MacBook Pro Output to NAD Amplifier: Need DAC?

(Robert E. Connors) #1

I have Roon Core installed on the latest MacBook Pro (core i9, max RAM). Next step is to output to my NAD amp in living room. I can do this through Apple TV, but would rather try a direct connection. Should I buy a DAC and connect to NAD amplifier, via USB connection to MacBook Pro? Or simply output via USB to HDMI input on NAD amplifier?

(Mike) #2

Apple have removed S/PDIF Optical Digital Audio Output on the new models, so your choice will depend on the NAD’s other inputs. USB is probably the best choice.

(Henry) #3

Which NAD amp is it?

(Robert E. Connors) #4

T 758. Home Theater

(Henry) #5

Hi,
To use direct you can connect via HDMI from the core if it has it. A NUC or Nucleus certainly has but I don’t know about your Mac.
Second option is a media converter that will take USB and deliver it as SPDIF optical or coaxial. Finally you can use a USB DAC into your analogue inputs.

(Robert E. Connors) #6

Henry: Thank you for your reply.

Yes, the latest MacBook Pro has 4 Thunderbolt/USB-C outs. With adapters, I can achieve HDMI out, and then HDMI into the NAD 757. However, I don’t know if this is the optimal solution. Most of my music files were ripped as 24 bit/192 files. Not sure if HDMI supports that high resolution, or whether USB is the only standard accepting that resolution.

I can also achieve USB out from MacBook Pro to a legacy NAD DAC 1050 that I own. I can then output NAD DAC 1050 to the NAD 758 with RCA connections. The NAD DAC 1050 supports incoming 24 bit/192 files.

To my knowledge, there is no optical out on the latest MacBook Pro, unless there is some sort of adapter to convert the available USB out. The NAD 758 has optical in.

I think I have it figured out…will experiment with best connections.

(Robert E. Connors) #7

Correction on above: I have a NAD 758 Home Theater amp. All references to NAD 757 should really be NAD 758.

(Rudi) #8

I’d try to keep the setup simple and go for HDMI first.

I have no problems feeding 24/192kHz PCM to my Onkyo AVR through HDMI (even multichannel). The HDMI input will probably not limit you in this regard.
As long as you don’t want to stream 24/352.8kHz PCM or DSD, you should be fine.

(Robert E. Connors) #9

Thanks, I have connected now to NAD 765 HDMI input, from MacBook Pro. My MacBook Pro has the core Roon components. Works nicely, and sends the audio and video to my NAD, and the video onto my TV. However, when I try to control the core remotely from my iMac, and choose HDMI output, only the audio plays. I can’t get the video display of information to show up on my TV. Only when I control from the MacBook Pro core can I get the HDMI video to show up on my TV.

(Robert E. Connors) #10

I should note that when I used to control the core from my remote iMac, and chose Apple TV, I could send both the audio and video to my NAD, and have the video show on my TV.

(Watts Martin) #11

For whatever it’s worth, I have a NAD T758 myself – and I have it on my wifi network, which you can do with the NAD’s included BluOS module. Once it’s on the network, Roon sees it (and identifies it as a Roon-Ready device, no less) and can send music to it wirelessly.

While I’ve thought about introducing an external DAC into the system, I’ve been hesitant to do so. Unless you put the T758 into “analog bypass” mode, input signals will be routed through its internal DAC anyway. And if you do put it in analog bypass mode, that disables any room correction you’ve done with Dirac Live, since that’s all dependent on the internal DAC.

(Robert E. Connors) #12

Martin: thanks for the reply. I actually have a NAD T 765, which is about 10 years old, and just had a major fan upgrade. It has a Brown-Burr internal DAC capable of decoding up to 24 bit, 192Khz. Unfortunately, I can’t add BluOS to it, despite the previous claim that it was upgradeable and would not become obsolete. I also don’t have DIRAC Live…my NAD t 765 came out about 10 years ago. So at present I am running an HDMI cable from my new MacBook Pro to the HDMI input on the NAD. I am not sure how to maximize the audio preferences. When I switch to HDMI output on the NAD, Roon does show that output as a core output “display adapter”. I don’t know if I should set that as a device in the available NAD options, or just leave the device unnamed. For example, I could set the core output as one of the NAD choices…like the NAD 758 or NAD 777 (?). I have also experimented with the “exclusive mode” option to supposedly optimize sound quality…and this also apparently must be checked to play back any MQA recordings. I am having problems with distortion on MQA playback on many Tidal MQA streams through Roon…not sure how to solve…I think it is tied to volume leveling or some other DSP that Roon is applying by virtue of setting the HDMI output as a NAD device. As a result, I’m adding 16 bit 2 channel FLAC files vice the MQA version if available…as I have no issue then. It is fun experimenting, but I seem to be at a dead end in some respects…as such, I’m thinking of getting the new NAD M10.

(Robert E. Connors) #13

Followup: NAD T 765 is not an option as a device in Roon, presumably because it is not MQA or Roon ready.

(Robert E. Connors) #14

Correction: I have NAD T 765.

(Tudup Ka) #15

I have the NAD T747 which I bought a long time ago because of its internal DAC. Used the internal DAC for a long time until one day I bought a little Mojo from Chord for headphones and made a ‘mistake’ trying connecting it to my NAD just to see if I can hear the difference. I do always use it in Stereo Audio Bypass mode since. Well, now I have a Chord Qutest going into the same NAD. As long as T747 works have no reason to upgrade, but upgraded an external DAC three times after figuring out that external DAC does make a difference.