Cheap audiophile?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Rafalski24, Feb 1, 2010.

  1. Rafalski24 macrumors regular

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    Denver, CO
    #1
    So I may be buying a Hafler TRM8.1 which are amazing nearfield studio monitors. I have no mixer in my room at the moment, and am wonder if the normal headphone out on my uMBP 15" is gonna be up to par. Geffen sells a optical to rca dac for about 50 bucks, would that be better? Is there a usb DAC in that price range I should be looking at?
    Thanks guys
     
  2. Drumjim85 macrumors 68030

    Drumjim85

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    #2
    I would use the onboard output and save up until you can afford a real DAC. There's no reason to waste $50 on a low end DAC that might marginally help your sound.
     
  3. Rafalski24 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #3
    I kinda figured a $50 dac wouldn't be much better than the internal, but to clarify do you think http://www.gefen.com/kvm/dproduct.jsp?prod_id=4907 that would be much better. I can probably get it for cheaper than $50 since its discontinued. Thanks again
     
  4. m85476585 macrumors 65816

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    Feb 26, 2008
    #4
    The biggest problem I've had with the output on my MBP is noise. I have a pair of Sennheiser CX300 earbuds, and they are very sensitive (high impedance?) As a result, I usually listen at the lowest volume setting (using option+shift+volume up/down to get a partial "bar"). Since the noise output seems to be fixed, the very low signal is almost overwhelmed by noise. I don't know if it has gotten worse or if I have just started noticing it more, but the noise has really started bothering me. I now listen to music on my desktop PC with whatever integrated sound it has, and it sounds much better.

    Since those speakers appear to have their own amplifier, I think you will be fine for noise since you can turn the volume up on the MBP and down on the speakers if necessary.

    Besides noise, I don't think I would be able to tell the difference between DACs of even moderate quality.
     
  5. iThinkergoiMac macrumors 68030

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    #5
    First off, I had no clue you could do partial bars like that. Awesome.

    Secondly, I have the same earbuds and I notice no noise from my PowerBook... it seems quite odd that you're getting it from your MBP. Have you tried other MBP models to see if it's your computer or the model as a whole?

    I think the earbuds have a very low impedance... ie, low resistance, which makes normal volume levels almost too loud to take.
     
  6. fibrizo macrumors 6502

    fibrizo

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    Jan 23, 2009
    #6
    I can confirm that the unibody macbook pros have this issue. (13 and 15, haven't tried 17 inch)With low impedance devices, you can hear background static. I can hear the noise clear as day with my Shure SE530s, UE 10vis and Shure SCL4s etc etc... I don't doubt that high end audio equipment will pick it up as well. I haven't tried hooking it up to my JBL studio monitors yet though.
     
  7. Feng Shui macrumors regular

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    Apr 9, 2008
    #7
    I get nothing from my Grado SR325 and Sennheiser IE8...
     
  8. m85476585 macrumors 65816

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    Feb 26, 2008
    #8
    The impedance on these it 16 ohms, which is higher than the normal 8 ohms. I'm not sure I understand how that makes them more sensitive, though.

    Apparently noise is a problem on the Penryn MBPs (4,1) based on what I've read here. I haven't tried any other MBPs, but I know there is no noise at all on my desktop (except some pops/clicks caused by the DPC latency problems I'm having on Windows 7, though it is mostly better).

    It could be that the noise is getting worse with age as the capacitors wear out. I know my Magsafe has started making audible noise. The amount of noise in the headphone output is the same whether or not the magsafe is plugged in, though. I can also hear some audible noise from the LCD or backlight, especially when I'm on a page that causes it to flicker, like test 4a or 4b fullscreen
    http://www.lagom.nl/lcd-test/inversion.php

    I don't see any large electrolytic capacitors on the logic board, though (based on iFixit pictures).
     
  9. roliath macrumors regular

    roliath

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    #9
    Thanks, I did not know this.
     
  10. Rafalski24 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #10
    Thats one of the things I am worried about plugging them directly in. I have thought about buying a DAC in the past with a built in headphone amp. Someone said I should look at the E-MU 0404 USB, it supposedly has a great DAC, a good headphone amp, oh yeah its also a dual XLR high bitrate recording interface. At the moment I don't need it to record, but could see myself using it in the future (mostly audio for video). You think it would be worth the $184 bucks?

    Added bonus is that it has balanced line outs :)
     
  11. mikes70mustang macrumors 68000

    mikes70mustang

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    #11
    This is the only reason im still on this site, b/c of the useful little tidbits like this.
     
  12. grahamnp macrumors 6502a

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    Jun 4, 2008
    #12
    I don't find the hiss to be that noticeable on my less sensitive Alessandro MS-1s but I could really hear it on the Shures that I don't have anymore. I don't think it will be noticeable enough to bother you on full size speakers, it would depend on you I guess.

    For USD99, the Nuforce uDac has been getting a lot of attention recently but I have no first hand experience.

    BTW, thanks for the partial volume bar tip, never knew about it! :)
     
  13. Dozerrox macrumors 6502

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    Exeter
    #13
    I have an E-MU and I'm happy with it. Really nice pre-amps.

    I'd try and have a listen before you buy one though.
     
  14. Jodlesx macrumors member

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    Mar 29, 2009
    #14
    Thought I'd just confirm the noise thing. I have a pair of Denon in-ear (pretty good but probibly not considered audiphile quality), but still with these I get a considerable amount of noise on my alu macbook. Too much to bear actually. I never use them with my mac.
     
  15. mesq macrumors member

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    Jan 11, 2010
    #15
    Apogee Duet if you want awesome DAC.

    oops they are expensive arent they.
     
  16. Jaro65 macrumors 68040

    Jaro65

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    Seattle, WA
    #16
    I agree. I was pretty surprised how much noise there was when I plug in my Shure SE530s. I'll probably end up getting a pre-amp and a decent set of cans.
     
  17. quadG5guy macrumors member

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    Jan 26, 2010
    Location:
    Richmond, VA
    #17
    Does the uMBP have a headphone output? I don't have a unibody, but every MBP I've ever seen has a line-out. NOT a headphone output.

    that said, there are lots of pretty good USB dac's you should consider. And those typically will have a headphone output on them. The internal DAC in all current apple products is junk.
     
  18. Drumjim85 macrumors 68030

    Drumjim85

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    #18
    Find me the dynamic range on the duet. If it's so awesome, why don't they post the real specs?
     
  19. mikes70mustang macrumors 68000

    mikes70mustang

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    #19
    You do realize that this thread would be MUCH better served in the digital audio section.
     

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