Hdmi dac

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by spyderx, Jan 22, 2012.

  1. spyderx macrumors member

    Mar 20, 2011
    I know this probably isn't the best place to post this but I thought I'd give it a whirl...

    Is anyone aware of a high-end DAC that will input HDMI at this point? A stand-alone DAC ideally with balanced outputs. I'm using a USB output to my DAC on my new Mac Mini as I have been for quite some time at 24/96 sample rates. I have a lot of high-bitrate lossless audio from Vinyl rips I do. I'd love to do bluray audio through a high-quality DAC.

    I just saw that Mark Levinson announced at CES a new Integrated Amp that looks very attractive. It adds digital (including HDMI) DAC to the inputs along with traditional analog inputs. It's $10k. They also announced a full digital audio processor / preamp for $6k that has a massive number of digital, usb, hdmi inputs.

    Not sure I want to give up the tube-pre stage on my current integrated though (BAT VK-300xSE).

    № 585 Integrated Amplifier
    The Mark Levinson № 585 integrated amplifier is ideal for audiophiles and music lovers who desire an all in one audio control center and stereo power amplifier that is space saving and easy to use and delivers ultimate-quality music reproduction. The № 585 offers three analog line-level audio inputs plus an MC/MM phono input and six digital audio inputs, to accommodate a wide array of music sources, and can be operated via its remote control. The № 585 delivers a generous 225 watts per channel power output into 8 ohms, to easily drive even inefficient audiophile loudspeakers, and provides a dedicated subwoofer output.
    The № 585’s analog circuitry is optimized to deliver extraordinary sonic refinement, and it incorporates leading-edge 32-bit/192kHz digital-to-analog converters for unsurpassed digital audio performance. The Mark Levinson No 585 includes HDMI™ 1.3, USB, AES/EBU and coaxial S/PDIF inputs, and provides USB and S/PDIF digital outputs. A host of onboard sonic tailoring facilities are provided including full bass management with high-pass filtering, low-pass crossover controls for the subwoofer output and more. The № 585’s unity gain SSP mode enables easy integration with home theater systems, and the № 585 offers a full complement of system control ports.

    № 560 Digital Audio Processor
    The Mark Levinson № 560 is engineered to bring out the very best in all digital audio sources including high-resolution audio formats and serve as the heart of a digital audio music system. The Mark Levinson № 560 enables listeners to enjoy the full sonic benefits of computer audio, disc transports, streaming media devices and other digital sources thanks to its dual 32-bit, 192kHz premium digital to analog converters, digital volume control and impeccable engineering and construction.
    The № 560 provides no less than 10 digital audio inputs including two optical and two coaxial S/PDIF inputs, three USB 2.0 (A) connectors, two HDMI inputs with DSD (Direct Stream Digital)-direct capability and an AES/EBU XLR input. The No 560’s XLR and RCA analog outputs facilitate connection to an amplifier or preamplifier. The № 560 is designed for extraordinary sonic performance, incorporating isolated digital and analog circuitry with independent power supplies, asynchronous clocking to ensure jitter-free performance from the dual 32-bit DACs, premium quality internal components throughout and many additional enhancements.
  2. drmark macrumors newbie


    Jan 5, 2012
    Not that I am aware of, the issue we have is the DAC is good for 2-channels not 5 or 7.
    The other issue I have with my 2011 mini, it will not send audio out to 2 differant points. HDMI and USB. We get to choise one or the other. So trying to come up with a way to output to a DAC and actually see what I am listening to.

    I wonder, if you have HDMI going to one port in, if you switch to a differant input with RCA's in. Will it break the HDMI sound and use the USB?

    Have to try that tonight.
  3. JAT macrumors 603

    Dec 31, 2001
    Mpls, MN
    Well, there are plenty of good HT processors. You aren't likely to find anything called a "5.1 DAC", though. Onkyo or Marantz are often considered some of the best right now. The whole HD audio industry went through hell the last couple years with crap products coming out of one of the main 2 suppliers of the actual DAC component.

    Cary audio has a high end model, too. Actually, pretty much all the regular high end players have something in this genre.

    Emotiva has been promising a high end proc for over 3 years. If they ever actually ship the beast, it will be high quality sound for low price.
  4. spyderx thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 20, 2011
    I use the hdmi out, usb out to my current dac, and optical audio outs today. They all work fine.

    The HDMI just goes to my HDTV.
    The USB goes to my high resolution usb dac
    the optical goes to my HT receiver for digital decoding

    I very frequently use hdmi for video source and usb or optical for audio source playback at the same time.

    The question was really about taking digital HDMI signals and using a high quality dac to either output 2 channel or multi-channel audio. This isn't a mac mini specific question.

    As an example, the oppo higher end blu ray player has a higher quality dac that does BR to 2 channel down mixing via balanced outputs that I could put into my integrated amp.

    There just aren't a lot of options for someone looking for decoding of high-resolution digital audio from blu ray right now.


    I'm not looking for an HT processor. I don't do HT, just audio.

    The mark levinson unit is the closest i've found with a high end digital decoder / pre-amp built in.

  5. JAT, Jan 29, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2012

    JAT macrumors 603

    Dec 31, 2001
    Mpls, MN
    You don't have to use the video part of an HT processor, except probably to set it up. That's the point, these are very nearly the only devices that do what you want, so you'll have to use one to get that audio functionality. The world simply doesn't recognize any need for surround audio separate from video. SACD has basically died, and the audio blurays are mostly crap concert video that would be just as good via mp3. Without surround audio discs, no one is making an audio-only processor/DAC/transport. Note that the HD DAC world is pretty small, too. There's only a few ICs for this, the high end doesn't have too much special to work from.

    Here is the state of high end processors ....
    Meridian: no HD audio yet
    Cary: includes video
    Mark Levinson: not yet shipping (502 includes video)
    Classe: includes video
    Lexicon: includes video
    Mcintosh: includes video
    Krell: includes video
    Theta: includes video (not sure if shipping)

    Here is a chart that outlines some facts. You may note that the high end companies mostly have limited video processing, almost the entirety of the product is dedicated to audio.

    It's possible a bluray player could have an input and allow its DAC to be used. But that is still a device with video circuits in it. And I haven't found one, anyway.
  6. JAT macrumors 603

    Dec 31, 2001
    Mpls, MN
    Well, they have sorta announced this, finally, again. No video processing, no video inputs except what comes through HDMI whether you want it or not.


    I think they have learned their lesson about announcements about surround processors, so this should be near final specs and actual shipment should be this summer. As I said, this was first announced under a different model designation about 3.5 years ago.
  7. spyderx thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 20, 2011
    This is good, thanks for the note.

    I don't like having physical discs other than my LPs around so everything is stored lossless via cd (16/44) or vinyl rips (24/96) on my NAS. My Mini currently outputs via USB to my DAC which then goes via balanced outputs to my BAT integrated. I've never bothered with SACD. HDTracks selection is way too limited.

    Maybe I'll just settle for the time being with the Oppo unit and see if I can even find content I like. Its only $1k and has had decent reviews (and even better when modded) for its audio output.

    If I did HT I'd definitely consider some of those other options.


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