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Pretty new to all this stuff but was wondering what impact this will have with Apple Lossless files on a 2013 Macbook Air with AKG Q701s. I have tried a couple of lower end amp/dac combos and can't notice a difference at all. Is the Macbook DAC good enough for the AKGs or will this be a much better improvement?
We demonstrate at audiophile shows that the difference is quite big if you plug the headphones into the computer's headphone jack and then immediately into DACport. People agree. Soundstage opens up, clarity improves considerably, instruments come forward, which were not apparent before. Yes, there is a big improvement and it's all the result of using a higher quality DAC chip, which is found in the world's most expensive studio mixing consoles, a powerful Class-A amplifier with lowest distortion and a bipolar power supply that further improves circuit performance. None of these things are available in a laptop (Mac or PC) since they would add too much cost to the computer, pricing it out of range with similar models.
If you look at that table of measurements, you see that noise and distortion specs of DACport are significantly better than that of the MacBook listed, but most importantly, the jitter spec is totally absent. And this is a crucial parameter that is totally ignored in the mainstream press. DACport offers non-fatiguing, analog-like sound because of its extra low-jitter circuitry we call JitterGuard. Listen to DACport for an extended time and your ears get adjusted to the comfort. Go back to the headphone jack on the laptop and you will hear a certain amount of graininess, which is what jitter is all about. It's digital distortion, which we completely eliminate. In the end result, DACport makes it to the cover of Stereophile and MacBook Pro doesn't ;)
Will there be any difference for ATH-M50s? Will it improve the soundstage for them?
Yes, it will. While these headphones are not exactly "audiophile" and probably more "pro", I have them and like them. They would also benefit from an awesome DAC such as the DACport. Generally speaking, the weak link in digital audio is first and foremost the DAC, not the headphones as much, although they also make a difference.