Connecting MacBook Air to ND5 XS2

Hi there

Title says it all really - but I’m looking for suggestions to physically connect my MacBook Air to my streamer to exploit the streamer’s DAC
Problem being that the MacBook has only USB A (or headphone) out and streamer doesn’t have USB B in

Roon is too expensive and don’t really want to buy another DAC as I already have one!! Also don’t want to go the NAS route as I want to stream not store


Does the Air have a dual purpose headphone/optical out? If so, stick a Toslink cable into it, and you’re done.
There are alternatives such as using a USB to SPDIF converter, or a network connection with AirPlay or Chromecast.

Can you connect via Airplay?

Otherwise, if it’s like the MacBook Pro, then like Chris explains above, the Headphone out may well have an s/pdif output integrated within. You would just need an optical TOSLINK cable with a 3.5mm optical adaptor at the MacBook end. I recently bought one of these to connect the digital audio output of an old Airport express to my office Unitiqute (thus giving it Airplay capability) and it works great and cost less than a fiver.

Thanks both

It’s an early 2014 so I don’t think it has the dual headphone out - but I can’t find out for sure

I can airplay but that’s limited to 16/44 and I’m trying to explore MQA on a budget!

Don’t wanna start an MQA debate tho!!

Apple were certainly using combined headphone optical outputs on many products in 2014, so yours may well have it.

Just checked on a website and no MacBook Air has an optical out unfortunately
Very frustrating…
I might have to begrudgingly look at a Hugo!

A USB to SPDIF converter might be a cheaper option. Then again, a lot of people use a Hugo from the output of a Naim streamer, so you might like it.

Thanks - will look into it

@Richard.Dane - do you think the native Qobuz firmware will get me around this isssue?

What I mean is will I be able to stream high res with their studio subscription without the need to decode / render as MQA needs?

Dene, as someone who can’t use internet streaming services at home, I’m probably not the best person to answer your question, but certainly Qobuz will offer the option of Hi resolution streaming in FLAC format, which your Naim streamer should be able to decode. Do ensure though that your own infrastructure and home network is up to the task (unlike mine, which is very unreliable thanks to ancient infrastructure).

Great thanks Richard - just had fibre to the premises fitted so running 150mbps download speeds - more than enough I think

But as far as functionality is concerned you think the ND5 XS2 should handle it?

Shame you’re running ancient infra - I will always prefer the tactile and sonic values of vinyl but the convenience of streaming is just fantastic and for discovering new things

Thanks again

I do love vinyl, and with so many LPs to play, I’m hardly roughing it, but I would really love to have fast and stable internet. I’ve given up moaning to BT. We discovered they can (eventually) fix it (or ta least improve it) after months of calls and heartache, but then it quickly deteriorates again. They’re putting fibre in up the road in a couple of months. Sounds great until i realised that the last half mile across the fields will still be our old crumbling aluminium cables with rusting junction boxes joining it all together - I guess they feel it’s not worth it as we usually lose the cables after every storm due to running power and phone along the edge of a wood - it just takes one branch to fall. We’ll probably lose power and phone again tomorrow, in which case I’ll be moderating the forum on a mix of 3g and maybe sometimes glimpses of 4g…

Yeah the infra is only as good as the weakest link I guess

And definitely good luck for tonight / tomorrow then… Fingers crossed!!

When Qobuz integration arrives, yes, you will be able to use it in CD quality or hires on the ND5XS2.

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Perfect - thanks @ChrisSU

The ND5 XS 2 supports Airplay and Chromecast. Thus, in your MacBook, you should be able to select the ND5 XS 2 (instead of the internal speakers) as an audio output.

If you want to connect the MacBook to the ND5 XS 2 via S/PDIF, you need a USB to S/PDIF bridge because, as you have realized, the MacBook has no S/PDIF output.

The Shiit Eitr is an inexpensive USB to S/PDIF bridge that works fine for me. A Meridian Explorer works also fine. It has an headphone output and both electrical and optical S/PDIF outputs. There is plenty of alternatives in the same price range.

Thanks for the suggestions @nbpf - I’ll do some further investigating!

You must live in a similar location as I do in the UK! (Cotswolds). But thankfully, Fibre (non BT) is only a few weeks away. (As they’ve been saying for the past 8 years…)

Any thoughts on degradation of signal with a usb to spdif or are we talking minutiae?! I guess we are…

It is rather the other way round: a USB to SPDIF bridge (or, equivalently, the USB interface of a DAC with USB inputs) can provide isolation and, depending on the quality of the onboard clocks, improve the timing of the incoming stream, see for instance the InnuOS Phoenix USB to USB reclocker.

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