Mac Mini USB audio out to DirectStream DAC


#1

I’ve been using JRiver MC on my Mac Mini to play CD rips and hi res downloads to the PS Audio DSD, and it has worked fine.

But now I’m trying to get audio output from other applications on my Mac Mini to default to the USB port and DSD, so I can stream Tidal from a browser (Safari or Firefox) to the DSD. This has not worked yet and I’m a bit stumped.

I’ve previously created an Aggregate Device in the Audio MIDI Setup utility. It has “PS Audio USB” listed along with Airplay, and Built-in Input/Output. Normally I only check “use” for the USB DAC and Airplay. This is working fine in JRiver Media Center - though I had to create a “zone” in it to direct output to the external DAC.

However, I have not been able to get ANY other sound to play to the USB DAC. iTunes and browser sounds will only output to the built-in speakers (and maybe Airplay though I haven’t really checked and don’t care for this usage) if I check the Built-In Output. I’ve tried adding in the DAC as its own device in Audio MIDI but the Sound system preferences won’t even allow it to be chosen as the default audio advice.

Any suggestions on what I am missing?


#2

Hello!

Please make screenshots of your settings pages "Audio MIDI" and "Audio" in systems settings.


#3

Two suggestions to try:

  1. Download and use the Tidal app instead of the browser interface. In the app settings you can select the DAC USB output directly.

  2. If you don’t want to do that, JRiver has the ability to capture any audio stream and play it through JRiver. On the PC is is called Live, I believe. I haven’t done it on a Mac, so I don’t know if it is called the same but there should be a way to do it.


#4

I used to use Tidal’s browser with my mac mini without any issue, although i sometimes would have to go to settings and select the DS as the sound output. If you go to settings and don’t see the DS, reboot the mac mini and look again. In some cases unplugging the usb cord and plugging it back it will get the mac mini to recognize the DS. Audirvana and now Roon are much better at selecting DS for an output and maintaining it on a mac mini (Roon will give you access to Tidal as well as your local files).

I have to say that after experimenting with Roon for a little while now especially with the DSD support it sounds better to me than Audirvana. I’m not going back to JRiver or Audirvana at this point (or a Tidal browser or app)


#5

Here are screenshots of the Sound and Audio Midi settings:

https://flic.kr/p/uWM7tt

https://flic.kr/p/tZLh5o

ksalno, what Tidal app? I don’t see a Tidal app in the Mac App Store. I have the app on my iPhone but I don’t see how any way for it to connect to the DSD.


#6

Tidal for IOS: TIDAL av TIDAL Music AS
https://appsto.re/no/RRAE2.i

Tidal for misc platforms: Misc Downloads


#7

AcidTest, the PS Audio USB output is visible in your screenshot as the last choice. That’s what you need to select and you’ll be able to play Tidal from the browser (or the app for that matter) to it…


#8
patentpending said AcidTest, the PS Audio USB output is visible in your screenshot as the last choice. That's what you need to select and you'll be able to play Tidal from the browser (or the app for that matter) to it...
I've tried that many times - every time I select that in Sound, it will not stay selected. After a few seconds, it just flips right back to the Aggregate Device selection. Never get sound even momentarily when choosing the PS Audio USB there. I've tried adding/removing devices, both standalone and as part of the aggregate, and I can NOT get the PS Audio direct to ever give me sound output. I tried in Audio Midi to right click the PS Audio and select "Use this device for sound output" but it never changes and won't select it.

I’ve also tried completely deleting both the Aggregate Device & Multi-Output Device listed there in the Audio Midi utility. Still can’t get it to use the PS Audio USB output.


#9
Frode said Tidal for IOS: TIDAL av TIDAL Music AS https://appsto.re/no/RRAE2.i

Tidal for misc platforms: Misc Downloads


Not sure what you’re suggesting.

I have the IOS app on my iPhone & iPad. Is there a way to mirror sound to the Mac Mini, similar to mirroring to an AppleTV? AirPlay doesn’t give me an option to choose the Mac Mini. Looking around, the only option I can see is a $15 app called Reflector that would need to be installed on the Mac.


#10
AcidTest said
Frode said Tidal for IOS: TIDAL av TIDAL Music AS https://appsto.re/no/RRAE2.i

Tidal for misc platforms: Misc Downloads

Not sure what you’re suggesting.

I have the IOS app on my iPhone & iPad. Is there a way to mirror sound to the Mac Mini, similar to mirroring to an AppleTV? AirPlay doesn’t give me an option to choose the Mac Mini. Looking around, the only option I can see is a $15 app called Reflector that would need to be installed on the Mac.


Check the post above my message:

‘ksalno, what Tidal app? I don’t see a Tidal app in the Mac App Store’


#11

There are many Mac applications that are not sold on the Mac App Store. This apparently includes the Tidal app, to which Frode provided a link.


#12
Frode said
AcidTest said
Frode said Tidal for IOS: TIDAL av TIDAL Music AS https://appsto.re/no/RRAE2.i

Tidal for misc platforms: Misc Downloads

Not sure what you’re suggesting.

I have the IOS app on my iPhone & iPad. Is there a way to mirror sound to the Mac Mini, similar to mirroring to an AppleTV? AirPlay doesn’t give me an option to choose the Mac Mini. Looking around, the only option I can see is a $15 app called Reflector that would need to be installed on the Mac.

Check the post above my message:

'ksalno, what Tidal app? I don’t see a Tidal app in the Mac App Store’


As I said, I’ve got the Tidal app on my iPhone / iPad already. Ksalno’s post said “In the app settings you can select the DAC USB output directly.” That implies to me that it is running on the Mac which is what has the USB out. I looked around on the IOS app and don’t see anything that would allow me to output in some way to the Mac USB output. It would have to stream to the Mac - I’ve done some searching on that and it looks like an app like Reflector would be required for that.

If there is some way in the app to stream directly to the Mac Mini USB out, please be specific because I don’t see anything remotely like that available.


#13
stevem2 said There are many Mac applications that are not sold on the Mac App Store. This apparently includes the Tidal app, to which Frode provided a link.
From the link, both directly and when I open in iTunes:

“This app is designed for both iPhone and iPad”

Tried to get it, and it just says downloaded.

I am totally confused here because it seems like people are stating something that’s “obvious” but sure isn’t to me.


#14

@acidtest

Please go to this link and download the MacOS version of the Tidal player app to your Mac mini.

Tidal Downloads

Karl


#15
AcidTest said
patentpending said AcidTest, the PS Audio USB output is visible in your screenshot as the last choice. That's what you need to select and you'll be able to play Tidal from the browser (or the app for that matter) to it...

I’ve tried that many times - every time I select that in Sound, it will not stay selected. After a few seconds, it just flips right back to the Aggregate Device selection. Never get sound even momentarily when choosing the PS Audio USB there. I’ve tried adding/removing devices, both standalone and as part of the aggregate, and I can NOT get the PS Audio direct to ever give me sound output. I tried in Audio Midi to right click the PS Audio and select “Use this device for sound output” but it never changes and won’t select it.

I’ve also tried completely deleting both the Aggregate Device & Multi-Output Device listed there in the Audio Midi utility. Still can’t get it to use the PS Audio USB output.


This sounds like it’s an issue with your Mac Mini. It should stay selected-you absolutely have to select that choice if you want to play to the DirectStream over USB. Do you happen to know what version of OSX you’re using? I’d suggest installing the latest Yosemite version if you haven’t already (the OS upgrades are free at no cost)

#16
ksalno said @acidtest

Please go to this link and download the MacOS version of the Tidal player app to your Mac mini.

Tidal Downloads

Karl


THANK YOU, Karl. That was what I needed! Should have thought to look for a download section at Tidal’s website. I was able to select and use the DSD in the Settings menu there.
patentpending said

This sounds like it’s an issue with your Mac Mini. It should stay selected-you absolutely have to select that choice if you want to play to the DirectStream over USB. Do you happen to know what version of OSX you’re using? I’d suggest installing the latest Yosemite version if you haven’t already (the OS upgrades are free at no cost)


Yosemite. Yeah, that’s something I usually try to do - all updates pretty much applied when I see them, though I wait a bit on major version OS upgrades to let any initial bugs get updated. Is there anything like a turn on sequence I need to try, like powering up the DSD, rebooting the Mini so that it can “see” the DSD when it starts up?

#17

@acidtest Glad that worked. As far as JRiver is concerned, I don’t have any experience using Aggregate Devices on the Mac. But with my Macbook, selecting the PS Audio USB choice works every time, with no special power up sequence or anything. So I suggest deleting the Aggregate Device for now and see if you can get the vanilla USB selection working out of JRiver first.


#18

I deleted everything I could from Audio Midi, actually. Both the Aggregate Device & Multi-Output Device are gone, leaving only things it doesn’t even give me the option of deleting - the Built-In Input & Output, plus the PS Audio USB. Have not been able to choose “Use this device for sound output” for the PS Audio - it just won’t select it. The little speaker icon remains on the Built-In Output line.

DOH.

While writing this reply, I tried it one more time. IT WORKED. I have no idea why. I did go to “Configure Speakers” in Audio Midi - which I have also done several times before - but now it actually switches the speaker icon to indicate it’s using the PS Audio DSD.

Appreciate the help, all. Even if I’m still mystified why it’s actually working now and not before, lol!

PS. This was worth it if for nothing else than getting the pointer to the Tidal app, which lets me choose lossless quality where the browser version I was using before wouldn’t.


#19

I’m not a Mac expert but I do have a couple of Mac mini’s that I use to stream to various DACs. IIRC you don’t need to and, in fact, don’t want to select the PS Audio USB in the Audio Midi to receive sound output. As long as the PS Audio USB is showing in Audio Midi as an output and it is configured to its maximum sample rate, JRiver should be able to select it as an output, regardless of which output Audio Midi is configured for. If you select the PS Audio USB for sound output in Audio Midi, you will get all system alerts and other noises overlaid into your music. I always leave the internal output selected in Audio Midi to avoid that.


#20

Hmmm, it did not keep the PS Audio USB selected after all. It did switch the speaker icon yesterday, which I had never been able to get it to do before, but at some point after last night it reverted back to the Built-In Output. It’s less of an issue now that I have the Tidal app which allows directly selecting the PS Audio USB for output but there are times when I want to be able to output from a browser for YouTube or something. That did work briefly yesterday and now I can’t get it to select the DSD again. The speaker config screen has everything grayed out so it seems to not really recognize the DSD.

There is also a separate selection for “Play alerts and sound effects through this device” so I don’t think system sounds etc. would necessarily play via the DSD unless that is selected. But of course right now I can’t tell!