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Thread: iMac and Squeezebox

  1. #1
    Senior Member ralflar's Avatar
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    Default iMac and Squeezebox

    Last Saturday I bought the former and ordered the latter. It was an impulse buy after I had contemplated how to build an audio-friendly PC for over two years. You know, the kind that sounds and looks good in the living room, is silent, and works without keyboard/mouse or screen.

    The iMac/Squeezebox combo fits that bill extremely well. I had heard of the Squeezebox but never took it seriously, thinking of it as a toy. Then I saw related posts and signatures from e.g. sleepysurf, Craig, Joey, as well as references to Exact Audio Copy; then did some research in those directions.

    Thank you guys, you showed me the light!

    Once the sound quality and integration part was out of the way, all I needed was a PC that looks good in the living room, has Wi-Fi and is silent. iMac, et voila! Never had a Mac before - always wanted one since 1985 . And I how like it!

    Anyway, as far as the sound is concerned, I need a few more days to make up my mind about how much I like it and which parts I do not like so much. Wednesday, when the Squeezebox arrived, I had had a great day. That night I played FLACed Red Book CDs and enjoyed much improved three-dimensionality of the stage, at the price of somewhat smaller voice and instrument bodies. Treble resolution and bass punch and extension stood out, too. Yesternight I played the FLACed Red Book layers of choice SACDs, and lamented the loss of stage depth. Yesterday I did not feel so well. Coincidence?

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    Senior Member lugano's Avatar
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    Default Welcome !

    I officially welcome another MacUser to the Mac comunity Well done. You won't be disappointed.
    It's never too late to have a happy childhood
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  3. #3

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    Congrats on the new iMac !

    If the Squeezebox is giving you a bit different sound, it could be because the accuracy of the rip and playback is better than your other sources?
    Although one would expect an Arcan or a Denon to be pretty accurate.

    All I can say is that my Denon 2900, which I really like, does not sound quite as good as my PC based playback chain. Although I generaly attribute that to the fact that my PC based Chain is upsampling (to 88.2) and is all-digital into the processsor (vs your Squeezebox, which I assume you are using the Analog outs from).

    The real question is, which one do you think is more accurate?
    Jonathan

    System #45 (Monolith IIIx, Sequell IIb, SL3XC)

  4. #4

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    Here's my take on the state of streaming audio. The Squeezebox, as a standalone product using it's native DAC, earns a B+. Paired with a quality outboard DAC (Benchmark, Lavry, Audio Note, many others), it earns an A-. Early opinions of the Transporter are that it merits an A (some would argue A+). Like everything else, system synergy is the key. It wasn't until I upgraded my Aerius to Summits that I could appreciate the difference.

    Digital streaming is clearly here to stay, and the market is evolving. Check out the new Sooloos product (retailing for >$12k!)... http://www.sooloos.com/www/home.html

    I'm sure there will be SACD-like performance somewhere down the line.
    Last edited by sleepysurf; 10-28-2006 at 05:46 AM.
    Squeezebox Touch/Bel Canto DAC 3.5VB + Oppo BDP-95 > Conrad-Johnson CT5 preamp and Premier 350 amp > ML Summits. ML BalancedForce 210 sub. Audience Au24e I/C's, speaker cable.
    Click here to see my entire sytem. Member of the Suncoast Audiophile Society.

  5. #5
    Senior Member lugano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sleepysurf
    Digital streaming is clearly here to stay, and the market is evolving. Check out the new Sooloos product (retailing for >$12k!)... http://www.sooloos.com/www/home.html
    I say let's wait for Apple's iTV thing. You can daisychain your preferred Lacie Bigger disks to it for sure, and for a much lower price. If they're smart enough to add some chips and a coax output to it... they will transform the audio world once again.
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    Senior Member ralflar's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by lugano
    I officially welcome another MacUser to the Mac comunity Well done. You won't be disappointed.
    I'm not only not disappointed, I am thoroughly enjoying it . The hardware implements such thoughtful details like a magnetic cradle for the remote, auto-dimming status light, trim keyboard. It boots almost as fast as my Winbox takes to wake up from standby. The electronic help system is actually useful, and not recursive/self-referencing like Windoze's. It is nice to be back on Unix. If I ever buy a laptop for personal use, it is likely going to be a Mac. I wonder if the MacPro would support an NVidia 7950GT2...

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    Senior Member ralflar's Avatar
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    Jonathan,

    The Denon is very good value, and with CDs it does not give up too much to the Arcam. However, the Arcam is broken, and the iMac/Squeezebox is more accurate than the Denon. My impression is that the SB adds depth to the stage. There seem to be more layers in the depth dimension. Lateral resolution is better, too. The presentation is less polite, and has more impact. The Denon sounds rounder but less precise. I believe that the SB will also beat the Arcam when playing CDs. An external DAC is next on my list.

    My guess is, like yours, that the improved sound quality has a lot to do with the perfect bit extraction with EAC. On top of that a hard drive spins at 7200 rpm and has a read-ahead feature. No CD transport can match that. I also suspect that the SB's internal DAC is as least as good as the one in the Denon. The only other explanation would be that the $220 BEL P1 cable between the Denon and the pre-amp degrades the music more than the $35 Impact Acoustics cable between SB and pre-amp... (I do not believe in cable voodoo. Bought the BEL in a moment of weakness, out of curiosity.)

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    Senior Member lugano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ralflar
    I wonder if the MacPro would support an NVidia 7950GT2...
    Macs are for getting things done. Fast and safe. If you want to play games on a mac, well, you'd better reformulate your definition of a "personal computer". Macs are not gaming gear - only 40% of the available games are ported to macs. But we are not people buying integrated amps either... a top nVidia card is only useful for frame rendering. If your daily stimuli are based upon Unreal and similar, a Mac won't help much. But if computing for you means M$ Excel, surf the Net without getting 130'000 viruses, organizing your pictures and your songs and more on these lines, then .. a Mac is the way to go.

    My daily job is to make sure that 80 people using macs are productive. And I must confess that they are.
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    Senior Member ralflar's Avatar
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    You know, I am willing to go to Boot Camp.

    The Mac Pro is currently the best value work horse. On top of that it is silent and looks great. If it only ran games. I mostly like racing and adventure games with demanding graphics (and in case of adventures, good stories). Well, with BootCamp Macs can run Windoze natively. But only 3 graphics cards are officially supported, none of which fit my bill.

    Since you know OS X, perhaps you know the answer to a completely off-topic question: how do I enable a focus-follows-mouse policy?

  10. #10
    Senior Member lugano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ralflar
    how do I enable a focus-follows-mouse policy?
    You don't. Remember, macs are simple to use, and confusing the poor newbies is not a good idea. The mac philosophy is quite rigid about that - that's why you won't find the shut sown command under "start" , for example If you want to quickly go from a window to another, your best bet is exposé; while in the exposé feature, the policy you are asking about is effective. I am so used to it that I couldn't live without it, especially on the laptop's 15" screen. You can configure its activation under system preferences - dashboard and exposé.
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    Last edited by lugano; 10-28-2006 at 09:33 PM.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member Rich's Avatar
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    Default I'm an IMac Newbie, Too

    My father-in-law recently gave me an IMac for my birthday. (Did I marry well, or what?) I have been a PC/Windows person my whole adult life and there is a bit of a learning curve, but so far I am really happy with the switch. Mac hardware and software is just designed so much better.

    I don't expect that I will do the music streaming from my computer though, since I already have a dedicated music server that handles that task for me. But I can't imagine doing much better that the IMac/Squeezebox combination. Have fun with it.
    Rich

    This comment is intended solely for educational purposes and should not be construed as conveying any express or implied warranty of fitness for any other purpose. Said comment constitutes merely the humble opinion of its maker and does not reflect the views of the MLOC or of ML, Ltd. YMMV. Trust your own ears.

  12. #12
    Senior Member ralflar's Avatar
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    No focus-follows-mouse??! I have been using that policy since the days of SunOS 4. Even Winduhs supports it via registry tweaks. Click-to-focus is so inconvenient, Expose or not. There must be a way. I'll keep searching.

    Anyway, for a machine like my own iMac, which is used as an always-on music server, occasional internet surfer, and probably digital photo organizer of choice, click-to-focus works even for me.

    Thanks for the reminder about the Shutdown, Logout, and Eject Start menu options. It made me smile. Yeah, this is so illogical, they are all "stop all activities now". Having them grouped under a "Start" entry gave me good fuel for MS bashing for a long time. I guess I must have gotten used to it over the years.
    Quote Originally Posted by lugano
    You don't. Remember, macs are simple to use, and confusing the poor newbies is not a good idea. The mac philosophy is quite rigid about that - that's why you won't find the shut sown command under "start" , for example If you want to quickly go from a window to another, your best bet is exposé; while in the exposé feature, the policy you are asking about is effective. I am so used to it that I couldn't live without it, especially on the laptop's 15" screen. You can configure its activation under system preferences - dashboard and exposé.

  13. #13
    Senior Member ralflar's Avatar
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    Welcome, mate. I cannot believe there should be just three of us?
    Quote Originally Posted by Rich
    My father-in-law recently gave me an IMac for my birthday. (Did I marry well, or what?) I have been a PC/Windows person my whole adult life and there is a bit of a learning curve, but so far I am really happy with the switch. Mac hardware and software is just designed so much better.
    I reckon you did . I agree on the (much) better design; what a beautiful and user friendly machine this is.
    Quote Originally Posted by Rich
    I don't expect that I will do the music streaming from my computer though, since I already have a dedicated music server that handles that task for me. But I can't imagine doing much better that the IMac/Squeezebox combination. Have fun with it.
    Thanks. Now, as for the doing much better: an external DAC is sorely needed! .

  14. #14
    Senior Member lugano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ralflar
    No focus-follows-mouse??! I have been using that policy since the days of SunOS 4. Even Winduhs supports it via registry tweaks. Click-to-focus is so inconvenient, Expose or not. There must be a way. I'll keep searching.
    Ok ok, so you really want it

    then use this:

    http://www.atomicbird.com/mondomouse/
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  15. #15
    Senior Member ralflar's Avatar
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    Looks promising. Thanks!

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