New Macbook, Apogee Duet or what else

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by Derro, Mar 2, 2008.

  1. Derro macrumors newbie

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    #1
    I am about to buy a Macbook in the next day or two ( cannot afford the MBP!) and it will be used solely for iTunes playback audiophile quality home audio system only (there will be no recording done.)

    I am seriously considering the Apogee Duet, and while I appreciate that it has gotten wonderful comments, it is primarily aimed at the musician and not the home audio system since it has features that I do not require.

    Without going any higher in price , what would be a viable alternative - or were my first thoughts of the Duet correct in the first place, and I should indeed get this? I need high quality output to feed my amplifier and therefore I am ruling out the cheaper interfaces ( perhaps wrongly?)

    Any comments would be MOST greatly appreciated as I am totally new to using computer audio in pace of my CD player - though a Mac user for 10 yrs.

    Thanks in advance,

    Derek
     
  2. John.B macrumors 601

    John.B

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    #2
    I use the Duet as part of a highly portable recording setup for one. The Duet is basically a two input FireWire audio interface with amazing pres and specific integrations with Logic. What you are suggesting is WAY overkill for what the Duet was designed to do. Yes, it will work with the right software (I'm guessing the included Maestro will do the trick), but that's not what it was designed to do. There are definitely cheaper solutions.

    Your audio equipment doesn't have an S/PDIF or optical TosLink digital audio input? There has to be a better way to get 24-bit/96kHz output out of your MacBook to your amplifier than a FireWire audio interface and software.

    Edit: I was thinking something along the lines of a S/PDIF and TosLink* to analog converter like Gefen's D to A converter and a Toslink digital audio cable something like this, plus a 3.5mm to TosLink adapter for the digital optical connector on your MacBook -- the optical digital jack in the MB is in the audio jack itself, it just uses a longer plug so a headphone output will still work.

    Whatever you do, if you can't buy locally make sure you can return it if the results aren't what you expect.

    *The difference between S/PDIF and TosLink is that S/PDIF is digital audio over standard (e.g. copper) RCA connectors where TosLink uses optical fibre cabling.
     
  3. Derro thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #3
    Any ideas about the Yamaha GO44?

    Yes I see your point, and sure enough there are cheaper alternatives, I guess I am smitten by the look of the Duet in part!

    I am unsure if I will be using it hard-wired or perhaps with Airport Express.... though I am inclined to think I will use it hardwired.

    I have been looking at the Yamaha GO44, but I can find almost nothiing about it anywhere - seems to be the same unit as the Terratec Phase 24..... anyone care to comment on this one?

    The Scott-Nixon was also high on my list, but the tubed version is no longer available and will be replaced by a new one this month but at twice the price. Fubar 11 and EMU 0404 comes well recommended, but I am put off by the fact that they are so cheap and surely cannot compete with the likes of the Duet, Scott-nixon or Benchmark.

    Maybe I should just bite the bullet and go for a Benchmark DAC1, though it is over what i had intended to spend.
     
  4. Macula macrumors 6502

    Macula

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    #4
    Perhaps you could take a look at the Apogee MiniDAC, although that should be way overkill, too. Other than this, I don't know enough to help further.
     
  5. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    toronto
    #5
    OP - i think you'll get a lot more bang for your buck for the money you put into room treatment (basstraps from either realtraps.com or gikacoustics.com) and monitors. good cables, too.

    until those are in order, you won't be able to hear much of a difference between the mac's built-in audio and an external DAC. not $500 worth, anyway.

    imho.
     
  6. John.B macrumors 601

    John.B

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    #6
    The Duet is purdy, no doubt about it. I just think firing up Maestro every time you want to listen to music is going to be a bit of a pain. But maybe I don't understand what you have in mind...

    :confused:

    What's the signal chain like through the AE and AirTunes? I don't own one, but I was under the impression you'd give up some audiophile-level fidelity going that route. You'd be going digital out of iTunes, digital over 802.11g to the AE, and then use the AE's A/D converter? If so, that's essentially the same A/D converter built into your MacBook. Maybe someone else can chime in who is more familiar with it, but I though I read a thread recently that said the :apple:tv limited the effective bitrate that passed through it similar to the AE and AirTunes. If that is actually the case, it would be worth comparing the direct out from the MacBook's 3.5" analog audio out to whatever you were getting through AirTunes.

    If you were going to use the TosLink optical digital out of the AE and into a higher quality A/D converter then ignore all the above. :eek:
     
  7. Derro thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #7
    Thanks for that....

    Thanks for that, seems that I need to re-think the Duet and find an alternative. Yes, I ws going to use the toslink fromAE to "SOME" other external DAC..... I will investigate this further, but you advise from all has indeed helped me and thank you to everyone.

    DerrO
     
  8. fernmeister macrumors regular

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    Aug 19, 2007
    #8
    I have the Duet. The sound quality is great. My wife, who is a music-lover but not a musician, keeps commenting on the difference in sound quality.

    Maestro is a non-issue. It operates in the background and you can ignore it if you want. The main advantage is that it lets you save settings, which is handy for recording because you save instrument/mike/output combinations. For listening to music you could set up loud/soft scenes for different times of the day, or headphone only configurations.

    Of course, if you just want to listen, then you could easily do with a good D/A converter. That will also be cleaner as the duet breakout cables are a bit of a mess. That said, decent D/A converters are not cheap.
     
  9. Derro thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #9
    Listening only.

    Thanks Fernmeister, you have said all the right things and just what I wanted to hear. I will use the Duet for listening ONLY. So, Maestro is indeed a non-issue and your wifes comments are most useful.

    I only want the DAC part of the Duet for playback - so a good DAC at a similar price point may be a better solution
     
  10. John.B macrumors 601

    John.B

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    #10
    LOL, yeah that's an understatement! It would be nice you didn't have to have all the connector ends flopping around. But I guess its the price to be paid for the small form factor and the amazing recording fidelity in that tiny little box. Well, that and about five benjamins! ;)
     
  11. Greasybaz macrumors newbie

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    Jan 19, 2008
    #11
    I really hope this system isn't being put together to play standard iTunes files. You would either have to only play cds or import them using apple lossless compression. iTunes store is a deffinite no. I would think that the duet is over kill as it is but if the audio you're going to play is compressed then you might as well save the money and forget about buying a DAC altogether. Doesn't matter how good your DAC is, if you put garbage in then you're going to get garbage out.
     
  12. Joko macrumors 6502

    Joko

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    Jan 30, 2008
    #12
    I dont need to fire up Maestro with every log in, there's a preference setting that fixes this. The Duet is awesome.
     
  13. sabocat macrumors newbie

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    Mar 9, 2008
    #13
    I'm researching the Apogee because I intend to record my vinyl onto an external hard drive, and make cd's hopefully using apple lossless or FLAC files. I notice itunes has a selection enabling apple lossless for redbook cd uploads, I'm wondering what I could expect with the Apogee in terms of file storage, etc. I definitely want to make audiophile quality cd's. I have a macbook, and my stereo consists of: Revolver Turntable with Grado gold Cartridge, Conrad Johnson PV-15 tube pre-amp, with a nice tube phono section, a Quad 606 amp, Cayin cdt-23 tube cd player, and Dali Helicon 400 speakers. I'm waiting on a VPI Scout TT.

    sabocat
     
  14. sabocat macrumors newbie

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    #14
    For your purposes I would check out the Squeezebox. Stereophile recently did a review, giving it a huge thumbs up. Just google squeezebox.
     
  15. John.B macrumors 601

    John.B

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    #15
    Definite trust the guy who is actually using Maestro. :)

    I fired it up once or twice to look around, but decided I have no need for it since everything I need to do with the Duet can be controlled from inside Logic (which would be *serious* overkill). ;)
     
  16. Ptown Bopper macrumors newbie

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    #16
    I'm using the Duet for exactly what you're proposing (OK, I will probably use it for small recording projects, as well).

    The first time I fired it up I was floored by how much better my system sounded. I run it straight into my Hafler then to an antique pair of Alon II's. I then gathered up my preamp and various CD players and hauled them down to the basement for dust collecting.

    Now, after a weekend of testing various ripping formats, I'm re-ripping all my favorite CD's into Apple Lossless and using an iBook G4 to manage it all. There are some tweaks you should do with iTunes to get the best results, like turn off all the "enhancements" and set Core Audio (in Audio Midi Set-up, located in the Utilities Apps) to 96hz 24 bit (they say to close iTunes before you do it, then launch it again). There's a good article about this somewhere on this site:

    http://www.stereophile.com/columns/

    I had considered getting a Benchmark DAC, which cost twice as much but has more functionality, like you can stream with an AE and take the digital out from that into the Benchmark and get really nice results that way.
     
  17. duetBREAKOUT macrumors newbie

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    Jun 29, 2008
    #17
    this is one of the main reasons i make the duetBREAKOUT. check out my site if you havent heard about it. www.duetbreakout.com

    basicaly its a much more durable and worthy partner for the duet then its supplied breakout cable. and you dont have any wires to untangle every time you pull your duet out of your bag.
     
  18. thevibesman macrumors regular

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    Oct 26, 2007
    #18
    If the article proves me wrong, please show me, but changing the sampling rate and bit-depth will do nothing to improve iTunes. You're CDs are at 44.1KHz/16Bit. Just like with an image, increasing the resolution of digital information does not actually add any information so you will just be using more data to send the same information (the exception is while actually editing/mixing audio, the increased resolution higher bitdepth [most software uses 32Bit internally] will give better results because you will only truncate your calculations once at the end when your sounds return to 16 or 24 Bit). Changing your audio out settings like this could actually lower the accuracy of your sound because there is not a rational relationship between 96:44.1, your computer will be forced to interpolate between samples to increase the resolution and this could introduce new digital artifacts.
     
  19. memoirtree macrumors newbie

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    Jan 23, 2011
    #19
    Apogee Duet + Macbook Pro, can't get it working!

    .
     

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