Connecting speakers to iMac - Is a DAC necessary?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Tigerman82, Aug 16, 2010.

  1. Tigerman82 macrumors regular

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    Jul 27, 2010
    #1
    I was wondering if DACs are necessary with iMacs. I'm getting a 2010 iMac soon and will be connecting it to my Audioengine A2 -speakers (which are active speakers). I know they should be connected to the iMac's headphone jack.

    I've noticed that many people use DACs with their iMacs. Many seem to use Nuforce's uDac which is decent-looking and not that expensive. On the other hand, my iMac is arriving tomorrow and I would like to know if I should hold off connecting my speakers to it.

    BTW, I actually kinda like the silver/black version of the uDac-2 and how it would look below the iMac's screen. The all-black version is nice as well but I have a dark desk and so the silver would make it not so gloomy -- the all-black version could be nicer if the desk was light.
     
  2. flopticalcube macrumors G4

    flopticalcube

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    #2
    I eould say no. The DAC in the iMac is fairly good for what it is and the analog output is acceptable.
     
  3. KariNeko macrumors newbie

    KariNeko

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    #3
    So wich CODEC does have the new iMac?
     
  4. flopticalcube macrumors G4

    flopticalcube

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    #4
    No idea. I never heard a difference between the my iMac's (mid 2007) DAC and that of my AVR (Denon 3808 w BB PCM1971A) which by all accounts is not a bad DAC. The analog output stages of all computers is always lacking but that should not be a problem at line level.
     
  5. KariNeko macrumors newbie

    KariNeko

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    #5
    I got my new i5 2.8Ghz iMac, the audio output sound is a lot more compressed and worse than my AD2000 (on Asus P6T Dlx 2) on my i7 Hackintosh,
    Does anybody know which crappy CODEC the new iMac has?
     
  6. slicecom macrumors 68020

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    Toronto, Canada
    #6
    I don't know what codec the iMacs run, but I can tell you running off a DAC with my iMac to my Yamaha HS80M's sounds infinitely better than running off the onboard. The audio has so much more depth it's unbelievable. The bass is less muddy as well. If you're using good speakers, not the Logitech or Bose crap most people on here use, then a DAC is defiantly worth the price.
     
  7. KariNeko macrumors newbie

    KariNeko

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    #7
    Thanks slicecom for your comments, out of curiosity which one are you using?
    I currently connect my iMac and Hackintosh via analog outs to my Krell KAV-300iL amp, I have Sonus Faber speakers. When I tried the onboard of my new iMac I was so shocked, it sounds so much worse even compared to the onboard Analog Devices 2000 CODEC that my Hackintosh has. I was already thinking on a DAC, but I didn't think that I'll have to get one that soon (next purchase).

    Greetings
     
  8. slicecom macrumors 68020

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  9. Tigerman82 thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jul 27, 2010
    #9
    Well I bought the uDac-2 for my A2 speakers and it added clarity and punch to the sound experience. Can't believe how small the uDac is -- it takes less space than Magic Mouse. Moreover, it fits perfectly to iMacs style. In addition to better sound, it's also handy to have a headphone jack in front of me -- I don't have to stand up and reach to the back of the iMac to connect headphones.

    To my mind, there isn't a better DAC for iMacs unless you are willing to pay 2-5 times more.
     
  10. hh83917 macrumors 6502

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    Jun 30, 2005
    #10
    Well, DAC will be necessary if you are picky on good audio and sound. iMac internal DAC is good for normal use, but if you already planned to buy a nice pair of speakers/headphones (depend on your preference), why not get a DAC to reach the speakers' full potential?
    I got a Benchmark DAC1 HDR with sennheiser HD650 and HD800 headphones first, with the audioengine A2s for regular listening due to desk space. Now I'm upgrading the A2s to krk rockit5s for some better non-headphone audio. I can say, so far, I'm a very happy camper. :eek:
     
  11. cobrasneverdie macrumors member

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    Jul 27, 2010
    #11

    a simple request, i'm looking to buy a udac-2 as well from amazon. Would you be able to show me how you connect the product from imac to speaker (picture) that'd be great!

    thanks
     
  12. Tigerman82 thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jul 27, 2010
    #12
    Unfortunately I have a lot of cables and other stuff as well around the back of these devices so taking a picture is a bit difficult. Anyway, connecting these devices is very simple. First you connect the uDAC-2 to the iMac via USB-cable (you should think about getting a better USB-cable from Belkin etc.).

    Secondly, you connect the uDAC-2 to your speakers. I have Audioengine A2 active speakers. I used this cable to connect to the uDAC-2. I connected the 3.5mm stereo jack to the speakers and the two phonos to the uDAC-2. The uDAC-2 does have that coaxical/digital -connection as well but in my situation I won't use it.

    I could have used an RCA-cable (2 phono to 2 phono) as well as my speakers have that type of connections as well but Audioengine's website recommended I use the 3.5mm jack for connecting them to a DAC.

    Ask away if something is still unclear to you.
     
  13. cobrasneverdie macrumors member

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    Jul 27, 2010
    #13
    pardon my ignorance, I'm using a sorround sound system
    so those blue cables would get plugged in to the system/speaker. What cable goes into the imac?
     
  14. Tigerman82 thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jul 27, 2010
    #14
    The USB-cable. You do know what an USB-cable is? It's this sort of cable. The uDAC-2 gets its power via that cable (it is a so-called USB-powered device) and thus does not require a power cord etc.
     
  15. kappaz macrumors member

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    Feb 28, 2008
    #15
    That's interesting. I just contacted Audioengine to ask how they recommend connecting the a2 to the udac-2 and they said rca to rca.

    "With this DAC I would recommend simply using a RCA cable connected to the RCA inputs on the A2s"
     
  16. sentros macrumors member

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    Oct 29, 2009
    Location:
    Finland
    #16
    Holy moly, this guy here could be the solution to my problems as well.

    Turntablism is my hobby and as a result I got a DJ mixer (Allen & Heath Xone:32) and recently in addition I got very hi-fi monitors (a pair of Genelec 8020B's). They are active speakers and according to the datasheet it's best to have the speaker volume all the way to the max and use the mixer (or what ever the sound source is) to regulate the volume.

    First of all my mixer doesn't have an optical input (since it's inteded for DJ use) so I'm forced to use the analog output of the iMac. I've been toying around with the levels on both my iMac and the mixer and come to the conclusion that if I have the iMac volume all the way up, everything sounds like **** (pardon my French). But then again if I have the iMac volume at lower levels I can hear some very irritating noise (as in interference). So I've concluded that the iMac is incapable of reproducing good quality sound for my current set-up.

    That uDAC might be the answer, or what do you guys think? Could my problem be elsewhere? Am I missing something? What's the meaning of life?
     

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