Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by clonreher, Nov 9, 2015.

  1. clonreher macrumors newbie

    May 26, 2008
    Hi all

    I am looking to get some fairly high quality speakers (B&W 685 S2) for listening to music (all types) at home.

    Initially I would plan on using my rMBP as the source for my music, routed to the speakers through a decent amp (e.g. an Arcam FMJ A19).

    Much of what I've read on the internet suggests that an external DAC is also advisable when playing music from a computer as on-board DACs can be poor. On the other hand I've seen some suggestion that rMBPs come with a good DAC on board and so I'm wondering if this would be overkill.

    Can anyone advise?

    Many thanks
  2. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    Well the DAC on the rMBP is pretty decent for a laptop but is still a fairly standard part.

    Basically if you consider yourself a bit of an audiophile you'll probably want an external DAC, if you don't you probably won't notice the difference.

    There are some good USB DAC's worth a look for a decent price, performance, size compromise.

  3. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    Agreed! Although the rMBP headphone output isn't flawless, it's really really, really good for a laptop. I know a guy who mixed music (and very good mixes, by the way) just using LPX and some dynamic range headphones DI w/headphone jack -- no external bits whatsoever.

    Although it's not a perfect solution, it's certainly best to start with what you have IMHO and then see if you can justify purchases from there. I've seen producers who have thousands of pounds of equipment, yet immediately rely on them and throw in everything a little blindly, having a significantly worse mix as a result - compared to just one guy with a pair of headphones and a MacBook Pro, who methodically works from the ground up and has to think more about frequency seperation/tones due to the limitations of their hardware (but again, it makes a better mix).

    Reminds me of this:


    EDIT: of course, the OP was talking about listening to music, rather than producing it - so apologies for my digression. :D
  4. fisherking macrumors 603


    Jul 16, 2010
    ny somewhere
    there is a significant difference between the audio from the mbp out and the sound from an external usb DAC. i have a 'cheap' one (nuforce uDac3)...and it's night and day. audio from the DAC is clearer, flatter...more open. less boomy. no drivers, works in 10.11 (i started using it int 10.10). def worth checking out DACs (amazon, etc).
  5. UBS28 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 2, 2012
    I'm not familiar with that model. But based on my experience, I'd say you can get away with it. That speaker won't probably expose all the flaws of your setup and the recording.
  6. jerwin macrumors 68000

    Jun 13, 2015
    There are a couple of interrelated advantages to using a DAC (either optical, or USB) in between the ARCAM and your mac.

    1. The mac, being a portable device, probably won't stay plugged in all the time. You'll have to remember to power down your amp before you remove the headphone jack-- otherwise you could cause your ears some unpleasantness and do nasy things to your speakers.
    2. Most DACs have RCA connectors on the back.The advantage of these over a minijack, is you don't have to worry about loose connections doing strange things to your stereo.
    3 The third bit is that you don't have dueling volume controls. Just set the volume on your arcam and be done with it.

    Also, with certain usb DACs, it may be possible to get DSD out of your mac, if that interests you. If not, an toslink cord can be plugged into the headphone jack, with the appropriate adaptor.
  7. fisherking macrumors 603


    Jul 16, 2010
    ny somewhere
    there's good, and there's better. the sound from my DAC (and my previous interface, a focusrite scarlett 2i2) is just so much better than the sound from the internal audio. clarity, definition. less boomy. if those things matter to you, an audio interface is well worth it.
  8. str1der macrumors newbie


    Jul 20, 2016
    Does anybody have troubles with connect a USB DAC to rMBP? I have been using Audioengine D1 for a while. I had no problem for connecting this one to dozen Windows PCs/laptops so far. However, my new rMBP (2015) does not recognize this USB DAC. I tried every methods suggested in Apple support forum, but none of them worked. I wonder if anyone solved a similar problem and how.
  9. redshifted, Jul 20, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2016

    redshifted macrumors regular


    Oct 10, 2014
    I found this on the AudioEngine site:


    If the recommendations don't work, they do have a link on that page to open a support ticket.

    Good luck. I like AudioEngine's stuff but never got around to buying any.

    I use an Oppo HA-2 USB Amp/DAC and I have to occasionally select it under System Preferences under Sound - Output. My 2015 rMBP seems to lose track of it as an audio output choice once in a great while - either on sleep or reboot. I'm not sure because it happens so seldom.
  10. snaky69 macrumors 603

    Mar 14, 2008
    The speakers definitely won't sound at their best without a proper DAC, but they are on the "low end of high end".

    What I'd be more concerned about is that the computers output is aimed to be used with headphones, if you hot plug it into your amp you could get some nasty clicks and pops that could easily kill tweeters.

    Such a thing would not happen with an actual DAC, they usually mute the output when no input is detected and there usually is a little delay to prevent clicks and pops from coming through as you plug it in.

    You don't have to spend an arm and a leg to get a decent DAC, Schiit Audio makes some very decent and affordable stuff (and yes, it's pronounced like you think it is).

    Edit: Aaaaand I unknowingly participated in a nearly 1 year old thread revival. Move along.
  11. Tenashus1 macrumors 6502

    Jul 27, 2011
    Dragonfly Black v.1.5 or Dragonfly v. 1.0 - Both are excellent. Red is even a bit better. I heartily recommend either one.
  12. jerryk macrumors 68040

    Nov 3, 2011
    SF Bay Area
  13. a.coward macrumors regular

    Jun 1, 2010

    I use a D1 on my mid-2012 Retina. Works flawlessly.

    What do you mean by "does not recognize"? When you plug in USB devices into the Mac, many times there is no direct feedback from the OS that anything was connected even though it is still activated and working.

    Did you check system information to see if the D1 is listed under USB devices?
    Did you try going to sound settings to see if you can select the D1 as the output?

    I'd be surprised if the D1 did not work on OS X and did on a PC since OS X typically handles USB audio far better than Windows does (with respect do driver requirements).

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