Mac Mini, iTunes & high resolution audio

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by robdrums2097, Aug 20, 2015.

  1. robdrums2097 macrumors newbie

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    Mar 2, 2015
    #1
    Hi all,

    I'm not sure if this is the right forum for this question, but I've generally had quick & useful answers from people here, so I'm going to give it a shot.

    So I've just ordered a pretty much full spec Late 2014 MM, with i7, 16GB & 2TB FD. Its main use will be music, connected by optical to my Cambridge Audio AV receiver. This has a 192/24 capable Cirrus Logic DAC, that should be perfectly capable without the need for a separate upsampling DAC (of which I have one, but am looking to 'slim down').

    Google searches bring up many articles & threads that I believe to be outdated. I don't really want to start buying & wasting time with plug-ins, apps & alternative players (JRiver, Audirvana, Pure Music & the like), I'm happy to keep things simple with the standard Mac setup & iTunes.

    But I want to both get decent sound quality (obviously) and get into HDTracks and listen to high res ALAC files.

    My question is this: if the output is set accordingly in the MIDI & iTunes menus, will the 2014 Mini with current software & Yosemite output a 192/24 signal? Most of my music is ripped at 44.1/16 ALAC. Will this music either be upsampled (detrimentally or improved) if MIDI is set to 192/24, or worse, will it downsample high res stuff to the same if set lower? Or is the Mac / iTunes clever enough (these days, where I know it didn't used to be) to automatically change this setting on the fly?

    I'm not the sort that sits listening for / imagining 'sound stages' and 'organisation' in my music when using different DACs, cables, players and things. I just want things to work & to work well with good sound, hence coming to my first Mac after years of PC use.

    Will iTunes serve me well enough (I've no objection to its interface, and need it for iOS management) or do I need to use something like JRiver or Audirvana to manage a large collection of varied sample rate music? I've a feeling from what I've been reading that I've been doing it wrong for years through Windows iTunes, and that all music was probably outputting at the same quality, with some funny processing going on to compensate.

    Many thanks for any advice.

    Rob
     
  2. n-evo macrumors 65816

    n-evo

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  3. robdrums2097 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #3
  4. n-evo macrumors 65816

    n-evo

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  5. robdrums2097 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #5
    Er, well, yes. But "high resolution" is a fairly common, whether technically correct, term for 24 bit / 88.2+khz music... HDTracks refers to itself as a service for high resolution music.

    Do we actually know the answer to my question, then? :p
     
  6. n-evo, Aug 21, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2015

    n-evo macrumors 65816

    n-evo

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    #6
    High resolution audio, in the same way they're selling High Definition washing machines and toothpaste these days? :p

    To answer your question: From what I remember a Mac mini will only support a 96 bit rate at 24 bit depth. Converting 16 bit music to 24 bit isn't possible in the sense it actually improves things simply because the data isn't there. You'll need 24 bit depth source files for that.
     
  7. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

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    #7
    It's been a little while since I used my setup, so bear with me here as I'll relay what I can recall from memory.

    Yes, in general, as long as your settings are correct in Midi and the Sound menus, you will get full resolution output. iTunes is not, however, natively compatible with that content. You will either need to use a plugin to allow it to play high resolution tracks, in which case I think you will need to change the Midi settings when switching between resolutions, or use a third-party player which can do this automatically. I'm using Audirvana for my high-res stuff, and stick with iTunes for everything else.
     
  8. JimMadeira macrumors newbie

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    Aug 21, 2015
    #8
    I have a similar set up to you but with a 2011 MM with SSD and i7,and it produces wonderful sound. Would recommend reading the site "desmastering.blogspot.pt" parts 1,2,3 re music on Macs. I have Paradigm MilleniaOne CT speakers through Pure Music and a HRT Microstreamer DAC with AudioQuest cables with music on an external drive. It really floats my boat!
     
  9. fa8362 macrumors 65816

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    #9
    Mac Mini optical output is limited to 24/96. If you want higher resolution, you'll have to use USB.
     
  10. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

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    #10
    Good catch. I assumed he'd be using usb and missed that. Yes, you have to use USB!
     
  11. robdrums2097 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #11
    Are you sure? Although it relates to the 2012 model (oddly it doesn't specify on the 2014 page), this quite clearly states 'digital audio output up to 24-bit stereo and 44.1-192 kHz sampling rate'

    https://support.apple.com/en-gb/HT202638
     
  12. robdrums2097 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #12
    Also, this article lists the late 2014 MM as ablel to output 192khz (but not the 2012 and before), so I'm guessing something has changed in there:

    https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202730

    I'm not sure how I'd know what the receiver's optical socket is capable of, but I'd assume (not safely, but ish) if the internal DAC is quoted as 192/24 capable, then the inputs SHOULD be, no? I could check with Cambridge Audio, I suppose.

    Whilst I could resume use of my DacMagic, which has asyncrous USB and upsampling, I really don't want to if I can get a good result straight from the amp...

    Rob
     
  13. fa8362 macrumors 65816

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    #13
    It's limited to 24/96. The limitation is not the hardware, it's OS X.
     
  14. robdrums2097 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #14
    Not doubting you, but how do you know that? I would read Apple's description as pretty black and white that it should work via optical. In fact, if it isn't, both of those articles are downright misleading.

    So my only chance of getting 192khz (whether this is overkill / worth the hassle or not aside) is USB with BitPerfect into my DacMagic, then on to the amp?
     
  15. robdrums2097 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #15
    Have

    Have you verified this on a current model MM? Not any other Mac Mini. Not a 2012 or 2011, regardless of OS. I can't find anything official from Apple that states anything about OSX having any limit beyond what the optical output claims. And it's only a limited collection of machines, the MM 2014 included, that they state as being 192 capable.
     
  16. fa8362 macrumors 65816

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    Hmmm... It appears that Apple might have made a change with Yosemite. I say that because the hardware in the 2012 and possibly the 2011 was claimed by some to be capable of 24/192 but that OS X wasn't capable of supporting 24/192. I don't have a 2014 model, so I can't tell you based on usage. All I can tell you is that my 2012 with Mavericks or earlier wasn't capable. So it begs the question of whether a 2012 with Yosemite is capable.
     
  17. robdrums2097 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #17
    Yeah, that's what I'm wondering. Otherwise I'd expect that list to include other MM versions.

    Unfortunately, my receiver doesn't tell you what sample / bit rate is coming in. Only if it worked or didn't work when set to 192 with a relevant file, I guess. I think the only way could be to try and see what happens next week when it arrives!
     

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