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Recommended Mini Mac Setup


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I just brought a used mini mac and have upgraded it (specs below), and I am looking for some basic setup recommendations.

 

Connection to NAD D 3020 DAC -

Thinking of using asynchronous USB, I know this is limited to 24/96 both by my mini mac and DAC but most of my music is 24/96 or rebook 16/44.1 CD Rips. I am thinking asynchronous connection to be better than having to deal with the toslink/optical possible jitter and output issues, although optical it would electrically isolate the mini mac.

 

Storage

All media will be on 500GB SSD separate to the system disk.

 

Use

Will be connecting my mini mac to the TV and also using it as a media server to put my movie library as well.

 

Headless

I want to control the mini mac remotely from multiple mac laptops, what is the easiest way to do so, I need more than iTunes remote as I want to use it to operate VLC, and use the mac for downloading torrent as well.

Screen sharing or remove management what's the difference what do you recommended.

Is it worth trying to use the iPad as remote screen?

I read the remote app for iTunes does not let you use playlists

 

Player

iTunes with bitperfect. I am thinking that I just want something to swap the bit rate over (the manual midi settings) and stay with stock iTunes as a player.

 

Any other recommendations. (aside from complex mods what I doubt I will ever hear the difference in)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hardware Overview:

NAD D 3020 DAC/AMP

Speakers QUAD 11L

 

MINI MAC (it was 2011 server edition prior to mods)

SSD 256GB Apple (system Disk)

SSD 500GB Samsung Evo (media disk)

Model Identifier: Macmini5,3

Processor Name: Intel Core i7

Processor Speed: 2 GHz

Number of Processors: 1

Total Number of Cores: 4

L2 Cache (per Core): 256 KB

L3 Cache: 6 MB

Memory: 8 GB

 

 

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The mini USB output will go to at least 24/384. If your DAC is limited to 24/96, I really would give the toslink a try. I was surprised at how good it sounded, after reading bad things about SQ. One real advantage will be using only one USB port, (your external drive, which is where you library is), rather than having the DAC and drive attached to USB ports. It's worth a try. Compare it to the USB and use whichever sounds best. If the USB does sound better, then you enter the world of upmarket USB cables, for which there are many devoted threads. Do be aware that cables are typical equipment specific, so one cable my be perfect in one set up, and just so-so in another.

 

But, if you do use USB, then try different ports. Look at the "about this Mac" to find the port that is most direct--there will be a hierarchy displayed, and some ports have shorter hierarchies. Use the shorter hierarchy for your DAC, and the longer hierarchy for your drive.

 

then, you'll also have hdmi out to you monitor or av receiver. (My mini serves dual purpose too.) this is actually handy in a headless set up, since sometimes it's nice to use a real keyboard and mouse. I set up two users, audio and video, and have very different log in set ups for each, so I can run a minimum system for audio and a normal set up for video.

 

for VNC I use splashtop, after trying a few others, and like it a lot. I run it from my ipad. But, since you are going to run it from laptops, I think you can just set up screen sharing directly through osx on all the macs you want to use. This is pretty straight forward, and would be better than splashtop.

 

there are several software packages that will let you stick with iTunes, but give you much more control over the final sound. To my knowledge they all have free trials. Probably the most popular are Audirvana, jriver, Amarra, and pure music.

 

if you do end up using a higher sampling rate, and one of the players that uses ram to store pre-converted files, you may want to up your ram to 16g.

 

when all is set up and running well, there are further improvements you can try, but it's good to get everything working smoothly first. Welcome aboard! You'll find a lot of helpful threads and people here.

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Just checked out the optical toslink on the mini mac it is limited to 24/96, only the new retina MBP does 24/196 on the to slink out.

 

So I have a choice between 24/96 toslink or USB. Will have to check if my bluetooth keyboard will be on the USB bus or not or asynchronous DAC USB vs optical jitter so far not real difference.

 

My media storage is on a SSD which is on the SATA connection inside my mac.

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Francis,

 

I too switch to a mac mini. Before I did I read so many great posts and here is what I am doing.

 

Mini>USB>DAC with thunderbolt external HDD. Why? Some many reported jitter with extra's plugged into the remaining USB outlets. Disable or turnoff wifi, bluetooth and if you can use ethernet. Disable automatic updates, Finder and sleep to begin with. Again many have reported good results.

 

Here is a useful page's I start with; The Well-Tempered Computer

Monarchy Audio

Sonic Studio Amarra Hifi High Resolution Music Player and Professional Audio For Mastering Systems

 

This will give you an idea. Also go slow so you can hear the difference. i.e. see if you like the change in SQ. Somethings are great and some not.

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