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Newbie questions


Kevin
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Hi - new to the site but long term interest in high quality music at home. I have been playing with audio systems for the last 25 years and have recently become interested in computer based audio mainly due to the functionality of a server. I have been perusing opinion on the internet, have read most of this site and am beginning to develop ideas on what should give me a good sound. I would have to say I am a bit of an idiot with computers and I do not really know if I am even asking the right question.

 

Basically we would look to set up a system with a dedicated Mac to a Minerva DAC. I have seen it suggested many times to utilise the Mac as a head unit and have all the music stored on offboard drives. I can understand the principle of the cpu doing the minimum possible but do not understand the disadvantage of utilising music files on the Mac as well as an offboard drive.

 

Which brings me to the second idiot question. Does the music file load entirely into RAM in the head unit and then get played from there?

 

If someone can point me on to a primer regarding data flow in a music server setup I would be most grateful .

 

Kevin

 

 

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Welcome to Computer Audiophile!

 

You seem too have picked out a GREAT combination of hardware: Mac+Minerva. On to your quesitions.

 

1) You so seem confused here. There are no 'disadvatages' in utilizing files on the 'Mac as well as an offboard drive'. There might be some 'library management' issues due to maintaining more than one location for your libraries though. The purpose of moving your library to an 'offboard' drive is to allow for the growth of your music collection. Simply put, the space available to add more audio files after a certain point (when all of your internal drive bays are full of Hard Drives and the drives are full as well..) will be a detriment to collecting more music to add to your library. Therefore, you need to add external drives, or an external drive 'system'. This is emphasized here on CA, because of the fact that you WILL run out of space for more music eventually if you are an active collector of music. If you already have all of the music that you want to play and they all fit on your internal drives, you don't need to worry about this.....

 

2) Your music file under playback normally does *not* load entirely into RAM during playback unless you have a "memory player" program. The music data is normally parsed into internal memory as needed. This is actually a 'contested' subject, as some feel this is important, and others do not.

 

3) I don't know of any links to give you an idea of what the 'flow of data in a music' server is. The flow is pretty simple though: Data file (wherever it may reside on whatever hard or optical drive)>>Player software>> out to DAC >> DAC audio output to playback hardware. That is about it.

 

I hope this de-confuses you a bit.

 

markr

 

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1: Having the music files stored on an external drive -

 

In general, and if your setup allows it, it's quite a good idea to keep you data files separate from your program files. Your system will work just fine with everything on the one drive, just think of this as good housekeeping.

 

However, some people report that there's also a sound quality benefit. One theory being because the system makes frequent read/writes to the startup disk (the one with the OS on it) then this will interfere with its ability to smoothly read the music files for playback.

 

As you've probably realised I don't personally think it makes a huge difference. It's just one of those things that's worth keeping an open mind on.

 

2: Does the music file load entirely into ram -

 

Good question. Some music players do this, I believe by design, and in pursuit of sound quality. I don't think itunes loads the entire file.

 

There are some very good articles on the basics on the home page of this site. Good luck with setting up your system. Playback from the computer is a great way to enjoy your music!

 

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I'm going to present another possible reason for having you files externally on a network drive - noise.

 

A hard drive can be quite a noise device, therefore a lot of people have found if they put a small quiet drive - or even better a SSD (solid state drive) - in their computer and have all their music files on a network device they can reduce noise in the listening room.

 

To my thoughts, the sound quality of the playback willnot (cannot) be affected by where the files are stores, though other people say different.

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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Thankyou markr, souptin and Eloise. I have found it difficult "cutting to the chase" with computer audio particularly with respect to sound quality. I did read through all the Nova pages regarding their memory player but all I could think was "Isn't this a computer?"

 

Also part of my problem is that I am out the loony end in regards to audio with respect to sound quality. I simply have no practical way of comparing approaches to the issue of combining the practicalities of a server and sound quality and am therefore reliant on forums to gather information.

 

Once again thankyou for your replies.

 

Kevin

 

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