Is using an Apple Computer a weak link...?


Hey Guys - 

So here's what I'm thinking.....

What I have Now:
  • Aurender A10 
  • Gryphon Diablo 300
  • Sonus Faber Serafino Tradition Speakers

What I'm thinking of getting:
  • Denafrips Terminator Plus with Gaia Digi to Digi Converter
  • Dedicated Apple LapTop connected via USB to the Denafrips
  • I can run Tidal - Qubuz and Roon, etc. from the LapTop configuring output to the highest resolution

Denafrips Terminator Plus:

Denafrips Gaia:

The Reviews are pretty gorgeous for the money - But I won't be able to listen to it all until I un-box it all and set it up. A risk for sure....but then a lot of fun...! 

Is using the apple computer a weak link...?

Thanks for your advice...!


jomonhifi
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With this level of equipment I’d absolutely spring for a good dedicated streamer/server. 
Not imo. Tidal, and roon will be the weak link. If you have a current Mac give apples new high Rez a try. 
https://youtu.be/bRDGh4Ph6ok
Absolutely. With that level of gear you would definitely benefit from a dedicated streamer.
Dough...! So I could actually use the Aurender A10 as a server using the USB out...????
I would appreciate some clarification w/r to this discussion:
(1) I am under the impression that the "effect" of a computer on sound quality depends on the software used to send the music file to the DAC.  For example, I have read that if you have a MacPro ("desktop" not laptop) and use Audirvana that since Audirvana takes control of the reading/interpretation/transmission of the music files that there is no decrement in sound quality vs a dedicated server.
(2) I have read that if you use an ethernet connection (rather than USB) from the Mac to the DAC, that there is no loss of sound quality vs a dedicated server
(3) I have also read that if you are using music files (FLAC, DSD) stored on the Mac (vs. streaming from Qobuz or Tidal or Amazon) that there is no difference in sound quality vs having a dedicated server.
If anyone has actual experience with these scenarios or conditions, please provide your experience and opinion.  Thank you
Craig - All very good questions…!
I'm curious WHY you want to go from The Aurender A10 to a Desktop unless you can't use it as a dedicated streamer. But I'll stick around and maybe learn some more.
I started streaming using a MacBook Pro running Audirvana. I briefly tried a Node 2i but ended up returning it. The SQ of the Node was on par but I preferred the UI of Audirvana. Still not satisfied I purchased a Bel Canto eOne Stream. I much preferred the SQ of the Bel Canto over the MacBook, adding a W4S DAC to the signal chain made things even better. I firmly believe that a good dedicated streamer will outperform a PC.
I am under the impression that the "effect" of a computer on sound quality depends on the software used to send the music file to the DAC.
The major piece you’re missing is noise.  Computers, especially if they’re used for things other than just playing music, infuse noise into the signal that good dedicated streamers largely avoid. 

Dedicated streamers are just computers that have been optimized for audio performance.   Compared to a bog standard PC they tend to have better parts, better power supplies, and inject less noise. Programs such as Audirvana do help the sound from a computer.
The noise issue is real, but it isn’t like like vinyl, where it sounds like frying bacon.  It is mainly the depth of the black background.  Compared to better equipment, the music just doesn’t seem to emerge from nothingness, and therefore seems a little less tactile.  You don’t really notice it until you compare with better equipment.
mahler  a dedicated server can be designed from the ground up  for one purpose to extract a  pristine digital signal to a dac this is accomplished through both hardware and software utilization

we import one of the best lines of servers from Europe:

432 EVO Music Servers | High End Digital Audio Streaming | Roon Core | Upsampling & Bit Perfect - 432 EVO Music Servers | High End Digital Audio Streaming


if you look at their designs they are far more sophisticated then a simple computer with an external linear power supply

the Evo"s higher end models  all separate the main cpu board from the soundcard and clock board

theses critical boards are powered independently to keep noise from jumping into the usb output 

they use a low noise cpu.


they use a custom liux kernal that was written to minimize jitter the os actully  loads  Roon"s  operational procedures onto its own cpu core where other cpu related tasks run on  their  own core.


dave and troy
audio intellect NJ
us importers 432EVO music servers


audiotroy:
I appreciate your point, but note that you discuss the noise on the USB cable.  If the MacPro (desktop not laptop) is connected to the DAC by ETHERNET, is there still an issue with noise reaching the DAC?
@jomonhifi,

Please stop using your MacPro. I had a Mac Mini and even waited 2 years for my Paul Hynes linear power supply to be built. I converted my Mac to DC only, and it still was far inferior to a dedicated streamer. I now have an Auralic Aries G2.1 and installed an internal SSD.

@audio troy wrote “theses critical boards are powered independently to keep noise from jumping into the usb output”. This is absolutely critical to have dedicated linear power supplies to each board. Btw, isn’t your Aurender A10 a streamer and DAC in one package? If so, then remove the MacPro and use the A10 alone. You’ll also benefit from not needing a digital cable from streamer to DAC or an Ethernet cable.


Edit to add…I believe the A10 has a 4TB internal HD. Transfer a few songs you know well from the MacPro to the A10. Then disconnect your MacPro and play the tracks directly from the A10. Please let us know how this experiment ends up.
@craig  Good questions.

@jomonhifi  OP: "Is using the apple computer a weak link...?"

Not necessarily. Things have come around (significantly), though not quite full on YET.

If you go with the Denafrips GAIA, inserting an Ethernet to USB convertor (as one example) will help tremendously. Sonore comes to mind. There are others.

Apple computer > Ethernet > Sonore > USB > GAIA

Again, one example for illustration purposes.

Also consider HQPlayer for a software solution. It plays well with iOS and Denafrips. [Audirvana was previously mentioned]

Another approach is to "isolate" using wireless. A DAC with a wireless receiver will address this. 

Another approach is to go with a DAC (or a DDC prior to the DAC) that offers a LAN input. You will need to add a quality network switch to optimize this approach.

A standalone high quality audio server ($$$) is still the best solution for the highest levels of performance. However, one can achieve excellent results using a computer at this point in time, at a much lower spend.
@audiotroy 

my first sentence was “Streamers are just computers that have been optimized for audio performance “

Your post isn’t a refutation, it just supplies the details for a particular streamer that you sell.  It’s still a computer.
Why am I being so pedantic?  Because while I am sure that what you sell is a fine product, my point is that the vast majority of streamers are bound to offer some advantage over a standard, multi functional personal computer, because they have been optimized to do just 1 task that such a computer has to perform.  For a newbie, it might make more sense to compare a more entry level model to a personal computer.  Then, if the experience takes and funds allow, start going after premium products such as the one you sell.
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mahler we have tested mny dedicated streamers vs a pc the streamers always sounded  better

it is the fact that these are dedicated is why they perform better