What cable/connection to use- Macbook to DAC

labelman68

Active member
Jan 9, 2021
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I can't seem to get a straight answer here. I'm currently using Audirvana to stream Tidal tracks from my 2019 Macbook pro to my Naim Atom. I'm using WiFi but am thinking it might be better to direct cable but can't figure out what is the best connection.

Best to use the headphone jack to the DAC's Toslink w/ the appropriate cable?? If so what 'quality' cable should i buy, or is the seven dollar Amazon cable okay to use??
 

Gray

Well-known member
I can't seem to get a straight answer here. I'm currently using Audirvana to stream Tidal tracks from my 2019 Macbook pro to my Naim Atom. I'm using WiFi but am thinking it might be better to direct cable but can't figure out what is the best connection.

Best to use the headphone jack to the DAC's Toslink w/ the appropriate cable?? If so what 'quality' cable should i buy, or is the seven dollar Amazon cable okay to use??
Here's a straight answer for you:
If the headphone jack is just a headphone jack (and not a combi socket),
then you can't connect it to any Toslink connector.
But you could connect with a USB cable to the back (if not? the front) USB socket on the Atom.
(Front might only be for USB stick and unsuitable for computer - your ins. manual will advise).
 
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AVDude

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Oct 17, 2020
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If it's going over USB, cable quality doesn't matter much. TOSLINK cables are generally all the same IMO. If you have TOSLink as an option, do it.

I gave up trying to use the mac side for much of anything, compatibility issues still exist for all manner of products. Apple is not doing it's user base any favors.
 

labelman68

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Jan 9, 2021
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Thanks All. Good stuff. I'm told Tos is best and the Macbook 2018 headphone jack doubles as a mini-tos so with the right cable (mini-tos to toslink) i'm good. I'm also told that Tos is better than USB so i'll go with that.

Scratching my head now on this though- maybe I don't need the Atom and it's best just to go to an great amp since I stream from my Macbook Pro. The Atom only direct streams Spotify and internet radio and there's not a robust 'search' function except through Naim's crappy app. Thoughts on this?
 

AVDude

Well-known member
Oct 17, 2020
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More likely to be lower latency via TosLink for sure. I've dealt with integrated apps on various devices, I'd say just use the MacBook unless you find a better use for Atom.

My Motu 2x2 doesn't have TosLink (i wished it did) but the onboard DAC is nice and even has good latency if I were to mix or record with it.
 

labelman68

Active member
Jan 9, 2021
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Thanks AVDude. But i'd still need an amp. What do you recommend? I'm looking to drive some good desktop (non-powered) speakers and my Sennheisser HDVD800's or Audeze LCD-3's should i decide to upgrade. I'm running Martin Logan 4's right now but want to upgrade those.
 

AVDude

Well-known member
Oct 17, 2020
41
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Thanks AVDude. But i'd still need an amp. What do you recommend? I'm looking to drive some good desktop (non-powered) speakers and my Sennheisser HDVD800's or Audeze LCD-3's should i decide to upgrade. I'm running Martin Logan 4's right now but want to upgrade those.
As far as an amp for speakers go, i'm not sure. I either use actively powered units or a really good quality powered surround head unit.
I haven't put any money into home AVR units after doing a bunch of reading on it.

I'd rather sink some money into actively powered near/midfield studio monitors. Take a peek at my coveted gear list for 2021.
 

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