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How do you set up a Mac Mini


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I am new to computer music and would like to set up a Mac Mini as a music server. I tried to search this site for the info and I couldn't find an easy explanation or it was over my head. At this point I don't even use ITunes. I want something simple but with a high quality sound. I do have a very good CDP, TT, amps, preamp and speakers. I would run an upgraded USB cord from the Mac Mini to my Esoteric K-3 DAC input and am fine from that point. Would like audiophile software on the Mac Mini. Is JRiver for Mac the most foolproof software to use or is another product easier and more bug free. I do want to get the best sound that I can. If I load the audio software, will it change all the settings in the Mac Mini automatically or do I have to go in the menus to optimize the settings for the best sound quality. Does anyone know what these settings should be? Can I control the Mac Mini from a Mac Air instead of a IPhone or IPad?

 

Sorry if these questions have already been answered here, If so please point me to the correct post. Thanks for your help.

Paul

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Welcome to CA. Lots of information on setting up a Mac Mini as a music server.

 

Here are a few of the more common tweaks and programs. I won't comment on how effective any of these are because there is almost always discussions here on CA about how good or bad, etc. each tweak (program) is so please research each item and decide for yourself.

 

Music players: Audirava Plus (A+), Pure Music, Amarra, JRiver. I use A+ in the non-integrated mode (not connected to iTunes) where you drag music files or folder into the A+ window. There is an updated version of A+ in the works that operate more like iTunes with regards to the user interface.

 

RAM: you didn't indicate how much RAM your Mini has but usually 8Gb or more is recommended.

 

Solid State Drives (SSD): replace internal HDD with a SSD. I have 60Gb SSD that only contains OSX and applications, not music files.

 

External HDD: store music on an external HDD to avoid having an internal spinning HDD. All of my music files are on an external HDD connected by Firewire. If you are using a USB DAC, then the external HDD should be a different interface (e.g Firewire). There is large thread by Superdad on the different connections (USB, Firewire, Ethernet, SATA).

 

Boot using SD Card (vs internal SSD or HDD): again huge thread by Superdad on this approach.

 

Optimization script (http://www.computeraudiodesign.com/osx-audio-optimization/): designed to turn off, etc. all (most) of the unnecessary items in OSX for playing music. There are actually two scripts - one to optimize the OSX and one to reset the optimization setting to a "normal usage" state. Suggest using caution before running optimization script. Be sure to back-up system first.

 

RAM Disks: create one RAM disk for music player and another for music files. There is a script floating around CA to automate the creation of the RAM disks. I only use a RAM disk for A+ but not the music files because of the time required to copy files to the RAM disk then move the music files to A+. Huge thread on this by Superdad.

 

Linear Power Supplies: several vendors (Core Audio, Mojo, Uptone) offer services and products to replace the Mini power supply (source of noise) with a linear unit. These are usually pricey options.

 

CAPS version Mini: there is large thread about building a Mac version of CAPS. Really hard core stuff.

 

Good luck.

 

If you have not considered how to back-up your music library, then I would strongly consider you doing so because HDD (SSD) fail.

Eric


Ubuntu Linux box (i7-12700K, 12 cores, 32GB RAM, Intel X520-DA1 NIC, HQP Desktop) > fiber > MikroTik CRS305-1G-4S+ > fiber > fitlet2 (HQP Embedded OS - NAA) > T+A DAC8 DSD > Rogue Audio DragoN > Klipsch La Scala — digital volume control with HQP, DSP with HQP convolution 

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Another much more basic approach:

 

1. Connect power cord.

2. Press power button on back

3. Set up account

4. Set Audio MIDI Setup to the sampling frequency of your highest resolution music (or as compatable with your DAC).

5. Connect generic USB or optical cable and select the corresponding audio device by option-clicking the speaker icon in the menu bar.

6. Play some music, and worry about the tweaks only after you get used to what the baseline has to offer. I suggest starting with iTunes, and then maybe a simple add-on like BitPerfect. When you know what the baseline sounds like, you can better evaluate whether Audirvana or Jriver or some other options might be worth the purchase price.

 

 

To control from a macbook air:

 

1. On the mini, turn on Screen Sharing in the Sharing preferences.

2. From the Macbook Air, find the mini in the Finder under "Shared" in the left sidebar, and connect via Screen Sharing. You can optionally full-screen it.

 

I'm currently using another option described in the link in my sig line.

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Another much more basic approach:

 

1. Connect power cord.

2. Press power button on back

3. Set up account

4. Set Audio MIDI Setup to the sampling frequency of your highest resolution music (or as compatable with your DAC).

5. Connect generic USB or optical cable and select the corresponding audio device by option-clicking the speaker icon in the menu bar.

6. Play some music, and worry about the tweaks only after you get used to what the baseline has to offer. I suggest starting with iTunes, and then maybe a simple add-on like BitPerfect. When you know what the baseline sounds like, you can better evaluate whether Audirvana or Jriver or some other options might be worth the purchase price.

 

 

To control from a macbook air:

 

1. On the mini, turn on Screen Sharing in the Sharing preferences.

2. From the Macbook Air, find the mini in the Finder under "Shared" in the left sidebar, and connect via Screen Sharing. You can optionally full-screen it.

 

I'm currently using another option described in the link in my sig line.

 

An eminently sensible post since Paul (a self-admitted raw novice) should learn to walk before trying to run.

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An eminently sensible post since Paul (a self-admitted raw novice) should learn to walk before trying to run.

 

+1

 

Very good advice from Dr. Scott. Much as I love Jriver, I would never advice a novice to start with it.

Sometimes it's like someone took a knife, baby
Edgy and dull and cut a six inch valley
Through the middle of my skull

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Thanks everyone for their advise. I have heard my son's iTunes vs an old version of Amara and preferred Amara. I am sure there is better sounding software now though. I have no interest in iTunes as I know I would never use it and it would turn me off to computer music. I am looking for something that sounds good but is easy to install and use. Maybe such a product doesn't exist for a Mac Mini. I haven't purchased the Mac Mini yet. I do prefer a Mac over Windows computer though. My son has a MacBook Pro and I have listened to it but it is not a dedicated music server. I know I can't tear a Mac Mini apart to get the best sound but believe I can go into the menu and set it up with a simple configure. Please continue with your advise. Thanks.

Paul

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I have no interest in iTunes as I know I would never use it and it would turn me off to computer music. I am looking for something that sounds good but is easy to install and use.

Paul

 

iTunes is very valuable for library management and sharing music through your network, e.g. remote playing with your iPad, and also streaming your library to your iPad, the player being an audiophile one in integrated mode with iTunes, e.g. Audirvana in integrated mode with iTunes.

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Surround: VLC | M-Audio FastTrack Pro | Mac Opt | Panasonic SA-HE100 | Logitech Z623

DIY: SET Tube Amp | Low-Noise Linear Regulated Power Supply | USB, Power, Speaker Cables | Speaker Stands | Acoustic Panels

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I am new to computer music and would like to set up a Mac Mini as a music server. I tried to search this site for the info and I couldn't find an easy explanation or it was over my head.

 

First caveat; I am no expert on the subject.

Good luck finding a simple overview. Maybe someone can suggest one but I don't know of any. This is all I could find on short notice.

 

At this point I don't even use ITunes. I want something simple but with a high quality sound.

Decibel Music Player for Mac, Fair Sound Quality, Super Easy to use, No instruction manual, not needed really. Select your DAC from the preference menu. Drag and drop music files on the window and hit play.

Decibel from sbooth.org

 

I do want to get the best sound that I can. If I load the audio software, will it change all the settings in the Mac Mini automatically or do I have to go in the menus to optimize the settings for the best sound quality. Does anyone know what these settings should be?

Any player will typically have some default settings that can be changed via pull-down menus. You must select the output device for it to send signal to your outboard DAC. Most have instructions for doing this. Then there are loads of tweaks for the operating system.

How to Optimize OS X Mountain Lion for Audio and Video | Audiofiles

 

Amarra Music Player for Mac will give better sound, but is far more convoluted to use than Decibel but it comes with instructions. My advice is turn off the "Dither" setting in preferences. They give a 2 week free trial.

Sonic Studio Amarra Music Players

 

Many people on this site prefer Audirvana Plus over other players. Player choice is like food at a restaurant. Different people like different things.

Audirvana | The Sound of Your Dreams

 

Can I control the Mac Mini from a Mac Air instead of a IPhone or IPad?

Yes, the Mac Air should let you use Screen Sharing built into Mac OSX. There are many tutorials on Youtube for setting that up.

 

For best Sound Quality I highly recommend the use of a Linear Power Supply to replace the switching power supply on the Mini. I presently use an older model Core Audio Technology unit that was overhauled and modified by Mojo Audio (Good Folks). Best money I've ever spent in HiFi. They make good stuff but the price is not cheap. I cannot say how Mojo Audio compares to other units available on the market. My experience is limited in that regard.

 

The other advice I would give for good SQ is to boot from an SD Card and play your music applications and files from a ram disk. Just found out about this myself a few weeks ago on a forum at this link.

 

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f8-general-forum/attention-current-mac-mini-users-boot-mavericks-sd-card-load-ramdisk-dismount-your-internal-sata-drives-and-pour-drink-musicians-walking-out-your-speakers-18159/

Hytek

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  • 2 weeks later...

I wouldn't discredit iTunes too much. It is very effective at a great many things and is probably the easiest to use out of all software. It's also optimized and integrated with Mac OS. I started using iTunes and have had no desire to really try anything else. Although I do use XLD to rip cds instead of the iTunes ripper because I like the feedback (log) that there were no errors with the rip. I play and manage the library with iTunes. Wouldn't hesitate for a second recommending it as the program you start with. I have also never purchased a "tune" from iTunes. 100% of my collection 3000 albums is from my own ripped cds.

 

It's also free and mine has never skipped a beat or crashed.

Samsung 2TB SSD external drive > Oppo 205 USB in > McIntosh C45 > Proceed AMP5 > Mirage HDT Speakers > Velodyne HGS15 Sub // Nordost Blue Heaven Cables, PS Audio Quintet, OWC 2TB Mercury Elite Pro Firewire

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