MUSIC STREAMER MEDIA PLAYER & DAC SUGGESTIONS TO USE WITH NX STUDIO'S

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Nick B

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I have an Eric Heider modified MAC mini in storage.  Worked perfectly and never had an issue with it.   If anyone wants it, DM me.  It also has AudiNirvana on it.

Thanks for that. What year Mac mini? I’m wondering when was the last time Eric had the lines of code updated. Must have been difficult with software changes and updates on the Mac mini’s.

morganc

He only modded up until 2011 models and then yes noO software upgrades after that. It was never used for anything else.
I could dig up details in emails to find what all is there but only if someone is interested in buying it. 

E-Zee

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Forgive me for knowing nothing about the Mac mini mods being referenced.  I am however very interested. I greatly prefer using dedicated streaming devices instead of Bluetooth from handheld devices or having to connect to a desktop PC.  Are the Mac mini upgrades you are referencing purely software related, or are their actual hardware modifications to the Mac mini?  Without spending much time, my know nothing search shows 2011 version Mac minis selling  used or refurbished for $50 to $120

fridays

I have a modified Mac Mini by a short lived group called Mach2 Music, it runs off battery as does the old hard drive
I auditioned an Innous zenith mk 3 with their Phoenix re-clocker
My Mac Mini won by no small margin, I don’t know what I’d need to spend to outshine the Mini

jn316

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There are some old threads that talk about what modifications were done...should show up with a search.
Basically:
- Operating system software is modified to eliminate anything that is not needed for music
- RAM is increased and faster RAM is used (gaming RAM)
- Put the Mac Mini and the external hard drive on battery power

Each of those changes have an effect.

jn316

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morganc

I will dig up the email specs for Elon.  I did upgrade mine to 2x4SSD.
Also have an upgraded power cord for it. 
That with the Tranquility SE DAC was a spectacular combo. 

Danny Richie

Danny,
 Care to share what modifications you did to your Mac Mini?  What Dac are you using with your system?  I already have a external hard drive storage for my music covered.

Eric from db Audio labs is still doing the mods. It is actually a pretty extensive list of mods. I have a list of them that I got from Eric that I can email to you.

My DAC is a one off custom that all my best digital buddies and designers collaborated on and worked on as a test bed for various tweaks and upgrades.

Danny Richie

Danny, I'm not challenging you, rather I'm simply stunned to read this. I know Eric Hider was quite the proponent of a modified mac mini, but I would have thought a decade later technology evolved considerably. Just in terms of a clean "audiophile" power supply, I would have thought other servers/streamers would be superior. Anyway, PLEASE enlighten us regarding the modifications that you suggest. Also, do you know what vintage of mac mini can output an I2S? I have a Rockna Wavelight DAC and understand that I2S is the best input. My mac mini running Audirvana is a 2011. THANK YOU.

Eric was telling me some time ago about something new that just came out that he thought might rival or beat the modded Mac Mini, but it was about 15 grand.

In terms of power supply being clean, mine runs on a 110 amp hour AGB battery with battery buss.

I would have to check with Eric for sure, but I think that the 2011 model can output an I2S signal.

Kurt 12

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I did'nt know Eric was still in busness.  His website is down.  I was thinking of getting a modified mac mini from him some years ago but never got around to it.  When I did try to contact him later, his website was down.  Please send me his contact information so I can figure out my options.  Another option I was considering is the HAL MS-6 Music Streamer from Hollis Audio Labs.  Tyson has a glowing review of the MS-6 in the HAL Audiocircle page.

nlitworld

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Another option I was considering is the HAL MS-6 Music Streamer from Hollis Audio Labs.  Tyson has a glowing review of the MS-6 in the HAL Audiocircle page.

Yup, it is super good for very reasonable $. Couldn't believe the upgrade from a pc to that underpowered, unassuming little box. Stripped down like a track ready sportscar leaving nothing except everything needed for good music. Rich knows what he's doing for sure. :thumb:

Nick B

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I’m not sure I have a good understanding of the EH modded Mac mini, so I’d appreciate answers to these questions

1) the Eric Hider mods only apply to old Mac minis around 2011 or so because the code lines removed were pertinent to the particular Mac OS of that time?

2) apparently Audirvana and some other software can be installed, but is there any way to run Roon on the mini? I have a lifetime license

3) I use my current iFi Zen streamer wirelessly as I only have one Ethernet connection in the adjacent room where the router is. Can the mini operate wirelessly?

4) my Border Patrol dac only has coax connections. What connectors from the mini might I be able to use with the use of some type of adapter?

That’s all I can think of for now. 

Thanks,
Nick

Danny Richie

I'll see if I can get Eric to respond.

jspotts37215

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I’m not sure I have a good understanding of the EH modded Mac mini, so I’d appreciate answers to these questions

1) the Eric Hider mods only apply to old Mac minis around 2011 or so because the code lines removed were pertinent to the particular Mac OS of that time?

2) apparently Audirvana and some other software can be installed, but is there any way to run Roon on the mini? I have a lifetime license

3) I use my current iFi Zen streamer wirelessly as I only have one Ethernet connection in the adjacent room where the router is. Can the mini operate wirelessly?

4) my Border Patrol dac only has coax connections. What connectors from the mini might I be able to use with the use of some type of adapter?

That’s all I can think of for now. 

Thanks,
Nick

Until recently the 3.5mm audio output jack on Mac's provided both analog and digital output. I have a late 2014 Mac mini being used as a music streamer with Roon, feeding a DAC. Nothing special - 1.4GHz dual-core i5 with 4GB of memory. The HDD was dying so I replaced that with an SSD but the Mini is otherwise stock. (Fairly easy upgrade to do. Many how-to videos on YT but you need the right tools.) No exotic configuration of MacOS required and it's connected via WiFi to my network. It's also headless -- meaning there's no keyboard, mouse or monitor. You'll need to plug these in for initial setup but are not required after that. At boot time MacOS needs to think a display is attached so you will need to get a $10 display emulator (search for CompuLab 4K Display Emulator) and plug it into the HDMI port. Configure the Mac to allow Remote Desktop access (System Preferences -> Sharing -> Remote Management) and you can connect to it from another system.

For a long time I ran Roon Core on the Mac Mini, with a 3.5mm to TosLink digital cable connecting it to my DAC. My collection of ripped CDs in lossless format was in iTunes on my desktop, and I synced that iTunes Library to the one on my Mac Mini and pointed Roon to that. Recently I changed DACs and reconfigured things. Now Roon Core runs on my desktop and is configured to use the local iTunes Library, along with a connection to Qobuz. I run Roon Bridge on the Mac Mini with a USB connection to my new DAC. This is an even lighter Roon workload on the Mini and it works great.

Realize this isn't a configuration that's for everybody but if you have a bit of technical acumen it's not hard to get working and it's much more flexible than one box streamers.

Nick B

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I'll see if I can get Eric to respond.

That would be great. There still seems to be a lot of interest in his Mac mini methodology

Nick B

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Until recently the 3.5mm audio output jack on Mac's provided both analog and digital output. I have a late 2014 Mac mini being used as a music streamer with Roon, feeding a DAC. Nothing special - 1.4GHz dual-core i5 with 4GB of memory. The HDD was dying so I replaced that with an SSD but the Mini is otherwise stock. (Fairly easy upgrade to do. Many how-to videos on YT but you need the right tools.) No exotic configuration of MacOS required and it's connected via WiFi to my network. It's also headless -- meaning there's no keyboard, mouse or monitor. You'll need to plug these in for initial setup but are not required after that. At boot time MacOS needs to think a display is attached so you will need to get a $10 display emulator (search for CompuLab 4K Display Emulator) and plug it into the HDMI port. Configure the Mac to allow Remote Desktop access (System Preferences -> Sharing -> Remote Management) and you can connect to it from another system.

For a long time I ran Roon Core on the Mac Mini, with a 3.5mm to TosLink digital cable connecting it to my DAC. My collection of ripped CDs in lossless format was in iTunes on my desktop, and I synced that iTunes Library to the one on my Mac Mini and pointed Roon to that. Recently I changed DACs and reconfigured things. Now Roon Core runs on my desktop and is configured to use the local iTunes Library, along with a connection to Qobuz. I run Roon Bridge on the Mac Mini with a USB connection to my new DAC. This is an even lighter Roon workload on the Mini and it works great.

Realize this isn't a configuration that's for everybody but if you have a bit of technical acumen it's not hard to get working and it's much more flexible than one box streamers.

I think I understand most of this. So if I get an older version Mac mini I simply use a 3.5 mm to coax adapter to hook to my coax only connections on my dac, correct?

My iFi Zen streamer has Roon built in, so I am assuming Roon bridge is software that is installed on the Mac mini to be able to make it communicate with Roon core on my desktop, correct?

I found the emulator on Amazon, so thanks for that. I am using a portable external hard drive for my music connected to my Mac desktop. If I get the mini, I can connect the external drive to the mini or put my music from the external drive onto the desktop in the iTunes folder, correct?

Lastly, I can borrow a wired keyboard and mouse to set up the Mac min and then connect the emulator. What I am unclear about is this… You are saying that my Mac desktop, when set up in the system preferences, sharing, remote management configuration will then be the “eyes” for the Mac mini, correct? So then I would be able to go to the Roon website and download it wirelessly straight onto the Mac mini and do any other software installations, changes etc. using that methodology, correct?

Thanks for the help.

WGH

So if I get an older version Mac mini...

If you can get the Mac mini for close to free - go for it. But consider it a learning experience and an interim media player. Why?

What OS version does the 2011 Mac Mini run? Apple stopped all security updates for macOS 10.13 High Sierra in the fall of 2020. Roon now needs an internet connection to work so you will be running an unsecured computer.

A year ago I had to replace two computers, the C.A.P.S. V2.0 music server was a based on an Intel Pine Trail Mini-ITX with integrated Intel Atom D525 (1.8 GHz) and was built in 2011.
Soon after my Intel i7 2600K tower computer started acting up, it was built in January 2012.

My conclusion was the average life of a computer is 10 years. Macs may last longer, but how much longer?

The HAL MS-6 is an affordable option but it is Windows 10 based. Unfortunately the current MS-6 version may also be a temporary solution, it does not support Windows 11 and Windows 10 End-of-Life date is in 3 years, Oct. 14, 2025. Of course after that date Windows 10 will still work, but right now everyone is keeping their fingers crossed that Microsoft continues security updates.

Windows 7 End-of-Life was January 14, 2022 and even though millions of people still use the OS there have been zero updates (except for a small emergency update on 2/8/2022) in the last 9 months.

Nick B

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If you can get the Mac mini for close to free - go for it. But consider it a learning experience and an interim media player. Why?

What OS version does the 2011 Mac Mini run? Apple stopped all security updates for macOS 10.13 High Sierra in the fall of 2020. Roon now needs an internet connection to work so you will be running an unsecured computer.

A year ago I had to replace two computers, the C.A.P.S. V2.0 music server was a based on an Intel Pine Trail Mini-ITX with integrated Intel Atom D525 (1.8 GHz) and was built in 2011.
Soon after my Intel i7 2600K tower computer started acting up, it was built in January 2012.

My conclusion was the average life of a computer is 10 years. Macs may last longer, but how much longer?

The HAL MS-6 is an affordable option but it is Windows 10 based. Unfortunately the current MS-6 version may also be a temporary solution, it does not support Windows 11 and Windows 10 End-of-Life date is in 3 years, Oct. 14, 2025. Of course after that date Windows 10 will still work, but right now everyone is keeping their fingers crossed that Microsoft continues security updates.

Windows 7 End-of-Life was January 14, 2022 and even though millions of people still use the OS there have been zero updates (except for a small emergency update on 2/8/2022) in the last 9 months.

I understand about security issues, but is it really that much of a concern for a wireless streamer dedicated only to playing music? It appears the main way to get into my system would be hacking into my ASUS router that operates behind WPA 2 encryption. I have an all Mac system and my laptop, desktop, iPhone and iPad all connect wirelessly. The only wired connection is a Samsung TV. I used Windows for years and switched to Apple because of the insistence of my brother in law. Am so glad I did and the Apple support system is outstanding. As to Rich’s HAL MS 6, I’d be quite curious to hear it. But just had too many negative experiences with MS over the years… blue screen of death etc.

I’m hoping Eric H will comment, or if not directly, maybe thru Danny. It’s a fascinating topic.

nlitworld

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The things nightmares are made of.  :lol:

Nick B

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The things nightmares are made of.  :lol:

Uh oh 😨…. fear, dread, uncontrollable feelings kinda like when Lon Chaney would see a full moon 😳