iMac w/studio monitors - internal vs external DAC

Mac32

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Nov 20, 2010
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Hi,

I have an iMac late 2012 model, and Eve SC205 active studio monitors. These monitors are connected to the iMac's stereo minijack output. To my ears the sound is quite good. Would I notice significant improvement if I bought an external sound card, something like a Focusrite Scarlett or Clarett? This would be primarily for music listening.

Thanks!
 
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cbautis2

macrumors 6502a
Aug 17, 2013
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577
Hi,

I have an iMac late 2012 model, and Eve SC205 active studio monitors. These monitors are connected to the iMac's stereo minijack output. To my ears the sound is quite good. Would I notice significant improvement if I bought an external sound card, something like a Focusrite Scarlett or Clarett? This would be primarily for music listening.

Thanks!
If you buy the right model, it will. Otherwise, it won't make a difference. EQing your iMac will make a massive difference compared to using an audio interface. However, if you want to make videos or record instruments, definitely get an audio interface. Just don't expect audio interfaces to magically turn your speakers into bona fide high end bookshelf speakers.
 

Mac32

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Nov 20, 2010
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Thanks for the replies, although I'm getting conflicting answers.

Are there anyone here who has done actual comparisons? The Eve SC205s are good quality monitors, so there's at least potential for improvement over the iMacs internal sound card. Would Focusrite Clarett give me noticeably better SQ (stereo separation, detail/nuance, frequency response etc.) for music listening through my studio monitors?

Thanks again. :)
 
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xb2003

macrumors 6502
Jan 18, 2016
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MO
Stereo imaging is dependent on acoustics, and detail/nuance is acoustics and speakers. No audio interface is going to improve imaging. You could try moving speakers around and finding better locations, but getting good imaging requires acoustical treatment. Detail/nuance is pretty much the same, especially in the low end. I can't imagine response is an issue, but I would check and make sure everything is set at 24 bit/48kHz.

I would not argue that the DAC in the iMac is anything special, and those contained in a moderately priced interface are undoubtedly superior. I'm just saying that it probably isn't your bottle neck.

If you are streaming music, your quality bottleneck is from compression. There is a good possibility that is the weakest link in your system anyways. If you aren't knowledgeable about different types of compression and what type you are using, I would highly recommend doing some research on that.
 

Mac32

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OK, I just got the Clarett 2Pre, and I can tell you that the sound through my Eve SC205 monitors has been noticably improved. Definitely worth the money, and the sound is richer, warmer and more detailed compared to the iMac DAC.
 
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