What is your audio setup?

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by smilinmonki666, Jul 24, 2008.

  1. smilinmonki666 macrumors regular

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    Jan 20, 2008
    #1
    With regards to sound, who use's actual HiFi Audio equipment, thats excluding PC/ Desktop speakers...

    Also, what does everyone prefer & what is there purpose of there Mac?

    I'll start...

    My main purpose for my iMac is for audio/ visual. Not in the sense of an engineer, but so I can create a digital library with my CD's/ Vinyl & DVD's. I don't have a :apple:TV, but use my dads, currently on a 50" Pioneer Plasma/ Denon Amplifier & some 10 year old B&W 600 series 3 Way Floor standers with matching center & the ASW1000 sub.

    My iMac is currently attached to my Rotel 02 Series Pre/Power Amplifier which are then attached to my DynAudio Audience 42 Book Shelf Speakers. This are connected via Chord cabling. I encode all my DVD's with the AppleTV preset in Handbrake; but with ABR at 4000kbs & my audio is all ripped at high .Aiff quality....
     

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  2. Galley macrumors 65816

    Galley

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    Mar 24, 2008
    #2
    I'm currently using a set of Creative GigaWorks T20s, but am thinking of picking up a pair of M-Audio Studiophile AV 40 Powered Speakers. :)
     
  3. Luap macrumors 65816

    Luap

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2004
    #3
    smilinmonki666: No audio interface in there? Unless I missed it somehow. Or perhaps you use the digi out from the Mac?
    Seems you appreciate quality so i'd be very surprised if you were making do with the 3.5mm analogue output on the iMac, as it is not all that..
     
  4. Killyp macrumors 68040

    Killyp

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    Jun 14, 2006
    #4
    You'd be better off ripping at Apple Lossless. Same sound (bit for bit identical) but smaller file sizes.

    My personal setup goes >

    Apple TV > BeoMaster 6500 amplifier > B&W DM303s on SoundStyle floorstands which I've filled with sand & decoupled from the floor.

    I use chord speaker cable only because it's stiff and therefore looks neater. Sounds identical to mains cable. I don't bother with special interconnects as there's no sonic difference between them. What makes all the difference with my setup is the room acoustics which are absolutely excellent, in fact I'd happily say they're among the best I've heard, and I've been in some pretty high-end studios.

    I have a few other setups too. In the studio, I have some slightly more characterful setups (there's no point in setting up my best systems in there, the acoustics are nothing like those in my room). M-Audio Delta 44 and Alesis Multimix Firewire 16 interfaces into a multitude of desks (my main one being a Yamaha MR1242), into:

    Samson Resolv50a active monitors
    Goodmans Minister 70s speakers & Rotel RA 612 70s amp
    Yamaha Stagepas 500 powered speakers & dB Technologies Sub12 active subwoofer

    Luckily the system I run in my room is incredibly linear and the imaging/dynamics are excellent at low/medium/high-medium volume levels which is great for doing mixes.

    I personally have found the built in outputs of the Macs to actually be acceptable in terms of true hi-fi listening, although some good Firewire interfaces outperform them considerably.
     
  5. Luap macrumors 65816

    Luap

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    #5
    Pre intel, yes. Intel onwards, not so good. Especially MBP's.. Quite a lot of complaints there.
     
  6. smilinmonki666 thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jan 20, 2008
    #6

    I completely agree with you, but at this moment in time I'm not in the market for an external sound card. However, would like to get one soon & if one can be recommend, I would be most grateful. I used to have an external sound card on my PC & it was great but that went years ago with my old PC. I have a spare FW socket, so that would be good to use as it's good for video & picture's so its going to be great for audio...
     
  7. Killyp macrumors 68040

    Killyp

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    #7
    Oh certainly, I agree that the PPC Macs had much better sound outputs than the Intel computers, but nonetheless, I have found the Intel Macs to sound much better than most PCs I've listened to...

    M-Audio Firewire Solo. Sounds excellent, and while it isn't all that flexible if you're wanting to do recordings, it's absolutely fantastic for what you want (a great sounding interface).
     
  8. smilinmonki666 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #8
    Cheers for that Killyp, won't be buying any of that just yet. The output on the iMac will do at the moment, no qualms with it really, not yet anyway.. ;)

    Eventually, all my music & films will be placed on a server. Would be nice if FireWire networking was implemented into the :apple:TV, I like wireless, but prefer wired when available. Especially with Apple releasing a new version of FireWire that will be able to use cable lengths of upto 100mtrs, can't wait. No worries of quality drop or anything. Then it will be hidden & by then a version of iTunes Server Edition maybe released & then you don't have to worry about a shared library, just one library for all iMacs/ PC's in the building.

    It's no nice having music at your control, playlists & so on... if I ever want really enjoy certain albums, all I do is play the physical vinyl, however the quality of .AIFF is flawless, I know Apple Lossless is good, as mentioned, but I can tell the difference between lossless & .AIFF. When your playing it through a good system, you notice certain things with certain tracks & its annoying. It even sounds sweet on my iPod.

    So thank you for your suggestion Killyp, but thinking about it, I don't need an external FireWire sound card, unless I some some tracks together on Garageband for my mates.

    Anyone got any pics to upload with their audio setups?
     
  9. WinterMute Moderator emeritus

    WinterMute

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    Jan 19, 2003
    Location:
    London, England
    #9
    This is my audio set up, 25 studios and teaching rooms at the London College of Music....!

    LCM Studios
     
  10. smilinmonki666 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #10
    Cool, some nice equipment...
     
  11. Killyp macrumors 68040

    Killyp

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    Jun 14, 2006
    #11
    You don't need to worry about quality drop. The output from the back of the Apple TV (optical output) is identical to any good CD player's optical/digital output as long as you use Apple Lossless or PCM audio (AIFF or WAV based). Add a good DAC onto that and you can easily outperform CD players costing quite a lot of money.

    Then something's wrong, lossless is just that, absolutely lossless. The reason it's file sizes are smaller is because it uses linear prediction.

    There is no difference between AIFF and Lossless in terms of the final result. AIFF is simply a file container for PCM audio (in the case of CDs, 44.1 kHz @ 16 bit depth), much like WAV (hence why WAV and AIFF are often used interchangeably). Lossless will in the end produce a PCM waveform (unlike MP3, WMA and AAC, which all produce a poorly compressed, bad sounding waveform).

    I'd convert all your stuff to Apple Lossless. It'll take up around half the space and sound every bit as good. You can even try flipping the phase on either the Lossless or AIFF copy, and summing it with the other, and you'll find that you're left with absolute silence (what happens when the two are identical).

    A good sound interface will improve your sound considerably, especially with a pair of speakers as good as the Dynaudios (which are awesome little speakers btw) and an amp as transparent and dynamic as the Rotel (I recommend their latest RA series all the time, all my Rotel amps have been fantastic).

    I'll be uploading pics relatively soon. Looking at making a change to my room atm though, I'll upload pics as soon as it's done.
     
  12. smilinmonki666 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #12
    I can understand what your saying, but i really do prefer .AIFF, maybe I will get a FireWire Sound Card when I get my house so I can set the office up exactly how I want it, until then, I'm happy. My dream is to have the following system with an :apple:TV:

    http://www.naim-audio.com/products/cd5i.html
    http://www.naim-audio.com/products/nac122x.html
    http://www.naim-audio.com/products/nait5i.html
    -or-
    http://www.cyrusaudio.com/product.asp?ProductID=96
    http://www.cyrusaudio.com/product.asp?ProductID=20
    http://www.cyrusaudio.com/product.asp?ProductID=18 (x2)
    -with-
    http://www.dynaudio.de/eng/systems/lines/contour/contour_s_3_4.php

    then obviously the :apple:TV. Seems weird to have an :apple:TV to some, but this is why I enjoy & will enjoy even more ripping to .AIFF quality. Then, with film's it will be a good M&K, AudioLab, Overhead Projector & a good Blu-Ray player when I come round to it... A few years at least :( ;)
     
  13. Tosser macrumors 68030

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    Jan 15, 2008
    #13
    Yes, you may prefer it, but lossless is, as the name implies, LOSSLESS. If you take a wav or an aiff (the only difference being little vs. big endian (=which end is the information put)), make it into a lossless file, be it wma lossless, Apple Lossless, or, say, FLAC, and convert that back to a wav or aiff-file, it's BIT FOR BIT the EXACT same!

    So, no, you can NOT tell a difference, as it's the EXACT same, BIT FOR BIT.

    Lossy formats such as MP3, mp4 and ordinary wma is NOT the same as any lossLESS format. There's a reason it's called _lossless_.

    Next you'll tell me you can hear difference between a solid silver cable covered with a garden hose, and put in a fancy sock, as opposed to properly dimensioned copper cable ("the electrons move faster" and such nonsense). Sorry, but head-fi'ers are a pain in the butt.
     
  14. Killyp macrumors 68040

    Killyp

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    #15
    Evidently not :rolleyes: I don't wanna sound like I'm patronising you, but I do actually know what I'm talking about when I say Apple Lossless sounds identical to AIFF or WAV. ;)


    The Naim kit is fantastic. I recently heard ~£40ks worth of Naim attached to a pair of B&W 800Ds, and it did sound pretty phenomenal. I've heard better, but it was still special. You wouldn't want the NAC122x with a Nait. The Naits are stereo integrated amplifiers, meaning they have two power-amps and a pre-amp built in, although you'd already have a pre-amp in the form of the NAC122x. A pair of monoblocks with good power supplies are what you'd want, something like a pair of NAP150x amps with maybe Flatcap power supplies.


    'AIFF quality' means absolutely nothing, just as 'WAV quality' would mean nothing. The audio found inside an AIFF or WAV file can actually be MP3 for all you know, but it's just going under the 'AIFF' name. 'PCM audio' is what you refer to when you say 'AIFF quality', and is identical to Apple Lossless. Think of Apple Lossless as like an AIFF file inside a ZIP - no quality is lost, it just has to be quickly 'expanded' before it's played (which uses hardly any resources at all).

    ^ What he said. :rolleyes:

    And please, please don't waste your money on interconnects and power cables. Get something which is made well and will last, but don't expect there to be any audible differences between them. Good mains cable similar to what you find in DIY stores will do just as good job as anything you'll find in a hifi conmerchents, I mean hifi dealer.
     
  15. Killyp macrumors 68040

    Killyp

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    Jun 14, 2006
    #16
    EDIT:

    Also forgot to mention, the AppleTV is a perfectly 'hifi' source, as long as you connect a good DAC to the digital output. The digital output on the back of the AppleTV is bit for bit identical to the output from even the back of the best Naim CD transport (makes you wonder why people will spend £10k+ on a CD transport when a £20 Alba DVD player will sound identical with a good DAC).
     
  16. smilinmonki666 thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jan 20, 2008
    #17

    Mayber this is a placebo effect I'm having then. Pretty much getting the same vibe. It's fustrating when you get different opinions. I know mp3 is crap for quality, i've enjoyed flac, but iTunes does not support this. I enjoy the detail in my music & i'm just scared in ripping all my CD collection to something feeling happy with it & someone then comming along & saying that something is better & I start again! it would really pea me off. So you can understand why I'm trying to be careful with the decision & going for the best. Especially when I can convert to something else easily.

    As for the cables, I used to work in a HiFi shop & got to listen to Naim's top system with DynAudio's 2nd from top speakers (£25,000), around 50-80k in total & it was amazing. The guitar riffs from live albums by Jimi Hendrix, the voice of Ella Fitzgerald & accoustic set sounded like they were in the room with you... The cable's used were Naim cable's, I used it with Chord Rumor 4, simular to mine, but I have Chord Rumor 2... No difference. I still swear by good electrical cable, works a treat & is cheaper, just awkward to use...

    My end result is finding a codec that will reproduce CD's at the same quality, same goes for my Ltd Vinyls, I don't want to loose the magic, especially with the later; leaving the authentic crack/ pop sound too :p

    So thanks for the help guys, & Killyp. Always like a good, honest answer. will convert to lossless overnight...

    Oh, & nice setup killyp, used to have the B&W's DM303's, were my 2nd pair of speakers before my Dyn's. Best speaker B&W ever made in my opinion. Especially good for a cinema set up for the price... Wish I never sold them. :(
     
  17. Tosser macrumors 68030

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    #18
    It's not a mere "opinion" when we tell you wav/aiff and lossless formats are all the same when it comes to the audio information (bit for bit). Killy explained it much better though.
    No, but you can use another program to convert to wav or aiff and then use iTunes to convert it into apple lossless.


    Yes, but gaining knowledge through research would put you in a situation where you wouldn't have to rely on some bloke's opinion.
    The neat thing about lossless formats is that they're future proof, unlike all the lossy formats in that you can convert it into another lossless format without suffering from conversion degradation.


    Fine, it just rings hollow after your claim that you could tell a difference between lossless and aiff …


    Sheesh!! See above. Lossless means WITHOUT loss. Don't confuse it with "Lossy" formats which "thin out" the audio information tossing out bits by using algorhithms to choose which is tossed out. A 128kbps Mp3/mp4 (or MP2 for that matter) made from an CD has 10/11ths of the audio information tossed away.
     
  18. Killyp macrumors 68040

    Killyp

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    #19
    I know the feeling, and I can't be bothered with trying to persuade hifi audiophiles that I'm happy with my system (although I do want a pair of the new 685s, which are some of the fastest, snappiest and open sounding bookshelf speakers I've heard under £1.5k). Bear in mind, it's your system, and if you're happy with it, then it should stay that way. Now I rip everything at 256kbps AAC, which I find almost impossible to tell the difference between CD. To be honest with you, the only time I would be able to tell a difference is if I was in the sweetspot actually listening to the album, and I'm always either listening to CD or Vinyl then (vinyl just because it's fun :) ). All the other times, I'm listening to iTunes. I don't like sitting down to listen to an album off iTunes as there's no 'event' to it - you just click a song and it's off. With CD, I liken it to putting on a DVD and turning down the lights/closing the curtains (which I do when listening to a CD anyways) - much more 'event', and even more so with vinyl.

    Exactly. I remember bringing home my chord speaker cables and thinking I'd heard a world of difference, weighty bass, better imaging and snappier timing, but I realised after a few weeks that actually there was no difference and I was just fooling myself. Didn't take the cables back though as the hifi dealer had done a fantastic job of crimping banana plugs onto the end, plus they looked cool :cool:

    Apple Lossless will do the trick fine. Just make sure the iTunes EQ is off, and that you've ticked the box in iTunes Prefs which says 'Disable iTunes volume control for remote speakers' (in the general tab).

    You will never find something which can hit the same frequencies as vinyl, as the Apple TV is limited to 16 bit 44.1 kHz, but, while vinyl may sound more musical, ultimately after a few plays, even on a good stylus, all the sound above ~18 kHz has been obliterated, and the 'musical vinyl sound' most people talk about is simply just distortion. If you have CD versions of the records, I'd rip them instead. CDs are technically massively superior to vinyl sonically.

    Yeh they are some of the best B&Ws, simply because they manage to hit such a high level of performance for their price. Okay they may start to get out of control and harsh at high volumes, but they're unbelievably linear (which is good for me, I do a lot of studio work and I'm used to a linear sound) and their waterfall plot shows excellent timing as well. All in all, the best budget speaker money can buy IMO.

    Still want a pair of 685s though :p I do have a pair of DM601 S3s, but I don't use them as I prefer the 303s.
     
  19. smilinmonki666 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #20

    I've never been to keen on B&W's since them. My dad has a 5.1 B&W set up. 2x 604 S1/ 1x CC6 S1 & the ASW1000. Its awesome, don't get me wrong, but music wise, they sound to harsh on the high frequency's & to soft on the mid range. But then, I'm comparing to my Dyn's. :) not heard the new B&W range though. If you can get hold of a pair of Dyn's to listen to, I would suggest it. The Audience range is brilliant for the money, but if you can go for the contour range, the S3.4. Word's can't describe the feeling of the sound travelling through your eardrums as they make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

    Also, monitor wise, they have a a speaker I listened to last year before I left my job, called the DynAudio MC15 (http://www.dynaudio.de/eng/multimedia/index.php). They were about £600-£800, but totally worth the money...
     
  20. Killyp macrumors 68040

    Killyp

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    #21
    Oh yes I know the Dynaudios are fantastic. The issue I have with them is I don't find them to be all that linear.

    The monitors your speak of are excellent, and the reason I like the B&W speakers is because they sound just like studio monitors, but without looking like they were moulded from a cardboard box.
     
  21. smilinmonki666 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #22
    never had the chance to listen to studio monitors.
     
  22. Killyp macrumors 68040

    Killyp

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    #23
    Depending on the ones you heard, you basically did when you listened to B&Ws.

    The 800 series in particular are used as studio monitors, although surprisingly the DM303s are suited to it particularly well too. Linky.

    HiFi Speakers tend to make things sound 'nice', whilst studio monitors make things sound 'as they're meant to sound', although some hifi companies go for this kind of sound too...
     
  23. Shotglass macrumors 65816

    Shotglass

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    Feb 4, 2006
    #24
    Let's get this thread back on track.

    My setup is actually quite new and the first real hi-fi I've ever owned. The centerpiece are my custom built speakers, a fabulous two-way floorstanding concept with Morel and Seas drivers. The rest of my equipment is late 90s Denon, wired up with whatever Oehlbach cables were cheapest. I do occasionally connect the hi-fi to my iMac (lossless library for convenience and burning CDs), but usually, I much prefer to make listening to an album an event (Killyp taught me how to do that).
    Right now, the whole setup sits in my basement, which is far from ideal for listening (staircase = major bass trap), but since I'm in the process of moving, this isn't the final solution.
    I will try to get around to taking pictures these days, can't promise anything though.
     
  24. beatledud macrumors 6502

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    May 4, 2006
    #25
    Home Audio is my Onkyo amp, two dYnaudio L&Rs, Vifa center and rear speakers. Housing and crossovers are all designed by my Dad and his company, Madisound.

    My question is what should I get for my Macbook Pro's system? I was looking at Logitech's 5.1 setup thats around 150 bucks, but that's not optical digital audio is it? I would have to use a single optical audio cable to be plugged into the Pro.
     

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