I don't recommend against FireWire, but I think using it as your main reason for choosing a DAC is too limiting. I've used the Apogee and it's good.
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I'm wondering if there is a significant reason why you would not simply use the optical digital output of the Mac? I have been using that and it works fine.
Firewire is certainly preferable to USB (long conversation), but probably not preferable to optical digital when it comes to sound. Firewire channel properties (e.g. high data transfer rate, daisy-chain configuration) are better suited to external hard drives, cameras, etc. Remember that the optical output is not performing a conversion, that is what your DAC is going to do; it will also be electrically buffered from your computer, which may be quite a blessing in case of an electrical snafu (which, sadly, computers are prone to do from time to time). Last but hardly least, whereas firewire cables are limited to about 10 feet in length (you can push this limit, but it starts to have reliability issues), optical cables can be quite long (e.g. I'm using a 50-foot cable without issues). This allows you to place noisy computer equipment far away from the listening area.
If there are good reasons to avoid optical out and use firewire instead, I'd love to hear about them.
Interesting topic for me as I am expecting the arrival of a PS Audio DLIII today. My intention is to use the optical out from Mac Mini. I looked hard at the two dacs mentioned in the title but went with the PS Audio for price and ease of buying. Actually, if a Havana had been available at used price during my search I might have gone that way.
Soon I'll begin loading cds to the external hard drive. Not sure why but there is a definite lack of motivation to begin this task.
Here's my semi-automated method to rip large numbers of cds into itunes on a Mac Mini.
- Place the Mini as close to you as possible and get comfortable.
- Log in as you normally do.
- Make sure the computer is connected to the internet.
- Launch iTunes and go into Preferences.
- Under the General tab, where it says "When you insert a CD," select "Import CD and Eject."
- Close Preferences, but keep iTunes running.
- Disconnect the monitor and keyboard if they're in the way.
- Pop in cds and wait for them to eject.
Sometimes a cd will prompt you to choose a version from the on-line database. In these cases, you obviously need the monitor and mouse.
I've ripped hundreds of cds this way while sitting on the couch watching tv.
I hope this helps!
Timrhu: I'm curious about your post, didn't you sell your PS Audio DL III and upgrade not so long ago?
Yes I did sell my DL III quite a while ago. Long story short; it was when I was still in search of besting my cdp. A few dacs and many cdps later I gave up so now my only source is the cd player.
I need a dac for the newly acquired MAC Mini and the PS Audio was the best of the lot I tried. It doesn't approach the Resolution Audio cdp but it's the best I have experience with.
Oh yeah, and the damned thing did not arrive today. Purchased from a seller with lots of perfect feedback but two weeks to ship on this one, WTF?...sorry for venting.
I have a Weiss Minerva and couldn't tell the difference between the firewire and optical outputs from my Mac Mini. Frankly, I didn't really care either. Like Trebejo said, firewire is good for other applications where speed is required. I do not believe that firewire is superior to most methods of digital transfer. Also, it's not firewire that reduces jitter, it's in the D/A conversion.
Timrhu: When I had my PS Audio DLIII I used a Van den Hul optocoupler cable from my Mini. Are you using the same? If not, what? Just curious. I think it's wonderful cable.