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Thread: iMac-DAC

  1. #1
    Forum Regular pether's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005


    Is it really so bad ? I think not. It sounds not flat or dull, or sharp.

    I tried the Cambridge Dacmagic on the digital output of the Airport-express. Compared to the "original" sound of the analog output, i was not impressed. So i did not buy it. I do not know what's inside of the iMac, considering the DAC. Sometimes i think the "magic" of seperate dac's is exaggerated.

    Anyone tell me different story ?
    iMac with Airtunes (analog)
    Audio Innovations Classic 25
    Epos es11
    Van den Hul D 102 mk 2
    MIT Terminator 3

  2. #2
    Big science. Hallelujah. noddin0ff's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    I used the AE for a while as my DAC. I have also run the AE digital out straight to the toslink input on my receiver (a $0.99 mini-optical to toslink adaptor required). Now I run an optical cable from the computer to a Musiland MD-10. Then to an aging Yamaha receiver to Paradigm Studio-20s... For a while I could never get a good stable wireless stream going.

    The differences are pretty subtle and, when I get a chance to listen, I believe I hear them. I've never heard or recognized jitter, however, which seems to be one of the recurring arguments in favor of nicer external DACs.

    I do think I hear the impact of better analog components handling the DAC output to the receiver. There's just a tad more dynamics, less anemic sounding.

    The AE DAC is likely still limited to 44.1 kHz 16bit signal (CDs). So no use for higher resolution formats. I use a Mac and iTunes. Macs have a utility called Audio Midi Setup where you can basically use the software to upsample the digital stream to higher resolutions. This does change the listening experience. I'd be hard pressed to say if its better or different. I do tend to like the upsampled sound, and the MD-10 processes it where the AE would not. So, there's one benefit of an external.

    I also have a second system with the AE running analog (as the DAC) to a CA integrated amp to Paradigm monitors. It works fine. Sounds good.

    So. Yeah. The differences can be minor, if any. I'm sure a lot depends on your ears, your gear, and how your gear is set up. For me, yes, I use and enjoy a mid-fi DAC. Personally, I doubt that spending more for an 'audiophile approved' DAC will really bring me any worthwhile benefit. Currently, I think my receiver is my weak link.

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