Any audiophiles out there

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by holesinhead, Jul 6, 2015.

  1. holesinhead macrumors newbie

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    #1
    How does the rMB audio dac/amp compare with other MacBooks past or present for headphone use? Also, is it better than latest iPhones?
     
  2. fisherking macrumors 601

    fisherking

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    #2
    seriously, if you want 'audiofile' audio, you need to ignore the headphone out, and get a DAC. on the macbook, that means a usb-C to usb adaptor. then something like the dragonfly (if u want small), etc. not so elegant.

    perhaps we'll see a usb-C DAC soon, but for now, i'd stick to the headphone out. to be honest, have not heard it, but the audio from my nuforce udac-3 (on a 13" macbook pro) kills the headphone out (less boomy, greater clarity, more air).
     
  3. cbautis2 macrumors 6502a

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    #3
    You only need an amp if the headphone you're using requires more than 250 Ohms, or you have a low Ohm (e.g. 25 Ohm) high amperage headphones, e.g. AKG headphones.. If you have an in ear headphones with < 64 Ohms, you won't notice a single bit of difference in sound quality unless you get a peace of mind (it's a placebo effect IMO) with your in-ear headphone connected to a decent DAC and amp.
     
  4. fisherking macrumors 601

    fisherking

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    #4
    that simply isn't true. there's an actual, measurable difference in sound quality between most laptop headphone jacks and a good DAC; that's the whole point. am not saying you have to agree with me (altho i AM an audio pro, lol), but do some actual research, or TRY an DAC. the difference is audible (again, less boom, more clarity).
     
  5. cbautis2 macrumors 6502a

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    #5
    I've tried them out. One thing I find is that there's no difference in sound quality using low impedance in-ear headphone (e.g. Shure SE215 or even the Etymotic ER4PT). However, using a 300 Ohm Sennheiser HD600 from my friend, the bass is stronger but does not wool (it's a quick bass response), treble's sparkle more and the separation of instruments is far more noticale on his Schiit DAC and AMP setup. There's no sound quality difference with my Shure SE215 in ear headphones though from his DAC and AMP setup and directly out of his rMBP.
     
  6. fisherking macrumors 601

    fisherking

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    #6
    those are good earbuds (the shures). personally, i'd guess you're not perceiving a difference (and someone else might). but really, whatever works for you (or anyone, for that matter)...
     
  7. cbautis2, Jul 6, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2015

    cbautis2 macrumors 6502a

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    #7
    I agree. Maybe my ears are less sensitive than others, but there's an immediate difference with the Sennheiser HD600 from the headphone output against a dedicated DAC and dedicated AMP setup.
    If anyone is serious about high quality audio, an excellent DSP DAC and a separate solid state/tube AMP is a must. I wouldn't suggest any USB powered DAC/AMP as they don't provide enough current to drive high impedance headphones to sound their best. For best bang for buck, I recommend O2 + ODAC. Also don't forget the USB-C to USB-A adapter.

    Here's an interesting article about integrated sound vs DAC/AMP setup:

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/high-end-pc-audio,3733-19.html
     
  8. reverend t macrumors newbie

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    #8
    A cleaner output than my 2013 MBA. Seemingly, as flat a response as my beautiful Samsung Galaxy Alpha. Very powerful too. Delighted, frankly.
     
  9. holesinhead thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #9
    I upgraded to the rMB from a late 2008 MB and the old laptop sounds better overall. Maybe its just louder at a setting so I'm perceiving it to be better but I had half expected the newer laptop to be better given the improvements in the last 6 - 7 years. Similarly I find the sound of the 1st gen iPhone to be better than the iPhone 6.
     
  10. JLatte macrumors 6502

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    #10
    I was wondering this as well. I just bought a PSB M4U 1 headset and a FIIO E07K to test it out on my Macbook. Not using any of the FIIO's equalizer settings, I keep switching between the direct audio jack and the usb and the difference, if it's there, is very vague to me. Is there something else I could try or is it just incredibly subtle with my setup?
     
  11. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

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    #11
    I have not listened to the headphone output enough yet to make a real determination, but even with my Shure SE-846's the output sounds pretty good. Maybe not quite as good as my iPhone, but I can't say that for certain yet.
     
  12. fisherking macrumors 601

    fisherking

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    #12
    possibly, the audio out on the new macbook is better than previous macbooks. or...whatever? ultimately, whatever works for you, works for you. so, at it's simplest, enjoy the ease of using the audio jack.
     
  13. Macalway macrumors 68000

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    Aug 7, 2013
    #13
    Things change. A few years ago things were different. What isn't different is power output.

    It's with higher ohm stuff that that you have problems. It's very unlikely that your going to get get any kind of power out of microdots. Then again, who knows? :D

    But seriously, this is were a paltry headphone jack becomes garbage. You don't need to be an audiophile to hear this.

    Evan cavemen will notice.
     
  14. cbautis2 macrumors 6502a

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    #14
    Yep. This agrees with my experience. There will be a difference between integrated and dedicated only headphones with a high amperage and high impedance (ohm). Today's (quality one) integrated soundcards have extremely low noise (unless the Motherboard isn't shielded or poorly made), have a flat frequency of +- 0.1 db albeit when using low power headphones. Once you load a power hungry headphone, the frequency response on the low and high (maybe some mids) will be affected and will be far noticable thus sounding worse compared to a powerful and dedicated amp.

    [​IMG]
     
  15. rezok macrumors newbie

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    #15
    My view as a wannabe audiophile who has been lucky enough to experiment with nice gear (mid to upper Shures, Senns etc) and the odd DAC and a few decent headphone amplifiers - is that there can be no doubt: if you appreciate the difference between precision, well staged audio - and Beats by Dre - then it is no argument.
     
  16. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

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    #16
    I've been listening to the audio output a bit more closely. I haven't done truly critical comparisons, but my impression is that the output of the Macbook is quite good. That's from a range of high-end headphones - Shure SE846 IEM's, vintage Sony CD3000's, and Denon D7000's. Plenty of output to drive any of these (not surprising as they are all easy loads). Even using my Headamp Pico external amp/dac, I notice very little, if any difference. Contrast this to my Surface Pro 3 that sounds very mediocre from the built-in jack.
     
  17. Mindinversion macrumors 6502

    Mindinversion

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    #17
    Maybe I missed it somewhere, but the one thing I"m not seeing is the SOURCE MUSIC used for all this. It's hard to consider it a fair objective test when you have no idea if the source is full of dynamic contrast, or if it's just another butchered victim of the loudness wars.

    Once you factor in the general quality of RECORDINGS of the music you listen to, it then becomes a question of "is there even a point to an external DAC"? After all, garbage in, garbage out, no matter how high end the components.
     
  18. fisherking macrumors 601

    fisherking

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    #18
    no one should be expecting an 'audiophile' experience listening on laptop speakers. but...better-sounding is better-sounding, and, for what it is, the macbook sounds pretty good.

    the argument about, say, a 24bit wav file vs a cd vs an mp3...has no real relevance in this case. certainly, in EVERY case, better is better.

    i look forward to the next-gen pro's getting some of that 'better sound'...
     
  19. Mac 128 macrumors 601

    Mac 128

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    #19
    Which is why an external DAC dongle would be great for everyone to improve their audio out of a mobile device, especially those who prefer high quality audio. Too bad in order to use one on the rMB the user needs a hub in order to supply power at the same time. Perhaps the ultimate portable solution for the rMB would be an iPod Shuffle style 1/8" audio jack, which allows charging and data transfer depending on what's plugged into it.
     
  20. gman36 macrumors regular

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    #20
    18 Posts later and OP still doesnt have an answer. Guys, he didnt ask about DACs, can someone with the laptop please answer the question.
     
  21. Mindinversion macrumors 6502

    Mindinversion

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    #21
    LOL, so caught up in esoteric audio didn't interperet the question properly.

    Highest output via built in speakers is 48000.0 Hz 2 ch 16 bit integer.
    Highest output via headphones [B&W P7s] 96000.0Hz 2 ch 32 bit Float, which is the same as my late 2014 MbP and 2014 RiMac.

    No, but there are a lot of headphone options...
     
  22. fisherking macrumors 601

    fisherking

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    #22
    of course there are, no one has said otherwise. my only point was about the macbook's speakers...
     
  23. holesinhead thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #23
    Thanks! To your ears, does one laptop sound better than the other given the same source and headphones?
     
  24. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

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    #24
    Uh, I answered it twice.

    Again, the output from this computer sounds excellent. From the teardowns posted online, it appears to use the same Cirrus Logic DAC as used in all other recent MacBook Pro's and Airs.
     
  25. Mac 128 macrumors 601

    Mac 128

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    #25
    The reality is anyone who is listening through free Apple earbuds shouldn't be concerned with the quality of the sound to begin with. Especially if they are streaming music via Apple Music, or otherwise (interesting side note, Neil Young just pulled his music from streaming services because he said the quality wasn't high enough). However as fisher king writes, a higher quality DAC is better regardless if the quality is necessarily apparent to a specific listeners anecdotal experience.

    As Mindinversion states, there are a lot of headphone options. One in particular is the Phillips Fidelio which has gotten very high marks for it's sound quality with it's built-in DACs. These are the style of headphones people will be using anyway if they prefer quality audio. This is evidenced at my gym where a good 60% of the headphones worn are of the full-sized Beats or better variety, with the rest being earbuds of BluTooth.

    The 1/8" audio jack is a low-fi interface, and any Apple product is going to provide good basic performance, superior to almost any other manufacturer in my experience, depending on the final listening source: speakers, headphones, earbuds, etc. Higher quality headphones are likely to show up deficiencies in both the DAC and audio file quality.

    So it's not a simple question of which sounds better, since there are so many variables depending on how critical the listening environment is, the most important of which being the individual's own ears.

    In the end, regardless of the device used, if a good quality external DAC is used, either built-in to the headphones, or a dongle for a good quality pair of headphones, the bet quality possible from the chosen soundless will be possible. And that dongle doesn't have to be very big at all -- Apple's own Lightning Dock has a tiny footprint yet outputs audio from it's 1/8" audio jack equal or superior to the iPhone's built-in 1/8" jack. All the more reason Apple should just move away from the 1/8" audio jack, and let the consumer chose the best method for getting audio out of their devices, not just the lowest-common demeanor standard.
     

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