Music server computer requirements

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JBELT01

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Music server computer requirements
« on: 20 May 2019, 09:45 pm »
I am in the process of putting together my system based on a set of NX-Otica speakers and dual OB subs.  Picked up a Tranquility DAC and now need the "server".  I am planning to use a Mac Mini.  It will be used for streaming as well as access to my music collection.  I am also planning to use it for volume control.  There are lots of versions available, what is the minimum specification I should consider in terms of processor speed, ram, operating system, etc.?   Is a "late 2012" Mac Mini sufficient or is it worth it to go with a "late 2018" version?

Thx,

JB

Captainhemo

Re: Music server computer requirements
« Reply #1 on: 20 May 2019, 10:12 pm »
John, 
You  shouldn't  need  a  lot of horse pwer as  you won't be doing  dsd upsampling. I can't rcall the   max sample rate of that  dac but I'm assuming it's 24/192 so even if you upsample  everything  to that,  it won't  take much  processor power.

Look into running  Roon ROCK on the server and then  Roon remote on your  fav device to control it all..  I know, the  yearly subscription seems  a little steep but  man, Roon really does  a great job of  keeping track of  your  library and serving  out the  tunes.
I'm  not a  MAC  guy so  can't  comment on your  2012  Mac Mini but I'm betting  so long  as you have  8gb RAM youi'll be fine for the  task at hand.  You  really don't even need  a hdd  to store the Os  on, you  can run  Roon ROCk right off a   Usb flash drive, once it's loaded up into RAM,  you'll notice no difference  compared to running off a   pjysical Hdd.   If you have   the  Hdd already, great,  ROCk is small  so no big  deal.

jay

cody69

Re: Music server computer requirements
« Reply #2 on: 20 May 2019, 11:03 pm »
Most likely either one will work fine for your application, however one thing to keep in mind is Apple's system requirements for updating new versions of MacOS(s) place limits on hardware compatibility. For example, Mojave, the most current MacOS, is compatible as far back as late-2012 for Mac Mini. The next release may, or may not, support 2012 hardware platforms.

See https://support.apple.com/kb/SP777?locale=en_US for more details.

Nothing says you have to upgrade to the latest MacOS, but it is something to keep in mind when making your decision.

Danny Richie

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Re: Music server computer requirements
« Reply #3 on: 20 May 2019, 11:26 pm »
I have been playing the Mac Mini game for a while now. See if you can find an older model. I don't know the year models or which ones specifically to look for. Ask Eric Hider and db Audio Labs and he'll know.

My model still runs Snow Leopard.

The older units sound better because they allow more stuff to be shut off that continually runs in the background.

The newer ones are still good, but not as good.

And the mods are huge. Mine has had the power supply stipped out and is running on an external source. The RAM is maxed out with gaming RAM. The hard drive has been replaced with a solid state drive. And all of the music is stored on an external hard drive. All of that stuff really matters including the type and brand of external hard drive.

Again, get with Eric Hider he is staying up with all the latest tweaks and offers a very worthwhile upgrade service. Highly recommended.

And the best sounding playback software that I have found so far is Audirvana. I have also tried Pure Music, Amarra, and SBooth Play. Each sounds different and they all sound a lot better than iTunes playback.

Also, ask Eric about one of his USB cables.

Oh yeah, and mine sounds much better when using my Dodd Audio pre-amp than trying to control the volume with the playback software.

dB Cooper

Re: Music server computer requirements
« Reply #4 on: 21 May 2019, 02:48 am »
I would just buy a Raspberry Pi. They're dirt cheap, have more than enough computing power (audio playback simply isn't all that challenging to modern computer hardware) for your application, are dead silent (no fan), especially if using an SSD for storage, and there are all-in-one player turn-key softwares like Volumio to use.

If you go with the Mac Mini, there's Audiophile Linux, an OS that pares down running processes to only those required to play or stream audio, as Danny Ritchie advocates. A little more 'elegant' than a Pi with an HD attached to it, although that would be moot if using NAS.

Cheytak.408

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Re: Music server computer requirements
« Reply #5 on: 21 May 2019, 06:31 am »
I am in the process of putting together my system based on a set of NX-Otica speakers and dual OB subs.  Picked up a Tranquility DAC and now need the "server".  I am planning to use a Mac Mini.  It will be used for streaming as well as access to my music collection.  I am also planning to use it for volume control.  There are lots of versions available, what is the minimum specification I should consider in terms of processor speed, ram, operating system, etc.?   Is a "late 2012" Mac Mini sufficient or is it worth it to go with a "late 2018" version?

Thx,

JB
JB.  I chased digital audio for years that sounded acceptable in comparison to analog.  I tried for a couple of years to get a PC Windows based system to sound good.  Try as I might - they fell way short.  My search ended in 2012 when I was steered to the Mac mini i5 and i7 quad cores that were heads and shoulders above the rest.  Maxed out to 16G of fast RAM with low latency sounded great.  Or so I thought.  I got what turned out to be a beta version of Eric Hider’s proprietary software and that was what proved to be a game changer for me.  Danny is right.  It sounds amazingly smooth with space, soundstage and realism yet to be duplicated in my room.

I am a guy that loves how music can communicate with my soul.  I’m a lifelong musician and recording engineer that grew up in the era of stellar analog, with the aural memory of 1” tape masters running at 30ips.  That is just about as close to “real” (whatever that is) as it gets. 

But, I digress.

I, too, am a Tranquility owner.  Mine has Eric’s latest developments onboard.  If you don’t have them, get them.  Not a subtle change.  I am completely onboard with optimization of NOS architecture.  Brutal detail?  Nope.  Frequency response from DC to light?  Nope.  Incredibly limited musical selections?  Hell no! Last time I checked there were about 97,000,000 Red Book recordings out there.  I have 3G of Red Book on my drives and that all sound like music with the exception of shitty recordings that sound like they were recorded.  Dung is dung.  Dump it in the garden.   :D

I’ve had almost every “New”, “Latest, greatest” streamers and ‘high tech’ digital solutions in my listening room in the last few years.  Some sound stunning, some detailed and some really hi-fi.  Over the course of a few days I find myself not particularly interested in just sitting down with a glass of wine or brandy and listening for extended periods while they were in the room.

I love me some great, musical and (oh, my) sensual renditions of great recordings.  Sounds like music...not gear.

YMMV, of course.

JBELT01

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Re: Music server computer requirements
« Reply #6 on: 22 May 2019, 12:59 am »
Thank you all for the great feedback.  I will contact Eric about the Mac Mini spec and mods.  Looking forward to hearing how much better the Oticas can sound in my listening room.  I'm at the early stage of building my system where each of the changes have made a big improvement  :D

skunark

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Re: Music server computer requirements
« Reply #7 on: 22 May 2019, 03:53 am »
I would consider a raspberry pi, with a quality DAC hat and safe your self a boatload of money.  It can easily run Tidal or Qobuz as well as and the savings will probably pay 4-5 year subscription. 

apstoltz

Re: Music server computer requirements
« Reply #8 on: 22 May 2019, 01:55 pm »
I have a raspberry pi unit that has volumio and I cannot run the app on my iphone, I connect via airplay with my phone. Is volumio more for andriod based devices? I have the raspberry pi with a hardwired connection to my internet.

skunark

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Re: Music server computer requirements
« Reply #9 on: 22 May 2019, 03:34 pm »
Look for a solution that includes “upmpdcli” to enables Linn’s open home protocol and then can be controlled by Linn Kazoo app that is available for windows, mac, iOS and android.   I run archlinux and did my own install, but I’m sure one of the precanned distros include it. 

Update:
https://archphile.org/about/ has enabled tidal through upmpdcli, not sure why Qobuz isn't on the list but it works too.   If you mount a network share or have local files then the raspberry pi can offer up Tidal and local/network files in the same playlist.  Nice thing about the Linn app is that it can store the playlists to the app and copy it to multiple raspberry pi, and of course with MPD the playlist is local to the raspberry pi, so no additional interaction is needed once you load and play.   By far the best interface i've experienced...
« Last Edit: 23 May 2019, 12:27 am by skunark »