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Old Feb 19, 2013, 05:28 AM   #1
N33t
macrumors member
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Advice Sought - ALAC Files via Stereo

I am (finally) making the jump from CD to digital and would appreciate advice.

Background info:
  • I have approximately 3k CDs worth of music loaded on an external HD in ALAC format.
  • I have a moderately high-end stereo system.
  • I have a late 2012 iMac.
  • I have a 2008 MacBook.
What I would like to do:
  • Play the music on the HD via my stereo system.
Advice sought:
  • How do I connect the dots to make it happen? I have been advised that I can go HD -> MacBook -> DAC (which I would need to purchase) -> stereo. Is this correct?
Advice, tips etc. all gratefully received. Many thanks in advance.
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Old Mar 1, 2013, 12:30 AM   #2
Outkast27
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Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Earf
Bump, Im in the same boat. I have Adcom pre amp that I will be upgrading soon, a Adcom GFA-555 amp, and Definitive Technology BP-10's. I would like to play music from my mbpr onto my home stereo, and maybe even 5.1 surround sound if possible and within my budget. From what I understand we need a dac converter, either usb or optical out.
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Old Mar 1, 2013, 01:32 AM   #3
ChrisA
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Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Redondo Beach, California
Quote:
Originally Posted by N33t View Post
I am (finally) making the jump from CD to digital and would appreciate advice.

Background info:
  • I have approximately 3k CDs worth of music loaded on an external HD in ALAC format.
  • I have a moderately high-end stereo system.
  • I have a late 2012 iMac.
  • I have a 2008 MacBook.
What I would like to do:
  • Play the music on the HD via my stereo system.
Advice sought:
  • How do I connect the dots to make it happen? I have been advised that I can go HD -> MacBook -> DAC (which I would need to purchase) -> stereo. Is this correct?
Advice, tips etc. all gratefully received. Many thanks in advance.

Yes of course you need a DAC but a one is built into every Mac. The simplest thing you can do is connect the Mac's Line-out to the stereo's line-in.

After you do that there are a few other things to try

1) If your stereo amp has a digital input (s/pdif) then all you need is a fiber optic cable from the mac (the line out on most macs is typically a combo analog/digital port. This is the best and an easy way to get 5.1 suround out of a Mac.

2) Buy a good "studio grade" Audio interface with a USB connection to the Mac. Cost abot $100+ Buy from a place that sells to musicinas and recording engineers, NOT to "audiophools" who over pay for vodoo magic. Good brands are things like Presonius, Focurite, MOTU and the like look here
http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Alpha/
Even this is more than you need. the KEY FEATURE is an analog volume control.

3) for wireless connection to the stereo try either an Apple TV (and ignore the video) or an Apple Airport Express. If these are present on your WiFi that you see an icon on the screen to send output there. Both Apple device plug into the stereo using analog or s/pdif cable

Which ever you do leave ALL the digital volume controls at 100% and adjust using the analog control on the amp or interface box.

Of the above #2 might give the best sound but really, I bet the weak link is your listening room. Before you spend $$ on more electrons spend a few hundred in aquatic treatments for the room. This has the best payback per buck

How to decide is based on if you can run a cable or not. A cable makes it easy and a simple 1/8" TRS to RCA pair cable will get you going. If the connection must be wireless then either ATV or "Express". You can buy several of these if you have multiple stereo systems and control it all from your phone.
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Old Mar 1, 2013, 03:23 AM   #4
Blackberryroid
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Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: /private/var/vm/
Quote:
Originally Posted by N33t View Post
I am (finally) making the jump from CD to digital and would appreciate advice.

Background info:
  • I have approximately 3k CDs worth of music loaded on an external HD in ALAC format.
  • I have a moderately high-end stereo system.
  • I have a late 2012 iMac.
  • I have a 2008 MacBook.
What I would like to do:
  • Play the music on the HD via my stereo system.
Advice sought:
  • How do I connect the dots to make it happen? I have been advised that I can go HD -> MacBook -> DAC (which I would need to purchase) -> stereo. Is this correct?
Advice, tips etc. all gratefully received. Many thanks in advance.
This is the most formal issue discussed on the forum I've ever seen.

Just go get an Apple TV. And iTunes Match. Both thing's cheap, you'll need at least $125. That's it.
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Old Mar 1, 2013, 07:13 PM   #5
Johbremat
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Join Date: Feb 2011
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisA View Post
Of the above #2 might give the best sound but really, I bet the weak link is your listening room. Before you spend $$ on more electrons spend a few hundred in aquatic treatments for the room.
I'd suspect the best quality would actually be from the Apple TV. Using an audio interface you're introducing an additional digital-to-analog conversion. Transmitting lossless audio wirelessly from either of the machines to the ATV then optically you can leave the heavy lifting to the receiver.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackberryroid View Post
Just go get an Apple TV. And iTunes Match. Both thing's cheap, you'll need at least $125. That's it.
There's no benefit in iTunes Match. From a resource utilisation standpoint it's a terrible idea, as quotas and bandwidth on a broadband connection will get caned, QoS-enabled or not. Little point in streaming lossless from the cloud when it's already available locally.
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Old Mar 1, 2013, 09:14 PM   #6
Uofmtiger
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Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Memphis
iTunes Match will replace those ALAC files with 256k files in the cloud, so I wouldn't suggest it unless you want to keep your computer off.

I would get an Appletv or Airport Express and feed it digitally into the amp if possible...it really depends on your amp/receiver. Most receivers use Audyssey or other forms of room correction that make a bigger difference than a decent outboard DAC, in my opinion. If your amp only has analog in, I would get a separate DAC rather than using analog out of the Aiport Express.

You could just hook the MacBook up to the amp and have iTunes on, so you have a lot of options. I use HDMI out of my Mac mini feeding a receiver and it can handle surround.
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