MacBook Pro as a wired music server - AVS Forum
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Old 09-30-2012, 01:53 PM - Thread Starter
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I just came from an audio show and noticed many of the systems are using macs hardwired to the stereos as their sources. Most recent Macs that I know of like mine have fiberop (toslink) in the headphone jack if you use the adapter for fiberop. This is what I have been using, however, it seems most vendors are all using USB instead of the toslink capability fed into their DAC's. I do have some hi-rez music files (176-192 kHz). I have not noticed if these are actively playing through my system or not as I believe toslink is limited to 96 kHz. I know my DAC (Bryston BDA-1) USB is limited to 48 kHz so am I to assume they might be using DACs that are accepting higher sampling rates using the USB connections? What about using my MBP's firewire or thunderbolt connections converted to HDMI?

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Old 10-01-2012, 02:54 AM
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Most mac hardware is limited to 24/96 maximum, but if you add an external DAC capable of higher bit rates, you have some options. If you wanted to stay inside iTunes and play at a higher bit rate, there's BitPerfect from the iTunes store, which helps get high-res files to an external DAC at higher rates, flac files, etc. There are other players that do this, but you have to futz with your iTunes library. https://code.google.com/p/audirvana/ is an open-source project, you can grab the "free" version or buy a commercial version. Then there's the $20 Fidelia player that people seem to like.

But right now you're limited to what your hardware can do. You can get a DAC that will do 24/194, and any of these solutions should let you play files in that format.
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Old 10-01-2012, 09:30 AM
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I believe the toslink is limited to 24/96 but I'm not positive because I use USB from my Macbook to my DAC.

USB is preferable because there are no limitations on bit rate, there is two way communication between the computer and DAC (i.e. bit rate switching) and because the audio data can be stripped away from the time data and re-clocked by asynchronous DACs.

I don't think the Bryston is limited to 48k, it is synchronous and I think it will receive up to 24/192. Is it possible that the toslink out of the Mac is hardware limited to 48k? You should also check the sound settings and the midi settings to see if the toslink is set to be your primary output device and if there are any limits set for that output. I suspect your DAC is playing at the rate set in your MIDI output settings regardless of file type.

If I remember correctly, iTunes will not change the playback rate of a DAC. Instead I think it re-samples files according to the output settings in the MIDI preferences. You probably noticed that most of the guys at the show were also using a player other than iTunes because they actively change the playback rate of the DAC according to the bit rate of the file selected. I happen to use Amarra and Pure Music, there are others. Some play on their own, some piggyback on iTunes by playing the file but still using the iTunes interface.

Although I've not heard the Bryston, I know it is well regarded and I would be surprised if you didn't find that it sounds better when fed by it's USB input. Why don't you just try running a USB from the Mac to the Bryston and compare?
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Old 10-01-2012, 08:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harrypt View Post

I believe the toslink is limited to 24/96 but I'm not positive because I use USB from my Macbook to my DAC.
USB is preferable because there are no limitations on bit rate, there is two way communication between the computer and DAC (i.e. bit rate switching) and because the audio data can be stripped away from the time data and re-clocked by asynchronous DACs.
I don't think the Bryston is limited to 48k, it is synchronous and I think it will receive up to 24/192. Is it possible that the toslink out of the Mac is hardware limited to 48k? You should also check the sound settings and the midi settings to see if the toslink is set to be your primary output device and if there are any limits set for that output. I suspect your DAC is playing at the rate set in your MIDI output settings regardless of file type.
If I remember correctly, iTunes will not change the playback rate of a DAC. Instead I think it re-samples files according to the output settings in the MIDI preferences. You probably noticed that most of the guys at the show were also using a player other than iTunes because they actively change the playback rate of the DAC according to the bit rate of the file selected. I happen to use Amarra and Pure Music, there are others. Some play on their own, some piggyback on iTunes by playing the file but still using the iTunes interface.
Although I've not heard the Bryston, I know it is well regarded and I would be surprised if you didn't find that it sounds better when fed by it's USB input. Why don't you just try running a USB from the Mac to the Bryston and compare?

My MIDI settings are set to 96 kHz, 2 ch - 24 bit integer. I can't set the sampling rate any higher than that and I don't seem to have much for other options. I do have Bitperfect installed, however, I must admit, I'm not too familiar how it works. I believe it just runs in the background. Some of the guys at the show were using iTunes, but I did not notice all. I asked one individual what he was using and it was a program called "frontrow" which was apparently a mac program before Lion, so I do not have it. It looked to be pretty good. I will have to pick up a USB cable to try it out.

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Old 10-02-2012, 01:09 AM
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One of the things iTunes does that is sort of wrong is it up or down samples everything to match your default bit rate, rather than output the native rate of the file. If you have all the same file types and rates, it's not problem, but hardly anyone does. Its one thing that drives people off to another app.

Yea, Apple dumped Front Row, but all it really was is an interface geared to on-screen navigation, sort of a brain-dead Apple TV UI. It just played from iTunes, though. I think there may be a second party solution that's similar now, you might google it.
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Old 10-02-2012, 04:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harrypt View Post

I believe the toslink is limited to 24/96 but I'm not positive because I use USB from my Macbook to my DAC.
USB is preferable because there are no limitations on bit rate, there is two way communication between the computer and DAC (i.e. bit rate switching) and because the audio data can be stripped away from the time data and re-clocked by asynchronous DACs.
I don't think the Bryston is limited to 48k, it is synchronous and I think it will receive up to 24/192. Is it possible that the toslink out of the Mac is hardware limited to 48k? You should also check the sound settings and the midi settings to see if the toslink is set to be your primary output device and if there are any limits set for that output. I suspect your DAC is playing at the rate set in your MIDI output settings regardless of file type.
If I remember correctly, iTunes will not change the playback rate of a DAC. Instead I think it re-samples files according to the output settings in the MIDI preferences. You probably noticed that most of the guys at the show were also using a player other than iTunes because they actively change the playback rate of the DAC according to the bit rate of the file selected. I happen to use Amarra and Pure Music, there are others. Some play on their own, some piggyback on iTunes by playing the file but still using the iTunes interface.
Although I've not heard the Bryston, I know it is well regarded and I would be surprised if you didn't find that it sounds better when fed by it's USB input. Why don't you just try running a USB from the Mac to the Bryston and compare?

Unfortunately, the bryston's USB is limited to 48 k as indicated in the following link: http://www.stereophile.com/digitalprocessors/bryston_bda-1_da_converter

Their newly announced BDA-2 will accept up to 192 k via USB.

Click here for pic of my 7.1 home theater system and here for pic of S2 surround wall mounting.

Click here for pic of my 2 channel system.

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Old 10-03-2012, 01:21 PM
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OK then, the Bryston specifications on their site are definitely unclear regarding their up-sampling specs vs their input specs. It looks like it will do 24/192 so I would venture a guess that USB bitrate is limited by one of the early and inferior USB chips. This is not uncommon, there were a lot of DACs with early USB implementation that had this limitation, some far more expensive than the Bryston. The USB chip that would do high bitrates was a far more expensive part.

If that is the case there might be an upgrade path. You could contact Bryston to see if the USB input is upgradeable. It's worth a shot.

If not, I'd try one of the USB to spdif converters. Just make sure you get one capable of 192 and that would allow auto switching of the bitrate, with relevant playback software of course.
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Old 02-06-2013, 04:07 PM
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Bump.

Having just gone through all this with Audirvana on my latest gen MBP 17, first SPDIF, then HDMI, here's the deal.

MBP, at least the last MBP 17 before Apple killed it, can only do 24 bit 96Khz internally.

If you connect the MBP via SPDIF to an external DAC that is capable of getting 24bit 192Khz, 24bit 96Khz is all you are going to get because of bandwidth limit of TOS and SPDIF.

It is only when you connect the MBP via HDMI to an external DAC that you can possibly get 24bit 192Khz, if your DAC supports it.

And with the latest version of Audirvana, you can enable integer mode with DAC only out all from within Audirvana, without messing with MIDI. The only thing you have to change in System Preferences is sound source from Built in to HDMI.

In short, while Audirvana can handle 24 bit 192Khz output, it is only possible via HDMI.

I am in the process of buying a Mac Mini and will outfit it with a 500G SSD, then connect it to my NAD M15HD, and play my high 24bit 192Khz FLAC files from Linn Records. Master tape really sounds amazing, it's like getting brand new speakers and amp.
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Old 02-06-2013, 06:15 PM
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Originally Posted by stuka View Post

Bump.

In short, while Audirvana can handle 24 bit 192Khz output, it is only possible via HDMI.

Not sure why you had to resurrect a four month old dead thread for this but now that you have, it should be pointed out that this is not true. There are very few DACS with HDMI input unless you are using a video receiver. I suspect you are not using a dedicated DAC as you say and as was being discussed in this thread, but rather a video receiver.

In fact I listen to resolutions even higher than 24/192 out of my Macbook Pro into my DAC and so HDMI is not the only solution nor is it the best solution.
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Old 02-06-2013, 07:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harrypt View Post

Not sure why you had to resurrect a four month old dead thread for this but now that you have, it should be pointed out that this is not true. There are very few DACS with HDMI input unless you are using a video receiver. I suspect you are not using a dedicated DAC as you say and as was being discussed in this thread, but rather a video receiver.

In fact I listen to resolutions even higher than 24/192 out of my Macbook Pro into my DAC and so HDMI is not the only solution nor is it the best solution.

I resurrected a thread because I was having a hard time getting more than 48Khz to start, then moved on to 96Khz, then finally, I got my Mac to output 192Khz which was then decoded properly by my NAD M15HD.

When I searched for Audirvana and MBP, there weren't a whole lot of info on avsforum, so I decided to post here to you know, try to be helpful.

In any event, this is a starting point for me. That is, now that I know I can get 192Khz out of my MBP into my M15HD in bit perfect form via Audirvana, I am looking into testing out the music server solution with a Mac Mini + SSD and lots of RAM connected to the M15HD, and see how this works before looking into things like Linn Akurate.
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