• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). Come here to have fun, be ready to be teased and not take online life too seriously. We now measure and review equipment for free! Click here for details.

MacBook 2019 internal DAC to external DAC

Joined
Dec 12, 2020
Messages
7
Likes
1
#1
Stupid question. I hope I word this right/make sense.
If I understand correctly, the MacBook Pro 2019 no longer offers a digital output. The ports on the MacBook (USB-C and AUX) send out analogue signal already decoded from the internal MacBook DAC, Correct? So, sending an analogue signal to and external Digital-to-Analogue-Converter: i) still works? ii) is pointless??
 

Zek

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 17, 2018
Messages
462
Likes
260
#2
sending an analogue signal to and external Digital-to-Analogue-Converter: i) still works? ii) is pointless??
No, it don't works. Digital-to-Analogue-Converter (DAC) can only receive a digital signal, not an analog one.
 
OP
Y
Joined
Dec 12, 2020
Messages
7
Likes
1
Thread Starter #3
USB-C sends digital signal. The extemal DAC converts it to analogue. Even the 9$ apple adapter has an internal DAC.
I use it that way on my 2019 Macbook pro. Mine has a headphone port too. That uses the internal laptop DAC as it's DAC source.
Right, I thought so. So now, I want to purchase and external DAC, one that is superior to the DAC in the MacBook. Now, how do I go about bypassing the MacBook (or iPhone) DAC - in the most efficient way - and using my external DAC?
 
OP
Y
Joined
Dec 12, 2020
Messages
7
Likes
1
Thread Starter #4
No, it don't works. Digital-to-Analogue-Converter (DAC) can only receive a digital signal, not an analog one.
I thought so, So how do I access my external DAC - in the most efficient way - via computer streaming from Tidal?
 
OP
Y
Joined
Dec 12, 2020
Messages
7
Likes
1
Thread Starter #5
You just connect the external DAC to your laptop or phone, that's all.
When you connect an external DAC to your laptop, the DAC name appears under the volume icon. Select it, and you are good to go. You are essentially telling the laptop to bypass or ignore the native DAC.

For example, I have a USB DAC. A USB cable is supplied with it. One end of the USB cable goes to laptop, and the other end to the DAC.

But then, you can own a DAC/amp (NX4 DSD, Centrance DAC port HD, etc) which will have a headphone jack option to connect your headphones to.
The audio chain:
macbook pro -- DAC USB cable -- DAC device -- Headphone cable (Headphones).

If you have a phone, you can download a USB player app like Neutron or other. Same logic - the signal bypasses the phone's DAC, and you select the app to play music. You can transfer or mirror the songs to the app's repository (you can ask of you are stuck).

But then (part 2 :)), you can own a standalone DAC. It doesn't perform an amp's function, so you will have to connect the DAC to amp.
The connections remain the same (from laptop or phone to DAC). From the DAC, you have to conect to the amp (through a pair of RCA cables, or coax cable or optical cable - depending on the DAC's options).
The amp will have a HP port which you connect to.

macbook pro -- DAC USB cable -- DAC device cable(s) -- amplifier -- Headphone cable (Headphones).
Thanks, that is quite helpful. My current setup is:
MacBook Pro 2019 (Tidal) > AUX-RCA cable > Marantz PM6006. The Marantz amp has an internal DAC but not sure if its possible to get a digital signal via the Macbook to the Marantz (certainly not with my current AUX>RCA cable). Is there an AUX>Optical/Coax cable?
If not, my line of thinking is:
Macbook (Tidal) > USB-C > FiiO K3 DAC/amp: 2 options:
i) Fiio > optical/coax > Marantz (utilizing the Cirrus Logic Marantz DAC) or
ii) Fiio AUX-RCA cable > Marantz (utilizing the AKM DAC from Fiio)

About your other suggestion: I have not heard of Neutron (will look into it). Is it necessary to download an iOS app to bypass the iOS internal DAC? As I mentioned, I currently use Tidal and also considering adding Audirvana as well.
 
OP
Y
Joined
Dec 12, 2020
Messages
7
Likes
1
Thread Starter #8
Last edited:
OP
Y
Joined
Dec 12, 2020
Messages
7
Likes
1
Thread Starter #9
I suggested Neutron for your mobile phone. There are many such apps for mobiles - UAPP (USB Audio Player Pro) is one such.
[I tried to check if tidal support is possible on UAPP, but it was pretty confusing :) . I have seen that option in UAPP though].

>> Is there an AUX>Optical/Coax cable ? >>
This option would have been better. Doesn't look like Macbook pro 2019 supports it. Tried to find it for the last 15 mins.
If your amp itself has a good dac, then it might be an additional investment for you.

DAC choice:
Amir doesn't recommend fiio k3. Topping D10S has coax and optical output, and RCA. It measures well too.

AFAIK, when you have a separate DAC and amp, your amp's capability is limited to the output voltage and distortion/jitter (the lack of it, rather) of your DAC.
Both these DACs should be enough since they have a 2Vrms output. (unless you want to hear music very very loud). But the Topping measures much better (wrt jitter and distortion) and Amir recommends it highly too. You can also filter and search a list of reccos from the ASR home page.

sorry I could not answer all your Q's. I will try to find an answer and get back.
A lot of new ideas to consider here. Originally, I was considering the FiiO K3 because it gives me the i) option of having a higher bitrate and the AKM DAC chip in the K3 and also the ii) option of bypassing not only the MacBook DAC + K3 DAC but accessing the Cirrus Logic DAC chip in the Marantz. But now, if I understand correctly, the performance of the Marantz will be limited due to the FiiO K3. Is that so? Wow, there's always something.

I do like the idea of having a listen and getting familiar with different DAC chips. For instance, I have the Marantz Cirrus Logic CS4398 and I recently purchased and awaiting delivery of the Helm Bolt MQA (renderer) ESS Sabre DAC, and the K3 has an AKM chip.
I was/am also considering the ifi Zen DAC with the Burr Brown chip.

For now the Topping d10s seems less appealing because I already have a DAC with an ESS chip, but I will look further into the d10s.
Further more, all these DACs are in the same low end price range. I also have my eye on the new $420 SMSL SU-9 (ESS Sabre chip). I wonder what Amir would think or have to say about the SU-9 or anything in that price range for that matter?
 
OP
Y
Joined
Dec 12, 2020
Messages
7
Likes
1
Thread Starter #10
Marantz PM6006 doesn't have USB input (only coax and optical), and you will need a USB to SPDIF converter to send digital audio from your Mac. You can use something like this: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B085XPRSGM (it would also need a USB-C to micro USB cable such as https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M72GS0H).
How would something like this https://www.amazon.com/dp/B085XPRSGM affect the overall performance/sound? Would there be any improvements? Would it perhaps lessen the quality? Or simply no changes? Thanks.
 

mSpot

Active Member
Joined
Nov 15, 2018
Messages
110
Likes
102
#11
How would something like this https://www.amazon.com/dp/B085XPRSGM affect the overall performance/sound? Would there be any improvements? Would it perhaps lessen the quality? Or simply no changes? Thanks.
The Douk Converter allows you to use the DAC in your Marantz. The alternative is to use a standalone external DAC, as others have suggested. Either approach will accomplish your goal which is to bypass the internal DAC of your MacBook Pro.

The DAC in the Marantz, and the suggested standalone DACs (Topping and SMSL) should all work well. The Douk Converter is the cheapest option.
 
Top Bottom