BACCH4Mac 3D Audio Playback System Follow-Up

Availability: Direct
What's Included: Theoretica’s BACCH-dSP software, BACCH-BM binaural microphone, RME’s Babyface Pro, Webcam
Price: $4,980.00 as reviewed
Website: www.theoretica.us

Short & Sweet
As promised, I am here to talk about 2 other variations on the BACCH4Mac theme; using the included RME Babyface as DAC, and going USB out of the BACCh4Mac-housing Mac into my DAC. Please consider the review proper recommended since I will not be re-hashing the BACCH story.

RME Babyface Pro as DAC

The RME Babyface Pro retails for $749 and is included in every BACCH4Mac package. It is included, not to mess with audiophiles, but rather it is required for the initial BACCH listener measurements (see review). Since you get one, and the RME can also function as an XLR-output USB DAC, I figured I'd let you know how well it works as such.

The short story is, as a DAC, it works pretty much as you'd expect a $749 12 x 12 USB Audio Interface with MIDI, 2 Mic Preamps, 2 x 1/4" Inputs, 2 Line Outputs, 2 Headphone Outs, and 8-channel ADAT I/O to perform. Which is to say, just fine. By just fine I mean there's clearly nothing wrong with the RME as DAC, it's just that it doesn't hold a candle to more expensive audiophile DACs. Especially as compared to my much more expensive totaldac.

Where the RME falls short of better DACs is in tonal saturation, image density, nuance, clarity, and most every other check-list item we tend to rattle off in an audiophile review of a DAC (I try not to rattle). It sounds relatively flat and kinda lifeless. The thing is, when listening to music as activity unto itself, these things matter and my guess is every potential BACCH4Mac buyer is going to want more from a DAC than the RME has to offer.

To put it another way, if you have around $5k to spend, I'd get the best DAC you can get and worry about BACCH4Mac down the road because the DAC is more important. I said this was going to be short & sweet and I meant it. OK, maybe not so sweet depending on your point of view but short we can all agree upon.

USB Out of Mac

Most us know you can get very good sound out a Mac and this common knowledge holds sway here (why wouldn't it?). The thing of it is, the sonic improvements BACCH4Mac make outweigh the perceived improvements one gets with dedicated servers...in my opinion & experience. If you own a DAC you love, I do, what I'm saying is BACCH4Mac will offer a greater improvement than whatever you decide to connect to that beloved DAC.

To clarify, if you own something like an original microRendu and you're thinking about an upgrade to something like a dCS Network Bridge, I am saying, based on experience with these exact components (I own both), is you will get a greater sound improvement by buying BACCH4Mac and using your Mac's USB output to feed your DAC. Note: the included RME Babyface Pro is only required for the measurements needed to create user profiles. Once accomplished, you don't need it in the signal chain for playback.

I say "improvement" because in this case it is the correct word to use since the BACCH software is correcting a real problem and to my ears that's all it's doing (see review).

Take Away

I hope I've made my BACCH4Mac position clear with this follow-up coupled with my review. What I would take away if I were you is that BACCH 3D is ground-breaking technology that works as advertised. In the world of audiophile cables, soundstage-improving micro-dots, cream-filled tweaks, high-rez, DSD, double DSD, quad DSD, USB noise eliminators, and all manner of things we spend our time, attention1, and money on, it is very refreshing to experience a product that is rooted in science that does its job of making our music that much more enjoyable to listen to.

I am not talking about a Quantum micro-dot-cream-filled incremental improvement, I am talking about a Wow-inducing improvement that continues to Wow after months of listening. Wow.

Next up I'll be reviewing the BACCH-SP adio.


1. The two most popular subjects on AudioStream (ever), if we consider the number of comments and views as our guiding metrics, have been Ethernet cables and MQA. This is a perfect example of how the internets foster excitement over the wrong things.

COMMENTS
stevebythebay's picture

Any idea if this solution will ever support the dCS Network Bridge and other Roon endpoints?

bgardineer4's picture

Since the BACCH-dSP application is running on a Mac, one can easily use the Mac’s ethernet connection, and either Roon Core or RoonBridge running on the same Mac, to IP-stream Roon audio through the network to BACCH-dSP. One can also use an external streamer to stream audio through the RME device to the BACCH-dSP via the SPDIF coax (RCA) or optical connection. Although we have not yet had the chance to acquire and test the dCS Network Bridge with BACCH4MAc. we cannot see any reason what it should not work.

Buddy Gardineer,
Development Engineer, Theoretica

stevebythebay's picture

My MacMini along with NAS and dCS Network Bridge all connect via a Cisco smart switch. The dCS is acting as the Roon end point and is connected via AES/EBU to the Berkeley Ref 2 DAC. The Roon Core and dCS are communicating via the Roon RAAT communications layer. I don't know where RAAT fits in the 7 layer ISO stack. I believe that IP is at the network / layer 3 while TCP is at layer 4 or Transport. I don't know where RAAT lives and if in fact this configuration will work. Guess I'll await testing by the Theoretica team as to whether this configuration works and works well.

bgardineer4's picture

A quick correction to my last post: The RME does NOT have a SPDIF coax (RCA) input, only a SPIDF optical input, so the dCS Network Bridge cannot be connected to it without a SPDIF coax to optical converter. Our BACCH-SP dio and adio processors (to be reviewed soon by Mr. Lavorgna) have SPDIF input on both coax RCA and optical, as well as USB input. The BACCH-SP Grand model, has SPDIF input on both coax RCA and optical, and USB input, as well as AES.EBU and even AES3id inputs. This is all shown on the features chart at https://www.theoretica.us/bacch-sp-comparison.html.

stevebythebay's picture

So, how many more "grand" do I pay for the Grand?

Michael Lavorgna's picture
...is included in this post.
stevebythebay's picture

If what I think this is about, all the RME does is help create the profile which the software uses on the Mac in conjunction with playback via Roon. So, unless I would plan to use the RME for something else, I need not worry about it's connection to the dCS or my DAC, right?

Michael Lavorgna's picture
...does not need to remain in the signal chain once the measurements are done so you can go USB out of the Mac directly into your DAC. At present, there's no way to "fit" the dCS Network Bridge, or any other Network Player, in between the Mac and the DAC.

I say "at present" because I'm hoping that Theoretica will come up with a 'network' solution for BACCH4Mac which would have the BACCH software appear as a "Network Device" in Roon (like HQPlayer) thus allowing the use of Network Players like the dCS, microRendu, etc.

Rune's picture

Forget the cable & boxes salad and build the BACCH filters into the Kii Audio Fours - or Ones or Twos...! Hook the Kii Audio Fours with built-in BACCH filters up to your Macmini, add Audirvana Plus and voila, you rendered the entire industry obsolete! Plus the Babyface Pro already looks like the Kii Control anyway.

Add another 2 or 3K to the Kii Threes price and its still the best audio system available at ANY price.

You know, just saying...or dreaming, lol.

insertusernamehere's picture

Given the fact that the THREEs are *software*driven, there is no reason that additional features could be added to the current speakers (e.g. new filters loaded into the speakers). Of course I doubt (but, honestly, couldn't say that I "know") that the THREEs/CONTROL would have the computational horsepower to create the filters but, once they were created on a different machine (Mac/PC), I don't see why they couldn't be uploaded into the Kii ecosystem and the extra boxes removed (though connecting a webcam could present a problem). Otherwise, an interesting idea....

peterj44's picture

Thanks for producing such a detailed review of this product. I have been interested in it for several years and I am glad that at last there is a review of it. I have ordered the product.

Jorgen Skadhauge's picture

could it be possible to have a bacchxiRendu?

DH's picture

You could sell a lot more of these in the audiophiile world with a Windows version, the number of Windows audio servers out there is vast.

seatrope's picture

As someone who has just purchased the BACCH4Mac package, I second DH’s sentiment. The MacOS hardware ecosystem is so restrictive that its nearly impossible to add a audiophile grade usb card or udiopgile grade Ethernet card. And I’m shopping on eBay for a 2012 Mac mini to run this package (remember, Mac mini’s have not been updated in 3 years, and the most recent ‘update’ was really a step backwards).

I would have been MUCH happier if BACCH4Mac ran on windows or Linux.

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