Best Mac External Optical Drive 2017

Despite the lack of built-in optical drive, there are workarounds available, among which the USB external DVD drive for Mac maybe the easiest. In this article, we'll introduce the best USB external CD/DVD drives for MacBook, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iMac, iMac Pro, Mac Pro, and Mac mini. If you want to make use of your Mac's Thunderbolt port, then this is the best external hard drive for Macs. It provides twice the speeds of standard USB 3.0 drives. USB 3.0 Slim SATA Optical Drive Enclosure (For 9.5mm, Tray Type Optical Drive) Introducing the NexStar USB 3.0 Slim SATA Optical Drive Enclosure; a thin optical drive enclosure designed to be compact and light to complement your Ultra slim Laptop or Mac Air. This enclosure will convert your slim 9.5mm height Tray Type Blu-Ray or DVD RW drive into a USB 3.0 Slim External Optical drive. This durable external hard drive is a good option for Mac users who prioritize fast transfer speeds. Boasts extremely fast data transfer speeds. Features a compact and lightweight design. Comes with a carabiner hole. Shock-, water-, and dust-resistant. Available in 250GB, 500GB, and 1 and 2TB sizes.

Cylinder Mac Pro FAQ (Late 2013) @ EveryMac.com

Also see: Mac Pro Specs All Mac Q&As

EveryMac.com's Cylinder Mac Pro Q&A answers questions about all 'Late 2013' glossy dark gray/black Mac Pro models. These systems use a compact cylinder case design with no optical drive bays and limited internal expansion but a multitude of external ports. At the moment, these models can be collectively identified by external design as well as model number A1481 and EMC number 2630.

Questions range from 'What are all the differences between the 'Late 2013' Cylinder Mac Pro models and the 'Mid-2012' Tower Mac Pro models that they replaced?' to 'How do you upgrade the storage in the Cylinder Mac Pro models? How many drives of what type are supported?' and everything in between.

Please note that Cylinder Mac Pro models all have been discontinued.

Earlier silver aluminum tower Macs with two optical drive bays also are Mac Pro models. These earlier tower Mac Pro models with two optical drive bays are model numbers A1186 and A1289. EveryMac.com covers these earlier models in the Tower Mac Pro (Dual Optical Drives, 2006-2013) Q&A.


Later silver aluminum tower Macs without an optical drive bay are Mac Pro models, as well. These later tower Mac Pro models without an optical drive bay are model numbers A1991 and A2304. EveryMac.com covers these later models in the Tower Mac Pro (No Optical Drive, 2019+ Q&A).


Systems with one optical drive bay are even older Power Mac G5 models.

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Most Frequently Asked Cylinder Mac Pro Q&As:

How do you upgrade the storage in the Gray Cylinder Mac Pro models? How many drives of what type are supported?

How fast are the 'Late 2013' Gray Cylinder Mac Pro models compared to one another? How fast are these Mac Pro models compared to the Silver Tower 'Mid-2012' models replaced? How fast are they compared to the iMac?

How do you upgrade the RAM in the Gray Cylinder Mac Pro models? How much RAM do they actually support?

What are all the differences between the 'Late 2013' Gray Cylinder Mac Pro models and the 'Mid-2012' Silver Tower Mac Pro models that they replaced?

What external optical drive options are available for the Gray Cylinder Mac Pro models?

How do you upgrade the processor in the Gray Cylinder Mac Pro models? How is the processor mounted? Which aftermarket processors are compatible?

What are the differences between the standard 'Late 2013' Mac Pro models? What are the differences between the standard and custom configurations of the 'Late 2013' Mac Pro line?

What are the 'pros and cons' of the Gray Cylinder Mac Pro? Is it right for my needs?

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What Thunderbolt 2 external expansion chassis are available for the Gray Cylinder Mac Pro models?

What are the default graphics cards provided with the Gray Cylinder Mac Pro? What graphics card options are available? How do you upgrade the graphics card(s)? Do these models use standard PC graphics cards?

Software Compatibility Q&As:

What version of the OS X is pre-installed on the Cylinder Mac Pro models? What is the maximum version of OS X supported? Is it possible to run earlier versions of OS X?

Can the Cylinder Mac Pro run OS X applications written for 32-Bit Intel Macs, PowerPC-based Macs, or Mac OS 9?

How do you restore the operating system on the Cylinder Mac Pro models?

Can the Cylinder Mac Pro run Windows or Linux?

Comparison & Performance Q&As:

What are the differences between the standard 'Late 2013' Mac Pro models? What are the differences between the standard and custom configurations of the 'Late 2013' Mac Pro line?

What are all the differences between the 'Late 2013' Gray Cylinder Mac Pro models and the 'Mid-2012' Silver Tower Mac Pro models that they replaced?

How fast are the 'Late 2013' Gray Cylinder Mac Pro models compared to one another? How fast are these Mac Pro models compared to the Silver Tower 'Mid-2012' models replaced?

Expansion & Upgrade Q&As:

How do you upgrade the processor in the Gray Cylinder Mac Pro models? How is the processor mounted? Which aftermarket processors are compatible?

How do you upgrade the RAM in the Gray Cylinder Mac Pro models? How much RAM do they actually support?

How do you upgrade the storage in the Gray Cylinder Mac Pro models? How many drives of what type are supported?

What external optical drive options are available for the Gray Cylinder Mac Pro models?

What are the default graphics cards provided with the Gray Cylinder Mac Pro? What graphics card options are available? How do you upgrade the graphics card(s)? Do these models use standard PC graphics cards?

How many PCIe slots of what type are provided by the Gray Cylinder Mac Pro models?

What Thunderbolt 2 external expansion chassis are available for the Gray Cylinder Mac Pro models?

What Ethernet, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities are provided by the Gray Cylinder Mac Pro models?

Graphics & Video Q&As:

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What are the default graphics cards provided with the Gray Cylinder Mac Pro? What graphics card options are available? How do you upgrade the graphics card(s)? Do these models use standard PC graphics cards?

What is the maximum resolution supported by the default configuration of the Gray Cylinder Mac Pro? How many displays can it support with the default graphics card?

Best Mac External Optical Drive 2017

How many PCIe slots of what type are provided by the Gray Cylinder Mac Pro models?

Design, Configuration & Purchasing Q&As:

Who designed the Gray Cylinder Mac Pro?

Where can I buy a Gray Cylinder Mac Pro?

Does the Gray Cylinder Mac Pro include a keyboard and mouse?

What is the best way to pick up a Gray Cylinder Mac Pro? Is it okay to use it on its side?

Is there a stand available for the Gray Cylinder Mac Pro? How can I ensure proper air flow with a stand?

How can you secure a Gray Cylinder Mac Pro? Does it have a security slot?

What are the 'pros and cons' of the Gray Cylinder Mac Pro? Is it right for my needs?



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If you own a Mac, you already have a high-resolution media file server at your disposal, with very little tweaking required to pass high-quality audio to your audio gear. I recently decided to set up my Mac in this way, to deliver hi-res throughout the signal chain–from my music library, to the player, to the DAC, to my preamp, amp, and loudspeakers (or preamp to headphones). Here is how I did it.

Building Your Hi-Res Music Library
The process starts with ripping or downloading music files directly to either your Mac’s internal hard drive or an external drive, or designating a cloud site for your file storage (more on this in a minute). I store my music library on a 3TB Seagate external drive. Many people prefer to use an external drive because loading up your main hard drive with music files can potentially slow your computer’s overall performance, especially when you get to the end of your drive’s storage limits.

Opinions will vary on what constitutes hi-res audio, but I set my sights on resolutions equal to or better than 24-bit/96-kHz. We all know that your system is only as good as its weakest link, so I started with either 24/192 or 24/96 FLAC files. Hi-res files may be offered in the FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) or AIFF (Audio Interchange File Format) format, as well as DSD (Direct Stream Digital) and MQA (Master Quality Authenticated). DSD is the Philips/Sony system used to create the SACD (Super Audio Compact Disk) format, while MQA is a very clever codec that compresses the relatively little energy in the higher frequency bands to make the files smaller while retaining a hi-res result (it’s also a good format for streaming services). To get the highest quality, you will want to avoid lossy formats like MP3 (Moving Picture Experts Group Layer-3), AAC (Advanced Audio Coding), and OGG (Ogg Vorbis, the name Ogg derives from the jargon word ogging) that sacrifice audio quality for file size. This was important when storage was expensive, but now storage is plentiful and cheap.

Hi-res music files are available for download from a number of websites, including: HDTracks.com,
primephonic, HiRes Download, iTrax.com, B&W’s Society of Sound, Acoustic Sounds, Chandos, and Blue Coast Records. If you’re looking for suggestions on high-quality audio recordings, check out the reviews on our sister site, AudiophileReview.com. Here are a few great-sounding albums (all available as hi-res downloads) that I’d put on my list of desert island discs:

Santana: Abraxas
Mozart: Great Mass in C minor
Thelonious Monk Orchestra: At Town Hall
The Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers
Bob Marley: Legend (you are on a desert island, after all)
Steely Dan: Aja
Jethro Tull: Aqualung



Cloud Backup
About a year ago, I grew concerned that my entire life’s savings of music–some of which is irreplaceable original music from the various bands I’ve been in–was all in one place, so I looked to the cloud for a backup/disaster recovery solution. My current total storage need is approximately 2.4 TB. Apple’s iCloud offers five gigabytes of free storage, which isn’t nearly enough for my music files, so I opted for the 2TB plan that costs $20 per month. I had to leave some of my more esoteric albums off the iCloud drive to fit under the 2TB size limit.

Another cloud option is Google Drive, which offers 15 GB for free or one terabyte for $9.99/month; then it jumps to 10 TB for $99.99 monthly. Microsoft looks at storage a bit differently, tying its One Drive storage to the MS Office suite. When you purchase MS Office 365, you get 1 TB of storage. All your Excel spreadsheets, Word docs, and PowerPoint presentations are automatically stored there and are available for collaboration between users. There isn’t anything preventing you from storing your music library there, but access is via Microsoft’s Groove Music Pass, which is $9.99 per month in addition to the $99 annual cost of MS Office 365.

Amazon’s Drive allows you to upload up to 250 songs for free. Subscribe to Amazon Prime ($99 annually) and get 5 GB of storage; for another $59.99 per year, you get unlimited storage. I currently use Apple’s iCloud because I’ve been deeply invested in the Apple ecosystem from the first-generation iPod, but Amazon’s value proposition is compelling. I am strongly considering making the switch. (If anyone out there has made the switch, I’d love to hear about your experience in the Comments section.)

Playback Software
Once you have begun to build your hi-res audio library, how do you play the files in a way that maintains their high bit and sample rate? I chose to download the VLC media player to my Mac (it’s free) because it’s capable of 24/96 and 24/192 native hi-res output. The VLC player can be downloaded here.

As an alternative to VLC, you might consider the VOX Music player, which is also free and can be downloaded here.

Why not just use iTunes? The iTunes Store only sells music in the compressed AAC format, and the iTunes player doesn’t support the most widely sold lossless format: FLAC. Some hi-res file formats like AIFF may be played by iTunes but will not be at their native hi-res rates. Beware: If you convert a 24/96 FLAC file to ALAC, for example, you will not get the original file’s full resolution.

Connections
There are three ways to get hi-res audio out of your Mac: 1) through an optical Toslink cable connected to the headphone output; 2) through a USB cable; and 3) through a standard stereo eighth-inch mini-jack connected to the headphone out–which will use the Mac’s excellent internal DAC that supports up to 24-bit/192-kHz.

I suppose you could also count Bluetooth as the fourth way, but I’m not convinced that, even with A2DP negotiating between the transmitter and receiver the best CODEC available, you aren’t losing audible quality in the wireless transmission.

Any of the above three connections ensures output of your audio files at the full resolution. Options one and two are still in the digital domain, so you will need to convert the signal to analog before sending it along its path that ultimately leads to your analog ears. The HTR archive is full of reviews that will steer you to a great digital-to-analog converter (DAC) at any price point. Just remember to make certain that the DAC supports the highest quality files in your catalog.

The next component in line is either your preamp or integrated amp. My setup includes a tube preamp that has both a headphone output and individual right and left line-level RCA outputs, which then feed either my tube or solid-state amplifier (I have one of each). Either amp then leads to my loudspeakers. If I’m listening through headphones, they are fed directly from my preamp.

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My Results
I am enjoying incredible results using my Mac as a hi-res server. When comparing hi-res FLAC files via VLC to music coming from my iTunes library at 16/44.1, the difference is truly amazing in terms of imaging, dynamic range, extended high and low frequencies, clear and detailed mids, and the all-important warmth, air, and intimacy. When listening to the same song, switching only the file resolution, the iTunes files sounded flat and one-dimensional. Don’t believe me? I recently read an excellent open-access paper on our ability to hear differences with high-resolution audio that can be found here.

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You Can Take It With You
Want to enjoy your higher-quality audio on the go? That’s become a lot easier, too–thank to players like Astell & Kern’s AK240, Sony’s NW-ZX2, Onkyo’s DP-X1, Questyle’s QP1R, and HiFiMAN’s HM802s and HM901s. Do these players offer an improvement over a basic standard-res player? Yes, but remember that your environment and choice of headphones will impact your ability to hear all the differences.

Final Thoughts
Of course, there are a lot of excellent hi-res digital audio players on the market that would make a great addition to your gear rack, if you prefer a dedicated component. But if you’re looking for high quality on a budget and you already own a Mac, then why not work with what you already have right in front of you? My results were outstanding.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the importance of how the music came to exist in the first place. The composition, the quality of the musicianship, the groove (or the tempo in classical pieces), the production, the mix, and the mastering process … all of these have great impact and ultimately contribute to what resonates with you. I’ve heard amazing music that was recorded in the 50s and really poor-sounding music that was recorded mere months ago … so technology is one thing, passion another.

Additional Resources
Chasing the Holy Grail of Audio at HomeTheaterReview.com.
Examining My Love/Hate Relationship with Video Discs at HomeTheaterReview.com.
What’s the Ideal Speaker Driver Configuration? at HometheaterReview.com.