I am seeking advice / recommendations for a USB Dac to connect a Mac Mini to an Emm Labs DCC2.

The basic system is Emm Labs DCC2 SE & CDSD SE, ATC 50 ACM Actives, Vertex AQ Taga mains filtration, Mac Mini & WD Hard Drives.

Any guidance would be greatly appreciated, I have looked at Empirical Audio Off-Ramp Turbo 2 & Benchmark Dac 1 USB but am not able to audition.
You appear to afford a Wavelength,also something from Empirical as you mention.Don't forget Bel Canto,I can recommend it,good luck,Bob
Wavelength Audio
I did the Bel Canto Dac3 from a pc music server. Liked it a lot. It is also well reviewed.. slightly better reviews than the Benchmark (check the stereophile review)

I used the dac in a Krell and Wilson system.

Buy used and just resell the one you don't like.. won't cost you much to try.

happy listening :-)
Get HagUSB and any DAC of your liking.
I don't understand your ? since you have a dac in your pre.

You can buy a toslink cable that will connect the mini to the EMM. An 1/8 inch toslink to standard tosink. I use one to connect my mac to my dac.

On most of the Macs the headphone and mic jacks are combo jacks that make them toslink in and out

Hope that helps. Louis
Auditioning Vinnie's (Red Wine Audio) new NOS non-up sampling/no over sampling Isabellina DAC in my system along with Mac-book laptop as the source lead me to believe that it is in fact possible to achieve very good results with PC. The Pace Car from Steve (Empirical Audio)is also very promising. Short encounter during 2008 CES proved that this guy knows a thing or two about digital.

My main concern is the digital glare and usual edginess of digital file that is all so common these days. Even from highly regarded brands and products that are considered the "high end"

From what I have heard with my own ears, the above mentioned - accomplished very difficult task of music reproduction that I can connect to and enjoy.
I agree - your question doesn't make sense: Are you looking for ways to connect a Mac Mini to your Emm Labs DCC2?

Well, the Emm Labs DCC2 is DAC so why not just connect the Mini directly as Lbmp suggests. Or get a HagUSB or Emirical Offramp to convert USB to SPDIF and use that to go into your DCC2 DAC.
YOu don't need a DAC from Wavelength or Benchmark. You need an interface to get from USB out from your mini to a digital format your Emm Labs DAC will accept. This would be perfect and on the cheap.
You might want to try out a Blue Circle Thingee between your Mac and your Emm Labs DCC2. In my experience it works well between mine and a Bel Canto DAC2. It's a good sounding and very flexible unit. Here's a review .......

I really like the Ultra Fi USB iRocs I own. Be sure to test out several different USB cables (I like the Ridge Street Audio Poiema).

With the MacMini the iRocs and RSA cables are very surprising in all respects with both ripped discs and on-line music sources, such as iTunes or Rhapsody.

:) Listening,


Many, many thanks to all of you who have kindly given advice, indeed my question was not well precised. It is an interface rather than a dac that is required. I shall commence with the HagUSB and see how it sounds.

My thanks again
Converting from USB to SPDIF to I2S (computer to digital coax to DAC chip) is not optimal versus a well executed USB DAC which will convert from USB to I2S in one step. In general, the more you convert, the less good it's going to be.

It might turn out that you're quite happy in spite of the extra conversion step, which I think would be terrific because only your ears know.

If you do decide on a USB DAC in the future, amongst the many USB DACs out there, some that I would personally consider are:

Wavelength Cosecant
Red Wine Audio Isabellina
Audio Sector / Audio Zone
Wavelength Brick
UltraFi iRoc

I have either owned or auditioned all of these DACs, presently own the Isabellina and think it is fantastic.
Thank you for the recommendations, I may be wrong (or just further demonstrating my luddite knowledge on digital audio matters !) but I do not think my DCC2 is compatible (connection wise) with I2S.
Nevertheless the goal is to obtain the best possible reproduction through the chain of : hard disc - Mac Mini - Emm Labs DCC2 ?
If you want to continue to use the DCC2 as a DAC, then for the very best possible sound, consider something like this:

The HagUSB is quite a bit cheaper, but the Empirical Audio product is a premium product. I have not personally auditioned either.
Oh, silly me. In my last response, I forgot about the original post. Sigh. Your original suggestion of the Off-Ramp is a good one.

As for the Benchmark, I do not like the Benchmark sound.

If you're open to using the analog inputs of the DCC2, consider the Red Wine Audio Isabellina, as it is an excellent, dynamic, NOS USB DAC.
I am using a Mac Mini, LaCie Hard Drives into an Epirical Audio I2S Off-ramp, Empirical Turbomod Benchmark DAC1 with op amp upgrades.

The Empirical Audio modded DAC1 is a completely different beast from the unmodded DAC. Vocals are smooth. There is no harshness or reading of brightness. Tone colors are more true and bass to treble transparency greater. No comparison, but also multiple times the cost of the original DAC1.

I can recommend the off-ramp without hesitation. And, I am tremendously happy with the modded DAC.
Dan - I am stopping mods to the DAC-1 soon in favor of my own Overdrive USB DAC/PRE. Unless he can buy one used on Audiogon, they will not be available much longer. Customers have been bugging me for years to do my own stuff, so this is what I'm doing. It's better anyway because I can get away from the soldering iron and do more design this way. Also, the Off-Ramp Turbo 2 and Off-Ramp I2S just got replaced with one product, the Off-Ramp 3.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
What are the differences between the new Off-Ramp 3 and Off-Ramp Turbo 2?

How much is the Off-Ramp 3?