MAC's! DAC's! USB Audio! Bit rates! and more!!!

zuulzuul Posts: 156
edited December 2017 in Going Digital
DISCLAIMER:
If you don't use a MAC with a stand alone DAC this thread might be pretty useless to you... unless you just like nerd stuff... ALSO. this will be a bit long and rambling. i'm still trying to wrap my head around all of this.

*****************************************************

So a while back I upgraded my DAC and got a TEAC UD-501. It's a great DAC and over the past 6 weeks i've been listening to it a lot but not spending a lot of time with the functionality. I have my computer connected via USB and my cd/dvd player connected via digital coaxial. It sounds amazing. I'm more than pleased with the purchase.

However, I am not pleased at all with the MAC music player situation. The TEAC has revealed many flaws.

First. I don't use iTunes. F. That. I've been using Clementine for years, both on my old Linux boxes and now on my MAC. I really like the metadata integration, the Android wi-fi remote and overall layout of the GUI. The main reason why I started using it all those years ago was because it's plays FLAC files native.

When you hook up the UD-501 you can go to the midi settings of your mac and set the defaults for the output. In my case i set the defaults for 24 bit 192k. The music i stream from Amazon unlimited in "high quality stream" mode is 256k @ 44.1khz so because of the midi defaults... that stream is being upconverted from 44.1khz to 192khz. This is confirmed by the DAC which reads "PCM 192khz" when I'm streaming music from Amazon.

When I play digital files via the music player Clementine whether they be MP3 FLAC Apple Lossless etc. it's my expectation that the bitrate showing on my UD-501 would correspond to the bitrate of the file I'm playing. for example, for a 320k/44.1khz MP3 file i would expect the display on the DAC to be showing "PCM 44.1khz." In fact, it does not. It's shows the default midi setting of "PCM 192khz." Therefore, my initial understanding that Clementine bypassed the midi output and went direct usb out is incorrect. Furthermore, I've discovered that the settings in Clementine's preferences actually HAVE NO EFFECT on the output. In otherwords, if you choose 44.1khz as your default bitrate in Clementine, it doesn't matter. The output is going to be whatever the default Apple midi interface is set at, in my case 192khz. There is an "AUTO" setting which one would assume means that Clementine is outputting the corresponding bitrate of the file that's playing.... but it does not. I'm not even sure why the developers included an option to change the bitrate output because while it works on the GUI it's actually completely functionless and has no effect on the bitrate whatsoever.

As it turns out, TEAC has a proprietary music player for windows and MAC. Bonus, it plays DSD files, as does my DAC. While the majority of my collection is FLAC and I have no interest in DSD... I do have a few DSD sample files I got a few weeks ago when I first got the DAC and never played them. Anyway, I figured that I would take a look at the TEAC music player for mac and see what it was all about. Talk about NO FRILLS. You can't even resize the window. lol. It's basically the most stripped down bare bones music player you've ever seen. It basically does start play stop forward back and that's it. However, what it does do, is override the Apple default midi settings and plays files NATIVE... as it should be. In other words if i'm playing a FLAC files that's 24 bit 192k that's what it says on the player that's what it says on the display of the DAC. If i'm playing a .wav files that 48khz that's what it says on the display of the DAC.

Even more interesting... there's a noticeable difference in sound quality. The songs played on the TEAC music player were far more dynamic, the sound stage was better and the stereo separation was superior. When I played the same song via Clementine... the music was flatter, not as dynamic and the instruments seemed more muddled together. Subsequently it would seem that not only is Clementine not controlling the output it's also doing some sort of sound processing before it's outputting to the DAC or else the files would sound exactly the same regardless of which player I was using.

I played around with a few trial versions of popular music software for the MAC and as far as I can tell all of it is CRAP. Particularly the players that are merely an iTunes interface that for all intents and purposes installs a few codecs to let you play HI-RESOLUTION files. talk about snake oil. I know a lot of people swear by some of those "audiophile" players that are iTunes plug-ins... but in the ones that I tested... none of them are outputting directly to the DAC either... they were all defaulting to the Apple midi settings 24 bit 192k. Why would I pay over 100 dollars for that?

So far the only music player for MAC i've found that outputs native files directly to the DAC is the TEAC music player. but it's so plain and featureless... it's almost not worth using.

Subsequently, I've decided to reach out for help and find out what music players other MAC and stand alone DAC users are using. Does your player output files native or does it default and output via the Apple MIDI settings as described above? Also, does your music player have a wi-fi Android remote? or only remotes that can be controlled by Iphone/Ipad?

Ideally I would like a music player that outputs files via usb in their native format and bitrate, has an Android compatible wifi remote and plays DSD files and handles metadata and album art. I do not believe this product exists.... Clementine does all of these things except for output native. Clementine is open source.... who do I have to pay to write me some scripts to get it to do what i want? LOL. I'd rather spend $100 bucks on that than have to pay for one of the fancy music players for MAC that don't do what i need or want them to do and don't have an Android wifi/network remote.

I'm curious as to your thoughts and input...

speakers:
bowers & wilkins 685 S2
polk psw-10
components:
sonic frontiers line 1 preamp
sonic frontiers anthem amp 1
mac mini w/ audioquest jitterbug
teac ud-501 digital to analog converter
oppo dv-980h dvd/cd
interconnects:
monoprice
guzi
belkin gold series usb
speaker wire
audioquest type 4
power:
rhino-tek 1000w 15amp voltage regulator
vansevers 211 power cord
pangea ac-14 power cord
tubes:
amplifier: (2) NOS 1960 philco/lansdale 12AU7 (super rare!), (1) NOS 1967 mullard 12AX7, (4) 2016 svetlana hard blue EL-34
pre-amp: (6) E88CC/6922 ??? (haven't cracked the case yet to see what previous owner was running...) so for now they are mystery tubes.
misc:
JRiver Media Center 24
sanus 24" speaker stands
auralex acoustics subdude II
DeMoude Audio cylindrical bass traps
rf/emi/noise reduction caps for empty rca inputs.
Hall of Fame: [retired/sold]
polk monitor series 5jr+ w/ RDO194-1 upgraded tweeters
polk monitor series RTA 8T
kenwood kd-550 w/ SME 3009 Series III tonearm grado gold cartridge
adcom gfp-555II
marantz 2238b
luxman M-120A
technics sl-b10

Comments

  • nooshinjohnnooshinjohn Posts: 17,448
    I would give JRiver for MAC go. I am new to computer audio, but JRiver does a great job for me. You can also get a free trial and see how it works before you buy it.
    The Gear... Carver "Statement" Mono-blocks, TriangleArt Reference SE with PS Audio NuWave Phono converter, Walker Precision Motor Drive, ClearAudio Stradivari v2 cartridge and Origin Conquerer Mk3c tonearm, Polk Audio "Signature" Reference Series 1.2TL with complete mods, Pass Labs X1 two channel preamplifier Signed by Poppa himself, PS Audio PerfectWave DAC MkII, Krell Evolution 525a CD Player, Pioneer Elite SC-65, Oppo UDP-205 Blu-ray , Sony XBR70x850B 4k, Polk audio AB700/800 "in-wall" surrounds

  • agfrostagfrost Posts: 2,122
    I haven't fully researched all possible options and my computer/digital music setup might best be described as "slapdash" but I'm running Audirvana on my Mac and I do like it.
    Jay
    SDA 2BTL * Musical Fidelity A5cr amp * Marantz DV-9500 * Modded Adcom GDA-600 DAC * Rythmik F8
    Micro Seiki DQ-50 * A hodgepodge of cabling * Belkin PF60
    Preamp rotation: Krell KSL (SCompRacer recapped) * Manley Shrimp * PS Audio 5.0
  • SCompRacerSCompRacer Posts: 6,728
    agfrost wrote: »
    I haven't fully researched all possible options and my computer/digital music setup might best be described as "slapdash" but I'm running Audirvana on my Mac and I do like it.

    If you haven't got huge TB's of music and don't want to invest in external bays, stick a large TB drive in an old 64 bit 'putie and run Vortexbox 2.4. 2.4 needs a 64 bit machine. IIRC you can run it with a MAC in VM. Check the vortexbox forums for specifics.

    I haven't maxed out my Sonore Server yet. It has a 6TB drive. Most of my music is in vinyl anyway. I can always point it to an external storage if needed.
    Make yourself necessary to someone. Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Salk SoundScape 8's * Audio Research Reference 3 * Bottlehead Eros Phono * Park's Audio Budgie SUT * Krell KSA-250 * Harmonic Technology Pro 9+ & Pro 11+ * Signature Series Sonore Music Server w/Deux PS* Twisted Pear Buffalo III Dual Mono ESS Sabre32 DAC * Heavy Plinth Lenco L75 Idler Drive * AA MG-1 Linear Air Bearing Arm * AT33PTG/II & Denon 103R * Richard Gray 600S * NHT B-12d subs * GIK Acoustic Treatments * Sennheiser HD650 *

  • zuulzuul Posts: 156
    I would give JRiver for MAC go. I am new to computer audio, but JRiver does a great job for me. Y

    so i'm rocking the free trial... initial impressions are that it's doing exactly what i want it to do which is output direct. (mr. burns voice: excellent...)

    but wow. there's a lot going on. so many audio settings. so many "view" settings.

    it's not the most intuitive GUI. i'm sure eventually i can get it looking and acting the way i want... i'm glad they give 30 days full feature trial. that limited feature trial stuff is bogus. what's the point?

    anyway... no time to play with it yet. just wanted to install and see if it goes direct....

    another thing i found annoying right off the bat is that i had change the output settings to get it to DoD.... i would think i would recognize dsf or dff files and do that conversion on it's own but apparently not.

    still need to source the best android remote for it... but i'm glad that's an option.

    thanks for the heads up.
    speakers:
    bowers & wilkins 685 S2
    polk psw-10
    components:
    sonic frontiers line 1 preamp
    sonic frontiers anthem amp 1
    mac mini w/ audioquest jitterbug
    teac ud-501 digital to analog converter
    oppo dv-980h dvd/cd
    interconnects:
    monoprice
    guzi
    belkin gold series usb
    speaker wire
    audioquest type 4
    power:
    rhino-tek 1000w 15amp voltage regulator
    vansevers 211 power cord
    pangea ac-14 power cord
    tubes:
    amplifier: (2) NOS 1960 philco/lansdale 12AU7 (super rare!), (1) NOS 1967 mullard 12AX7, (4) 2016 svetlana hard blue EL-34
    pre-amp: (6) E88CC/6922 ??? (haven't cracked the case yet to see what previous owner was running...) so for now they are mystery tubes.
    misc:
    JRiver Media Center 24
    sanus 24" speaker stands
    auralex acoustics subdude II
    DeMoude Audio cylindrical bass traps
    rf/emi/noise reduction caps for empty rca inputs.
    Hall of Fame: [retired/sold]
    polk monitor series 5jr+ w/ RDO194-1 upgraded tweeters
    polk monitor series RTA 8T
    kenwood kd-550 w/ SME 3009 Series III tonearm grado gold cartridge
    adcom gfp-555II
    marantz 2238b
    luxman M-120A
    technics sl-b10
  • My music playing from an older MacBook pro 15" is played by Amarra Symphony, which is an outdated product now, but I have found it to give excellent results. They have newer apps now that are less expensive, that do an even better job, and the UI is much better than it used to be. Check it out here. Sonic Studio Amarra. They have several products and offer trial downloads. I'm currently using an OWC Mercury Elite Pro 4TB external HD for music files, hooked up to the laptop via firewire 800. The DAC is currently a HRT Music Streamer HD, but I hope to get myself a Legacy Audio Wavelet soon. Anyway, give the Sonic Studio Amarra a try. I think you might like what you hear. Check around their website and see some of the other music apps they have.
    Sunfire Theater Grand IV
    Sunfire Cinema Grand Signature
    SRS 2.1TL
    SDA 2BTL's
    CSiA6
    FXiA4
    FXiA6
    SDA 2A's
    Monitor 10A's

    http://www.douglasconnection.com
  • zuulzuul Posts: 156
    I've been using the jRiver media center for about a week now and it's exactly what I'm looking for.

    also discovered Neil Young recommends jRiver for use with his Ponos player... I figure if it's good enough for Neil... it's good enough for me.

    lots of favorable reviews of the media center by audiophiles all over the interwebz... many report using it with their teac ud-501 with great satisfaction. since that's the same DAC I'm using I find this reassuring.

    now that I've got it dialed in I've discovered it's far superior to what I was using before... and it has all kinds of functionality I have yet to explore. I will pay for the license when my trial is over in January.

    speakers:
    bowers & wilkins 685 S2
    polk psw-10
    components:
    sonic frontiers line 1 preamp
    sonic frontiers anthem amp 1
    mac mini w/ audioquest jitterbug
    teac ud-501 digital to analog converter
    oppo dv-980h dvd/cd
    interconnects:
    monoprice
    guzi
    belkin gold series usb
    speaker wire
    audioquest type 4
    power:
    rhino-tek 1000w 15amp voltage regulator
    vansevers 211 power cord
    pangea ac-14 power cord
    tubes:
    amplifier: (2) NOS 1960 philco/lansdale 12AU7 (super rare!), (1) NOS 1967 mullard 12AX7, (4) 2016 svetlana hard blue EL-34
    pre-amp: (6) E88CC/6922 ??? (haven't cracked the case yet to see what previous owner was running...) so for now they are mystery tubes.
    misc:
    JRiver Media Center 24
    sanus 24" speaker stands
    auralex acoustics subdude II
    DeMoude Audio cylindrical bass traps
    rf/emi/noise reduction caps for empty rca inputs.
    Hall of Fame: [retired/sold]
    polk monitor series 5jr+ w/ RDO194-1 upgraded tweeters
    polk monitor series RTA 8T
    kenwood kd-550 w/ SME 3009 Series III tonearm grado gold cartridge
    adcom gfp-555II
    marantz 2238b
    luxman M-120A
    technics sl-b10
  • zuulzuul Posts: 156
    tried a few more players and ended up going back to JRiver media center... bought the license.... for what i was looking for... and based on my expectations of what i wanted the program to do... media center ended up being the best choice for me. I also found out that TEAC recommends JRiver media center and since I have a TEAC DAC now I figured it was kismet.

    I basically have it set up to go direct into my DAC. No filters of any kind. No upstreaming of any kind. Just raw PCM to DAC.

    I realize how much I was missing out on sonically when I was using Clementine as my media player... There are several albums I have that I feel like I am hearing for the first time via this new set up...

    My old school polks are happy. I feel like for the first time the full dynamic range of the speakers is being utilized... It's actually amazing how good they sound...



    speakers:
    bowers & wilkins 685 S2
    polk psw-10
    components:
    sonic frontiers line 1 preamp
    sonic frontiers anthem amp 1
    mac mini w/ audioquest jitterbug
    teac ud-501 digital to analog converter
    oppo dv-980h dvd/cd
    interconnects:
    monoprice
    guzi
    belkin gold series usb
    speaker wire
    audioquest type 4
    power:
    rhino-tek 1000w 15amp voltage regulator
    vansevers 211 power cord
    pangea ac-14 power cord
    tubes:
    amplifier: (2) NOS 1960 philco/lansdale 12AU7 (super rare!), (1) NOS 1967 mullard 12AX7, (4) 2016 svetlana hard blue EL-34
    pre-amp: (6) E88CC/6922 ??? (haven't cracked the case yet to see what previous owner was running...) so for now they are mystery tubes.
    misc:
    JRiver Media Center 24
    sanus 24" speaker stands
    auralex acoustics subdude II
    DeMoude Audio cylindrical bass traps
    rf/emi/noise reduction caps for empty rca inputs.
    Hall of Fame: [retired/sold]
    polk monitor series 5jr+ w/ RDO194-1 upgraded tweeters
    polk monitor series RTA 8T
    kenwood kd-550 w/ SME 3009 Series III tonearm grado gold cartridge
    adcom gfp-555II
    marantz 2238b
    luxman M-120A
    technics sl-b10
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