A Digital Savior?

As I might have mentioned, I have a not-quite decrepit 2003 Apple Power Mac G5. It’s a big, aluminum beast. I’ve got the OS running off a small 30GB SSD drive and everything of interest is on the external 2TB drives. There’s 8GB of RAM and I run Amarra Mini 2.0 driving iTunes when tossing around my digital music.

The problem is the “Power Mac G5” part. Unfortunately, Apple stopped releasing operating systems for the G5 back in, what, 2008? Whatever. I’m limited to 10.5.8, the last release for the G5. While not necessarily a problem, by itself, the issue is the native Mac OS drivers for USB 2.0 do not support 24bit/192kHz sampling — until 10.6.4, with no hint of backward compatibility forthcoming. So, if I want to use this computer as a hi-res computer music server, I need to do something clever.

Specifically, I need to go with a vendor that uses a custom written drivers. There’s precious little to choose from here as everyone seems to be steaming ahead with the Apple-provided 10.6.4 drivers. Ayre and Wavelength are excellent cases-in-point.

The options, then, seem limited to:

  1. Weiss, which uses custom-written Firewire drivers. Their DAC202 has received no little amount of critical acclaim, but with the ever-weakening US dollar, this beauty is already pricey $6800 and likely to keep receding. They do have a more-than-half-priced DAC, the DAC2, which is also pretty nice.
  2. ARC, also using custom USB drivers. Their DAC8 is, apparently, a significant step up from the DAC7. It weighs in at $5000.
  3. M2Tech, using custom USB drivers. Their new Young DAC sports 32bit/384kHz sampling, and at $1300, looks like a steal.

Might need to check out the ARC DAC8. Or get my hands on a Weiss. Hmm. Decisions, decisions.

About Scot Hull 1029 Articles
Founder, Editor and Publisher at Part-Time Audiophile and The Occasional Magazine.