iMac w/studio monitors - internal vs external DAC

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by Mac32, Feb 27, 2017.

  1. Mac32, Feb 27, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2017

    Mac32 Suspended

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2010
    #1
    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!
     
  2. xb2003 macrumors 6502

    xb2003

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2016
    Location:
    MO
    #2
    You probably wouldn't notice much difference, no.
     
  3. cbautis2 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2013
    #3
    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.
     
  4. Mac32, Feb 28, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2017

    Mac32 thread starter Suspended

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2010
    #4
    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. :)
     
  5. xb2003 macrumors 6502

    xb2003

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2016
    Location:
    MO
    #5
    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.
     
  6. Mac32 thread starter Suspended

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    Nov 20, 2010
    #6
    OK, thanks! I'll stick with the iMac for now, then.
     
  7. Mac32, Apr 23, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2017

    Mac32 thread starter Suspended

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    Nov 20, 2010
    #7
    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.
     
  8. cbautis2 macrumors 6502a

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    Aug 17, 2013
    #8
    ^ You can record your own creations too with that Audio Interface
     

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