Really good optical-in speakers?

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by netdog, Nov 10, 2010.

  1. netdog macrumors 603

    netdog

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2006
    Location:
    London
    #1
    I'm looking for a really good pair of monitors that feature optical input. Obviously they need to be self-powered and have a very good DAC (the big weak point on the Airport Express but it does have optical out which should pass along my ALAC files just fine).

    I've heard the Behringers and am not very impressed. I want something that really sounds good. Smallish near-field monitors desired. Roughly the size of B&W 685s.

    It's really a shame that the little B&W MM-1 speakers don't have optical in as they do contain a DAC.
     
  2. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #2
    Are you sure the problem with the airport express is the DAC? I think maybe the audio data are compressed when sent over the air and then uncompressed inside the airport express. You may be hearing the result of compression.

    I doubt you will find powered speakers like you want. Either run analog to the powered speakers or get an amp with optical input and run passive speakers
     
  3. netdog thread starter macrumors 603

    netdog

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2006
    Location:
    London
    #3
    iTunes does not compress the ALAC files across the WiFi network.

    A $99 device that is primarily a WiFi router isn't likely to have a terribly good digital to analog converter.

    Having done more research, I think I am looking at a Cambridge Audio DacMagic. It seems to be pretty good without breaking the bank.

    Any other DAC recommendations?
     
  4. firestarter macrumors 603

    firestarter

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2002
    Location:
    Green and pleasant land
    #4
    Why not get something like this then?
     
  5. Killyp macrumors 68040

    Killyp

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2006
    #5
    The DacMagic is a great little DAC which I would highly recommend.

    Other tips:
    • Avoid amps with built in DACs/optical inputs generally, they tend to have pretty poor converter circuits.
    • Avoid the MM-1, I heard them and was not impressed at all.
    • Avoid Behringer in general - they're often better than the competition at the price, but that's just about everything positive you could say about them.
    • The B&W 685s are good speakers, but I personally prefer the 686 in a big way - tighter, more subtle low-end (which I think is a little over-pronounced and wooly on the 685). This doesn't mean the 685 isn't a good speaker though.

    686s positioned correctly + a Rotel RA01 (and derivatives) plus a good DAC such as the DacMagic would give you a fantastic little system IMO.


    The output of an Airport Express/Apple TV is bit-perfect according to the signal sent to it, which is uncompressed. As long as you don't have the iTunes volume control/EQ/Sound 'enhancer' enabled, you'll be getting identical data to the original file...

    +1, and I'd vote for passive speakers with a good quality amp + good separate DAC.
     
  6. netdog thread starter macrumors 603

    netdog

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2006
    Location:
    London
    #6
    Thanks Killy. It looks like that's the way that I am going to go.

    Just trying to find out if the DacMagic handles 120-240v input as I may be moving to the USA. As it has a power brick, I expect that it does, but the spec isn't listed on the Cambridge Audio site.
     
  7. crhudy'sdad macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2010
    #7
    I like the PS Audio DLIII for your application. They can be had for <$500 and have optical as well as USB input.
    As for powered speakers, Quad 11L actives.
     

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