Aug 4, 201629719 views

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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Unlike many Audiophiles, Macs evolve! Check this Apple publication to find out what your particular Mac model is outputting through the SE Earphone jack--you may be surprised!

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204392
RayF
Oh man, an output impedance of <24 ohms!

Just kidding, that's garbage for any kind of low impedance headphones.
It's not "extremely good" just better than most motherboards. If you're used to say high end NOS R2R DACs or Chord's recent high end DACs then there is a world of difference.
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Been seeing a lot of your posts lately, it's pretty evident you have a very high opinion of yourself and enjoy mocking anyone who actually have a different opinion. Should try playing nice sometime, it will do you some good.
Jemma
I'm confused--do you want to fight or fuck?

As to the charges:
1. Guilty
2. Not especially guilty.
3. Happens all the time.

I'm sort of the Take it or Leave it type. You're welcome to join either club.
Quite right indeed, Sounds amazing without any external DAC accessories. I noticed one only issue: My mid. 2011 MacBook Pro's (El Captain) fan is loader, spinning almost every time I'm playing TIDAL's Masters only, (MQA files). A lot more data for processing at 24/96 rate for its aging i5 processor. Absolutely no need for some DAC, TIDAL's own software decoder works perfect with most of Macs, even my old 2011's iMac 22.5"/ i5 too, silently
lordiaco
This is natures way of telling you to turn up the volume--or buy a new computer ;- )
Maybe the DAC is fine, but you still have to rely on the built-in OP-AMP to drive the headphone jack on a Mac. I prefer to have a proper headphone amp driven by a DAC line out (not headphone out). This means I need an external DAC and amp.
Saeulf
Oh..."propper is is then"? Pity the largest technology company in the world couldn't figure out how to build a computer with a proper OP-AMP! I suppose they just couldn't afford to buy the good stuff, you know , second quarter earnings being what they were. Might have added another fifty cents to the cost of every iMac and MacBook Pro--christ who would buy them then?!
RayF
I'm sure they're fine for most folks (apple's main audience). I said I PREFER a headphone amp. Not that other people can't enjoy built in audio.
I've never been impressed by Apple audio anything. Going back to the iPods sound was poor. iRiver had them beat and the ZUNE (yes ZUNE) was a substantial improvement to the Apple products.
I can't say MBP's are great either. Depending on the HP's you're using, you'll benefit from a DAC and Amp.
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I love your imagination, and tremendous capacity for denial.

You...complete me. *heart*
Motorrad
I'm sure you meant detail, as in: -- "...my tremendous capacity for detail."
It's a gift.
Technically, you do not ever need a DAC. Though you may prefer one. The Mac DAC is not horrible. Yet, it is not better than most aftermarket ones. People, choose what you enjoy most. It's a hobby; it is supposed to be fun. Buy both :)
JonnyModena
There are three ways to get hi-res audio out of your Mac: 1) through an optical Toslink cable connected to the headphone output; 2) through a USB cable; and 3) through a standard stereo eighth-inch mini-jack connected to the headphone out--which will use the Mac's excellent internal DAC that supports up to 24-bit/192-kHz.
https://hometheaterreview.com/turning-a-mac-into-an-audiophile-source-component/
The dac is quite terrible actually. Worse than most phones. Atleast the 2015 MacBook hasn’t terrible sounding dac and I am not even an audiophile and yet I could tell the difference With my Dt 770, the audio output is quite harsh. Now I know beyerdynamic is brighter than most headphones But that doesn’t give the MacBook a free pass. My friends one plus, my iPhone and my own Alienware all have much better flatter(but not harsh) sound .
Not to mention the fact that it’s output power is again less than all the three devices I just mentioned. Yes the one plus 3t at 500 dollars sounds better and LOUDER than a MacBook Pro of 1300 dollars. I am not bashing Apple, it is honestly peculiar that their iPads and iPhones both sound better than their macs, they sound pretty good actually.
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I have used VLC to play FLAC on iPad. I view the iPad as a portable solution and not a mobile one. Mostly I use it if I'm listening away from my normal listening area (my office) Around the house.
mindhead1
I agree--portable, rather than mobile--but I'd rather read email and respond to my many MD detractors on an iPad, rather than my phone ;- )
There is a reason why I bought a Mac; it was not to be one of the cool kids that wanted the best of the best. No it was because of the music production I do on it. Hours and hours sitting in front of my Mac copying, pasting, moving, deleting, hour after hour just beating on my Mac in a endless assault to get my work done. That is the key part, my work. I work from home, it is great, but even if it is from home it is still work and it still needs to get done. So my Mac, I have it because it is fast, gets the job done and comes back for more.
But what happens when it doesn't want to do those things anymore?
I move around massive amounts of information and yes even on the almighty Mac this can cause a problem after a while. Things fragment, programs get corrupted issues come up. My light speed Mac slows down to a crawl and all of the sudden I simply cannot get any work done. Because I work from home there is no IT guy to call and ask to come fix it. No instead I have to figure out what is wrong. I am lucky, I did, but not after trying everything under the sun first and wasting countless hours looking for one program that can do what I needed instead of ten programs. One program to lead them all….okay that was a lame Lord of the rings reference, but that program was/is Detox My Mac. A simple to use program that did not just fix my issues, it put my Mac on overdrive again. A few clicks and my Mac was clean and ready to rock and roll again.
Read more here:- http://detox-my-mac.com?vhbshygdf398432
I have compared the audio output from my Windows PCs, Macintosh Macbook pro 2012 I7 quad core 17", MacbookPro 15" I7 dual core and Old white Macbook., old Mac g-4 Powerpc RISK chip PC all were outputted to a Marantz 7 restored preamp (all signal and coupling capacitors replaced by me), connected to a McIntosh MA-7270 amp connected to Magneplanar speakers. I also compared the Apple iPod video (V5.5 with the famous but quite old Wolfson DAC internal). IMHO the Mac pro G-4 sounded the best. The sound resembled the iPod video v5.5 but was better yet. I wonder if the
Macintosh G-4 has a Wolfson DAC? My Asus Z-87 Quad deluxe MOBO with Realtek DAC was second best connected to a very upgraded Dynaco PAT 4 (See updatemyDynaco.com) and a Marantz , 8B tube amp (all signal caps and Power Supply caps replaced also),
SuperMatt
It's good to be old--especially when you have no other options.