Getting the best out of MacBook Pro and Chord qbd76

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Getting the best out of MacBook Pro and Chord qbd76

Postby bruckner » Tue Apr 05, 2011 9:28 pm

Hi all
I bought a MacBook Pro at Xmas to replace CD as my front end. I used the mini toslink to toslink into my DAC. The sound was good but even with Wireworld Super Nova 6 cable I felt the DAC had more to offer. The Chord has a USB input but direct from the laptop this wasn't great.
I read on other forums about USB/SPDIF converters and after testing some at home, opted for the Sonicweld Diverter which was, together with a Locus Designs BNC/AES cable, an expensive option. The qbd76 has now come into its own-far more dynamic and wider/deeper soundstage. Latest generation DACs are 'asynchronous' which are supposed not to need these converters but many still prefer the Chord over these.
My system now sounds much better than with the Quad CD player. I have ordered a second P1 to bi-amp my SCM 19s and am looking forward to further improvement.


Source: Mac Book Pro via Sonicweld Converter and Locus Designs cable into Chord QBD76
Amplifiers: ATC CA2 pre into ATC P1 (soon to be P1+P1)
Speakers: ATC SCM19
Cables: Van den Hul The Integration, Townshend Isolda speaker cable and Isolda DCT 300 interconnects

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Re: Getting the best out of MacBook Pro and Chord qbd76

Postby benny39 » Tue Apr 05, 2011 11:21 pm

Hi bruckner, i have my dac connected to my mac-mini with Wireworld's supernova 6 as well...seem's good...but i suppose i dont have the QBD76, i see youre adding another P1 to you existing CA2/P1...youre gonna love this, my SCM19s were reborn when i added a second P1...astonishing ;) keep us informed with updates when the beast arrives & settles in :)

Benny.
pioneer pdp5090. vsxlx70. bdplx71. ATC scm50asl classic, ATC C4 sub, Antelope Audio zodiac gold/voltikus,Purepower 1050i, Apple ipad + mac-mini, Sennhieser hd25, Harmony 1100 remote, WW supernova 6 optical, Van Damme xl-r. WW stratus 52, Iomega 2tb's hard drives, Granite plinths,WW starlight USB.

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Re: Getting the best out of MacBook Pro and Chord qbd76

Postby Craig » Tue Apr 05, 2011 11:28 pm

Interesting result bruckner, wouldn't mind knowing what it does. Every time I tried a different transport into my qbd76, I couldn't tell any difference. I was using optical each time, maybe the chord sounds better through its bnc/aes input? As Benny confirms, I've read lots of good reports from people who've bi-amped with 2x p1. :twisted:
source: Macbook Pro > Airplay > ATV3 > Benchmark Dac1 HDR
active speakers: Event Opal
Cheap XLR microphone cables

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Re: Getting the best out of MacBook Pro and Chord qbd76

Postby mamo » Thu Apr 07, 2011 1:18 pm

I am looking at a chord qbd76, I have a normal dell inspiron laptop which I hope to use before I look into a dedicated streamer.
I understand that toslink, optical are not the optimum feed so I was wondering am I wasteing my time using the soundcard on a dell/ hiface spdif interface and just use the bluetooth cord option for the moment.
I have read about virus protection interference using a normal laptop via usb connection, the macbook pro does not suffer from this interference.

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Re: Getting the best out of MacBook Pro and Chord qbd76

Postby Craig » Thu Apr 07, 2011 4:32 pm

Hi mamo, i have to say that i think the optical input on the qbd76 is just fine, however i have read reports on the hiface which say it benefits from the 'evo' model mods. although i don't have experience of the kind of device Bruckner is using, i've found that the ram buffer on the qbd76 does a very good job of ironing out transport differences. in fact, as an experiment, i have pulled the optical lead out of my chord until i can clearly see the red light and the input is getting ambient light entering it, and the sound stays exactly the same throughout. jitter - schmitter! :lol:
source: Macbook Pro > Airplay > ATV3 > Benchmark Dac1 HDR
active speakers: Event Opal
Cheap XLR microphone cables

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Re: Getting the best out of MacBook Pro and Chord qbd76

Postby bruckner » Thu Apr 07, 2011 8:56 pm

Hi again and thanks for comments. Mamo I cannot comment on a Dell but MacBook Pros are said to have a very 'dirty' jitter output. Despite claims from Chord many on the Computer Audiophile site think the Qbd76 does not iron all of this out. They still feel that it is one of the best Dacs around and yes Craig I think the AES input is preferable.
I tested a Halide Bridge, A King Rex (!) and the Sonicweld Converter. Of course it is very subjective and depends on room etc. but I did feel the last one in particular gave an improvement. It has been an expensive option however with the cables.
I have also ditched iTunes and use Audirvana, a free music player which seems to give a better soundstage. I am in no doubt that the sound is now 'better' than with a Quad CDP2 player. It should be since my 'front end' cost is about 6k.
Thanks Benny for good wishes. I am looking forward to the extra P1 and am using yourself and Rick as references. As with all things in audio there are those who say this 'passive' bi-amping brings only limited benefit. But you have the same gear and should know!

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Re: Getting the best out of MacBook Pro and Chord qbd76

Postby Goa Gil » Sun May 15, 2011 7:31 pm

Hi Bruckner

Have you tried your Chord and Quad together with your 19's taking the MackBook out of the equation .
Just curious as I have the 19's and same CD and was thinking of one day adding the Chord but the sound difference would have to be substantial. Do you think the cost of the dac gives results reflecting the cost of it.
What are you hoping to achieve by adding a second P1.

Many Thanks

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Re: Getting the best out of MacBook Pro and Chord qbd76

Postby bruckner » Mon May 16, 2011 8:24 pm

Hi Goa Gil
Thanks for question. Yes I did try the Quad CDP2 with my QBD76 through the optical connection. It was a definite improvement over the internal DAC in terms of resolution and soundstaging but perhaps not £3000+ worth! A Wireworld Supernova 6 optical mini to toslink definitely imoroved things but I felt the DAC had much more to offer, hence the move to a computer front end.
Is the Chord worth the money? It is difficult to make comparisons when others are unavailable in a home environment. There are now many more DACs coming onto the market with good reviews. Chord have realised the 'computer' market exists by offering an asynchronous USB HD version of the QBD76 and an upgrade for £500 to existing owners.
I still feel that the Quad gives it's own imprint on the sound and the optical is not the best input into the DAC. Whatever DAC I had I think I would have replaced the CDP2 even though it was fairly new. Computer audio also gives much more opportunity to tweak the sound by using different software and bitrates which is also part of the hobby!

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Re: Getting the best out of MacBook Pro and Chord qbd76

Postby Goa Gil » Fri May 20, 2011 1:41 am

Hi Bruckner

Thanks for the reply and the info.
I think the Quad is letting me down a bit. Cant stretch to the Chord just yet but will research the software you mentioned.
Do you feel optical gives better results than coaxial?
I would be good to get an idea of the difference with the added P1.

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Re: Getting the best out of MacBook Pro and Chord qbd76

Postby bruckner » Sat May 21, 2011 11:05 am

Hi Goa Gil. The different outputs are confusing but the basic plastic or glass fibre 'optical' out from the MacBook seems to give a less detailed sound than the USB output. My SonicWeld converter is really designed for DACs that do not have a USB input. Although the Chord does have such an input it isn't its strong point-the AES/EBU input appears to be better.
My converter takes a USB input and converts a BNC output into an AES/EBU input!
The cable I use does seem to make a difference (a Locus Design Core from USA). It has BNC at one end and AES at the other. Both I think are technically 'optical'.
Of course the new version of the QBD76 has an improved 'asynchronous' USB input so if I was starting again I would use this without a converter. It is only in the past year or two such DACs have made an appearance and many such as the Musical Fidelity V DAC are very well reviewed and very cheap. My cable alone was £700!
Computer audio does allow for many more options and mistakes than a plug and play CDP.
I hope my second P1 will give more detail, a tighter bass and perhaps a more refined top end.Some on the forum and indeed Rick claim this and ATC are on record on the Web saying as much. BUT you never know. Will report back week after next.

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Re: Getting the best out of MacBook Pro and Chord qbd76

Postby bruckner » Wed Nov 30, 2011 5:03 pm

Browsing the forum and realised that I never gave a follow up to this post. My second ATC P1 arrived in the summer and other than this my system has stayed the same.
The new amp seemed to take a long time to burn in and match the other components.The system could sound rather bright and edgy. Now however, as others have said, my SCM 19s are really singing! Better soundstage with much more bass control and a clear, refined top end. I know that many have gone active from this point but I will 'stick' with this!
I really do think that computers are the future for quality reproduction. I have ripped most of my collection to an external HDD and use the MacBook pro as a dedicated music player via Pure Music which in its latest version gives great sounds in 'integer' mode. Not storing music on the Mac's HDD seems to improve sound quality.
I have tried various free and charged software players but have settled on Pure Music. Having also used upsampling I have stayed with original CD quality with the QBD76 filters on maximum and Positive phase selected. My system is not 'asynchronous' but sounds great! Ditch those CD players and get a MacBook pro.

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Re: Getting the best out of MacBook Pro and Chord qbd76

Postby MattSPL » Thu Dec 01, 2011 12:42 pm

Sounds good bruckner :)

The ATC's really seem to shine when given the right amplification.

Cheers
Matt
Sony BDP-S790 > Matrix Quattro Dac > Digidesign RM2's with SB Acoustics drivers > DIY Dayton Audio UM18-22 Sub

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