Please tell me about ITunes and external DACS

stevebrock

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Nov 13, 2009
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Hoping to set up a second system with an external DAC and using my iMac/iTunes as my source, I gather wired connection is the best rather than AirPlay through Apples own DAC. However the cabling will be an issue so would streaming to AirPlay then outputting to an external DAC possible?
 
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Anonymous

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I found the Airport extremely tempremental and sent it back to apple within a few days, I now use an Arcam rDAC with the rWAVE dongle and the sound quality is fantastic. The only issue is the dongle rinses the battery on my Macbook Pro.
 

paradiziac

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Jan 8, 2011
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Yes, the DAC in your iMac isn't the best.

If the iMac is within 5m of the hifi, USB to an external USB DAC is probably best.

If the iMac is in another room, use a streamer such as the Logitech Squeezebox Touch to stream the music from your iMac to the hifi. The Squeeezbox also has a built-in DAC that's pretty good.
 

Charlie Jefferson

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Walkzinho said:
I found the Airport extremely tempremental and sent it back to apple within a few days, I now use an Arcam rDAC with the rWAVE dongle and the sound quality is fantastic. The only issue is the dongle rinses the battery on my Macbook Pro.
I've been streaming from Mac to DAC via Airport Express and/or Apple TV for a few years now, and notwithstanding the occasional wireless issue (a couple of dropouts in three or four years, maybe), I'm very happy with the sound quality. Suffice to say, my CD player rarely gets used, streaming wins out when I'm not playing vinyl.
 

ngibbs

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For a wireless solution from MAC to hifi, I've found Sonos to be superior sound-wise to the Airport Express. And A LOT more reliable too. Worth the extra cash imo, even if you're not streaming to other rooms.
 

stevebrock

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Nov 13, 2009
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Ok thanks this is all very new to me, does a streamer just do solely that..stream between iMac and hifi? I take it doesn't store any music files?

Also most of my music had been ripped at 192 however have started to rip at 320 is this the purest quality there is? So in effect streaming this to an external DAC would be the equivalent of a cd in a cd player?

I have a decent 2ch hifi set up but want a decent 2nd system using my iMac as my source so sorry if I'm asking questions
 

stevebrock

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Nov 13, 2009
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If the iMac is within 5m of the hifi, USB to an external USB DAC is probably best.

How would the above work in iTunes??? Obviously iTunes doesn't output through USB

Thanks
 

paradiziac

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Jan 8, 2011
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When you plug a USB DAC into a MAC, you just select "USB sound card" in Mac OS X "audio midi setup", job done.
 

paradiziac

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Jan 8, 2011
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stevebrock said:
Ok thanks this is all very new to me, does a streamer just do solely that..stream between iMac and hifi? I take it doesn't store any music files?

Also most of my music had been ripped at 192 however have started to rip at 320 is this the purest quality there is? So in effect streaming this to an external DAC would be the equivalent of a cd in a cd player?

I have a decent 2ch hifi set up but want a decent 2nd system using my iMac as my source so sorry if I'm asking questions
1. Most streamers don't store files. No doubt there are exceptions as technology is always changing in this area.

2. No, you need to rip in "lossless" to get the max possible quality. That said, you might find it hard to tell the difference. Whether the actual sound is better or worse than a CD player depends on the relative quality of each implementation.
 

stevebrock

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Nov 13, 2009
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Yep thats pretty easy then in mac OS x to output to USB

I have been ripping in lossless.... I presume this is 320 kps

Thanks for all your help
 

paradiziac

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stevebrock said:
I have been ripping in lossless.... I presume this is 320 kps
No, 320kbs is the highest quality lossy (e.g. mp3, aac etc). If you rip to 320kbs and then burn that file back to a CD, the resulting file will be different from the original -- some information is lost.

True lossless is apple lossless (alac), FLAC (both of these reduce the file size, but if you burnt the files back to CD the resulting file would be exactly the same as the original assuming your initial rip was perfect). (It's the audio equivalent of a zip file)

The final option is to rip uncompressed (wav/aiff), in this case the files are the same as the CD but take up more storage space and sound identical to lossless.

320kbs is OK if you want to take the same files on a portable device, otherwise you might as well rip lossless unless you have a massive collection and a tiny hard disk drive. That said, 320 isn't a disaster, IMO it's very hard to tell it apart from lossless on most systems.
 

stevebrock

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Nov 13, 2009
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Ok thanks for that,

One more question... In mac OSX does the option to select USB for source only appear once you connect a USB DAC?
 
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Anonymous

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I currently stream from my iMac/ iTunes which is upstairs to my Hifi downstairs via AirPlay using an ATV 2 plugged into my MF M1 DAC and it sounds superb!

It may only stream at 16/48 but it's soon upscaled to 192 and having done side by side listening with this source against my Rega Apollo cd player; the ATV/MF DAC solution really holds its own! :D
 

ifor

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Dec 3, 2002
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stevebrock said:
Hoping to set up a second system with an external DAC and using my iMac/iTunes as my source, I gather wired connection is the best rather than AirPlay through Apples own DAC. However the cabling will be an issue so would streaming to AirPlay then outputting to an external DAC possible?
This is what I do and it works really. Avoid wireless completely and there's no need for Sonos or Squeezebox.

Stream from the iMac via ethernet, homeplug, Airport Express and toslink to an external DAC (Arcam rDAC on order, but others might suit your system better) feeding a Roksan Kandy amp and Spendor A5 speakers. ALL wireless capabilities were disabled because it seriously affects streaming capabilities and sound quality in this house.
 

busb

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I've ripped most of my CD collection at 320kbps VBR, a few classical to lossless & some at 256kbps. My iTunes folder is duplicated across 2 Win 7 devices one being a laptop using WiFi to connect to ATVII that also uses WiFi. The ATV is connected to my TV via HDMI & via a short optical link into my audiolab M-DAC which feeds the power amp section.

Some would say that I should have gone purely lossless but I find 320k VBR good enough for my system as it stands now. One aspect I like is not only the ability to share both purchased & ripped on several iTunes compatible devices, including backup to iTunes Match but can navigate the menus on my TV screen or from my iPhone using Apple's Remote app. I can also connect my laptop's USB to the DAC as long as I do so on battery power only otherwise I get interference that would probably be sorted by using a USB isolator. If both both W7 machines are either switched off or in standby, I listen via itunes Match without really noticing loss of quality. If I listen using my laptop, I do suffer some dropouts 'cos my router runs out of steam as it's both sending & receiving simultaneously.
 

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