Apple Setup :

Introduction

For an Apple computer we recommend using iTunes as your music player. Not only does this software package come pre-installed with new Apple computers, but it is easy to set up and use, the ripping capabilities are excellent, and the program works exceptionally well with other Apple products such as iPods.

Warning! The security of the Apple iTunes store has been compromised many times. Currently, Chinese hackers are openly selling account information online, including passwords and even credit card information. To add insult to injury, the iTunes store does not sell any full resolution audio downloads, but only low-resolution compressed files. You may want to think twice before opening an iTunes account. Thousands of customers have lost millions of dollars to hackers and Apple remains unresponsive to complaints.

Computer Setup

Setting up your Mac to get the best sound from iTunes is quite simple. Here are the steps:

1. Click on the “System Preferences” app on your Dock.


Then in the second row, “Hardware”, click on the “Sound” icon.


First choose the “Sound Effects” tab, which controls the various sounds your other programs make (such as the “e-mail notification” sound). Select “Play alerts and sound effects through: Internal Speakers” so that these sounds are not routed through your stereo system.


Then click on the “Output” tab and select the Ayre USB D/A converter. This will route the sound from iTunes through your stereo system.


2. On the Dock select the “Finder” app.


Select “Places - Applications”, scroll down the list and click on the “Utilities” folder.


Find the “Audio MIDI Setup.app”.


If you are only playing CDs and MP3 files, you can just run this application once. But if you have a mix of standard-resolution and high-resolution audio files with various sample rates, you will need to change the settings more frequently. Simply drag the “Audio MIDI Setup.app” down to your Dock and it always be handy.


3. Open the “Audio Midi Setup” application and select “Audio Devices”.


For the “Default Output”, select the Ayre USB D/A converter and this will send the sounds from iTunes to your stereo system.

For the “System Output” choose the “Built-In Output” and this will send system sounds such as a “New Mail Alert” to the built-in system speakers.

There is a drop-down list called “Properties For:”. Select the Ayre USB D/A converter and choose the appropriate sample rate in the “Audio Output” section. Normally this will be “44100.0 Hz” for playback of CD-sourced or MP3 music files.

If you select a sample rate that is different than the sample rate of the music file itself, OS X will perform a sample-rate conversion, and the data sent to the Ayre USB D/A converter will not be bit-perfect. Be sure to set the “Audio Output - Format:” setting to the native sample rate of the music file that you wish to play. You must exit iTunes first for the sample rate change to take effect. Then restart iTunes and play the desired music file.

4. Launch iTunes from the Dock.


Choose “Preferences - General” from the iTunes menu.


Click the “Import Settings...” button.

Be sure to check the box “Use error correction when reading Audio CDs”. This is very important to ensure that the data transferred from your CD collection is accurate.

You will need to select a music file storage format from the drop-down list at “Import Using:”.

If you have plenty of hard drive space, choose “AIFF Encoder”, which stores the uncompressed audio data from your CD plus tags (“Artist”, “Album”, “Song”, et cetera) that are obtained from an internet database.

If your hard drive space is limited choose “Apple Lossless”, which will reduce the size of your music files by about 40%.


Then click on the “Playback” tab and make sure that the checkboxes for “Sound Enhancer:” and “Sound Check” are cleared. This will ensure that the data sent to your Ayre USB D/A converter is not altered in any way that might degrade the sound quality.


5.That's it! Now you are ready to enjoy high-performance music playback from your computer.

iTunes only has three foibles, and these are relatively minor for most users.

a) When playing high-resolution audio files, the playback sample rate of iTunes must be changed manually if you want bit-perfect output to your DAC. If you are playing a lot of high-resolution audio files you will definitely want to drag the “Audio MIDI Setup” application to your dock so that it is always handy. But there is a way to simplify this task even more with a script available from ComputerAudiophile.com.

b) There is no native support for the FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Compression) file format. This format is commonly used when downloading high resolution (greater than CD) music files. The solution is to use an external program to convert the FLAC files to a format that iTunes recognizes. Convert the FLAC music files to either the AIFF or ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec) format, whichever format you have selected to use on your computer. Both formats will retain any tags present in the downloaded FLAC audio file. A great (free!) utility for this purpose is Max available from sbooth.org.

c) There is only limited tagging support for classical music. Although iTunes includes a “Composer” tag, it does not allow additional user-defined tags that are useful for organizing classical music.

Other music player software choices for Apple's OS X are somewhat limited. A promising program that is not quite ready for most user's needs is Songbird, although it is an open-source effort (similar to Firefox) that is quickly gaining new features.

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