperforming anyway comparing to cable linked ones.
5. I read about chrome cast audio - any experience with this ? Especially given it's google hardware (discontinued) and I got Mac/iPhone.

Any tested product recommendation welcome.
 

nopiano

Well-known member
3. I know I can get £300-600 network streamer but I got no money :/so looking for around £100 alternative.
I’d look at an Audioquest Dragonfly. It’s a DAC that plugs into a USB socket, so you’ll need an adapter ( i think it’s an option). There are various models, Red, Black etc., and if you buy used it would be easy to resell.

Chronecast Audio is discontinued but was good for £30 or so. Not really intended for getting music from your Mac though, more for streaming via Wi-Fi .

What are you actually trying to play? Stored files, internet radio, streaming from a service like Spotify? The best solution may depend on the answer to that. And are you connecting to a Hifi system, or headphones or something else?

Welcome to the forum!
 
Indeed, welcome to the forum.
As @nopiano says it might depend on what sort of files you are trying to get out of your Macbook.
Obviously wired is fine but this would mean the output from the Mac is an analogue signal, which is basically what you want to input into an amplifier.
Are you suggesting the DAC in the Mac is no good?
What do you mean by 'it seems not ideal'?
 

dommaku2

Member
Aug 11, 2022
2
0
20
Indeed, welcome to the forum.
As @nopiano says it might depend on what sort of files you are trying to get out of your Macbook.
Obviously wired is fine but this would mean the output from the Mac is an analogue signal, which is basically what you want to input into an amplifier.
Are you suggesting the DAC in the Mac is no good?
What do you mean by 'it seems not ideal'?
Thanks for warm welcome to the forum :)
Main purpose of my set of Triangle BR03 with CA AXA 25 is to listen to Spotify/Apple Music. Secondary purpose is to get better sound when watching movies from Netflix for example.

Coming back to DAC on Mac.
1. when I go over 11 on Amplifier volume the sound starts to get "harsh"/distorted.
2. I heard opinion online that the DAC from MacBook / iPhone will not be great.
3. People online were saying Sound Blaster USB card give them much better sound than standard laptop DAC.

My assumption is that problem will be gone with ifs zen air/ blue. I can try and see if this helps.
 
Last edited:

nopiano

Well-known member
The aspect I’d not be so sure about is the Netflix, as what you don’t want is the sound or of sync with the picture. Would you be watching your phone or MacBook and sending to soundtrack to your Hi-Fi?

I can ‘cast’ Netflix from my phone to the TV, using a Chromecast video or Amazon Firestick, but that is sending sound and picture through the same device.

Hopefully somebody who’s tried it will be along soon.
 

Gray

Well-known member
1. when I go over 11 on Amplifier volume the sound starts to get "harsh"/distorted.
2. I heard opinion online that the DAC from MacBook / iPhone will not be great.
3. People online were saying Sound Blaster USB card give them much better sound than standard laptop DAC.
1) Have you got any other sources (such as CD player) that you can compare with?....as it's not unknown for sound to harden up at higher volume (in other words it may not be your PC / phone DACs causing the 'harshness').

2) & 3) it's generally accepted that PC / phone DACs are inferior - but there's also some exaggeration as to how bad they are....so don't put too much faith in the benefit of an external DAC.
Having said that, you should certainly notice an improvement 👍
 

lakelandstu70

Active member
Feb 24, 2022
16
2
25
At the moment I use mini jack to RCA and it seems not ideal

I have a MacBook pro M1 and an old Air... 3.5mm jack is brilliant for headphones and also into my Denon amp via RCA.

If you are trying to plug it into a TV for example via an AMP, use the HDMI. Much better quality.

Worth remembering Spotify is not hi-res...

I am however wondering about a DAC... had the Dragonfly Black on my old Mac Air at it was a transformative change in sound quality.

If you are plugging the 3.5mm jack into speakers via RCA you may need an intermediate amp.
Not familiar with the Triangles to know if they need it.

And Bluetooth is a limiting quality... my same headphone on Bluetooth via the Mac are nowhere near the same quality.
 

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