Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
mwheelerk

Feasability of using Mac Air as Music Server?

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

Is it feasible to use a Mac Air as a music server? What would the positives and negatives in considering this?

 

I currently use a Mac Mini (2010). I also have and iMac (2007). I started thinking about getting rid of both and get a MacBook but then had this thought about the Air. All opinions and ideas regarding Mac options appreciated.


"If you fly a flag of hate you are no kin to me"

Ry Cooder

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So, I woke up this AM with this same question.

 

Has this been asked and answered so many times that the silence of no answers is a message?

 

G

 

 

 

Is it feasible to use a Mac Air as a music server? What would the positives and negatives in considering this?

 

I currently use a Mac Mini (2010). I also have and iMac (2007). I started thinking about getting rid of both and get a MacBook but then had this thought about the Air. All opinions and ideas regarding Mac options appreciated.


Main: sonicTransporter I5>ultraRendu/ghent/UltraCap 1.2> WireWorld Platinum>Wyred4Sound 2 DSD> Atma-sphere MP-1 3.1> Atma-sphere MA-1 3.1> Maggie 1.7, Quad (sub),Speaker cable: Zero Autoformers, Interconnects , Analysis Plus Silver Oval-In, Nordost Heimdall, Power Cables: Synergistic./Shunyata>Chang Litespeed 

HT:Dish>OPPO>Marantz>Hegel> 3-Maggies/2-Quads>REL Gibraltar>Custom Wire loom>APS>Samsung Plasma 55"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
So, I woke up this AM with this same question.

 

Has this been asked and answered so many times that the silence of no answers is a message?

 

G

 

I don't remember it being asked but maybe the answer to others was an obvious no. I went over to the apple store to take a look around. I was comparing the Air to the two MacBook versions, the one with and without the Retina display. The initial thing I came away with was processor speeds

 

The Air are considerly slower processors something like 1.3Ghz versus 2.3Ghz, 2.6Ghz and 2.9Ghz and they are dual core versus quad core processors available for some of the MacBooks. Memory is either 128 or 256 Flash but I don't see that as a problem. There are no disc drives on the Air and the Retina MacBook but an external would work for ripping CDs.

 

RAM is standard on the Air at 4GB but upgradable to 8GB. The MacBook comes both 4GB and 8 GB and are also upgradeable.

 

HDD or SSD is a question. Price no issue I know the answer but price is an issue.

 

Screen sizes of 11 (too small), 13 (is this functional enough) or 15 to consider.

 

Finally the number and type of ports. I need at least one USB port for my DAC but an extra wouldn't hurt. I currently have two Lacie Quadra 2TB HDD drives connected to my Mac Mini daisy chained via FireWire 800 but FireWire isn't an option for the Air or MacBook with Retina. I know there is a Thunderbolt connection on all of them and there is a Thunderbolt to FireWire adapter but would it allow for daisy chaining two drives.

 

Like I said I am sitting here with an older 2007 iMac anchored to a desk and a 2010 Mac Mini in my audio rack. My thoughts are on performance, functionality and now portability.

 

For those of you working with a MacBook how are you connecting to your external,y stored music library?

 

Last but not least would be considering selling both my MacMini and iMac which then might let my budget step up to the top levels of these units.


"If you fly a flag of hate you are no kin to me"

Ry Cooder

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm currently using an 11" Air as a music server. Works flawlessly and met one major requirement for me that a mac mini didn't - it has a screen for navigation of the library when you don't have an iPhone or iPad handy but is still small enough to not draw attention to itself in our living room. I wouldn't worry too much about the clock speeds or memory if using only as a music server - I rarely run at more than 5% CPU load, and have never filled the full 4Gb of memory (but I suppose if I did that paging to the SSD would be relatively fast).

 

I'm set up as follows: HD -> usb -> MBA-> usb -> dac

 

I've also tried and could not notice a difference in sound quality (YMMV): Network -> ethernet/thunderbolt adapter -> MBA -> usb -> dac

 

Based on what Gordon from Wavelength has been saying my next test will be direct attached thunderbolt storage.

 

Hope that helps.

 

Simon

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm currently using an 11" Air as a music server. Works flawlessly and met one major requirement for me that a mac mini didn't - it has a screen for navigation of the library when you don't have an iPhone or iPad handy but is still small enough to not draw attention to itself in our living room. I wouldn't worry too much about the clock speeds or memory if using only as a music server - I rarely run at more than 5% CPU load, and have never filled the full 4Gb of memory (but I suppose if I did that paging to the SSD would be relatively fast).

 

I'm set up as follows: HD -> usb -> MBA-> usb -> dac

 

I've also tried and could not notice a difference in sound quality (YMMV): Network -> ethernet/thunderbolt adapter -> MBA -> usb -> dac

 

Based on what Gordon from Wavelength has been saying my next test will be direct attached thunderbolt storage.

 

Hope that helps.

 

Simon

I appreciate the feedback. Are you using any third party playback software with iTunes such as Pure Music, Amarra or Audivrana +? I ask because I use both PM and A+ and typically they recommend a minimum 4GB memory.


"If you fly a flag of hate you are no kin to me"

Ry Cooder

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm currently using Audirvana+ (no up-sampling or AU plugins, but most other options enabled, iTunes integration for the remote app) or Decibel. No issue with either of these and the CPU load and physical memory usage stays low. That being said most of my music is 16/44.1 and none is greater than 24/96.

 

I have also used Pure Music, Amarra, Bit Perfect, and a few others without issue - but my preference in my system is Decibel then Audirvana+ for most music, with the edge going towards Audirvana+ with iTunes integration for ease of use from my listening chair. I have not tried Audirvana+ without iTunes integration but might at some point in the future.

 

When I get home tonight I can check to see exactly how I have Audirvana+ set up as well as the exact specs of my machine (I believe I have 4Gb of memory and 256Gb SSD running latest OSX) and post them so that you have some real numbers to work with and not just my anecdotal report. I can also check the CPU load and physical memory usage while playing some 24/96 files.

 

Cheers,

Simon

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

mwheelerk:

I am using a late 2010 MacBook Air with 4 GB and a 256 GB SSD. HD --> USB --> MBA running Audirvana + --> DAC --> audio system with 44.1/16 up to 24/96 files.

 

I use it for my workplace office system and take it when we go to our vacation house.

 

I am very happy with this system.

Mike

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't use it as my music server, but it is by far my favorite laptop. So if for some reason it doesn't suit you, you can always keep the mini in place and use screen-sharing to control it from your Air (which is what I do).

 

Two things to be aware of:

 

1. No optical out.

 

2. When my 2007 Gen A battery swelled and destroyed the computer, Apple just laughed at me and told me I shouldn't ever leave it plugged into the charger after the battery charges. (This strikes me as idiocy, FWIW.)


--

Do facts matter?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am planning to use a fully maxed out 11" Air for my music collection. I view the Air as such as a beefed up iPod; large enough to hold my entire music collection (AAC 256kbs - 320kbps), small enough to fit in my shoulder bag.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just a quick update based on what I'm using here and some of the settings I'm using and how much of the resources are being used.

 

MBA 11": OSX 10.8.4, 1.6GHz i5, 4Gb memory, 124Gb SSD no special set ups or other tweaks

 

Audirvana+ 1.5.6 with iTunes integration: Interger mode 1, exclusive access, direct mode, 1024mb memory allocation, all system optimizers maxed out, no other options enabled, DAC volume only.

 

Playing a 2min 54sec 24/96 file: Audirvana+ uses 0.6% of CPU load and 280Mb of memory. iTunes uses 1.1% of CPU load and 141.5Mb of memory.

 

Hope that the above can help anyone make a decision if the MBA is enough of a computer for their needs.

 

Simon.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am still giving this some thought. My computer use for other than basics is rather limited at home. I do most of my basic surfing and email on my iPad. The iMac gets very little use anymore. The MacMini is essentially a dedicated music server. The portability of the MacBook and Air appeal to me though in reality I don't know how important that is as my travel for both business and personal is way down over the past couple of years and I don't see it expanding. But, I simply don't sit at a desk much anymore at the house. There is of course the option to just give up the iMac and then get an Air but a single unit serving as primarily a music server and light duty personal computer is intriguing. I seem to be leaning towards simplifying things


"If you fly a flag of hate you are no kin to me"

Ry Cooder

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry for carrying on about this but started thinking about the external HDD for storing and backing up my library. I currently use externally powered HDD. What about USB bus powered HDD? Is there any benefit or detriment to using those? And there was an earlier comment in a post about power to the unit. Is it better to use the battery or keep the Air or MacBook plugged in to wall power.


"If you fly a flag of hate you are no kin to me"

Ry Cooder

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am using the Macbook Air almost every night at my bed side....it is music before I go to sleep.

 

I got a 2012 13" Macbook Air (256MB flash) connected to a Mytek Stereo 192 DAC, a Bryston BHA-1 and a pair of Sennheiser HD800 headphones.

 

I can either get my music files from my Caps Zuma PC located in my living room access via Ethernet or from the Thunderbolt 8TB drive I got at the bedside. The ethernet is connected using a Ethernet to Thunderbolt adpator and plug into the other Thunderbolt socket at the 8TB drive.

 

I got iTunes, Audrivana Plus, Perefect Music and JRiver on my Macbook Air as player...Ii found JRiver the best of the lot as it can stream DSD to the Mytek very well....and I like the interface....and it automatically extract the artcovers for all my SACD ISO files.

 

(Audio)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  



×
×
  • Create New...