New Mac Mini as music server?

Redboy

Knobophobe
#21
Thanks fellas, this is helpful. I might start with one of the DragonFly DACs.

@MikeyFresh, I am intrigued by that renderer/endpoint idea but it'd be a later improvement, I think.
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
#22
@MikeyFresh, I am intrigued by that renderer/endpoint idea but it'd be a later improvement, I think.
It keeps the computer out of the actual listening room, or at least it allows for that, assuming there are no other barriers. These renderer/endpoints run headless, so no monitor/keyboard/mouse to situate at all, and they are of a tiny "fits in the palm of your hand" form factor too (though as with most things audio some folks do use a large-ish power supply).

One of the best parts about it is the cheap easy availability of something like the Raspberry Pi and awesome freeware like Moode or Volumio. About the only big question is which server software to run on the actual file server, eg. JRiver, Audirvana+, Roon etc... but the renderer/endpoint side of the equation is pretty easy.

And as much as I love the Raspberry Pi and freeware like Moode/Volumio, in my main system I use yet another bargain-priced (IMO) unit called the Sonore microRendu as renderer/endpoint. Not dirt cheap, but surely a super value given the price to performance ratio, it's probably the best purchase in audio I've ever made.
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
#23
I might start with one of the DragonFly DACs.
Maybe also peruse the 2nd hand listings for something a bit more capable than the DragonFly. That's a neat little unit but unfortunately tops out at 24-bit/96kHz, which is sorta 2012 type capability at this point. Of course if you have zero intention of ever using any hi-rez files then its probably moot.

I recently bought a used LH Labs GO450 for all of $50 (copper dice as heat sink sold separately/snake eyes orientation not recommended), it does PCM at 32-bit/384kHz and DSD128 too, with switchable TCM/FRM digital filters for time coherence or frequency response optimization:

P2070796.jpg

Now LH Labs is the WORST company under the sun, and seem to have ripped off legions of people with downright criminal Indiegogo crowd funding campaigns that were never fulfilled, however once upon a time they offered a thumb drive sized DAC on Kickstarter for all of $119 (Kickstarter early bird pricing) that blows away the DragonFly. Anodized aluminum chassis, class A amp operation, amazing sound quality, and available cheap (because they were cheap to begin with on Kickstarter).

I already owned their GO1000 model from that very Kickstarter campaign, it differs from the GO450 only in power output, a bit too much for my active line stage at 1000mw. But I'd love it if someone tried it with, say, a TVC for instance. :chin
 

Don C

Active Member
#24
So, I did a thing, today:

10A8C07D-2C60-46C3-B1AF-2EF97ACAEE30.jpeg

This is a surplus "early 2009" Mac mini* that was in a shopping bag in the basement after I upgraded my main computer back in January. It has about 100 CDs ripped in to iTunes (mostly Apple lossless, I think) from back in 2013ish. I also had a surplus wireless mouse, wireless keyboard, and "VGA" monitor. As there is no ethernet cable on that wall, I enabled wi-fi and connected to our wireless router. I even found an IR remote in the basement that works, too! And lastly, I found an AudioQuest "Evergreen" 1/4"-->RCA cable to connect it to the pre-amp via the headphone jack. And as an added bonus, I also found an AudioQuest "Forest" optical cable to connect to an external DAC (I have no DAC).

At roughly $0.00 (so far), I'm not expecting much, but thinking I could be on the cusp of something cool?

I inserted Diana Krall's "Christmas Songs" CD (because, you know, audiophile) and it ripped it just fine. (Not fast, but fine.) So the optical drive still works, too.

I've read the posts/thread above and have a few questions:
1. Is this a reasonable server/streamer box, or am I wasting my time and need something more current?
2. Can I control it (computer? iTunes?) with my iPad 2 or iPhone 6? What do I need to download to make them communicate?
3. Can I "move" the current iTunes ripped CDs to an external drive if I choose to do that? Known complications?

Thanks...DC

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* An "early 2009" Mac Mini uses a 2 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor. This one has a 320GB HD and 8GB RAM. It's currently running OSX 10.11.6 El Capitan and I believe that's the end-game OS for this chipset - no more upgrades, though there are still periodic updates, such as security patches and the like. It's still being supported.
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
#25
I've read the posts/thread above and have a few questions:
1. Is this a reasonable server/streamer box, or am I wasting my time and need something more current?
2. Can I control it (computer? iTunes?) with my iPad 2 or iPhone 6? What do I need to download to make them communicate?
3. Can I "move" the current iTunes ripped CDs to an external drive if I choose to do that? Known complications?
1. Yes, and you'll find the 3.5mm analog output to sound surprisingly OK, but best results will come using an outboard DAC via that mini Toslink optical connection, or better yet, a well implemented USB DAC paired with the BitPerfect iTunes plug-in.

2. Yes, download the iTunes Remote app from the iOS App Store.

3. Yes, but you'll have to rebuild the iTunes library by scanning the new external drive after setting it as the iTunes Media folder location in iTunes Preferences (Advanced tab). No other known complications.
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
#29
Lol, yes, 1/8”!
And I see that now in looking closely at the photo you posted, the optical cable also has the correct termination too.

So you are in business, and can very easily jump to high-end sound with a suitable DAC (and the BitPerfect iTunes plug-in for all of $9.99).

Audirvana+ would be even better, but you'd be dropping $75 there.
 
#30
I hope it's a reasonable server/streamer box - that's the model I have. :tongue: You even have twice the memory.

Mine is on El Capitan as well, and that is the end of the line for it. Even once the security updates stop, I'm not going to be concerned as it's behind a firewall and I don't do any web surfing with it. After seven years it's original HDD started causing issues, and I replaced that with an SSD. Smooth sailing since.

For a few years or so I used an optical connection to a DAC, otherwise via spdif converter or USB. I do recommend an external drive for the library.

I've been using Audirvana + since the beta days, and like the Tidal integration. There is also a paid iOS app for remote, I don't use that for lack of a compatible device. Audirvana also supports upsampling, I tested that and ended up with pauses. Because A+ will buffer the music file I may have run out of memory - or the process was not quick enough, with DSD file sizes being rather large. For normal use it's quite sufficient.
 
#31
Just wanted to report back on my new setup. I did end up purchasing a new Mac Mini
  • 3.6 GHz core i3
  • 8GB RAM
  • 1 TB internal SSD - this is what holds all of my music
I took my 2012 Mac Mini that has an internal 128GB SSD drive, reformatted it, and install Mojave.
I have Roon Core installed on the new Mac Mini and Roon Bridge and on the older Mac Mini
I have a Meridian Explorer DAC hooked to the older Mac Mini which is currently feeding and very old Denon receiver. I have on order an Outlaw Audio RR2160 receiver which has gotten outstanding reviews. This will replace the old Denon receiver which is the weak link in my current system. This is all feeding a pair of HSU bookshelf speakers and an SVS sub.

It is on to ripping my SACD collection!
 

Don C

Active Member
#32
Last night and today I moved off all unnecessary files (docs, pics, etc.) to iCloud and cleaned up other unnecessary stuff; about 200GB more free and ready for dedicated tunes. And I discovered connecting my iPad downstairs remotely to it makes for much more convenient holiday playlist listening elsewhere.

I was already ogling DACs in the Music Direct catalog this morning...
 
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