How is sound quality when you use the digital out?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by MVApple, May 16, 2009.

  1. MVApple macrumors 6502a

    Jul 18, 2008
    Well I've been pretty disappointed in the sound quality of the unibody Macbook Pro when plugging in headphones. There is a strong hiss and a lot of detail is lost. So I'm thinking of getting a Astro A140 Mixamp. My idea is to use the digital out from the macbook pro, plug it into the mixamp, and then plug my headphones into mixamp. There are a few reasons I want to get this besides sound quality alone, but improving the sound quality coming from the unibody is a top reason.

    How good is the sound quality from the digital out though? Is it as good as an iPod? Anyone have a similar setup?
  2. r.j.s Moderator emeritus


    Mar 7, 2007
    Since it is digital, it should be perfect, but what you hear will still depend on your headphones and the D-A converter you plug them into.
  3. jackiecanev2 macrumors 65816


    Jul 6, 2007
    Wirelessly posted (BB 8900: BlackBerry8900/ Profile/MIDP-2.0 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 VendorID/301)

    Digital is digital; the sound quality when using the optical out will depend on the amp you choose. Head over to head-fi if you need help with a headphone amp setup.
  4. Ploki macrumors 68020

    Jan 21, 2008
    digital is not always perfect over a medium, a proper optical cable still has to be used if you dont wish jitter to occur, which can and will distort audio.
    but thats nitpicking.. ;D

    imo mbp d/a is pretty crappy, and the Astro will probably yield better results than built in d/a
  5. groove-agent macrumors 6502a


    Jan 13, 2006
    Sound quality on the Macbook Pro is better than any PC laptop I ever owned. I don't get hiss on my outputs. How loud are you cranking your music? Make sure your app volume is up high first, then start cranking the main volume.

    Digital output doesn't really have sound quality in itself - it depend on the quality of the digital to analogue converters in the receiving device. Heck you could spend $2000 - $10,000 for two channels of good converters. If you want good sound quality, think about getting an Apogee Duet external firewire audio interface.
  6. grahamnp macrumors 6502a

    Jun 4, 2008
    Listen to low impedance headphones or earphones and you will hear it, it's even more obvious at low levels. Fairly common problem with the MBP.
  7. Ploki macrumors 68020

    Jan 21, 2008
    its very appearent at low volumes, especially when you work on lowlevel unmastered material, or you are listening to classical..
    or anything 24bit that actually has some dynamic range.
    it is better than PC's, but not good...

    if you are at interfaces id also recommend Echo Indigo which is Expresscard. i have those converters in the big echo card and theyre damn good.
  8. Benguitar Guest


    Jan 30, 2009
    I personally don't use my headphone jack from my MacBook Pro, Whenever I listen to audio tracks/videos I run everything out my FireWire port and into my Apogee Duet, I will from there send the audio to two KRK ROKIT 5 Powered Monitors, or I will plug my Sennheiser Headphones in the 1/4 inch jack of my Duet.

    So from what I get through my interface, I'd say it is pretty good.

    Before I used interfaces I had a pair of Altech Lancing Speakers that just plugged into the 1/8 inch jack, And they sounded really good except I ended up blowing them out. :rolleyes:

    I did however notice that you get more buzz/distortion when you use the 1/8 inch jack.
  9. areusche macrumors regular

    Jun 24, 2008
  10. DeusInvictus7 macrumors 68020

    Aug 13, 2008
    Kitchener, Ontario
    Yup. I get the hiss even on my macbook with my 16ohm Sennheisers. I do plan on getting a headphone amp to get rid of the hiss though, since it is really starting to annoy me.
  11. HiFiGuy528 macrumors 68000

    Jul 24, 2008
    If you use a good DAC like Apogee Mini DAC, you will get great results.

  12. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    It really depends on what you get; plus you need better headphones first, if you haven't made that purchase already.

    So for best audio quality, you'd need good headphones, a good amp, and a good DAC. It gets really pricey.
  13. MVApple thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jul 18, 2008
    Thanks for all the suggestions everyone. I already have a nice pair of low impedance headphones that sound great when plugged into an iPod. My understanding is that iPods don't exactly have the best sound quality either, but I'm satisfied with the sound coming out of them.

    I looked into the Endigo soundcard and it's something I'll be comparing with the Astro mixamp. The Apogee equipment is just way too expensive for me though. I'm not making recordings and I don't need the best possible sound quality. If I get sound that is as good as an iPod then I'll be satisfied. The Astro mixamp is about $150 shipped so I really am trying to stay in that range, which the endigo sound card falls into.
  14. Ping Guo macrumors 6502

    Ping Guo

    Oct 5, 2008
    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  15. Ploki macrumors 68020

    Jan 21, 2008
    be sure to check IOx, not DJx. IOx has better converters!

    headphone amp wont help you, sorry. another interface will

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