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On the point to buy mac mini but...


kafou

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Hi,

 

I read this forum since a few years but never register until now. Until now I use my airport express linked to my dacmagic to ambiance listening and connect my macbook to the same dac in USB for more serious listening, thing that I did not do often since a few years. The simplicity of using the AE made that I always use this setup. So now I want to improve my system but with the simplicity of the AE use. My first idea is to buy a mac mini with 8g ram and 256g SSD connect to it a USB 3.0 drive for my library storage and connect my dacmagic with USB. For now I use Itunes but software like bitperfect and Audirvana seem interesting. Of course I want to control all this with a IPad or Iphone. But from reading here and some web articles, it seem that I have to do some modding to the Mac mini, the most popular seem to be the power supply. If I calculate the price of the mac mini and the PS mod and the fact that with this mod I surely put an end to my warranty it begin to be a lot of cash so maybe there better solution than this and more plug and play. Do you have something to recommand to me that will meet my needs?

 

Thanks

 

Kafou

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I've operated a Mac Mini without any PSU mod or upgrade save having upgraded the power cable and connected it to a power conditioner for some time and been quite satisfied. Stray with the base Mac Mini you described. If you have already created a library in iTunes use one of the third party softwares for playback and sit back and enjoy.

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

Ry Cooder

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I agree with mwheelerk. Start with the stock Mac Mini and see how you like it. I use an older model ( 2009 ) which uses an external power module. Some say this produces better sound but I can't confirm that as I've had this for years. I did recently change the HD to an SSD. This did improve sound quality. Try to use a good quality USB cable as that does effect SQ.

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I agree with what has already been said. You certainly don't need to replace the power supply to get great sound from a Mac Mini.

 

After you get it up and running, I would download a trial copy of JRiver and see how you like it. JRiver + JRemote on the iPad/iPhone is an absolutely wonderful way to access your music.

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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One more thing to consider is having your DAC and music storage on different interfaces. In the past, many folks attached external storage using FireWire rather than USB but FW seems to be gone from new Minis so maybe Thunderbolt.

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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I agree with the JRiver/JRemote recommendation though from a getting started perspective iTunes might be a little easier to use and I only say that because of the much broader selection of options and abilities within JRiver.

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

Ry Cooder

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It's not so easy to think that I don't need to mod the mac mini. When you read all the web infos about modding the mac mini and how that improve the sound quality you begin to think that this is the way to go. Of course i'm pretty sure that this will sound good with no mods but I will always ask myself how it can sound with mods...

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It's not so easy to think that I don't need to mod the mac mini. When you read all the web infos about modding the mac mini and how that improve the sound quality you begin to think that this is the way to go. Of course i'm pretty sure that this will sound good with no mods but I will always ask myself how it can sound with mods...

 

Sounds like you have already decided to go down the mods path and are now looking for someone to agree with you. My opinion is that your money/time is better spend on improving other areas such as a better DAC/speakers or more music but I'm sure others have a different opinion. :)

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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Sounds like you have already decided to go down the mods path and are now looking for someone to agree with you. My opinion is that your money/time is better spend on improving other areas such as a better DAC/speakers or more music but I'm sure others have a different opinion. :)

 

Of course not, I prefer to hear that I don't need to mod. I was about to buy the mac mini when I begin to read all that mods article. With the $$$ needed for these mods and the trouble to do these mods I began to look at other options.

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Of course not, I prefer to hear that I don't need to mod. I was about to buy the mac mini when I begin to read all that mods article. With the $$$ needed for these mods and the trouble to do these mods I began to look at other options.

 

Everyone who's responded to you in this thread has told you that mods aren't necessary but again it sounds like this isn't what you want to hear so perhaps you need to listen to your heart.

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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Everyone who's responded to you in this thread has told you that mods aren't necessary but again it sounds like this isn't what you want to hear so perhaps you need to listen to your heart.

 

No, I asked the question after reading about that. Your answer made me thinking of going with a stock mac mini ;)

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The mini doesn't NEED any mods.

 

And if you're buying a new one, you can't mod it anyway.

 

Hi boatheelmisic. This is not quite true...

 

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f10-music-servers/mac-mini-version-computer-audiophile-pocket-server-music-server-step-step-17666/

 

Hi kafou - The most fatigue-less sound for me has still been a Mac (highly tweaked) running Amarra. The standard Mini was unlistenable to me, but I seem to be more sensitive to noise than many others here. However, I would trade it all in for a perfect streamer with a NAS any day. The ridiculously expensive Naim comes close. The Auralic Aries, Sonore Rendu and SoTM SMS100 should be on your shortlist.

 

A standard Mini will unlikely provide you any benefit over your current laptop. A streamer most likely will, and you can use your current setup as the source library. MinimServer can run on a Mac as the UPnP server and it is free if you go the streamer route. Many receivers these days have DLNA or UPnP functionality, perhaps check if yours has this already.

 

Cheers

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Hi boatheelmisic. This is not quite true...

 

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f10-music-servers/mac-mini-version-computer-audiophile-pocket-server-music-server-step-step-17666/

 

Hi kafou - The most fatigue-less sound for me has still been a Mac (highly tweaked) running Amarra. The standard Mini was unlistenable to me, but I seem to be more sensitive to noise than many others here. However, I would trade it all in for a perfect streamer with a NAS any day. The ridiculously expensive Naim comes close. The Auralic Aries, Sonore Rendu and SoTM SMS100 should be on your shortlist.

 

A standard Mini will unlikely provide you any benefit over your current laptop. A streamer most likely will, and you can use your current setup as the source library. MinimServer can run on a Mac as the UPnP server and it is free if you go the streamer route. Many receivers these days have DLNA or UPnP functionality, perhaps check if yours has this already.

 

Cheers

 

That's the reason why it is so hard to take a decision, on the same post, some guys says that it sound good and other guys says it is unlistenable. I'm sure that there a solution that everyone will find good :(

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Kafou, from what I'm reading, you're not super keen on setting up a headless Mac Mini or PC to play music to begin with. You prefer simplicity but you like to improve the sound quality. You know you just want to copy all your files to a USB hard drive and play them from there. So why not just get an Auralic Aires and plug the USB music drive in and you're done?

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Hi boatheelmisic. This is not quite true...

 

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f10-music-servers/mac-mini-version-computer-audiophile-pocket-server-music-server-step-step-17666/

 

Hi kafou - The most fatigue-less sound for me has still been a Mac (highly tweaked) running Amarra. The standard Mini was unlistenable to me, but I seem to be more sensitive to noise than many others here. However, I would trade it all in for a perfect streamer with a NAS any day. The ridiculously expensive Naim comes close. The Auralic Aries, Sonore Rendu and SoTM SMS100 should be on your shortlist.

 

A standard Mini will unlikely provide you any benefit over your current laptop. A streamer most likely will, and you can use your current setup as the source library. MinimServer can run on a Mac as the UPnP server and it is free if you go the streamer route. Many receivers these days have DLNA or UPnP functionality, perhaps check if yours has this already.

 

Cheers

 

I will not challenge what your own experience has been but to say a non-modded Mac Mini is unlistenable goes way against my own personal listening experience and I think that of many on this forum (though I cannot speak for them). I in no way make a claim that mods are or may not be of any benefit but I in no way believe or have experienced that they are absolutely necessary to be able to fully enjoy quality sound using a Mac Mini as a basis for a computer audio system.

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

Ry Cooder

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Hi boatheelmisic. This is not quite true...

 

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f10-music-servers/mac-mini-version-computer-audiophile-pocket-server-music-server-step-step-17666/

 

Hi kafou - The most fatigue-less sound for me has still been a Mac (highly tweaked) running Amarra. The standard Mini was unlistenable to me, but I seem to be more sensitive to noise than many others here. However, I would trade it all in for a perfect streamer with a NAS any day. The ridiculously expensive Naim comes close. The Auralic Aries, Sonore Rendu and SoTM SMS100 should be on your shortlist.

 

A standard Mini will unlikely provide you any benefit over your current laptop. A streamer most likely will, and you can use your current setup as the source library. MinimServer can run on a Mac as the UPnP server and it is free if you go the streamer route. Many receivers these days have DLNA or UPnP functionality, perhaps check if yours has this already.

 

Cheers

 

WOW, I just read your step by step, do you still had time to listen to music? :)

 

No way I will do all this to listen to music. I will buy a plug and play box.

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I will only observe that a Mac be it a laptop or the Mini always seems to hit right with USB DAC's. The empirical scientist part of me is itching to try a Mac Mini as a high powered NAS and conduct a shootout vs Synology to see which is better for streaming and to see whether streaming or asynch USB wins out

Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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Kafou, from what I'm reading, you're not super keen on setting up a headless Mac Mini or PC to play music to begin with. You prefer simplicity but you like to improve the sound quality. You know you just want to copy all your files to a USB hard drive and play them from there. So why not just get an Auralic Aires and plug the USB music drive in and you're done?

 

It's not that simple, I really loves the Apple things. IPad, Iphone, Itunes, airplay...you know simplicity. But modding a mac mini like that is not simplicity. Maybe I'm already listening unlistenable music but I don't know because I had never listen to listenable music. :)

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I will only observe that a Mac be it a laptop or the Mini always seems to hit right with USB DAC's. The empirical scientist part of me is itching to try a Mac Mini as a high powered NAS and conduct a shootout vs Synology to see which is better for streaming and to see whether streaming or asynch USB wins out

 

As I use an old mini to stream from a synology NAS I'd love to know how you'd outfit a mini as a NAS in this experiment.

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Kafou, I just feel that you may be going the complicated route for something simple. You just want better sound quality out of your current setup. You like the convenience of the Airport Express hooked up to your DAC. So you can reduce the jitter at the AE by adding a reclocker from Wyred 4 Sound or from Empirical Audio.

 

http://www.empiricalaudio.com/products/synchro-mesh

 

https://wyred4sound.com/products/digital-converters/remedy-reclocker

 

These are much simpler solutions to your problem. Also, having a power conditioner to isolate some of the power supply noise from the AE from the rest of your audio system may improve the sound. But if you want a Mac Mini, you want a Mac Mini...

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Kafou, I just feel that you may be going the complicated route for something simple. You just want better sound quality out of your current setup. You like the convenience of the Airport Express hooked up to your DAC. So you can reduce the jitter at the AE by adding a reclocker from Wyred 4 Sound or from Empirical Audio.

 

Synchro-Mesh : Empirical Audio

 

https://wyred4sound.com/products/digital-converters/remedy-reclocker

 

These are much simpler solutions to your problem. Also, having a power conditioner to isolate some of the power supply noise from the AE from the rest of your audio system may improve the sound. But if you want a Mac Mini, you want a Mac Mini...

 

If i can have a good signal to the dac from an AE that can be really cool. But that setup is not 100% what i'm looking for because I will have to use my macbook for hi-res listening. But for CD quality that seem like something interresting.

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WOW, I just read your step by step, do you still had time to listen to music? :)

 

No way I will do all this to listen to music. I will buy a plug and play box.

 

Hi kafou,

 

Yeah, that was quite a trip. :) For most unnecessary, and there are plenty happy with plug and play Minis, but it was as close as I could get to the low noise floor quality of a Windows based CAPS. The only reason I ever went Mac was because Amarra used to be the only game in town. They no longer are, but are still hard to beat sound-wise.

 

But a Mini is in no way going to be less electrically noisy as your laptop so that should not be the reason to change.

 

That is why I think you will get the most bang for your money by going the streamer route. This allows you to save money on the computer, software and much of the tweaking, and provide a layer between the noisy computer and sensitive DAC.

 

MinimServer handles DSD and hi-res PCM if that is what you are interested in. The SMS100 is cheaper than a new Mini and someone here was selling a Rendu I saw.

 

One other thing not mentioned is to try an IFI USB Power in between the laptop and DAC. It is a very cost-effective way to lower the noise floor if using USB, without having to resort to an even better but more expensive USB-SPDIF converter.

 

A side note, keep in mind that an AE throws a big EMI field and has a nasty switching power supply that I would not recommend putting close, and/or without power filter near your audio gear.

 

Happy hunting.

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