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jason king
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what to do? optical output on imac worthy of running to good dac?

My question is this -

What quality can I expect from using the Headphone/optical digital audio output (minijack) on an Imac running to a good DAC ?

I mean, if it's a true digital out, wouldn't it be the same 1's and 0's?

What I am thinking is that using itunes and the analog mini output on the imac to feed my high end system is an insult. The squeezebox had too many problems and I did not like the slimserver software. I tried a firewire 410 sound card but then I couldn't use the remote control to control anything anymore, and I am too lazy to walk to the computer every time I want to change something.

But if I use the digital out on the imac to a good dac then to my system, would that give me awesome sound and the ability to use itunes and the remote that came with the computer?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated,
Thanks
Jason

mrlowry
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Re: what to do? optical output on imac worthy of running to good

Jason-

Toslink tends to introduce a considerable amount and I'm sure that a mini-toslink to standard toslink adapter wouldn't help the situation. So what is jitter? Think of jitter as a miss-timing of the digital data. All the "1" and "0" of the digital data are the same but their time relationships have changed. Jitter messes up the word clock. The best example that I can think of right now is if you had the world's best marching band with a great bass drummer marking time. They would sound great. Now take that same band and substitute a bass drummer with no rhythm (say me for example) all of the information that the band is playing is the same, their sheet music and instruments haven

Kipferler
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Re: what to do? optical output on imac worthy of running to good

I am running my iMac (all lossless files) through an optical cable (originally terminated with mini-Toslink on one end by van den Hul) into my Musical Fidelity DAC. I am very happy with the sound quality (through my QUAD ESL 989 and Musical Fidelity Nuvista M300 amp). There is an ever so slight difference to my Marantz SA-15 playing SACDs but the additional convenience of having several hundreds CDs at a mouseclick makes up for it.

The bigger problem for me was the noise the iMac's fan generates. I had to put it into a sealed cabinet to dampen that...

Regards,
Arthur

Nestor
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Re: what to do? optical output on imac worthy of running to good


Quote:
I am running my iMac (all lossless files) through an optical cable (originally terminated with mini-Toslink on one end by van den Hul) into my Musical Fidelity DAC. I am very happy with the sound quality (through my QUAD ESL 989 and Musical Fidelity Nuvista M300 amp). There is an ever so slight difference to my Marantz SA-15 playing SACDs but the additional convenience of having several hundreds CDs at a mouseclick makes up for it.

The bigger problem for me was the noise the iMac's fan generates. I had to put it into a sealed cabinet to dampen that...

Regards,
Arthur

I'm with you there! I'm waiting for my 500g h/d to arrive so I can finish ripping my cd collection.

I've been using the network streaming features of my Yamaha receiver, but the interface is clunky and buggy, and access time is slow. Good for now, I suppose. I'm thinking of the SONOS ZP80 or maybe even the Slim Devices Transport in the future.

It's too bad the music industry is shooting itself in the foot by attempting prevention of copying of SACD's. They're killing of what should have been the natural progression of the medium.

I've been sifting thru some of the articles on jitter and found that 1-bit DAC's are more susceptible to jitter. I've been out of the audio loop for a while. Is 1-bit noise shaping still prevalent?

Are you allowing for breathing room for the iMac? Choking off air circulation may shorten the life of your pc!

Kipferler
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Re: what to do? optical output on imac worthy of running to good

I do not worry about overheating the iMac. I hardly get the time for listening for more than 1 hour at a time - and after this time the cabinet is not too warm inside yet. Also simply opening the door for a minute exchanges the warm air for cooler one... It works quite fine...

Arthur

ROLO46
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Re: what to do? optical output on imac worthy of running to good

I run a new I-Mac (no fan noise) in lossless tunes and drive
a Meridian 518 digi pre from the optical out via a minijack adapter and short optical cable to the 518 and thence Meridian D6K speakers.
Jitter is not an issue with this set up and I upscale from 16-20 bits.
I hate 3.5mm jacks and wonder on their lifetime, they are so uncool, but so far no probs.
The sound is exemplary ,timing is immaculate, I love the availability of the digital graphic eq (for tiny tweaks).
Bass very clean.
I-Tunes is great software, I use Front Row as a remote.
I have just listened to 3hrs of continuous music where the track names were in alphabetical order,the combinations that turned were extraordinary! Using Sound Check helps normalise
levels without destroying dynamics.
I sat back and listened to Bessie Smith, Muddy Waters, Ella,
Penguin Cafe,Willie Nelson,Hank Williams,Ry Cooder, The Kinks,Emmy Lou,The Beatles, Satch,Nat King Cole trio,T-Bone Walker,Ray Charles etc etc. It was magic.
Loading in cds can be a chore,but it is more than worth it for convenience and playlist verstility.
There are no issues over sound quality.
The Mac transport will play discs my Meridian CD would not!
and it error checks when copying. I love it.
Roger.

struts
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Re: what to do? optical output on imac worthy of running to good

Jason,

Based on my experience I would say you can expect good quality.

I am listening to music off my PC via a Toslink cable right now and it sounds fantastic. There are a couple of differences to your system but hopefully you will find this useful.

I have a Dell XPS (not an iMac) connected to a Grace m902 using a Supra X-ZAC Toslink (not mini-Toslink) cable. Through my Sennheiser HD650s the sound is simply excellent. The Grace claims good jitter rejection through its s-Lock dual PLLs, but they pretty much all do these days. It's that sound that counts and this sounds great.

Can't tell you how it compares to the same programme played on a CD player as I haven't got one any more. Pretty much all my listening now is done at my desk via the above system or around the rest of my house using a Sonos streaming system.

Oh yes, and the Sonos ZP80 driving the big-rig via the same Toslink cable sounds pretty darn good too.

Good luck!

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