dac for mac mini noob

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by Sossity, Jun 3, 2014.

  1. Sossity macrumors 65816

    May 12, 2010
    I recently bought some good headphones to use for listening to FLAC and mp3 files on mac mini. I have been looking at the post your headphones thread, and some were mentioning facts and how they improve sound.

    I am not an audiophile yet, but want decent sound without having to pump up my volume.

    would a DAC help? is it worth it? so far I have just plugged my headphones right into the phone jack on my Mac mini.

    If I get one, any suggestions? I would like to keep it under $70.00
  2. Sossity thread starter macrumors 65816

    May 12, 2010
    Nobody has any idea what or about using a DAC?
  3. HFoletto macrumors member

    Oct 30, 2013
    Hi, how are you?

    Well, at the 70 USD price tag, I'm not sure an external DAC will make a noticeable difference. I mean, inside your Mac Mini there's a DAC, but you want a better one, and you'll need also a headphone amp, so possibly the difference won't be really noticeable.
    However, if you want one anyway, I have had good experiences with FiiO E10. It's a portable USB DAC and headphone amp. I also heard good things about the E09K.

    If you would like to spend more, let me know, so I can help you :)
  4. Outrigger macrumors 68000


    Dec 22, 2008
    For something under $70, you won't really notice a difference.
  5. Sossity, Jun 11, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2014

    Sossity thread starter macrumors 65816

    May 12, 2010
    well, I did see a couple of unforced dac2s on ebay for under $70.00, would they be worth it? I looked on amazon and they got mostly positive reviews

    If my Mac mini has a built in dac, is there something in system settings where I can have the mini use my better dac instead of its built in dac? because it seems kind of odd to have both of DACs running, wouldn't that muddle the sound as it would be being filtered by both.
  6. Agent47 macrumors member

    Jun 11, 2014
    This will give you a clean line out signal:


    It's cheap ($26) and works reasonably well. It does produce cleaner audio than the built-in DACs. My Air and Mini have great DACs but also lots of system noise, and this little device eliminates that.

    Note that this is NOT a headphone amp-if you have some Beyerdynamic or Grados that need higher drive current this isn't what you want. This will provide a clean line-out, which I assume you are amplifying somehow. Check out products from Fiio for good amplifiers, or this combo DAC/headphone amp for $90:

  7. Sossity, Jun 11, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2014

    Sossity thread starter macrumors 65816

    May 12, 2010
    thanks for the reply, I tried one of those sub micro line outs, and I found it to be terrible, the sound was bad, it was not the exact model linked here, but one like it that I got cheap off ebay.

    How would I get my Mac mini to use just the folio DAC, or is it ok to have both the built in Macs DAC and the folio working?
  8. a.coward macrumors regular

    Jun 1, 2010
    I would tend to agree with the previous poster: it'll be hard to get
    anything decent for under $70 and "know what you're getting", so
    to say.

    However, go up to the $100 to $150 range and options will open
    up dramatically. Mind you, you say you got a "good pair of
    headphones" but never mention what you got. "Good" is a very
    subjective word (and hopefully, your idea of "good" is not Beats :-})
    You also need to realize that you need to match your DAC/Amp
    to your headphones not just in term of acoustic pairing but also
    in technical terms such as impedance.

    Honestly, search computeraudiophile.com or head-fi.org as I'm sure
    this topic has been brought up many times before.

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