Apple Mac mini system descriptions

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Thunder240

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Re: Apple Mac mini system descriptions
« Reply #80 on: 18 May 2013, 05:15 am »
Hi all,

I just purchased a late 2009 Mac Mini (2.26 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 160 GB HDD, 2 GB RAM, Snow Leopard) for which I have two intended uses:

(1) Play music to my home theater via either optical or possibly a USB to SPIDF converter

(2) Serve music to a separate digital stereo system, which includes a set top box that is DNLA enabled.

I'll probably either use XBMC or JRiver for music playback (I haven't decided which, although since XBMC is free, I'll probably try it first and see how I like it before I pay money for JRiver).

The Mini will connect to my wireless network (the base station is a latest-gen Airport Express, 802.11n dual band). Other devices on the network include two other Airport Expresses (one which is connected to a PS3 by ethernet, the other which is connected to the DNLA-enabled set top box by ethernet), an Epson printer, a Macbook Pro and an iPhone 5.

I plan to buy an external hard drive to store my music, which leads to my questions for you all. First, what are the advantages of setting this external drive up as a NAS and connecting it by ethernet to the base station versus buying a Firewire enclosure and connecting it to the Mini directly? My instinct is that the main advantage of going the NAS route is that my Macbook Pro can access it over the network, as can the DNLA-enabled set top box, while I'm guessing the main advantage of going the firewire route is that it will improve the Mini's performance. If I go firewire, what would be the best way to configure the Mini to serve this music so that the DNLA set top box can see and stream the music that resides on the HDD? If I go the NAS route, will playback performance (on any of the devices) be substantially worse than if it is connected to the Mini by firewire? Finally are there other tradeoff's I'm not considering?

Thanks!

jarcher

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Re: Apple Mac mini system descriptions
« Reply #81 on: 18 May 2013, 06:51 am »
I"m gonna guess that the only disadvantage of using an external firewire HDD to the Mac Mini vs NAS is that the Mac Mini would have to be on all the time (or perhaps set up for "wake up on LAN").  Then again, a Mac Mini hardly consumes much power - though perhaps a bit more than a NAS.

The disadvantage with a NAS - might be slightly more cost vs the external HDD, depending on what model you go with.  Some NAS also allow web access - so if you're away from home a lot & don't have other ways to carry or access your music, that might be a consideration.

I do a Mac Mini w/ a firewire 800 external HD.  I can remote control it w/ the apple Remote app on iphone & stream it through various devices (apple tv's / etc).  When I got a squeezebox & loaded the squeezebox server software on the mac mini, that was able to access the music on the external HD as well without a problem & stream it. 

Lastly, my Marantz receiver / processor that has network capability (including DLNA) and I've been able to stream music w/ the above set up.  I'm not sure if it's seeing / using the squeezebox server software, or accessing the HD via the mac directly, but in either case it works.  So if your DLNA device cant see the mac mini's external HD, loading & using the free squeezebox server software may resolve that problem

Also I think theoretically it doesn't matter to your DLNA devices if it's an external HD off a mac or a NAS -  they are both "network drives" for all intents & purposes. So you'd just have to point the DLNA device to the right address.

As for performance, I haven't noticed substantial lags - but I guess I'm used to a bit of a pause as I used Pure Music in memory play mode when I'm playing direct from the Mac Mini, and that has a small lag.  So I'm used to not have immediate nano-second gratification.

Hope that helps.......

P.S. I'd use iTunes w/ Pure Music vs XBMC or JRiver, particularly as you have an iphone to use as a remote w/ Remote App. Itunes + the app are free.  Pure Music isn't - but it helps to make itunes sound a lot better.

P.s.s.  In case you have an XBOX360, I've also been able to stream music / video / photos to an XBOX 360 using a low cost ($20) program called Connect360, which you load on the Mac. See : http://www.nullriver.com/products/connect360

Thunder240

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Re: Apple Mac mini system descriptions
« Reply #82 on: 18 May 2013, 11:43 pm »
Ok, since I already own a 250 GB USB external hdd (which I bought probably 7 years ago), I'm gonna run a test and put some music on the drive, connect it to the Mini, and make it a shareable. If my set top box can see the drive and play its music (either with or without Squeezebox Server), then I'm gonna go the FireWire route. If it can't, then I'll go with a NAS. The reason I'm opting for FireWire is that I already get momentary drops due to interference (there are several other wifi networks in the building), and I am planning to build my hi-res library, so bandwidth counts. If I can reduce the extent to which I am relying on my network to play music, that's a good thing. Also, it occurred to me that I might eventually want to use the mini as a HTPC, and if I do, it will help to have videos stored locally. So hopefully the Mini passes my little test and I can buy a FireWire drive!

On another note, it was my understanding that both JRiver and XBMC have iphone remote aps. Is that not the case? If they do, why do you prefer PureMusic's remote? Are there additional reasons you'd go with PureMusic?

Many thanks for sharing your experience!


I"m gonna guess that the only disadvantage of using an external firewire HDD to the Mac Mini vs NAS is that the Mac Mini would have to be on all the time (or perhaps set up for "wake up on LAN").  Then again, a Mac Mini hardly consumes much power - though perhaps a bit more than a NAS.

The disadvantage with a NAS - might be slightly more cost vs the external HDD, depending on what model you go with.  Some NAS also allow web access - so if you're away from home a lot & don't have other ways to carry or access your music, that might be a consideration.

I do a Mac Mini w/ a firewire 800 external HD.  I can remote control it w/ the apple Remote app on iphone & stream it through various devices (apple tv's / etc).  When I got a squeezebox & loaded the squeezebox server software on the mac mini, that was able to access the music on the external HD as well without a problem & stream it. 

Lastly, my Marantz receiver / processor that has network capability (including DLNA) and I've been able to stream music w/ the above set up.  I'm not sure if it's seeing / using the squeezebox server software, or accessing the HD via the mac directly, but in either case it works.  So if your DLNA device cant see the mac mini's external HD, loading & using the free squeezebox server software may resolve that problem

Also I think theoretically it doesn't matter to your DLNA devices if it's an external HD off a mac or a NAS -  they are both "network drives" for all intents & purposes. So you'd just have to point the DLNA device to the right address.

As for performance, I haven't noticed substantial lags - but I guess I'm used to a bit of a pause as I used Pure Music in memory play mode when I'm playing direct from the Mac Mini, and that has a small lag.  So I'm used to not have immediate nano-second gratification.

Hope that helps.......

P.S. I'd use iTunes w/ Pure Music vs XBMC or JRiver, particularly as you have an iphone to use as a remote w/ Remote App. Itunes + the app are free.  Pure Music isn't - but it helps to make itunes sound a lot better.

P.s.s.  In case you have an XBOX360, I've also been able to stream music / video / photos to an XBOX 360 using a low cost ($20) program called Connect360, which you load on the Mac. See : http://www.nullriver.com/products/connect360

neekomax

Re: Apple Mac mini system descriptions
« Reply #83 on: 19 May 2013, 12:01 am »
I have no experience/opinion on the networked drive thing, as I just use the local drive in my Mac Mini for my server.

But I do have an opinion on JRiver vs. Pure Music. I've tried both (and others), and I am very happy having settled on JRiver. The main reason is that it's incredibly feature-rich compared to any other player software I've tried. The DSP studio is awesome, and you can use VST plugins, for example. Very powerful. I also like the organizational aspect of it. It's still in Beta, so there are some glitches, but it plays music beautifully.

The only caveat being that if your system is headless or you really need to control everything without being able to see your monitor, I'm not sure there are good apps yet for controlling JRiver Mac with an iPad, for example. With PM/iTunes, of course, you can use the excellent Remote app for iOS.

jarcher

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Re: Apple Mac mini system descriptions
« Reply #84 on: 19 May 2013, 12:27 am »
I haven't personally used JRiver, so can't really comment, nor on the app or the phone / tablet remote options.  I choose Pure Music (vs Audiovarna or Ammarra) for two reasons:

(1) Works on top of / with iTunes - and I just had all my digital music in an iTunes library & got used to using iTunes.  I.e. I didn't really want to move to a different media library management software - which I would have to do with e.g. JRiver (which at the time I don't think had a OSX version).

Pure Music is operationally almost transparent - you can still use the free apple Remote app on the iphone / ipad / etc, it has a "playthrough" mode for radio stations, etc.  There are a lot of options available w/ Pure Music, but they are mostly ones I don't need / use, so once I set it up with the parameters I needed / wanted, I can run it in minimized mode & almost don't notice (visually) that it's there.

(2) In "Memory Play" mode in particular there is a notable improvement in sound quality over stock iTunes.  Any alternative to iTunes as a music player in my opinion needs to have that option, and that option should be used.  There's something about placing the track in memory vs being read in real time off the HD that really helps to clean up the sound.

Lastly, it's nice that the license is usable on unlimited computers (if you own them, one at a time, blah, blah which they can't monitor or enforce). I think Audiovarna & Amarra offer the options mentioned above as well, but either they were more expensive or there was something else uncompetitive about them.  I did the trial & can't recall a big sonic difference among the three.

Last minor suggestion on external hard drive - Pure Music among other recommends for optimal playback that if you use the USB port to stream music out, that you use Firewire for the HD, and vice versa (though Firewire DAC's are rare).  So I did just out of audio nervosa (USB out to USB / SPDIF convertor, Firewire 800 for external HD).  The firewire 800 HD (a portable WD unit that has the same snazzy aluminun case cosmetics) has snappy performance.  Don't really notice any delay vs when I had the files on the internal hard drive (now no longer big enough).

Another "lastly" - wifi - even slower versions - typically has enough speed for simple audio files.  There's the possibility of interference from other wifi - in which case changing the default channel (or going to a higher frequency if possible) on the router might help.  In my case I only got what sounded like drop outs when I used an Apple Airport Express via the optical out, but the problem I think was that the Mac (an Imac) had too many programs running in background & the AE perhaps didn't have (or not enough of) a buffer.  Never had that problem with the squeezebox duet (or come to think of it with an Apple TV2).

Best of luck.


poseidonsvoice

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Re: Apple Mac mini system descriptions
« Reply #85 on: 19 May 2013, 01:47 am »
I have no experience/opinion on the networked drive thing, as I just use the local drive in my Mac Mini for my server.

But I do have an opinion on JRiver vs. Pure Music. I've tried both (and others), and I am very happy having settled on JRiver. The main reason is that it's incredibly feature-rich compared to any other player software I've tried. The DSP studio is awesome, and you can use VST plugins, for example. Very powerful. I also like the organizational aspect of it. It's still in Beta, so there are some glitches, but it plays music beautifully.

The only caveat being that if your system is headless or you really need to control everything without being able to see your monitor, I'm not sure there are good apps yet for controlling JRiver Mac with an iPad, for example. With PM/iTunes, of course, you can use the excellent Remote app for iOS.

There is a way to control JRiver headlessly:

http://www.jremote.net/

Best,
Anand.

Thunder240

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Re: Apple Mac mini system descriptions
« Reply #86 on: 19 May 2013, 11:49 pm »
Quick update:

The test was passed -- no issues streaming music from XBMC via a USB external. To do so, I had to configure XBMC's built-in UPnP server. So I am going to go with a FireWire HDD.

The test revealed a problem with XBMC however. Namely, XBMC for Mac OS X won't serve hi-res WAV files (although it will play them locally). And the ONLY hi-res format that my stupid set top box will play is WAV (it won't play hi-res FLAC or ALAC). So, either I wait for XBMC to get fixed (I'm sure it'll happen but probably not very quickly), or I replace the set top box with something that's more flexible (very tempting), or I give PureMusic or JRiver a try. 

I have several questions about PureMusic and JRiver, but I recognize that this isn't the purpose of this thread, so rather than ask them here, I'll post a new thread or find another that seems to be more on point. Thanks to you all for the helpful advice.

lextek

Re: Apple Mac mini system descriptions
« Reply #87 on: 19 Jan 2015, 06:45 pm »


My Mac Mini Audio System Description:

Mac mini processor model:2014 base model 1.4 cDual Core
Operating system version: Mavericks
Hard drive type (internal only or external) size and type (stand alone or RAID):  internal 500 gig
Internal memory installed: 4 gigs

Monitor/keyboard: Visio TV.  No keyboard.  I use Remotix with an iPad.
Wireless hardware: Appple mouse
Software music player(s):Audivarna
Other method of controlling the mac mini (VNC, custom remotes, etc): Remotix with iPad or Remote app

Amplifier, and type (eg. Solid state mono block, SET, Tube integrated): NAD 316BEE integrated
Pre amplifier:
External DAC: Audioquest Cragonfly 1.0 or Cambridge Audio DACMagic
Other component(s) in chain between mini and speakers: None yet.  Thinking about adding an Ifi Itube
Speakers in this system: Paradigm Atoms v.1 and Paradigm sub.
Interconnect types between mac mini and X: Kimber
Location of the mac mini (eg. in the listening area, other room, or closet): Small spare bedroom/music room

Looking to upgrade speakers next.

davidavdavid

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Re: Apple Mac mini system descriptions
« Reply #88 on: 15 Aug 2016, 03:34 pm »
Tha Mac Mini late 2012 has been and continues to be my saviour, so much so that I have stocked up on 3 of them, all configured exactly the same, so if and when one dies, i have another waiting to be swapped in.
My hard drives are mirrored - 2  8TB Seagate drives - are housed in a 2 drive ICY DOCK enclosure available from OWC

No problem running El Capitan at all and am running Audirvana + 1.5x software for playback
XLD for dealing with cue files
MAX for dealing with format conversions
METADATICS for dealing with metadata
VLC/QUICKTIME for video content

DAC = exaSound e22 connected to the Mac Mini via USB, Fosgate via USB, CentranceDX via USB
AMPLIFIER = Parasound Halo 2.1 with its own 32/384 PCM - 64/128/256 DSD   DAC

I have wifi, spotlight, and all unnecessary system software shut down.

LarryMagoo

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Re: Apple Mac mini system descriptions
« Reply #89 on: 15 Mar 2017, 10:16 pm »
Mac mini processor model:  Late 2012 2.6Ghz i7 Quad Proc. Outboard P/S with stock P/S removed. Total Black Silence during quite passages
Operating system version: Mac OS Sierra 10.12.3
Hard drive type (internal only or external) size and type (stand alone or RAID):  1TB SSD and 1TB HDD for Time Machine both internal
Internal memory installed:16 GB

Monitor/keyboard: Wireless Apple
Wireless hardware: older Apple Airport Extreme
Software music player(s): Roon
Other method of controlling the mac mini (VNC, custom remotes, etc): Roon or Apple

Amplifier, and type (eg. Solid state mono block, SET, Tube integrated): Sunfire Signature 5 channel
Pre amplifier: Marantz 8801
External DAC: Oppo HA-1
Other component(s) in chain between mini and speakers: Jitter Bug, Oppo HA-1 Headphone/DAC Looking into getting either a Schiit Gumby or Yggy I run my Roon Speaker Music through my Oppo 105's DAC...but again getting with the Gumby or Yggy for that as well.
Speakers in this system:Monitor Audio Golds (5) and Velodyne HG-12's (2)
Interconnect types between mac mini and X: AQ Pearl USB Cable
Location of the mac mini (eg. in the listening area, other room, or closet): Stacked on top of my DDRC Dirac Live Room Calibrator with the stacks of my gear in my Theater Room

tarquineous

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Re: Apple Mac mini system descriptions
« Reply #90 on: 11 Jun 2017, 08:09 pm »
How is your Apple Mac mini set up as a music server or part of a digital music system?  Let's see your configuration whether you have a straight forward mac mini to integrated amp to bookshelfs or you have the mac mini connected to an external hard drive and connected into a distributed network to many systems. Please provide brands and models of the specific hardware, cabling, etc. used:

My Mac Mini Audio System Description:

  • Mac mini processor model:
  • Operating system version:
  • Hard drive type (internal only or external) size and type (stand alone or RAID):
  • Internal memory installed:

  • Monitor/keyboard:
  • Wireless hardware:
  • Software music player(s):
  • Other method of controlling the mac mini (VNC, custom remotes, etc):

  • Amplifier, and type (eg. Solid state mono block, SET, Tube integrated):
  • Pre amplifier:
  • External DAC:
  • Other component(s) in chain between mini and speakers:
  • Speakers in this system:
  • Interconnect types between mac mini and X:
  • Location of the mac mini (eg. in the listening area, other room, or closet):

Also provide comments on these:

a. If applicable, what is custom in this mac mini system?
b. What feature or function would you add to the mac mini if you could (keeping the system within a similar price range?
c. The part of your mac mini system that gives YOU the most satifaction/enjoyment ?
d. Other comments:

I use a 2011 Mac Mini, modified by Mojo Audio. Version 10.8.5. 4GB memory.
Has outboard power supply. Great improvement when using a Synergistic Atmosphere 2 power cord.

I use two outputs : USB to Lampizator DSD DAC. Firewire cable to Weiss converter which has AES/EBU output to second DAC. Second DAC is Northstar Extremo DAC.

Accessories which improve the USB connection are : 1. Lessloss USB Firewall (better than Audioquest Jitterbug). 2. USB Disruptor ( 5 volt power supply inserted at DAC input). 3. Audioprism Waveguide ( a two piece magnet assembly which attaches over USB cable).

I like using the MAC equalizer function. I do not hear degradation of the sound, like we usually get with external equalizers.

I use iTunes and plan to investigate Audirvana and others. Any experienced suggestions are welcome !

My MAC Mini rests on an Atomic Labs anti resonant base. I've tried a few different footers under the base, but did not get a sonic improvement over the small cones supplied with the base. I even tried Stillpoints with no improvement.

The firewire cable I use is made by Oyaide. Have not tried other brands yet. I find a 1" clamp on ferrite works to improve the Firewire cable. I generally avoid ferrites, but do try them.

For ripping, I use the small MAC unit place on top of the MAC Mini. I experience no interference with this placement.

To operate everything, i have an HP screen, a MAC wireless keyboard, and a wired mouse.