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DAC Theory Question from a Beginner!

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zac92's picture
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Hey guys,

 

First of all, I feel like I want to announce to the world that - after 21 years in denail - I have finally embraced my inner geek and am quite enjoying 'trying to become an audiophile'.....! I'd very much appreciate it if you could help me on my journey....!

 

So, I'm buying my first 'separates' HiFi system (probably a Marantz PM6004 amp and a pair of Q Acoustics 2050i floor speakers), but will be using my MacBook Air as my source. Whilst I'll try to mainly use lossless files, I realise this isn't ideal, and I know I should be trying to bypass the Mac's probably inferior digital to analogue conversion abilities.

 

My question is:

 

-the amp I'm choosing is an 'integrated' amp, so it has a DAC included already (right....?)

-in that case, I'm hoping that the amp will already be taking care of the digital to analogue conversion itself, and so the Mac's rubbish DAC abilities are completely bypassed/unused

-therefore my digital to analogue conversion will hopefully be fairly decent, and

-I don't need a separate, external DAC between my Mac and the amp....right?

 

I really hope I'm right in saying that because my amp will have (hopefully a fairly decent) DAC in it, my Mac's rubbish digital to analogue conversion will be bypassed/unnecessary.

 

Could you please tell me whether or not that's right?Thank you very much!Zac

daveh75's picture
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The PM6004 doesnt have a

The PM6004 doesnt have a DAC.

'Integrated' just means the pre and power amp sections are in the same box..

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The_Lhc's picture
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Two main points, the PM6004

Two main points, the PM6004 IS an integrated amp but that simply means it has a pre-amp built in and in this case, only has analogue inputs, it has no digital inputs or built-in DAC, so in that case, yes, you would need a separate DAC.

Secondly, what makes you think the Macbook's own DAC isn't very good?

MajorFubar's picture
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RE: Two main points, the PM6004

The_Lhc wrote:
Secondly, what makes you think the Macbook's own DAC isn't very good?

The_Lhc is right.  If the Macbook's DAC is as good as the one in my 2011 Mac Mini, it really won't be a critically-bad link in the chain and will certainly suffice until you can get something better.

In fact I'll go as far to say that changing the DAC from the one in your Macbook to something else will probably never achieve more than an improvement-rating of 'Three Wives' at best, more likely two or one:

http://www.whathifi.com/forum/hi-fi/forget-whf-‘star’-ratings-i-give-you-‘wife’-ratings

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Overdose's picture
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RE: I'm sure becoming an

I'm sure becoming an 'audiophile' is a very noble aspiration, but you would be better advised to just buy some decent hifi for your budget and get on with enjoying your music without fuss or worry. Try the new Marantz CR610 or its predecessor the CR603 for size. I believe both have Airplay. Airplay is the best way to use your Macbook untethered from wired connection.

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zac92's picture
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RE: DAC Theory Question from a Beginner!

Thank you for the advice, guys :) I think I might have solved my own problem, though....

I've just seen the option to upgrade to the PM6005, which has a built-in DAC! Does this mean it'll override/bypass my rubbish MacBook Air Dac as I'm hoping it will?

Also, can a MacBook Air connect via coaxial and/or optical to the amp?

If yes to all of these, I don't need a separate DAC :) Thank you!

Zac

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RE: The MBA doesn't have the

The MBA only has an analogue 3.5mm minijack output, unlike the combined 3.5mm minijack/optical output of the MBP etc, and they don't have coaxial outputs.

My suggestion would be to add an AEX or ATV as they do have optical outputs and frees your MBA from being tethered to the amp.

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Overdose's picture
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RE: DAC Theory Question from a Beginner!

zac92 wrote:

Does this mean it'll override/bypass my rubbish MacBook Air Dac as I'm hoping it will?

 

What makes you think the DAC is rubbish?

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RE: DAC Theory Question from a Beginner!

zac92 wrote:

Thank you for the advice, guys :) I think I might have solved my own problem, though....

I've just seen the option to upgrade to the PM6005, which has a built-in DAC! Does this mean it'll override/bypass my rubbish MacBook Air Dac as I'm hoping it will?

Also, can a MacBook Air connect via coaxial and/or optical to the amp?

If yes to all of these, I don't need a separate DAC :) Thank you!

Zac

Answered in your other thread, but you'll need a USB spdif converter. Not expensive, if you look around.

tj27's picture
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RE: DAC Theory Question from a Beginner!

If its any help i am using a late 2012 i5 mac mini as a source and have tried reading up on dacs.  I have decided to go for a beresford bushmaster mk2 which has literally just been released.  Mine will arrive monday!

now then, my mac uses a mini toslink to toslink connection which i bought a fisual pearl lead and have this connected to my yamaha Aventage amp.  This then plays the music on my amp.  But, to get the best quality from the mac source a dac was advised to me and from my research found this hand made, highly rated excellent bit of kit. This dac is rumoured as one of the better ones especially for the price.

i have been assured that this will open up the audio to unveil the sound as good as it can be.  I then use the pure direct mode on my amp to cut out any extra work and all being well, should have some pretty fine, good quality audio to listen to.

it can also accept 4 digital inputs, 2 toslink (optical) and 2 spdif's so i will also plug in my sky hd box as well and possibly the ps3.  

As for your amp choice, depends on your speaker coice to match them to get the best sound if you are wanting more 'audiophile' higher end sound.  It pays off to match the kit.  I chose a yamaha aventage amp which is also a step up from the normal range of surround amps as its more geared towards better sound from a surround sound reciever.  i also bought monitor audio speakers as these are known to be a good match for each other.

You can then do other tweeks like better power leads, plugs, fuses, higher end specific extension leads, better speaker wire, good interconnects.  Also depends on your budget as well.

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Overdose's picture
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RE: DAC Theory Question from a Beginner!

tj27 wrote:

You can then do other tweeks like better power leads, plugs, fuses, higher end specific extension leads, better speaker wire, good interconnects.  Also depends on your budget as well.

...and you were doing so well.

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tj27's picture
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RE: DAC Theory Question from a Beginner!

It was a 'you can do' not 'you have to' statement, depends on your own personal view.  For me, if i have a home made lead using supra lorad, mk tough plated tough plug, i might as well have some sort of audio grade fuse as im a little ott like that, but i do not buy expensive etc, just not standard.  I have no proof if it is better or not, i just prefer to do it.

 

if its not something you do fair enough, does not mean others should be encouraged or discouraged to do so.  Everyone has their own views,and obviously you do not seem to bother with the plug or fuses, fair enough, i just like to as its more 'i made it because i can'.  Nothing special but its just what i do. ( & many others)

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Overdose's picture
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RE: DAC Theory Question from a Beginner!

tj27 wrote:

if its not something you do fair enough, does not mean others should be encouraged or discouraged to do so.  Everyone has their own views,and obviously you do not seem to bother with the plug or fuses, fair enough, i just like to as its more 'i made it because i can'.  Nothing special but its just what i do. ( & many others)

I don't have an issue with people spending their money or time on whatever weird and wonderful items they have descovered to 'improve' their system, but I do think it's a bit out of order when nonsense is given as 'good' advice to anyone new to hifi, who in all probability, have no idea whether they are being taken for a ride or not.

Audiophile fuses and specially treated plugs are two such items not worthy of any merit.

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Al ears's picture
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RE: DAC Theory Question from a Beginner!

Overdose wrote:

tj27 wrote:

if its not something you do fair enough, does not mean others should be encouraged or discouraged to do so.  Everyone has their own views,and obviously you do not seem to bother with the plug or fuses, fair enough, i just like to as its more 'i made it because i can'.  Nothing special but its just what i do. ( & many others)

I don't have an issue with people spending their money or time on whatever weird and wonderful items they have descovered to 'improve' their system, but I do think it's a bit out of order when nonsense is given as 'good' advice to anyone new to hifi, who in all probability, have no idea whether they are being taken for a ride or not.

Audiophile fuses and specially treated plugs are two such items not worthy of any merit.

Well said. If we had a few more forumites that stuck to answering the OP's questions rather than adding pure crepe suggestions that have nothing to do with said questions then we might have a few more newbies going away educated rather than more confused.

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Hi Zac, The answer to your

Hi Zac,
The answer to your question - will connecting to your Mac with the Amp/Dac combo override the Mac DAC is yes it will.
Connect from your Mac USB to the USB of your Ampo/Dac and do the necessary software connection and you are done.
Regards Alex.