mac mini 2014 dac?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by jimcartermdw, Dec 17, 2014.

  1. jimcartermdw macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 23, 2013
    #1
    hi macrumours users, i have a very interesting question to ask. today i went to an apple retail store and i connected my headphones to apple mac mini and the sound was amazing. it reall is, the thing is apple said nothing about the dac or audio card or what it is call, or whether it is overall computer i don’t know what makes my headphones sound this good when i connect it and listen to music with mac mini.
    anyway i have no idea what year this mac mini is, but i assume it is 2014 and yes i need to check when i go there. i have macbook 2009 and it does not sound that good. neither do macbooks current in the store sound this good. and i did not check on imacs, may be i will check. anyway did anyone else noticed that sound is really good when you connect your headphones to new mac mini?

    also go to audio midi setup application, and in built in output choose 96000hz and 32 bit flat cause it’s best audio quality setting for the dac in the mac. it’s just not set to best quality on it’s own for some reason. and on my macbook 2009 it keeps reseting every one to two day to default 41000hz and 24 bit, does anyone else notice this?
    after you set your mac dac to the settings i described listen to your headphones with mac mini.

    anyway my question is did you notice that sound is really good on mac mini?
    also does anyone know where i can get the same quality external dac to use with my mac? because if i won’t find i might just buy mac mini to listen to music cause it plays it really well. may be some time in the furture when they become cheaper. cause i only would need it to play music. apple does not put any information about it’s dac in mac mini so any one has any idea? may be can you go to your
     
  2. Oujmik macrumors member

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    Oct 23, 2012
    #2
    Afraid I can't help, but I have a question about internal DACs which has been bugging me and I though you or other people replying to this thread might know the answer.

    I understand that changing the 'volume' of an audio track in software effectively reduces the bitrate, which is why you should always have iTunes set to full volume. My question is: does the system volume work the same way or is it is integrated with the DAC such that it changes the analog output level rather than scaling the digital input?
     
  3. qcmacmini macrumors 6502

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    #3
    It doesn't change the bit rate, it reduces the pre-amp voltage, which gives a worse signal to noise ratio, that is amplified and multiplied through the system of amplifiers.

    Best practice is all pre-amps to maximum, then control the output volume with the final amplifier in the chain.
     
  4. jimcartermdw thread starter macrumors newbie

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    May 23, 2013
    #4
    i went to mac shop and it is mac mini late 2012
    does anyone know what kind of dac is there? the specs or something.
    and it’s not even the latest mac mini it’s like 2013 something like that.

    as for the preamp thing i did not know that it sounds less good if you use itunes volume and i rarely use it i prefer computer audio level adjust, you know the two keys on apple keyboard or iphone style buttons on headphones, earphones.
     
  5. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #5
  6. crazzapple Guest

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    Oct 19, 2014
    #6
    Apple uses top quality audio hardware, just look at the beats headphones if you are not convinced. They sell for hundreds $$$! I hope they make a gold version to match the iwatch.
     
  7. Occamsrazr macrumors 6502

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    Apr 26, 2012
    #7
    I'm looking forward to a matching headphone set too, that would be nice. Do you have any news if this will happen?
     
  8. MacVidCards Suspended

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    #8
    turn your "sarcasm" detector up a notch
     
  9. phairphan macrumors 6502a

    phairphan

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    #9
    I'm a bit surprised you noticed such a quality improvement between the DAC in your 2009 MBP and a 2012 Mini. It's my sense that onboard computer DACs these days aren't a rapidly evolving tech, as far as processing PCM, non-HD content goes. I can't help but think there's something else going on. Did you check if iTunes was using non-standard EQ settings or there was some other audio-affecting app running (e.g. SRS Wow)?
     
  10. Gym Hellwig macrumors regular

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    Feb 21, 2013
    #10
    This thread is a mess. Was hijacked by the first response.
     
  11. burne macrumors 6502

    burne

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    #11
    Good thing you came along and brought us right back on topic with a relevant on-topic response!

    jimcartermdw: I consider myself to be a bit of an audiophile, with with the emphasis on 'audio'. Which is latin for 'hear'. I haven't heard significant differences in audio quality between Mac Mini, iMac and Mac Pro in the last ten years. iPads are just as good, but a little bit more noisy when you are accessing WiFi. When accessing 3G/4G while listening they are as bad as any iPhone with active high-power radios.

    The most notable difference is the output level. iMac or MacBook will destroy your hearing in a week at maximum level, iPad and iPhone are much more like iPods with considerate hearing levels.

    Haven't heard the 2014 iMac, but I'll drop by the iStore in a couple of hours and report back if I hear anything significant.

    Despite having friends in the local iStore, arranging an AXB discrimination test will be difficult, but if the difference is significant, I will be able to hear that.
     
  12. qcmacmini macrumors 6502

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    #12
    I'm having problems with the electronics in my Dell monitor and audio through DP, I have to cycle the power sometimes to get rid of static/noise that comes through. I'm starting to think that the internal DAC and amp in my 2012 Mac mini is a better option.

    Do you think the Mac output would be better quality than my monitor?
     
  13. Fishrrman macrumors G3

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    Feb 20, 2009
    #13
    [[ Do you think the Mac output would be better quality than my monitor? ]]

    Yes, of course.
     
  14. qcmacmini macrumors 6502

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    #14

    Ok cheers. What about an Elgato Thunderbolt dock? Potentially better due to less interference?
     
  15. jdelgado macrumors regular

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    Oct 25, 2009
    #15
    Do not look much into specs; trust your ears. If you like the sound you get from a specific gear, get it. Whether music sounds good or bad, like it or not, is subjective. You, the user, are the final judge.
    You can get some guidance from specs, but in my experience, they do not absolutely determine the sound "quality" you will get.
     
  16. qcmacmini macrumors 6502

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    #16
    To answer my own question, after a few days of research - the DAC inside the first Elgato thunderbolt dock is compromised. Apparently they have improved it with the Thunderbolt 2 dock, but I'm guessing the Mac would be a better option for sound output.

    The DAC inside most Macs since 2012 has been pretty good and they are high resolution. No one seems to know the specs though.

    The biggest drawback of any computer sound output is interference which can't be totally avoided inside the case.

    Cheapest high quality sound option on the market is the USB powered Fiio E10k DAC/amp which goes for about US$70.
     
  17. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #17
    I just send audio data out by optical to my Onkyo and let its DAC do the job. Works fabulously.
     
  18. cinealta macrumors 6502

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    Dec 9, 2012
    #18
    I've always wondered where the Neandertal man was from.

    ----------

    Or perhaps set pre-amps to Unity gain (0 dB) as maximum gain may add extra gain (+3 dB) introducing distortion.
     
  19. qcmacmini macrumors 6502

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    #19

    You're right. I assumed you could set the output as line out, and it turns out Macs can't do this. I found a recommendation on the Bose website to set Mac output to around 2/3.
     
  20. cinealta macrumors 6502

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    Dec 9, 2012
    #20
    Yes, digital -12 to -18 (depending on converter calibration) corresponds to analog VU 0 dB. Not sure if the Bose recomendation is pre- or post-converter. But always better to be under than over (digital distortion).
     
  21. burne, Dec 28, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2014

    burne macrumors 6502

    burne

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    #21
    From a Tal, German for Valley, named after Joachim Neander. Some big-shot Calvinist, which is a Christian movement started by some dude called Johannes Calvin. Neander lived in Düsseldorf, named after the river Düssel. He used to preach and teach in a local valley which was named after him when he died.

    In case you didn't know: Often people get named after places or people. To give you a people-example you'll recognise: 'mac' is gaelic for 'son'. MacDonalds is the son of Donald. 'Donald' is the anglicised version of Dhòmhnaill, gaelic for 'World Ruler'. The specific McDonald you're thinking of rules the world with regards to a specific food product.
     
  22. burne macrumors 6502

    burne

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    #22
    CS4208, which has no data sheet available. It's probably similar to a CS4207, which does have a datasheet.

    96kHz, 24 bits ADC, 192kHz, 24 bits DAC, with likely good performance.
     
  23. cinealta macrumors 6502

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    Dec 9, 2012
    #23
    Good info. Thanks!
     

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