Mac Mini doesn't work with PS Audio DirectStream DAC

I have the latest Mac Mini M1 (2021) with 16GB RAM (this is an Apple custom-built Mac mini).

I have it connected to my PS Audio DirectStream DAC with a high-end Curious USB cable.

I’m running Audirvana Studio music management software on the Mac.

My problem is that the sound is all distorted: there is a crackling sound coming through (sounds as if it is short-circuiting) and the sound breaks up.

It’s really bad! So I cannot play downloaded digital music from the Mac Mini to the PS Audio DAC.

The problem is the same if I try to play music from Apple Music.

How can I solve this problem?

It’s a common fault on Macs for a while now, this may help:

How to Fix Crackly Audio and Other Mac Sound Problems (howtogeek.com)

Particularly the section titled: Fix Crackling or Garbled Sound By Killing Core Audio

Or “Static Problem” seection here:

How to Fix Audio Issues in MacOS | Digital Trends

Thank you for the suggestion.

I’ve tried everything. Still doesn’t work: still crackling and static noise coming through.

It would seem that the new Mac Mini M1 is not compatible with PS Audio DirectStream DAC, with the Sunlight update.

What a huge and costly disappointment!!

I had no issues with the Mac Mini and the Chord Mojo DAC: everything worked seamlessly.

USB is USB, it’s a standard. If it’s not working, it’s due to a bug that needs correcting, or there’s an issue with the port.

Which version of Audirvana are you on?

The Mac Mini also has a TOSLINK optical output. While it does not support high bitrate DSD formats (via DoP) it may get you listening while working on the problem.

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The Toslink works with Mini/DSD dac. I always had dependability issues when I used the usb option. I eventually gave up and now I am trying to figure out what streamer transport I want to buy.

Thanks for the responses. I’m a bit dismayed as I followed the views of Paul McGowan in using a Mac Mini as a digital source connected to the DirectStream DAC with a Curious usb cable. @jpg55, it is indeed not looking good, and I doubt whether I will be able to resolve the dependability issues. Not sure what more PS Audio can do? They have issued their last firmware update on the DAC, and it would seem to be a DAC problem, as my Chord Mojo did not give any problems connected by usb to the Mac Mini. PS Audio does not recommend the use of Toslink when connecting a computer directly to the DAC. I either have to regard the Mac Mini as a bad investment and write it off, or use it as a Roon Core.

It’s like with any computer, it’s not a fatal issue, it’s just something that needs to be corrected with troubleshooting. It shouldn’t be behaving that way, there’s something misconfigured.

I’m a bit dismayed you’d assume a Mac made today would necessarily be as compatible as the vintage of Mac Paul used that was likely decades old (/s)

Try the vintage of the Mac Mini he used and tested with and see if your problem persists. They are a few hundred bucks at most these days.

Good luck.

Thanks. I’ve emailed PS Audio on the matter, and I hope that it can be resolved; that it is just a matter of a misconfiguration that can be sorted out.

Ouch! And no fault/responsibility there?

How is one always to know how things will turn out? You do your best in getting what you can, recognizing expert recommendations and reviews. Perhaps I should have been more discerning, as you suggest. But just to say that the Chord Mojo worked fine on the Mac Mini’s usb.

Yes, Apple added Ram.

David,
The issue isn’t just with PS gear. I originally used a Schiit Gungnir dac connected via usb and had the same dependability issue. Sometime it worked, other times it didn’t.
I gave up and have been using an optical cable.

Thank you @jpg55. May I ask what Toslink cable you use, or can you recommend a Toslink cable, and how does it sound on the PS Audio? Thanks again.

Hardly what we’d call “custom-built”.

Sorry, I was being facetious. The /s is internet shorthand for sarcasm.

The state of compatibility in audio is a huge PITA though, so I emphatize.

I hope PS Audio can help you get to the bottom of it.

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That’s how Apple in South Africa referred to it on the order. Forgive me for want of a better term!

Thank you.

Well, in that case, every one of the 4 Macs that have owned have been Custom-built. Well, I never!