Aug 4, 2016

If you have a MAC, you don't need a DAC

If your music library is coming out of a MacBook Pro, the internal DAC is already extremely good. Adding a dedicated DAC will not yield meaningful improvement. Thoughts? Discuss.
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Can only add that I'm running my JBL LSR 30Xs directly out of the earphone jack on my iMac 27" (via a Y connector cable) and they sound quite good (astonishing, actually). On the other hand, I do plan to add a Schitt jotunheim, on the off chance that my MD Sennheiser HD 6XX Headphones arrive prior to the dawning of the next millennia. Proving that I'm ever the optimist, I've also ordered the 2.5m Sennheiser HD 6XX 4 Pin Balanced Cable to connect said DAC/AMP and headphones. Of course, if I do die of old age prior to MD shipping either item, my Last Will and Testament makes a declaration as to which museum of antiquated technology each should be donated to.
The DAC on the MacBook Pro Retina (Late 2012) till MacBook Pro with Touch Bar 2017 (Can't talk about future MacBook Pros) are generally very good, if you want to use the internal speakers or a normal pair of headphone with a 3.5mm plug.

The DAC is not designed for you to use the 3.5mm headphone out port to connect to High End headphones (No your Bose QC35s are not high end), or to an audio amplifier of any kind. That's just not what it was designed for. If it was, it would have had a different set of outputs, not a 3.5mm audio jack with integrated mic input.

There are a number of DACs on the market, but USB powered DACs generally don't warrant the extra expenditure. This may change in the future but I can't think of any USB Powered DAC that I would buy in January 2018. Please note that the Cord Mojo and AudioLab mini-DAC mentioned earlier are battery powered DACs.
Internal DAC on the MacBook Pro (2012) is actually very good. Much better than my AudioQuest Dragonfly.

The latter of which provides a very thin sound in comparison.
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Interesting. I've tried to do a couple of tests with regards to detail - but i can't tell the difference. The only difference is bass and 'thickness' of the sound. If i had known, I would have saved my money instead of buying the external DAC.
Voyager3
Agree totally
Disagree strongly. You may just not have invested in the right DAC+amp+headphone set yet (yes, that does mean money, but you *are* on a MBP). I much prefer my home setup to the DAC on my Mac on the go. iOS devices are even lower quality (though anything Apple is better than Android or Windows machines, generally).
joeltwilcox
FLAC files - VLC Player - analog out of MBP (leave MBP volume at max) to my tube preamp to a great set of headphones (Sennheiser HD800S in my case) and you have an incredible signal path. I’ve tried inserting very expensive dedicated DAC’s between the USB digital or optical digital out of the MBP and find zero difference (listening critically and I have very good ears). All I’m saying is, if you already have a MBP, there are better places in your signal path to spend your money.
JGalt
Different strokes for different folks but given the cost of a macbook pro, I'd rather take a sub 1K Windows machine, and spend the rest of the savings on outboard audio gear. EMI is real no matter your computer manufacturer. Can I ask what DAC's you've used and why you're using a tube preamp vs. dedicated headphone amp for the HD800S?
Macs and i-devices do have some decent internal DACs but adding a quality external DAC will do make a huge difference at any point when they are supplied with clean power (or when they have battery power). It also depends on how good and focused your hearing is. I'm telling these as a Mac user since 2006.
Have you seen the newer Macs? No audio jack. You absolutely need a DAC or wireless headphones.

Also I don't have great power and the noise comes through on the line out of my Mac Mini. The external DAC I use is silent.
cspirou
Which Mac exactly?
Kyaaaaaaaaaa
I thought the Macbook only had a single USB-C port but it actually still has the 3.5mm port. So I was wrong. Thanks for pointing that out.
i own an macbook 2016 and my hd 600 and audioquest nighthawk both sound better with my shiit fulla 2 and my fostex hp-a4bl, then with the internal dac
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tyll
I just purchase both the HD58X and a Schiit Fulla 2 today, glad to see that someone agrees. What is the output of the Fulla 2, i know that its ok loudness for 300 Ohm headphones but since what ill be running is 150 Ohm do you think ill be fine?
Thereisnocowlevel
it will have you covert perfect, it handels 300ohm and 25ohm headphones perfect, im sertain it will be great with the hd 58x. I dont know its stats, but its enough for most headphones.
I think an Odac is enough tell the improvement. Much faster bass respond in WASAPI exclusive mode, better sound stage and more wight below 500hz and over 14khz. I am using a HD800 + WA5 tube amp + linn makji DS for everyday tho. The magni is not good... Anyway, I am a classical fan, maybe for pop music, you dont need hifi.
I would say yes to an extent. If you get a clean out from the Mac without any static, I think you should just stick with it rather than spend on any external DAC. You won't find much of a difference. Your Mac should be able to power even 300ohm headphones pretty well. I A/B ed my Mac Pro and Schiit stack against my hd6xx. I could barely tell a difference.
Hello ,
I do not think you tried a Dac so far
Try Fostex H4 BL or ifi micro DSD B.L. and then tell me your opinion.
And then Apple mic drops the thread with an iPhone upgrade to the MacBook Pro. Mess with the fruit and you get the seeds with trace amounts of cyanide.
i think you already know the answer. you are here for troll. am i right? coz this is the dummest question i have heard on this forum.
anyway, answer is.. NO.