Audio options with iMac

Discussion in 'iMac' started by bogman12, Mar 8, 2008.

  1. bogman12 macrumors regular

    Sep 20, 2007
    I want to get an iMac to replace my current PC desktop. I have concerns of how how I can connect my external pro audio equipment to the iMac.


    I have a Yamaha MG 10/2 mixer console which currently accepts input via RCA connectors from my PC's sound card. A pair of studio monitors are connected to my Yamaha mixer.

    I'm guessing the iMac only has headphone out. Which means I can only use a mini stereo -> RCA adapter. I'm also suspect of the signal quality from the headphone plug. Are there no other alternatives?

  2. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    Your iMac has a digital optical audio port (that doubles as an analog port). Does your mixer have an optical input?
  3. bogman12 thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 20, 2007
    It only has analog RCA inputs..

    So I'm guessing I'm stuck using the headphone output from the iMac?
  4. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    There are USB and Firewire options that can provide line-level. FireWave, or some such?
  5. bogman12 thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 20, 2007
    However I also plan on doing video editing with External Firewire HDs..

    I'd like to reserve the FW bus for the harddrives only.

    What about an optical to analog converter cable? Do such thing exist?

    What are iMacs users doing when it comes to external speakers? Do you guys use only speaker systems with optical input?
  6. Rickeo macrumors newbie

    Mar 4, 2008
    Personally I use optical out to my Pioneer AVR that supplies a set of Polk bookshelf's and a Yamaha subwoofer. You can use any speaker system that you want. Post an example, and I will show you how to connect it. :D
  7. bogman12 thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 20, 2007

    Can you tell me how to connect the iMac to my Yamaha MG 10/2 mixer (pic is attached above)

    The mixer has RCA audio inputs.

    BTW, I've connected my MacBook to this mixer using mini-stere to RCA cable, I had to turn the volumn up quite high on the mixer in order to use this setup. I hope there exist a better way with the iMac
  8. Rickeo macrumors newbie

    Mar 4, 2008
    Sure. If you're looking for optimal audio quality, you will want to go with a USB or optical DAC (digital to analog converter). These will have stereo RCA jack outputs that you can run to you're mixer.

    If your looking for a quick way to do it, that im sure will be fine, is just like you said. A stereo minijack to RCA cable.

    Finding cheap DAC's can be difficult, so shop around. This one is $80 but im sure you can find cheaper ones with some patience.

    Good luck. :cool:
  9. notnek macrumors 6502


    Oct 25, 2007
    upgrade to the newer yamaha along with the new computer. it connects via usb and has great sound. or you could step it up and get a firewire mixer. those are sweet.
  10. bogman12 thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 20, 2007
    So I'm guessing the D/A built into the iMac for the headphone output is pretty poor huh? Or I could be wrong, maybe output from that is usable..
  11. Rickeo macrumors newbie

    Mar 4, 2008
    From an audiophile point of view, yes, its very poor, and should be avoided at all costs. Honestly to the average person you probably won't notice the difference.

    You're running studio monitors, so im assuming they are self powered. How do you have them connected to the mixer? What output on the mixer? Im just trying to get a feel for how you're system is set up.

    I highly recommend that idea, didnt think of that.
    That will allow a 2 way connection, so you can record to you're iMac aswell. Very nice upgrade, go for it!
  12. bogman12 thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 20, 2007
    I'm running Behringer Truths as my monitors, yes they are self powered

    I'm using RCA out from the mixer to the 1/4" jack on the monitors.

    Regarding a USB mixer.. what kind of overhead can I expect from that? I don't like the idea of sharing USB bus with potential USB Hard drives I might use...
  13. Killyp macrumors 68040


    Jun 14, 2006
    The USB mixers are good, but the Firewire ones are even better.

    Two devices (audio interface and an external hard drive) running off a single Firewire port is still much much faster than USB. You could even get a Firewire 800 drive and use the FW400 just for the mixing desk.

    I have an Alesis Multimix Firewire, which I would fully recommend. I have the 16 channel model but they go to 8 channels as well...
  14. Rickeo macrumors newbie

    Mar 4, 2008
    ^^ I agree. What would be you're price range if you where to get a firewire/usb mixer?
  15. tsd macrumors regular

    Aug 10, 2007
    Greensboro, NC
    If you want to stay cheap but keep good quality, M-Audio has some good stuff, like the FastTrack Pro that has 24-bit/96kHz quality, and should do the trick for you. Here's a link to their line of USB audio interfaces:
    We use a MacBook Pro with the FastTrackPro USB and a Firewire 400 external harddrive (7200 RPM), and it works great. Mind you, we don't use an external mixer, since we've only got 2 inputs used at any given time, so using software mixers works for us. The nice thing about one of these mobile interface units is that you can pack it up and go wireless (they are USB bus powered) to do recording quickly anywhere.
  16. ArtTechFreak macrumors newbie

    Dec 30, 2007
    Just East of San Frandisco
    The headphone output on the Alu iMac

    sounds amazing to me! The quality is even better than the audio out on my old dual G4 Quicksilver. I have the audio out going directly in the pre-amp on my NAD receiver. I have an awesome speaker system with a subwoofer. The sound quality is stunning. Haven't seen any specs on the headphone audio quality but if you want the BEST go for an optical based DAC.
  17. Macchino macrumors regular

    Jan 13, 2008
    Unless you do multitrack-recording, you should be fine with an USB/Firewire Audio interface with 2in/2out such as the FastTrack pro or MobilePre USB (Both m-Audio products), they have built in preamps, so you can record as well. Just plug the cables from the outputs on the audio inteface in to a channel on the mixer, and you are good to go. But there are a lot of very nice audio interfaces beside those two, so shop around - you gennerally get what you pay for:)

    Good luck

  18. bogman12 thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 20, 2007
    How much overhead does a USB D/A converter such as the M-Audio Fast Track impose on the CPU and the USB bus?
  19. brianp macrumors newbie

    Mar 6, 2008
  20. bogman12 thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 20, 2007
    Hey Brian, I see that the UA-25 has optical Input and Output, does that mean I can connect the optical audio out from the imac to the UA-25 instead of using USB? I only care about audio output.. don't really need input at this moment.
  21. brianp macrumors newbie

    Mar 6, 2008
    dunno, havn't tried due to a lack of an optical cable. i would've thought it would work though. having said that, why fix whats not broken and stick with usb?
  22. bogman12 thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 20, 2007
    Because I don't want to put additional data onto the USB bus if I'm using USB keyboard+Mouse+Jog Wheel+HD+CF card reader...

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